Ants | Cockroaches | Spiders | Termites | Miscellaneous | Lawn & Plant

Ants

Big Headed Ants
There are worker and solider ants. The name big headed is due to the large size of the soldier’s head. The color ranges from yellowish-brown to reddish brown and sometimes black. The body has sparse long hairs. These ants nest in the ground, under longs and stones, potted plants rotted wood. They eat living and dead insects but may come into homes foraging for sweets, fats and proteins.

Photo Credit:
R.H. Scheffrahn
University of Florida

White Footed Ants
A medium ant about 3 mm long black to brownish black with yellow to white tarsi (feet), very few erect hairs on its body and does not sting. They are generally slow moving. They will follow cables and appear in different rooms particularly the kitchen and bathroom.

Photo Credit:
R.H. Scheffrahn
University of Florida

Carpenter Ants
Common throughout Florida. The workers range from 5.5 mm to 11 mm long. They do not sting but they can spray formic acid to defend themselves. The upper half of the carpenter ant is ash brown to rusty-orange while the bottom half is black. They are nocturnal and forage at night looking for sweets and moisture. They generally favor kitchens and bathrooms when they enter a home.

Photo Credit:
John Warner
University of Florida

Caribbean Crazy Ants
They belong to a group of ants commonly called crazy ants due to their fast and erratic movements. They are small to medium size, 2.6 to 3 mm in length, golden brown to reddish brown. This ant does not sting. After consuming food, this ant’s abdomen will appear to have stripes attributed to the stretching of the lighter colored segments.

Photo Credit:
F. J. Santana
University of Florida

Ghost Ants
The workers are the most common member of this colony. They are very small, 1.3 to 1.5 mm in length. The head and middle portion (gaster) are dark brown while the abdomen and legs opaque or a milky color. Their small size and light color make ghost ants difficult to see. This ant will nest in wall voids or areas between cabinetry and baseboards. They will nest in potted plants indoors or outdoors. It favors sweets and does not sting.

Photo Credit:
J. L. Castner
University of Florida

Fire Ants
There are two species of fire ants in Florida. The most important one to homeowners is the red imported fire ant. They are generally 2.4 to 6 mm long red to brown in color with a black abdomen. They do sting causing localized pain to anaphylactic shock. This ant creates mounds in the yard and will spread to gardens, sheds and enter homes.

Photo Credit:
J. L. Castner
University of Florida

Cockroaches

German Cockroach
This cockroach is the single most important. An adult is 10 to 15 mm in length and brown to dark brown with two visible parallel marks running the length of the upper body. It will eat anything in the kitchen, pet food, book bindings, dry soap and toothpaste. They are nocturnal.

Photo Credit:
J. L. Castner
University of Florida

American Cockroach
This cockroach is often misidentified as a water bug and palmetto bug. It is the largest cockroach in North America. The cockroach grows to an average length of 1. 6 inches, reddish brown and has a yellowish margin on the body area behind the head. They have chewing mouthparts and can move quickly. It feeds on decaying organic matter and other foods including cheese, beer, and starch in book bindings, glue, hair, dry skin and soiled clothing.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Australian Cockroach
This cockroach is similar in appearance to the American cockroach. It is brown in color, large, averaging 1.2 to 1.4 inches in length. A key difference is the yellow markings on the body behind the head and yellow lines on its sides near the wing base. The Australian cockroach can move quickly, can hide in an instant and is a solid flyer. It seems to prefer eating plants but like other cockroaches, it is a scavenger.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Spiders

Spineybacked Orbweaver Spider
This a huge group of spiders found all over the country. They are named orb because of their spiral wheel shaped webs and are found in gardens and fields. Many spiders in this group build a new web daily. The spiders in this category have eight similar eyes, hairy or spiny legs.

Photo Credit:
University of Florida

Southern Black Widow Spider
A black spider has a red hourglass on the underside or top of the abdomen. Some have a pair of red spots or no markings at all. The female is generally twice the size of males and has large venom glands. Its bite is harmful to humans sometimes fatal if proper medical treatment is not provided. Many injuries to humans occur as defensive bites when a spider is squeezed pinched or a finger is accidentally thrust into its web.

Photo Credit:
P.G. Koehler and C.A. Andrew
University of Florida

Brown Recluse Spider
A brown recluse is generally about ¾ inches in length and are light to medium brown. They have markings on top of their abdomen that resembles a violin. This spider builds webs in sheds, closets, garages. Indoors, they favor cardboard boxes. Although the bite can be harmful, it is not common. However, children, elderly and ill persons, may be more susceptible to a bite. A bite can cause a skin ulcer that will destroy soft tissue, taking months to heal and leaving scars. It is generally advisable to seek medical attention for a diagnosis and treatment.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Southern House Spider
The males resemble the brown recluse is color and body shape but are solid brown and more slender. The females are dark brown or black and more compact but neither grows to more than 2 inches. The abdomen is covered with fine velvety light gray hair. The females are rarely seen since they are building webs around crevices. The males wander in search of insects and other females to mate with. These spiders are not aggressive, do not bite unless threatened and their mouthparts are generally too small to penetrate human skin.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Termites

Subterranean Termites
These termites originate from the ground and make their way into a house generally at ground level through cracks, in the house slab, kitchen or bathroom pipes or a water source near the house or a roof leak. If left untreated, subterranean termites can cause severe damage by feeding on the wood in a house.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Drywood Termites
Unlike the subterranean termites, the drywood termites do not need any soil contact or a water source. This termite generally enters a structure at a high level such as the roof, roof line, fascia or soffit. It will establish itself in the attic, a window frame, door frame or a wall and work its way downward. This termite may be in a house for several years before damage or termite droppings (frass) is evident.

Photo Credit:
University of Florida

Miscellaneous

Silverfish
They are small (.5 to 1 inch) wingless silvery to gray insects. Silverfish are nocturnal and fishlike in physical appearance. They sport long antennae and have a wiggling motion like a fish when they move. Their consists of starches that include book bindings, glue, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, carpet. They can live more than a year without eating.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Millipede
They have many legs, are cylindrical and about ¾ to 11 inches in length dark (between 36 and 400) brown or black in color. Some millipedes can roll into a ball. Their diet generally consists of decaying leaves and other plant matter. They will eat emergent seedlings. In the spring and again in the fall, they will move into unexpected places such as your home in search of a mate and to relocate. After a couple of weeks, they generally leave on their own. They are not harmful to humans.

Photo Credit:
P.G. Koehler
University of Florida

Rice Weevil
Adults are 2 mm long with a long snout. The body is brown or black with four orange or red spots in a cross on the wing top. They can survive for up to two years. Females two to six eggs per day. The rice weevil may be found in rice you purchase at the supermarket and then stored in your home at room temperature. Will infest many foods.

Photo Credit:
James Castner
University of Florida

Red Flour Beetle
There are several types of flour beetles that attack wheat and other grains. The most common type is the red flour beetle which attacks flour, cereals, pasta, beans and other food items. They can live as long as three years.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Indian Meal Moth
The most common type of grain moth is the Indian meal moth also called pantry moth flour moth or grain moth. He adults are approximately 8 8 to 10 mm long with a 16 to 29 mm wingspan. The outer half of their forewings are normally cooper, bronze or dark gray and the upper half is yellowish gray with a dark band between the two varied areas. The Indian meal moth larval stage feeds on cereal, bread, pasta rice, dried fruit, including chocolate cocoa beans and cookies.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Common Lawn & Plant Pests

Southern Chinch Bug
Chinch bugs are about 3/16 inch long with black bodies and fully developed set of wings and are a major nuisance to St. Augustine grass. Even though the chinch bug has the ability to fly, it generally walks from a heavily attacked area to a fresh lawn. Research has shown that they can cover over 400 feet in an hour. The nymphs and adults use their sucking mouthparts to suck the sap from the grass until it changes from a healthy green color to yellowish-brown and dies. Homeowners know they have a chinch bug infestation when they notice expanding brown areas in their lawns.

Photo Credit:
J. Castner
University of Florida

White Grub
The most prevalent type in south Florida is the Japanese beetle. The grub is the larval stage (the feeding stage) the adult is copper and green and about 6/10 inches long. In the larval stage the creamy colored grub lives in soil and feeds on the lawn roots. This will weaken the affected areas, turning the grass brown and killing it. Japanese is considered pest to about 200 species of plants.

Photo Credit:
John L. Capinera
University of Florida

Aphid
Aphids are small sap sucking destructive pests (about .04 to .39 inches) that feed upon cultivated plants. Their body color can range from green, black, brown, pink or clear. As they feed upon a plant, aphids can transmit plant viruses to the plant. These viruses are powerful enough to occasionally kill the sieged plant. Plants that are under attack by aphids may demonstrate such symptoms as yellowing, curled leaves, browning and wilting.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Mealybug
Unarmored scale insects that feed on plants and citrus. They link onto plants and secrete a waxy layer which serves as protection while they ingest the plant juices. Small infestations may not cause any serious damage but in greater numbers, they can force leaf drop.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia

Florida Wax Scale
Scale are tiny sucking insects that damage plants by sucking the liquid from plant tissue. If left unchecked, the leaves will yellow and the plant will ultimately die. Scale insects are small oval shaped raised dots on the underside of plant leaves. They are difficult to notice unless you are looking for them. The scale releases a honeydew secretion onto the plant. This honeydew causes a reaction that turns into sooty mold, a black fungus. Discolored leaves and stems are indicative of scale.

Photo Credit:
Lyle J. Buss
University of Florida

Whitefly
More than 1550 species have been named. The three most important afflicting south Florida are the fig, spiral and nesting. The fig white fly was introduced several years ago and has concentrated the ficus hedges and trees causing great damage to them and eventually death. The minute white colored fly feeds by piercing the living tissue of plants and releasing a toxic saliva to affect the plant’s overall health. Whiteflies gather in massive numbers and will quickly overwhelm a plant. The Rugose Spiraling whitefly attacks gumbo limbo trees and certain varieties of palms including coconut palms. The nesting whitefly is a relatively new whitefly and is also attacking ficus.

Photo Credit:
Wikipedia