Occasional invaders are as abundant as the stars in the sky and can flourish anywhere, both in and around your home or business, wherever food can be found. Just because a common insect may be small though, doesn't mean it is not dangerous. At the very least they can be a nuisance. Although these little creatures can be pesky and sometimes dangerous, common occasional invaders actually play an important role in our lives. Insects, like the honeybee, aid man just by getting their food. It is important to determine occasional invaders by insect identification.
The most distinguishing physical feature of the earwig is the claw-like forceps located on the hind end of the abdomen. Earwigs are 5/8 of an inch long and dark reddish-brown. They become a pest when they seek shelter in homes and businesses. Some tunnel as deep as 6' into the ground to escape the cold. The name earwig is from a European superstition that these insects entered the ears of a sleeping person and bored into the brain and caused insanity. This belief is, of course, totally unfounded but a good way to scare children.
Centipedes and Millipedes
Centipedes and millipedes are not insects because they have more than six legs, but they are closely related invertebrates. When outdoors, these invertebrates are innocuous organisms, but when they share living space with us they may be considered pests. Both of these groups of invertebrates have long, segmented bodies with either one pair (centipedes) or two pairs (millipedes) of legs on each segment.
Crickets are closely related to grasshoppers and locusts. Like them, they have the hind legs which are modified for jumping. Crickets will accidentally
invade homes and businesses, but only rarely will they reproduce there. The usual point of entry is through open or poorly fitted doors and cracks in doors, windows, foundations or siding. These factors can contribute to cricket invasions and the damage they cause.
Sowbugs and Pillbugs
These crustaceans are actually not insects they are arthropods, meaning they have a segmented body connected by pairs. They are brownish to slate gray in color, measuring up to 3/4 of an inch long. Their body segments look like armor, giving them the look of an armadillo. They have one set of eyes, seven sets of legs and two sets of antennae. These creatures have the ability to roll up into a tight ball when disturbed, this is how they've gotten the nick name "rollie-pollie".
The gnats you see in and around your home or business could be one of many different small flies. Some of the most common are fungus gnats, fruit flies and drain flies. Fungus gnats typically breed in soggy soil within potted plants. Fruit flies are drawn by ripening fruit and recycling bins. Drain flies begin in sewers and emerge through the drains into the home or business.
Ticks and Fleas
Ticks feed on the blood of vertebrate animals and can transmit diseases such as Lyme Disease. Ticks are very small, 1/50 to 1/8 of an inch long, and can be found on the tips of grasses and shrubs searching for host animals.
Fleas are small insects under 1/4 of an inch long and dark brown. They are usually found on cats and dogs, but some fleas will attack other animals and humans as well.