The most common species of earwig is Forficula auricularia, also known as the Eurpoean earwig, and was first reported in the United States in 1901.
Earwigs are identified by their long, narrow, flattened bodies that terminate in a pair of distinct forcep-like cerci. Adults have four wings, with the membranous hind pair folded beneath a pair of short, leathery front wings that leave the dorsal surface of the abdomen exposed. Their body is shiny and reddish brown or black. Adults range from 1/4 to 1 inch in length.
Earwigs overwinter as adults. During the fall, large numbers may seek shelter in dwellings where they are a nuisance and annoyance to occupants. They often are detected by their disagreeable odor. Some species damage cultivated plants or disrupt pollination of crops, like corn.
Earwigs got their name because of the superstition that they would enter the ears of people and feed in the cranial cavity. In reality, these small insects are practically harmless to humans. The most they can do is give a painful pinch if they are handled, which can cause a minor skin irritation.
Crickets are insects that have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are approximately 900 species of crickets worldwide. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers thanks to a similar body structure including jumping hind legs. Crickets are harmless to humans.
Crickets are scavengers who feed on mostly organic materials. Crickets will eat their own dead when there are not any other sources of food readily available. Furthermore, crickets exhibit predatorial behavior against weakened or crippled crickets.
Crickets tend to have powerful jaws, and some species have been known to bite humans, although that is very rare. Crickets mate in late summer and lay their eggs in autumn. The eggs hatch in the spring and have been estimated to number as high as 200 per fertile female. Female crickets possess a long, needlelike organ used for laying eggs called an ovipositor.
Stink bugs are approximately 17 mm long and are shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces. They sometimes emit a strong odor (that can cause burning in human eyes), which is how they get their main name. Their body is in the shape of a “shield”, which is why many people also refer to them as “shield bugs”.
During warm months, female stink bugs attach large amounts of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. sCracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys and other openings should be sealed with good quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk to help keep them out. Damaged screens on doors and windows should be repaired or replaced.
Centipedes are arthropods that have ne pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300. Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of legs, either 15 or 17 pairs of legs (30 or 34 legs) but never have 16 pairs (32 legs).
Worldwide there are estimated to be 8,000 species of centipede. Centipedes have a wide geographical range and are found in an wide assortment of terrestrial habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts. Some species of centipede can be hazardous to humans due to their bite. A centipede bite to a human is generally very painful and can cause swelling, chills, fever, and weakness. Luckily, the bite is unlikely to be fatal. Bites can be very dangerous to small children and those with allergies to bee stings. The bite of larger centipedes can induce anaphylactic shock in such people.
Millipedes are arthropods that have two pairs of legs per segment (except for the first segment behind the head which does not have any appendages whatsoever, and the next few segments which only have one pair of legs). Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one. Most millipedes have very elongated cylindrical bodies, although some are flattened.
The name "millipede" is a compound word formed from the Latin roots mille ("thousand") and pes ("foot"). Surprisingly, despite their name, millipedes do not have 1,000 legs. Common species have between 36 and 400 legs.
Millipedes are slow moving and will eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping it in with its jaws. However, they can also be a minor garden pest, especially in greenhouses where they can cause severe damage to seedlings. Signs of millipede damage include the stripping of the outer layers of a young plant stem and irregular damage to leaves.
The clover mite is a type of mite best known for the reddish stain left on surfaces after being crushed. Clover mites are about 1/30 inch long and have a pair of long legs pointing forward that are often mistaken for antennae.
Clover mites feed on sap from grasses and clover, and are especially numerous in lawns with a heavy growth of succulent, fertilized grass. Their feeding activity can turn grass a silvery color and may destroy plants when heavy populations exist.
Clover mites often become a nuisance in and around houses. They generally enter houses close to thick vegetation and can infiltrate houses in very large numbers through cracks and small openings around windows and doors. Whether indoors or outside, clover mites are generally found in sunny, well-lit areas rather than darkness.
Fleas (Order Siphonaptera) are small at only about 1/16-inch long and are dark, reddish-brown, wingless, blood-sucking insects. Their bodies are flattened from side-to-side, allowing for easy movement through the hairs on the host's body. The flea body is hard, polished, and covered with many hairs and short spines directed backward. The mouthparts of an adult flea are adapted for sucking blood from a host, and their long legs are excellent for jumping.
Female fleas lay tiny, white eggs loosely on the body of the host, and often fall off the host’s body onto the floor, bedding, or furniture. Some fleas can lay 500 eggs over a period of several months. The eggs hatch in 1-12 days after being deposited, and after a week or so the adult flea emerges and begins its search for blood.
Adult fleas must feed on blood in order to reproduce. However, adults can live for long periods without feeding. Fleas usually live and breed most heavily where pets rest. If fleas are established in a home, they will feed on man as well as on the pets. The entire life cycle of a flea can require from two weeks to two years. Summer months are favorable for egg laying. Thereore, the greatest adult flea populations are produced in August and September.
Several species of fleas cause problems in South Florida. The cat flea is the most frequently found species, but dog, human, and sticktight fleas are also found in Florida. Fleas may attack a wide variety of warm-blooded animals including dogs, chickens, rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and humans. They are most often brought into the home via pets like dogs and cats.
Silverfish (Ctenolepisma lineata) are wingless and have slender flattened bodies covered in metallic or shiny scales. The body of a silverfish is like a carrot or fish, hence their name. They range from .5 to .7 inches in length.
Silverfish may become a serious pest in libraries and other structures where books, paper and fabric are stored. They are cannibalistic and prefer animal proteins like dried beef, but most adults readily feed on chemical pulp papers, book bindings and wallpaper sizing. The presence of silverfish is often detected by feces, scales and yellowish stains. Their feeding can result in irregular holes, nothces and surface etchings.
Silverfish are nocturnal and hide in cracks and crevices under infested items. Improved ventilation and mositure control can help prevent some species of silverfish.
Adult springtails are very small (.04 to .2 inches in length) and are wingless. Their color varies depending on the species and can be black, grey, white, yellow, lavender, red, green or gold.
Springtails got their name because they can jump by using a forked structure on the underside of their abdomen. Some springtails can jump 3 to 4 inches.
Springtails prefer dark, damp areas where they feed on decomposing vegetable matter, algae, bacteria and fungi. Therefore, household plants should not be overwatered because the wet conditions are favorable for springtails.