Types of Pests

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In the US today, there are numerous types of pests that can quickly overrun a home or business. They can appear anywhere, and at any time. Properties do not have to be dirty or substandard to be infested by pests. Some are obvious, such as the infuriating buzz of mosquitoes or the itchy bites caused by bed bugs. But not all pests are so noticeable.

Awareness of the potential threat to health and property is a good reason for taking sensible preventive measures. If ignored, some pests go unnoticed until it is too late and the damage is already done. This is often the case with termites, ants, and wasps.

In homes and businesses, the cost of controlling or eradicating an infestation can be high. These costs are not just monetary as health and social status can also suffer. Even the cleanest of dwellings can be infested if the conditions are right.

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The pest situation and the methods of controlling them are changing countrywide. Well-known pests are becoming resistant to certain pesticides. Newer pests, like Turkestan cockroaches, are spreading at an alarmingly fast rate. Different treatments are now available, while some older ones are restricted by legislation.

Everyone at risk from pests should be able to go to one source for up-to-date, accurate information to make informed decisions. Pest Helpers is designed to do just that. These pages contain valuable background and identification information, as well as treatment advice for the pest types shown below.


Except for Alaska, termites are found in every US state and can be extremely destructive. They attack over 600,000 homes a year, at a huge cost to the owners. The Formosan termite alone is blamed for up to $2 billion a year in damage and repair costs.

Most termites prefer a warmer climate, but certain species threaten properties in the north of the country. Some attacks are immediately obvious but others can remain undetected for months or years, by which time the damage can be extensive. Termite species often differ in their habits, so pest control activities have to be tailored to the species and location.

Bed bugs

Virtually unheard of in the US a decade ago, bed bugs have now become a serious pest due to the increase in travel, domestic and international. Bed bugs can infest any home or business, no matter how clean. The social stigma that follows an outbreak can be as distressing as the bites themselves. Hotels have suffered costly damage to their reputation due to infestations reported in the press.

Some people have no obvious reaction to the bites, so bed bugs can be multiplying without the property owner being aware a problem exists. These troubling pests can also stay dormant for months, making successful eradication difficult. There are many treatment options available but choosing the right one can be a challenge.


Roaches are remarkable survivors. They can eat practically anything and live in a wide range of environments. Due to their unsavory habits, they may carry various diseases which can be passed on to humans. Any food-related business can face severe penalties if roaches are not properly controlled.

Although roaches can thrive virtually anywhere, most species show a preference for certain temperatures and humidity. This often leads to one species being the dominant pest in a particular location or situation.

These insects are master hitchhikers, often appearing unexpectedly. Their ability to survive a wide variety of conditions means that destroying them is not always easy.


Due to the speed with which they can infest a property, ants have been called the number one nuisance pest in the US. They can invade through small cracks in walls, leaving chemical trails for others to follow. Colonies can number in the tens of thousands of individual ants. And yet, whole colonies can be moved very quickly when threatened.

Ants can be more than a nuisance as they create health risks due to food contamination. Certain species can also damage property. With over 700 species of ant in the US, identifying which one is causing the trouble can be hard. Their biology and habits can make them difficult to eliminate.


Swarms of buzzing mosquitoes can quickly ruin a barbecue or destroy a good night’s sleep. But mosquitoes can be more than annoying, they can carry life-threatening diseases.

West Nile virus is now the most common disease spread by adult female mosquitoes, but other diseases have been reported from around the country. Not only humans are at risk. Heartworm in dogs is carried by mosquitoes and has been recorded from every state.

Mosquitoes can increase in number at an alarming rate. Property owners will want to do all they can to protect themselves and their families against this irritating and potentially dangerous pest.


Spiders are commonly seen in houses and businesses. For most people, they are not thought of as pests because they feed on insects. For others, the very sight of a spider can create anxiety.

Only two species of spider found in the US are classed as dangerous, with a small number of others that have painful bites. If these species are encountered, it is wise to seek the help of a professional exterminator. Even harmless spiders can prove troublesome. Several species spin webs that become large and unsightly. In most cases, do-it-yourself treatment will be adequate but sometimes the removal of spiders can be hard and professional help is required.


Wasps can be found in every state of the US. Although most wasps are beneficial as natural pest controllers or plant pollinators, not all species are welcome by homeowners. For those allergic to wasp stings, even a single sting may prove fatal so having a nest on the property poses an unacceptable risk. Some nests can contain hundreds of workers. If these nests are disturbed, the workers can become aggressive. Even those not allergic will be at risk.

Wasp nests, depending on the species, can result in damage to wallboards and ceilings. Although some do-it-yourself treatments can be effective, it may be wise to use a pest control professional.


There are many types of fly. Some are harmless or rarely seen, and others can be beneficial. However, those species that invade homes and businesses can quickly become a serious pest. The problems they cause may differ depending on the type of fly.

House flies are linked to numerous health risks due to their life cycle and feeding habits. Vinegar flies can adversely affect a business’s reputation, while their relative, the Mediterranean fruit fly, is a destructive agricultural pest.

Other species, such as cluster flies and drain flies, present a nuisance value that needs to be removed. Do-it-yourself treatments may work well but often pest exterminators will be needed for an effective solution.