The red hourglass on the abdomen of the Black Widow makes it one of the most easily recognized spiders. It has a bulbous, shiny black body with sleek black legs. They are common in Southern California especially in the summer months. Their webs are extremely strong, messy (not the geometrical shape of other garden spiders), and are generally found 3 feet or lower. Their bite is painful and can be fatal to pets, small children, the elderly, and people with health issues.
The Brown Widow is not native to California, but it has quickly become prevalent on many homes. They have the same body shape as the black widow, but range in color from light brown to dark brown in color. They have striped legged and the easily identifiable orange hour glass on its abdomen. The build their webs in the same places as black widows but will also build them below your eaves. Their bite is comparable to the black widow.
Jumping Spiders got their name because they stalk and then leap on their prey. They have the ability to jump 25 times their own size! Their most noticeable feature is their colorful, iridescent or phosphorescent fangs which are a variety of colors including metallic blue or green. They are outdoor spiders and are considered beneficial.
Wolf Spiders are hairy, vary in color from grey to brown, and range in size from a ½ inch to 2 inches. They are sometimes mistaken as small tarantulas. They are hunters, feeding on a variety of insects. They are solitary spiders and live and hunt alone. Despite their large size, they are non-aggressive and will run away if they feel threatened. Their bite is painful but non-lethal although some may experience allergic reactions to it.
Because crickets hide in cracks and crevices and are active at night, most people don’t know they have crickets until they hear their chirping. Their most identifiable feature is their large back legs which they use for jumping or hopping. They are an outdoor pest but sometimes find their way inside under doors and through gaps in windows.
The Jerusalem Cricket can grow as large as 2 inches and its head can be the size of a small marble. It generally lives under dirt and is not noticed until a person is gardening or doing yard work. Because it is not seen often, many people mistake it for a mutated roach or a wingless bee when they encounter it for the first time. It is often referred to as a Potato Bug. It is generally non-aggressive and is considered beneficial.
The Varied Carpet Beetle often goes un-noticed because of its small size, but if spotted in its adult stage it is generally described as a small ladybug greyish or tannish in color. If spotted in its larval stage, it resembles a furry worm that is brown or tan in color. It feeds on pollen in its adult stage, but is considered destructive in its larval stage feeding on natural fiber carpet, leather, animal fur, feathers, and even dead insects.
Earwigs are also called pincher bugs because of the pincher-like appendages on the back of their abdomen. Earwigs are often found in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas or any place where it is dark, cool, and damp. They can be found outside under dead leaves and mulch.
Silverfish (also known as Bristletails) are silver or greyish in color and have 3 long bristle-like appendages on the posterior of its body. They prefer a humid environment and are often found in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, closets, and basements. They are fast moving and are active mainly at night. When squished they leave a powdery residue much like a butterfly or moth.
The House Centipede averages 1 to 1 ½ inches in length and has 15 pairs of legs enabling it to move extremely fast. Despite its ugly appearance, it is considered a beneficial insect, eating silverfish, carpet beetle larvae, cockroaches, spiders, bed bugs, and other insects. They are harmless to humans.
The Plasterbag Bug is also known as the Plaster Bagworm or Casemaking Moth. The larva spends its entire time inside the case until it emerges as a moth. It makes the case from silk, debris, soil, and other material. It mainly eats spider webs in its larval stage, but will also eat material made of wool. As an adult its only mission is to mate before it dies. It does not eat and is not destructive in the adult stage.
The Crane Fly averages 2 ½ inches in length, and is often mistaken for a large mosquito or a mosquito hawk. In its adult stage, the Crane fly does not eat; it’s only mission is to mate and lay eggs. In its larval stage it feeds on decaying vegetation and is considered a beneficial insect. Despite its large size, it is completely harmless to humans.
The Stink Bug or Stink Beetle is a common sight in our deserts and mountain areas. They are often confused with the Oriental roach. The main difference between the two is the Stink bug has a pointed rear-end while the Oriental roach has a rounded posterior. When threatened, they stand on their head, raise their rear-ends in the air, and let out a noxious, foul tasting spray. The spray is not harmful although it may be painful if it gets in your eyes. Even though they have wings, they are fused together so they cannot fly.
The American Roach is often referred to as a Water Bug because they are often found in damp areas. It averages up to 2 inches in length and is the largest roach that invades homes. They are mainly outdoor bugs but if found indoors they will generally be found in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry areas. If you find large populations of American roaches inside, it is a good indicator that you may have leaky pipes or a water issue.
The Oriental Roach is black in color and averages about an inch in length. It is also known as the Sewer roach or Black Beetle roach. They are generally found around sewer pipes or at ground level and are seldom found crawling on walls or in upper levels of buildings. They are considered one of the filthiest roaches because they prefer to feed on filth, decaying material, and rubbish.
The German Roach is probably the most recognized roach and also one of the most common household pests in the US. They are only ½ inch to ¾ inches in length and light brown to tan in color with two black horizontal stripes immediately behind the head. They are mostly found in kitchens and bathrooms hiding inside cracks and crevices, and hiding underneath as well as inside household appliances. The presence of German roaches in large numbers usually indicates a sanitation issue.
The Indian Meal Moth is the most common pest of stored food in homes and stores. They are easily identifiable by their bi-colored wings which are reddish brown with a copper luster. They are known to infest a variety of products including dried pet food, bird seed, cereal, pasta, rice, flour, dried fruit, and any grain based product. They are generally brought into the home in pre-packaged food and quickly infest other food products. 85% of resolving an Indian Meal Moth infestation is the finding and disposing of the infested product.
The House Mouse is light-brown or grey in color with a white to light grey under belly. It is 5 to 7 inches long including its 3 to 4 inch tail. Its size enables it to fit into a hole the size of a dime and its main entry point into the home is generally through gaps under the door, around the windows, or around the pipes leading into your home.
The Roof Rat is also known as the Black Rat, Fruit Rat, or Tree Rat. They are the acrobats of the rodent family and are excellent climbers as wells as tight-rope walkers. They can climb up rain gutters, scale up stucco walls, and run across electrical and phone lines. Their body measures between 6 to 8 inches and their tail adds another 7 to 10 inches to their length. They can fit through a hole the size of a quarter and like to inhabit attics and false ceilings. They have also been known to nest in car engines. People usually become aware of them in their house when they hear loud noises or scratching noises coming from their attic. Roof Rats are most active an hour after sunset or an hour before sunrise.
The Norway Rat is known by many names including Wharf Rat, Brown Rat, Barn Rat, and Sewer Rat. It is larger than the roof rat with its body averaging 7 to 10 inches and its tail averaging 6 to 8 inches. Its body is covered in shaggy brownish or greyish fur. Although it can climb it is not very agile and tends to inhabit lower floors. It typically nests in underground burrows which are close to water, and it comes out at night to forage for food.