Centipedes are usually beneficial predators in the landscape. They are similar to millipedes in appearance, but tend to occur in lower numbers and seldom exhibit the mass migrations that occur with millipedes. They range in size from less than 1 inch up to 5 inches for domestic species, and more than 12 inches for exotic species. They have one pair of legs per their body segment. Their body colors are a warning to the unwary, as their mandibles are capable of injecting venom.
Practices such as limiting mulch close to your foundation and maintaining a well aerated and dethatched lawn will help limit their harborage, as well as their population growth. Granular pesticides and perimeter sprays, such as those provided by one of our pest professionals will help reduce their population growth.
Millipedes are similar to centipedes, but have two pairs of legs per body segment. Some people mistakenly refer to them as "wireworms." (Wireworms are the larval stage of a beetle that feeds on roots of plants). Millipedes are usually brown to blackish in color. The elongated body is rounded, not flattened, and they have no poison claws or legs. They usually coil up when disturbed, similar to the behavior exhibited by sowbugs or pillbugs (a related invertebrate).
Millipedes are sometimes called "thousand-legged worms" because of their many legs.
Millipedes are usually restricted to moist places where they feed on organic matter. In the fall, they may become a nuisance because they migrate away from feeding areas and invade homes. Because they crawl along the ground, they are usually found in lower floors and basements. Once inside the home, they usually die due to desiccation, although in moist basements, they can survive longer.
Millipedes live in organic matter (leaves, mulch, piles of wood or wood chips) and other material close to the house. Overmulching and/or overwatering in the garden can result in millipede attack on vegetable plants. Removing the organic debris or mulch materials near your home will help reduce the potential for invading millipedes.
Earwigs are elongate, flattened insects, ranging from light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their forcep-like appendages (pincers) on the end of the abdomen. The forceps (cerci) are unequal in length in the males. Earwig female forceps are straight-sided, whereas male forceps are strongly curved (caliper-like) and larger. They have chewing mouthparts and long, slender antennae. Some species are wingless but others have a pair of leathery forewings covering a few segments of the abdomen and the membranous hind wings, which have the tips protruding. There are many species of earwigs: the European earwig ranges from 13-20 mm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) in length, with banded legs and reddish head; the ringlegged earwig ranges from 13-18 mm (1/2 to 3/5 inch) in length and is black-yellowish underneath with legs having dark crossbands. Young earwigs (nymphs) are similar in appearance to adults. They are white to olive-green and lack wings.
For best control indoors, one must first control earwigs outdoors. Since they are attracted to lights, reduce lighting around doors, windows and other potential entry sites. Use good night light discipline and special sodium vapor yellow lights (less attractive to insects) instead of white, neon or mercury vapor lights.
Earwigs need and are very attracted to moisture. High populations, practically invisible during the day, may be present around foundations, in landscaped yards, in mulch, under boards, etc. Be sure to eliminate damp, moist conditions in crawl spaces under houses, around faucets, around air-conditioning units and along house foundations. Rain gutters and spouts should carry water away from the house foundation. Use caulking compound, putty and weather stripping around doors, windows, pipes and other entry sites, especially at the ground level. Change landscaping by creating a clean, dry border immediately around the foundation wall. Gravel or ornamental stones can make an attractive barrier against earwigs and other pest invaders.
Scorpions are members of the class Arachnida and are closely related to spiders, mites, and ticks. They are commonly thought of as desert dwellers, but they also live in Brazilian forests, British Columbia, North Carolina, and even the Himalayas. These hardy, adaptable arthropods have been around for hundreds of millions of years, and they are nothing if not survivors.
There are almost 2,000 scorpion species, but only 30 or 40 have strong enough poison to kill a person. The many types of venom are effectively tailored to their users' lifestyles, however, and are highly selected for effectiveness against that species' chosen prey.
Scorpions typically eat insects, but their diet can be extremely variable—another key to their survival in so many harsh locales. When food is scarce, the scorpion has an amazing ability to slow its metabolism to as little as one-third the typical rate for arthropods. This technique enables some species to use little oxygen and live on as little as a single insect per year. Yet even with lowered metabolism, the scorpion has the ability to spring quickly to the hunt when the opportunity presents itself—a gift that many hibernating species lack.
Such survival skills allow scorpions to live in some of the planet's toughest environments. Researchers have even frozen scorpions overnight, only to put them in the sun the next day and watch them thaw out and walk away. But there is one thing scorpions have a difficult time living without—soil. They are burrowing animals, so in areas of permafrost or heavy grasses, where loose soil is not available, scorpions may not be able to survive.
Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. All members of this group have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae. Adult insects have three pairs of legs and one pair of antennae. Ticks are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks take several days to complete feeding.
Ticks have four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult. After the egg hatches, the tiny larva (sometimes called a “seed tick”) feeds on an appropriate host. The larva then develops (molts) into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult. Both male and female adults find and feed on a host, then the females lay eggs sometime after feeding.
Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs (not from trees). When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump. Ticks found on the scalp have usually crawled there from lower parts of the body. Some species of ticks will crawl several feet toward a host. Ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are about 45o Fahrenheit.
There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called the “hard” ticks and “soft” ticks. Hard ticks, like the common dog tick, have a hard shield just behind the mouthparts (sometimes incorrectly called the “head”); unfed hard ticks are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and they are shaped like a large raisin. Soft ticks prefer to feed on birds or bats and are seldom encountered unless these animals are nesting or roosting in an occupied building.
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