Guide to identify insects in your house
Whether you live in a house or an apartment, whether the property is old or modern, it is a perfect environment for pests. Even if some insects are harmless or just passing by, they can quickly become a real problem and cause damage to your home.
Plus, some insects pose health risks, proliferate rapidly, and can spread disease. In all cases, to avoid an infestation, it’s important to know how to identify potential insects that could infiltrate your house and identify the first signs of infestation to take appropriate measures.
How to identify house insects?
Identifying house insects is not an easy task. Because of the many species of insects that can infect your home, it can be complex to identify an insect correctly. This is why it is recommended to call an exterminator.
If an infestation occurs in your home, many objects or pieces of furniture may be gnawed, punctured, or soiled. In fact, this is one of the first signs of the presence of insects.
Insects are attracted to many things, including food, moisture, heat, darkness, water, etc. If you think you may have an infestation, be sure to check all damp or dark areas of your house.
It’s essential to know how to recognize the different species in order to get rid of them quickly. To help you identify them, here are the main orders of insects and their characteristics:
The main orders of insects
The order Hemiptera is a group of insects whose main actors are bed bugs. The members of this order are all characterized by long antennae, biting mouth tips, and two pairs of wings.
All the insects belonging to this order have a morphology that leads them to suck the sap of plants or suck the blood of insects or humans. Given their intrusive feeding habits, these insects are likely to be vectors of many diseases.
Beetles are the order of insects with the largest number of described species (more than 400,000 species identified and grouped into 500 families). These insects are quite easily recognizable by their shell and their pair of hardened forewings (weevils, ladybugs, or beetles).
They are also characterized by crushing mandibles and mouthparts that allow them to grind their food so their diet is very varied (plants, insects, excrement, etc.).
The order of Dictyoptera is a superorder because it includes three different orders: Cockroaches (including cockroaches), Mantoptera, and Isoptera.
Less than 1% of its species interact with humans and are considered harmless. However, they affect hygiene and quality of life since they are species that reproduce very quickly and in large numbers.
The order of Siphonaptera, part of the family of fleas, is made up of insects characterized by their biting-sucking mouthparts. Because of their small size, fleas are difficult to identify with the naked eye but can wreak havoc as adults.
They are insects that live off the blood of their carriers. Because they pass from one person to another or from one animal to another, they can carry various diseases and be the source of many allergies.
Hymenoptera is an order of insects that are fairly easy to recognize since it consists of ants, bees, hornets, and wasps. It is a very diverse order of insects since it currently counts more than 130,000 species.
Insects in this order are characterized by their two pairs of membranous wings and crusher-and-licker-type mouthparts. They also have a remarkable property: the mother can decide the sex of her child. Pavement ants are the most common species in homes.
Common household bugs in Quebec homes
Cornfield ants are very common in Quebec. These small black insects measure between 2.2 mm and 3 mm. They live in very large colonies ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 ants.
These ants are attracted by sweet foods but also by rotten or damp pieces of wood. That is why you can find them in your bathrooms and in the kitchen under leaking appliances or in attics where there may be wood left behind.
As their name suggests, pavement ants are usually found outside the house, under paving stones. They are small, measuring between 2.5 mm and 3 mm, and are pale brown or black in color. Their particularity is that they have a lighter appendix than the rest of the body and parallel lines on the head and thorax.
The nests of the pavement ants are easy to recognize since they form small mounds of sand that you can find on the ground or the lawn. They are most active in spring and early summer.
Carpenter ants ?
Carpenter ants are the largest in this category. They measure between 6 mm to 13 mm long and are mostly black.
Carpenter ants are social insects since they live in society and with a hierarchical order: queen, worker, warrior. The queens are generally the largest in the anthill.
Carpenter ants chew wood (without eating it) to create their nests, so if you notice sawdust in the same place and hear scratching noises in the walls, you are probably looking at a colony of carpenter ants. Carpenter ants can cause considerable damage to the structure of your home.
Fleas are small wingless insects with a flattened body and 6 legs. They are characterized by their very small size of about 2.11 mm and their yellowish-brown color which can become darker when they gorge themselves on blood.
They are insects that live on the body of their carriers and feed on their blood. They are most common during hot and humid periods and can spread quickly by jumping from one body to another.
Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that enter your home to find shelter and food. Cockroach infestations can endanger the safety of your home and cause health problems (allergies, skin rashes, urinary tract infections, etc.).
In Quebec, the two most common cockroach species are the German cockroach and the American cockroach.
German cockroaches ?
The German cockroach is the most common species in homes. It measures between 10 mm to 16 mm long and has a bronze or dark brown tint.
These are species that live at night, so if you encounter them in broad daylight, it means that you are in the presence of a large infestation. German cockroaches are attracted to all types of food and garbage, so make sure you have impeccable hygiene in your home and don't leave your garbage outside. They are also species that reproduce very quickly, so you must identify them quickly to get rid of them.
American Cockroaches ?
The American cockroach is the largest of the cockroaches, measuring between 38mm and 40mm. It has a reddish-brown or orange color.
It is a very active species in rather hot environments (above 22 degrees Celsius) and can carry several bacteria and diseases.
Bed bugs have spread widely in Quebec in recent years. Although they do not transmit disease, they cause sleep and anxiety problems and cause itching and unpleasant lesions because of their bites.
Often invisible to the eye, they measure between 4 mm and 7 mm and have a reddish-brown color. Bed bugs are often hidden during the day and come out at night to feed on the blood of the sleeper. Their bites are similar to those of mosquitoes.
These parasites live in many places, including beds, mattresses, furniture, clothing, cracks, switches, etc. They are very difficult to exterminate and the extermination procedure must be carried out by a pest management specialist.
Spiders can come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. However, those likely to invade your homes have eight legs and their bodies are divided into two parts: the head and the abdomen.
Among the 700 different species present in Quebec, only one named Cheiracanthium Mildei of yellowish or greenish hue can cause a skin reaction.
Earwigs are insects with a reddish-brown carapace, measuring between 1 cm and 2 cm in length. They have brownish-yellow legs and small, barely visible wings.
These small beasts are recognizable by their elongated shape and their forceps-like claws. These forceps are hard, mobile, and darker in color at the ends. They are used as a defensive weapon in case of attack.
The silverfish is a flat carrot-shaped insect that measures 1.25 cm in length and is characterized by its gray or silver color. It has two long, slender antennae on its head.
It is a lucifuge insect, which means that it avoids light and prefers the night. It takes refuge in narrow places such as under-bed pallets, baseboards, etc. Silverfish are one of the most harmless insects.
Pill bugs on the other hand, belong to the class of crustaceans. They are nocturnal animals that invade dark and isolated places such as basements and cellars. They have an oval shape of greyish color and measure about 13 mm to 15 mm long.
They have a soft shell, 7 pairs of legs, and 2 pairs of antennae. The peculiarity of pill bugs is that they have the habit of rolling into a ball when they feel in danger.
Harmless and unavoidable, dust mites are one of the biggest causes of allergies in people. They are invisible to the eye, have four pairs of legs, and measure 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm in length. They feed on microparticles of skin and hair that are strongly present in homes.
The most favorable places for the development of mites are bedrooms since they love soft sheets and warm mattresses. When sheltered there, they can provoke many allergic reactions, respiratory problems, itching, etc.