Common Insects E-mail




Body: Termites undergo incomplete metamorphosis. Freshly hatched young appear as tiny termites that grow without significant morphological changes (other than wings and soldier specializations).

Diet: Termites mostly fee on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil or animal dung. All termites eat cellulose in its various forms as plant fiber. Cellulose is a rich energy source (as demonstrated by the amount of energy released when wood is burned_, but remains difficult to digest. Termites rely primarily upon symbiotic protozoa such as Trichonympha, and other microbes in their gut to digest the cellulose for them and absorb the end products for their own use.

Nest: Termite workers build and maintain nests which house the colony. These are elaborate structures made using a combination of soil, mud, chewed wood/cellulose, saliva and feces. A nest has many functions such as providing a protected living space and water conservation (though controlled condensation). There are nursery chambers deep within the nest where eggs and first instar larvae are tended. Nests are commonly built underground, in large pieces of timber, inside fallen trees or atop living trees. Some species build nests above-ground, and they can develop into mounds. Homeowners need to be careful of tree stumps that have not been dug up. These are prime candidates for termite nests and being close to homes, termites usually end up destroying the siding and sometimes even wooden beams.

Fun Facts: Did you know? There is an estimated 4,000 species of Termites! A female that has flown, mated, and is producing eggs is called a "queen". Similarly, a male that has flown, mated, and is in proximity to a queen is termed a "king". A termite queen can live for 45 years!

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The difference between a winged ant & a winged termite:



Body: Scorpion bodies have two parts, a head and an abdomen. The head is covered by a hard bony outer covering which supports a pair of median eyes at the top center. The front corners of the head contain 2 - 5 pairs of eyes. Scorpions also have mouthparts, & a pair of claws. Scorpion abdomens are the main body and the tail. The body contains the lungs, digestive organs and sexual organs, & has 4 pairs of walking legs and the claws. The posterior part of the body curves up and ends in the telson, which is the part containing the venom glands and a sharp, curved needle which delivers the venom. Most scorpions are between 2 - 3 inches in length.

Nest: Scorpions adapted to a large range of environments like plains, Savannah's, deciduous forests, mountainous pine forests, rain forests and caves. There are about 90 species are found in the U.S. Venom: All scorpions possess venom and can sting, but their natural tendencies are to hide and escape. Scorpions can control the venom flow, so some sting incidents are venom less or only mild. During the 1980's Mexico averaged about 800 deaths each year. However, in the past 20 years there have been no reported deaths in the US due to scorpion stings.

Fun Facts: The longest scorpion in the world is probably the African Scorpion which grows to over 8 inches in length.

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Body: Silverfish are little, wingless insects. They are a metallic, silvery grey color. Often people refer to them as having a fish-like appearance. Their movements are also similar to those of a fish. Silverfish are long & flat insects usually between ½ an inch - 1 inch in length. Silverfish usually live between 2 - 8 years.

Diet: Starchy foods high in carbs and protein as well as glue, book bindings, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing, dandruff, cotton, linen, silk and synthetic fibers, and dead insects or even its own moulted exoskeleton. During famine, a silverfish may even attack synthetic fabrics. Silverfish can live for a year or more without eating.

Fun Facts: Did you know? Silverfish have been called Silverfish since 1855? From 1758-1855 Silverfish were called by their scientific name Lepisma Saccharina.

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Black Widow

Venom: Back Widow Spiders can have an incredibly painful bite that can be fatal to mostly the elderly & the young. But don‘t worry, an anti-venom was created in 1956 that has been effective. If you get bitten, the pain surrounding the bitten area can be very strong. Where in other cases, you may not even know you were bitten . If you or anyone you know are bitten by a Black Widow you should find medical attention as quickly as you possibly can. If the person bitten has some kind of heart problem, they may need to be hospitalized.

Body: Female Adult Black Widow bodies can be up to 1/2 inch long (males are about half their size). The female black widow is what most people know as a black widow. Female Black Widows have the red spot on their abdomen. The red spot has been known to range in shape & color from yellow/orange to red & the marking on the abdomen can resemble an hourglass or look like a circle on shiny black background. Males usually have bands of yellow & red as well as spots over their back.

Nesting Area: Wood or rubble piles, under rocks, in hollow tree trunks, in sheds and garages, in crawl spaces, & basements.

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Brown Recluse

Venom: The Brown Recluse venom can cause major injuries by killing cells, causing tissue loss.

Body: An adult Brown Recluse can be anywhere between ¼ in. to ¾ in. & are often referred to as having aviolin shaped body. Brown Recluse are brown. The abdomen of a Brown Recluse is covered with short bushy hairs and the leg joints may look like look a little lighter in color.

Nesting Area: Brown Recluse can be found anywhere in the U.S., mostly in the southern states. They prefer cool, dark places.

Fun Facts: Did you know? Brown Recluse have only 6 eyes when other spiders have 8. One set of eyes are in front & the other two sets are on either side.

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Body: Depending on the species, the body length of tarantulas can range from 1 in. to 4 in. & they can have leg spans of 3 in. to 12 in. However, most species in the U.S. measure less than 6 in. long with their legs extended. Males are longer & females are bigger in girth. The majority of tarantulas found in North America are brown but in different areas they have been known to be colors such as deep blue, black with white stripes, having yellow markings on their legs, metallic blue legs with bright orange abdomens, the list could go on.

Nest Area: Speaking in general, they prefer warm places. Different species learn to adapt to life in the trees or on the ground. Tarantulas in the U.S. can usually be found in places that are west of the Mississippi River and south of Missouri.

Fun Facts: The goliath birdeater, found in South America, is referred to the world’s largest spider having been recorded weighing as much as 5.3oz. with a leg span of 12in.


Wolf Spider

Body: An adult Wolf Spider can be from a 1/2 in. to more than 1 in. long. They appear to be a mottled gray to brown in color, and sometimes have (what some call) a Union Jack impression on its back (lines crisscrossed).

Venom: A bite from a Wolf Spider is poisonous but it is not lethal. Although Wolf Spiders are not normally aggressive, they will bite freely if they are provoked & can be dangerous to humans. The bite may be very painful & medical attention should be given as soon as possible, especially when an elderly person or a child has been bitten.

Nest Area: This spider is a ground dweller, with a burrow retreat. It has a roving nocturnal lifestyle to hunt their prey and can move very rapidly when disturbed. Commonly found around the home, in garden areas with a silk lined burrow, sometimes.



Body: Centipedes have a rounded or flattened head with a pair of antennae. Past the head, the body has fifteen or more segments each with a single pair of legs. Centipedes can have over 300 legs but there are always an odd number of pairs.

Nest: Most Centipedes live in soil or leaf litter, but some are strictly nocturnal & hunt freely at night, then hide under logs and rocks during the day to keep moist.

Fun Fact: Did you know? The definition of Centipede literally means thousand foot?

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Body: Most Earwigs have a pair of pincers on their abdomen & a pair of wings folded underneath short forewings. Even though they are capable, Earwigs rarely fly. Their average life span is one year. During this time they may undergo as many as 5 molts.

Nest: Earwigs are nocturnal & often hide in small, moist areas during the day.

Fun Fact: Did you know? Earwig fossils have been found dating back 208 million years.

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German Cockroach

Body: German Cockroaches can be anywhere in color from tan to brown or even black with two dark parallel lines from the head to the wings. They cannot fly even though they have wings & they’re bodies are shaped like a long, almost like a rounded rectangle.

Nests: German Roaches can be found in human dwellings & anywhere else a human may be. A female German Cockroach carries an egg capsule containing around 40 eggs. When the egg is close to hatching she will drop the capsule.

Diet: German Cockroaches eat starch, sugary foods, grease & meats. If there is a shortage of food, they may eat everyday items like soap, glue & toothpaste.

Fun Facts: Did you know? The German cockroach is actually from Asia. They are very close in relation to the Asian cockroach & can be confused with them. From egg to adulthood it takes 1 - 2 months. Cockroaches can live up to one year.

Did you know? Female German Cockroaches can produce up to eight egg cases in a single lifetime producing 300 to 400 offspring. In some cases a female may only be impregnated once to be able to lay eggs for the rest of her life.

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Body: Millipedes can have 47 to 197 pairs of legs. Millipedes have a hard exoskeleton and many jointed legs.

Nest: Millipedes live on land under rocks, in rotting logs, in leaf debris, & sometimes in burrows.

Diet: Most millipedes eat dead and decaying plant material, but some also eat meat.

Fun Facts: When they are in danger, millipedes curl up in a spiral to protect their soft undersides. They may also spray a bad-smelling liquid that repels many predators.

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Body: Mosquitoes develop in as little as 5 days from egg to adult but usually it takes 10-14 days. Mosquitoes are always less than 16 mm long & weigh up to 2 ½ mg. A Mosquito’s body has 3 sections. The head, thorax & abdomen.

Nest: Mosquitoes can nest anywhere from salt or freshwater marshes to temporary woodland pools, fresh water ponds, running water, tires, buckets, gutters, ditches, etc… They can nest just about any place that has water nearby.

Fun Facts: Did you know? Male Mosquitoes only live for a week? Males eat nectar & other sugars while females require blood meals to develop their eggs.

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Argentine Ants


Body: Argentine worker ants are about 3 mm long making it easy to squeeze through cracks & holes. Queens are 2 to 4 times the length of their workers.

Nests: They will nest in the ground, in the cracks of concrete, between boards & timbers & sometimes in human dwellings you will find a nest within the human’s belongings. They will also nest in shallow leaves or under small rocks.

Fun Facts: If another species of ants abandon their nest an Argentine Ant colony will move into it.


Fire Ants

Body: They have two humps between their thorax and abdomen. The workers have ten antennal segments. Males that have wings also have black bodies and smaller heads than females. Reproductive males and females have wings but worker ants do not. Queens are large & wingless & there can be multiple queens per colony.

Nest: They will build their mound in any open, sunny place as well as rotting logs, stumps & in or under buildings.

Fun Facts: In the 1930s, colonies of fire ants were accidentally brought to the U.S. by infested goods in cargo ships from Brazil. Since then they have spread all over South America.

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Carpenter Ants

Body: Carpenter Ant Workers can be 6-12 mm long & can range in color from brownish orange to dark brown, to black.

Nests: Can you guess where these little critters like to nest? That’s right! They like to make their nests in wood, moist wood usually. They create tunnels & passageways to move about the nest. They can also build their nests in soil, twigs, branches & even timbers of a building.

Fun Facts: Some colonies can get as big as 100,000 workers! Can you believe that? And with that many workers they have to have several queens & multiple nesting places. They will also travel a long way in search of food.

For more info on carpenter ants, click here

Grease Ants (Similar to Sugar Ants)

Body: At only 1 to 1.5 mm long, these little guys are one of the smallest ants around. They are shiny & can be yellow, light brown or dark brown in color.

Nests: Grease Ants like to nest in cracks & crevices of walls & cabinets, behind baseboards & under floors. They can travel a long way to find food so it is usually hard to find where their nests are.

Fun Facts: Grease Ants will eat most anything but like usually like to eat grease, fats & meats. Insecticides that can be purchased at your local store have been known to work up to 2 weeks however Grease Ants are persistent little guys & always find their way back. The best way to get rid of Grease Ants is by calling Mike Nelson Exterminating.

Sugar Ants

Body: Sugar Ants are orange-brown in color.

Nests: These little guys are so small that their tiny little nests can be found between two pieces of paper. Sometimes they will nest in your clothes, furniture, or even food but usually you will find them hidden in your light fixtures, under rocks, in trash cans, under floors & behind baseboards. They like to be warm & they like it to be dark so you’ll most likely find them in the kitchen, bathroom or where ever hot water pipes can be found.

Fun Facts: Some things that can attract Sugar Ants can be food that has been left out, wounds & medical equipment.


Body: Wasps have a hard exoskeleton covering all three main body parts. They have a head, mesosma & metasoma. Wasps have three sets of two legs, compound eyes & several simple eyes or ocelli. Sometimes you can distinguish between genders of wasps based on the number of divisions on their antennae. (ie: Male yellow jacket wasps, have 13 divisions per antenna, females have 12).

Diet: Most Wasps eat nectar as adults. Some social wasps are omnivorous who eat off of fallen fruit, & carrion.

Nest: The nest depends on the species and the location. Most social wasps produce paper pulp nests on trees, in attics, holes in the ground or other sheltered areas with access to the outdoors. Wasp create a paper-like substance primarily from wood pulp. Wood fibers are gathered from weathered wood &softened by chewing & mixing it with their saliva. The pulp is then used to make combs with cells.

Fun Facts: Did you know? Adult male wasps will occasionally visit flowers to eat nectar a lot like a honey bee does. Occasionally, some species will even invade honey bee nests to steal their honey.