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bees and wasps
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bees and wasps
pre purchase inspections
Our PEST LIBRARY
Ants are a very social insect and usually live in organized colonies. Within these colonies the ants are divided into workers, queens, and males. The worker ants are always female and are without wings. As their title implies, the worker ants perform most of the work in the colony which includes foraging for food, caring for eggs and pupae, and building or expanding the nest.
Queen ants are generally the largest insects in the colony, and are responsible for laying eggs. Male ants, or reproductive’s, only serve to inseminate the queens and usually die within 2 weeks of insemination. If the queen ants of the species are winged, the males are winged also.
Although there are 700 different species of ants in Australia, only 25 of these species will actually infest a home.
Identifying an Ant
Ants have a very elaborate body structure, with three distinct regions (head, thorax, and abdomen). Attached to the head are 2 antennae, often featuring an elbow-like joint. In terms of size, ants range from less than 1/16 of an inch to over an inch in length, depending on the species.
Ant’s Life Cycle
An ant’s life cycle is classified as a complete metamorphosis, meaning the ant has 4 stages which include egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Queen ants are responsible for laying eggs and require fertilization only once in their lifetime, after which they can continue laying eggs until death. If the queen is of a winged species, she will often chew them off after being inseminated. In most cases an inseminated queen will also leave her current colony to found another.
The species of ants that infest homes can be divided into two groups: those that nest in walls and those that nest in the ground.
Most species of ants tend to tail in a line along edges, such as baseboards in houses and foundation edges on the exterior.
Worker ants are responsible for gathering food for the colony, and are coaxed into regurgitating that food in liquid form when another ant strokes it with their antennae.
BEES & WASPS
Bees have a somewhat mixed relationship with the human population. Although these insects are responsible for pollinating flowers and reducing many insect pests, their stings can be life-threatening to those who are allergic.
Identifying a Bee
Bees have short and somewhat rounded bodies, with long antennae. They fly with four wings, the front two being larger than the hind ones. The bumblebee is black and yellow in colour and has a very fuzzy appearance. Similar in appearance to the bumblebee is the carpenter bee, which only displays yellow hair on the top half of their bodies – the bottom usually being shiny and black. The honey bee can be distinguished from the others by its orange-brown colour.
The Damage Bees Can Cause
The greatest threat posed by bees is the danger of their stings; for those that are allergic, a bee sting can be fatal. In cases where the subject is not allergic, the sting is still very painful, although not usually life-threatening.
In most cases, bee stings occur only when the insect’s hive has been threatened or the bee has been provoked, such as having been stepped on. Aggressive behaviour is sometimes witnessed in the male carpenter bee which will hover in front of a person’s face or buzz around their head. However, this aggressive behaviour is not a threat, as the male carpenter bee does not have a stinger.
There are also situations where the bee’s nest, hive, or gallery causes damage to a structure. For example, the carpenter bee will burrow into wood to build cells for its eggs.
Bee’s Life Cycle
In social species, such as the bumblebee, an inseminated queen will spend the winter underground, emerging in the spring and building a hive. The queen lays only a few eggs initially, nourishing them with nectar. In the early season, the eggs hatch into sterile females (workers). As more workers hatch, the queen will increase the number of eggs laid.
In late summer the fertilized eggs laid by the queen become other queen bees. The founding queen will also lay unfertilized eggs will hatch into drone bees, which are males of the species.
Non-social bees, such as the carpenter bee, will build cells for their eggs, laying 1 egg per cell and providing nectar for a food source.
Depending on the species, a bee takes between 16-100 days to grow from egg to adult.
Most bees are not aggressive and will not search for something to attack, however, social bees will attack to defend their hive or nest. Africanized honey bees are considered to be aggressive and will sting with little provocation. Unlike other bees, the Africanized honey bee or swarm will pursue a victim for over 300 feet, whereas other bees will pursue less than 10.
Bumblebees forage for nectar and pollen, travelling up to 3 miles in their search, and store very little honey in their nest. Honey bees, on the other hand, will store significant quantities of honey in their hives.
Cockroaches have existed for more than 400 million years and those that exist today are virtually indistinguishable from the first of the species. Cockroaches are commonly found in groups but are not considered social insects – meaning that they do not co-operate for survival the way ants and bees do.
Identifying a Cockroach
There are several different species of cockroaches, each visually distinct from others. In fact, there are more than 70 different types that have taken up residence in various parts of the continent. The American Cockroach ranges between 1 and 2 inches long and is reddish-brown in colour. In the American species, both males and females have wings, but they are only poor to moderately good fliers.
Even more important than the American Cockroach is the German Cockroach – which is, by far, the most common. These cockroaches are less than 1 inch long and light brown in colour. Both the male and female rarely fly.
The Damage Cockroaches Can Cause
Cockroaches have a reputation for being indiscriminate eaters, willing to feed on almost anything that has nutritive value. For this reason, they can be a disastrous pest for restaurants and homes.
In addition to damaging goods, Cockroaches are also well known to carry common disease pathogens, such as salmonella and can cause allergic reactions in people.
A Cockroach’s Life Cycle
A cockroach’s life cycle is considered to be a simple metamorphosis going through the stages of an egg to nymph to adult. Depending on the species, the female will lay between 4 and 60 eggs, and in some species, the female can lay eggs without male fertilization.
Given its relatively short development time, a German Cockroach population can produce 3-4 generations each year, with each generation of females laying between 30-40 eggs every cycle.
Cockroaches that live within human establishments are generally nocturnal, although they may be active during the day when the infestation is very large and hiding spaces are too crowded. Although cockroaches can live in widely varying environments, warm and humid areas are preferred.
German Cockroaches are generally found in warm areas such as kitchens and bathrooms but will venture to other areas where people often eat, such as the den or bedroom. These cockroaches commonly gain entrance to a building or home through paper products or second-hand appliances.
There are four species of flea which are found across Australia: the cat flea, the dog flea, the human flea, and the oriental rat flea. Although named for their most common host, each of these species has a range of animals that it will bite. In most cases, cats, dogs, and humans are on all of these lists.
Identifying a Flea
Fleas are very small, measuring only 1/8 of an inch. They are wingless and range in colour from brownish-black to reddish black (when engorged with blood). They have thin bodies with long legs, which are well developed for jumping.
Flea larvae, which are 1/4 of an inch long, are sometimes easier to find than the adult insects given their size, and the fact they are whitish in colour and without legs.
The Damage Fleas Can Cause
Fleas belong to a grouping of insects called blood-feeders, meaning that their favoured source of nutrients is animal or human blood. Flea bites can be painful and itchy, creating a specific nuisance for infested pets. However, beyond the discomfort they cause, fleas are also dangerous carriers of disease such as the plague, murine typhus, and tapeworm.
Flea’s Life Cycle
An adult female can lay 400-500 eggs in a lifetime, usually distributing 4-8 eggs at a time, after each blood meal. The eggs hatch in 1-12 days, releasing the legless flea larvae. These larvae are able to move using abdominal hooks, feeding on organic debris and the faecal blood of adult fleas.
After a few weeks or several months, depending on the species and conditions, the larvae will spin a cocoon using surrounding debris as camouflage. This papal stage can last from less than a week to more than a year, releasing an adult flea at the end. Without intervention, a flea can live for approximately 1 year.
Although commonly thought of in association with animals, fleas can be present in buildings that are pet-free. In these cases, initial fleas will have been brought in on human clothes or other items.
In homes with pets, the flea infestation will likely be concentrated around the pet’s bed and its other most frequented areas. However, given their jumping abilities, fleas can travel throughout the home in search of a host.
It is also important to note, that fleas can be present in homes that have been uninhabited for some time. Although an adult flea will seek a blood meal each day, they can live for several months on stored body fat.
Widely distributed throughout the world, the common house fly (Musca domestica) is one of the most prevalent of all insects, which can make fly control difficult. Adults are strong fliers, and can travel up to 20 miles, although they are found primarily within two miles of the larval food site. When feeding, house flies regurgitate liquid from the stomach to dissolve food, then use their sponging mouthparts to suck it up.
They leave faecal spots, or “specks,” where they have walked, and in this way may transfer disease organisms to humans and animals. In rural areas, flies can be a nuisance when they gather on the outside walls of homes and buildings on summer evenings.
Note: House flies are known to spread diseases such as conjunctivitis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, anthrax, cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery.
Females deposit 2-21 egg masses, each containing about 130 white eggs in manure or fermenting vegetation such as grass clippings and garbage.
Hatching takes place in 10-24 hours; the young maggots become fully grown in 3-7 days, crawl to the margins of the breeding material and pupate.
The papal stage may vary in length considerably, but in warm weather can be about three days. When adults emerge they begin mating immediately. An entire life cycle; egg, larva, pupa to winged adult may occur in 6-10 days under warm, moist conditions. Adults may live an average of 30 days.
Sanitation is the most effective and important step in controlling house flies. Dry and wrap organic waste before placing it in the garbage can. Seal garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. Screen windows and doors to keep pests out. Use indoor fly traps or sticky tape to control pests inside the house. Keep the Big Stinky outdoors to reduce the number of adult pests during warm weather.
Tip: Plain boiling water is an excellent (and inexpensive) way to kill maggots in garbage cans.
Mice Control is Important
Mice will frequently infest human structures such as homes and storage units, seeking food and shelter. These intruders create a nuisance due to noise, destructive eating and nesting habits, and a potential health threat as the carriers of disease.
Mice are covered with hair and have short legs and a hairless, but soft looking, tail. When moving, a mouse’s long body can be seen. However, when stationary, mice tend to look squat.
Their front feet have 4 toes, while their hind ones have 5. A mouse’s teeth are comprised of molars and chisel-like incisors, with a gap of space due to an absence of canine teeth.
Since mice are nocturnal and shy from human activity, it is common for people to discover droppings before sighting the actual mouse. Mouse droppings are rod or pellet-shaped, 1/8″-1/4″ long and generally brown in colour.
The Damage Mice Can Cause
While making their nests, mice seek a great variety of materials and can cause severe damage to upholstered items and paper products in the process. However, it is the potential spread of disease that creates the greatest concern.
Mice are known to spread Salmonella and tapeworm through their droppings, as well as carry ticks and mites infected with other agents. Depending on the species of mouse, there are also other disease concerns.
For example, the deer mouse is a known carrier of the hantavirus, which causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). This virus is not transmitted to humans from a bite, but rather from the inhalation of dust particles contaminated with a mouse’s urine or faecal matter. This is a very serious, life-threatening disease.
Most mice will not bite unless provoked by handling or another contact. However, a mouse bite can transmit rat-bite fever.
A mouse’s gestation period lasts less than a month and a female mouse will have 1-10 young per litter, depending on the species and current conditions. Young mice are born blind and naked, feeding on milk for approximately 1 month before being weaned.
The young mice reach sexual maturity after 5-6 weeks and each year a mouse is capable of producing 2-4 litters. When predators are not a factor, mice can live up to 8 years.
Mice are generally socialized, living in hierarchies with one male dominating the lower ranks. All mice living in one territory will generally be related, and outsiders are usually dealt with aggressively.
Most mice are nocturnal and shy of human activity. They are generally able to squeeze through tight openings and are usually excellent climbers. Mice are also able to swim but do not do so willingly. Although all other senses are keen, a mouse’s eyesight is relatively poor, being colour-blind and unable to see clearly beyond six inches.
Rats that infest human structures create a nuisance due to noise, destructive eating and nesting habits, and a potential health threat as the carriers of disease.
Identifying a Rat
Rats are covered with hair and have long bodies, short legs, and a hairless tail. Their front feet have four toes, while their hind ones have five. A rat’s teeth are comprised of molars and chisel-like incisors, with a gap of space due to an absence of canine teeth. The largest common rat in Australia is the sewer rat, which is usually between seven and nine and a half inches long.
The Damage Rats Can Cause in your property
Approximately 20% of the world’s food supply is lost to rat consumption or contamination. For example, the cotton rat is an agricultural pest that causes damage to crops and invades structures storing plant material.
Rats also pose a great threat as the carriers and spreaders of disease. Depending on the species, a rat may carry the Black Creek Canal Virus, infectious jaundice, rat-bite fever, and salmonellosis.
Rats’ Life Cycle
Rats are generally considered to be highly prolific breeders. Depending on the species, a rat can reach sexual maturity at as early as six weeks old.
Female rats gestate their litters internally, giving birth to live young who are then nourished with milk. Although born hairless and blind, young rats are generally independent within one month.
A rat will rarely live beyond one year in the wild.
The majority of rats are nocturnal and active year-round. They are generally shy creatures, usually with poor vision. Depending on the species, nests can be found both in upper parts of structures and in the ground.
Some rats, such as the black rat, are excellent runners, jumpers, and are even able to swim.
There are over 500 species of spiders living in Australia and over 35,000 known worldwide. Spiders are not insects but are arthropods of the class Arachnida.
Identifying a Spider
Spiders have two body regions, the head and the abdomen. This arthropod lacks antennae and has four pairs of slender legs. Male spiders are generally smaller than the females, though the exact sizes vary depending on the species. For example, an American house spider is about 3/16″ long, while a female tarantula is about 3″.
The Damage Spiders Can Cause
Most spiders will not bite unless provoked by handling or other contact. In many cases, bites occur when a person inadvertently comes in contact with a wandering male spider or a spider habit. Many spider species cannot pierce human skin with their fangs, and those that can generally leave the area in a state of minor irritation and swelling.
Two spiders that should be avoided the Sydney funnel-web (Atrax Robustus) and the Redback (Latrodectus Hasselti) because their bites can be painful for some days.
Are those two to be worried about? Since 1956 nobody died from a Redback bite and since 1980 nobody from a Sydney Funnel-web bite, mainly because of the development of antivenom.
White-tailed Spider bites have been controversially implicated in causing severe skin ulceration in humans. The white-tailed spider has a dark reddish to grey, cigar-shaped body and dark orange-brown banded legs. The grey dorsal abdomen bears two pairs of faint white spots (less distinct in adults) with a white spot at the tip; the male has a hard, narrow plate or scute on the front of the abdomen.
Spiders’ Life Cycle
After mating, a female spider will deposit eggs in a silken sac. Depending on the species, one sac can carry 20 eggs or several hundred. In general, those species that tend their eggs will produce fewer per egg sac, while those that abandon the sacs will produce larger numbers.
It is extremely rare for a female spider, including the black widow, to eat the male after mating.
Many spiders live only 1-2 seasons, but some species can live for as long as 20 years.
Most spiders are nocturnal and shy of human activity.
All spiders are predators and the primary food source is insects and other arthropods. After capturing their prey, the spider will kill or paralyse it with venom. When food is scarce, a spider can survive several weeks or months depending on the species.
Garden Orb Spider
Funnel Web Spider
Male Cupboard Spider
White Tip Spider
For more Spider information visit www.spiderzrule.com
Subterranean termites are commonly known as white ants. However, they are distinctly different from ants in their lifestyle and appearance.
In Nature, termites have an important role in recycling rotten timber in the forest and returning nutrients to the soil. When they get into our homes they are then declared pests and the damage they can cause to a home is substantial.
Identifying a Termite
Termites have pale brown to white bodies with a darker head and have no waist between the thorax and abdomen. The antennae have bead-like segments. The non-reproductive forms never develop wings, are blind, and have thin skin that makes them vulnerable to drying out. Reproductive forms have two pairs of equal-sized wings, one pair of compound eyes and thicker skin that protects them better from drying out when exposed.
The Damage Termites Can Cause
Many people fail to realise, until it’s too late, the extensive amount of damage that termites cause to modern homes. Since they remain concealed in the wood and enter your home through underground leads, it is often not until the damage is extensive and timbers collapse, that you realise you have a problem.
The workers are the ones who do all the damage. They are wingless, blind and sterile and are responsible for foraging for food, constructing tunnels, building the nest and feeding the other members of the colony. They feed on wood and other cellulose materials but have a preference for some timbers over others. As they feed they may hollow out timbers and often move from one area to another by constructing small tunnels made from a mud-like combination of faeces and saliva over non-susceptible materials.
They make these tunnels to protect themselves from predators and from the heat, light and lack of humidity in the outside environment. The soldiers responsible for the protection of the nest and in some species have a pair of mandibles on their head to attack predators. Termites can travel long distances to find food. The nest maybe fifty meters away from where the workers are foraging.
They can work their way into a house from under the floor, up the wall cavity, alongside plumbing penetrations or through construction joints in the concrete.
Termites Life Cycle
Termites undergo an incomplete metamorphosis, with three developmental stages:
The eggs hatch into nymphs that are fed by the workers, and these nymphs then moult several times, differentiating into worker, soldier or reproductive forms. Development into adult forms takes several months, depending on the food, temperature and the size of the colony. Hormones are thought to control the numbers of each caste, with imbalances corrected by nymphs developing into whichever form is needed at the time
The reproductives when sexually mature are winged. In the warmer, more humid months, they swarm and can often be seen in the early evening, flying out of bushland to colonise new areas, sometimes your home. The Queen lays eggs and once the nest is established, does nothing else. The Queen of a large, mature colony can lay up to 2000 eggs per day. These eggs develop into workers, soldiers and reproductives.
The workers are the ones who do all the damage. They are wingless, blind and sterile and are responsible for foraging for food, constructing tunnels, building the nest and feeding the other members of the colony. They feed on wood and other cellulose materials but have a preference for some timbers over others. As they feed they may hollow out timbers and often move from one area to another by constructing small tunnels made from a mud-like combination of faeces and saliva over non-susceptible materials
Not all termites feed on wood, most feed on grass or other matter, and all are not pests to buildings. Those that do feed on wood will get their cellulose, sugar and starches from the sapwood of trees and timber constructions such as human buildings.
The queen can lay several thousand eggs in a day and the king is only slightly larger than the rest of the colony and will continue to mate with the queen for life. Nests are built in the soil because they are very dependent on the soil for their moisture.
Termites build their tunnels because they are susceptible to the environment on the outside. They usually work their way above ground to reach the cellulose, this is broken down into starch with the help of protozoans in the termites gut.
Nests are formed either in trees, in soil mounds or underground. There are 5 main nest types and many species will build more than one type of nest:
»Tree nests (outside tree, connected to the internal cavity)
»Pole nests (on human structures such as fence posts and telegraph poles)
»Subterranean nests (underground, in soil, stumps and tree bases)
»Tree wood (inside the tree)
Wasps are a diverse group of insects. In Australia alone there are over 12,000 species, ranging from the tiny diapriid wasps, which are barely visible to the naked eye, to the spider and cicada-killer wasps, capable of taking large prey. Most wasps have carnivorous larvae that feed on other insects and spiders. The adults provide food for them by capturing prey or by laying the egg on or near the food source, which might be an egg, larva or pupa of another insect.
Identifying a Wasp
Depending on the species, wasps range between less than ½ an inch to more than 1 ½ inches in length. Wasps have both hind and front wings, with the hind wings being noticeably smaller than the front ones. Additionally, a wasp’s antennae are shorter than its body and have no noticeable scales on its surface. The European Wasp is easily identified by its lemon-yellow banding against a black body. In addition, the wasp does not look hairy.
The Damage Wasps Can Cause
The type of destruction that wasps cause is generally linked to their nesting habits or the hosts used for their larvae. Paper wasps will build their nests hanging from any protected surface such as a tree or porch. When these nests are in close proximity to a home, it is possible for them to be disturbed and people nearby to be stung. Although causing minimal destruction, the spider wasp does have a very painful sting making it a danger for people.
Wasps’ Life Cycle
Depending on the species, a wasp will either build a nest for its eggs or seek a host. Most species of wasps are solitary, laying their eggs, providing a food source for the larvae, and leaving without return.
In terms of nest builders, the mason wasp will create one nest for one egg, filling it with paralysed caterpillars or beetle larvae before sealing the nest.
Also a nest builder, the paper wasps are semi-social insects. These wasps exist in small colonies with queens and males. The founding queen will generally be the only one to lay eggs, but the others will retain their reproductive abilities and replace the founding queen, should it die.
Wasps whose larvae are housed in hosts include the digger and the spider ants. These wasps first sting the host to paralyse it and then attach their eggs, building a protective layer of cells around both the eggs and the host. The larvae will then feed on the paralysed host until reaching adulthood.
The wood wasp lays eggs in batches of 1-7 after inserting its ovipositor into wood. The wasp also inserts a fungus which grows quickly in the wood and provides a food source for the larvae as they burrow. A single wood wasp can lay 300-500 eggs each year, over a 10 day period.
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