Common Pests
ACE PEST Deals with on a daily basis

Ant - Carpenter
Bee - Bumble
Bee - Carpenter
Bee - Honey
Box Elder Bugs
Brown Recluse
Cicada Killer Wasp
Mud Dauber - Paper Wasp - European Wasp
Paper Wasp
Yellow Jacket Wasp

Mice:                              Return to top

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Many people do not consider mice to be harmful, however, like rats they are carriers of disease including Leptosperosis (Weils Disease). Mice also carry Salmonellosis, a form of food poisoning, which may be passed onto food and drinks in mice excrement or simply as a result of mice coming into contact with food.
Description - It is not uncommon for the House Mouse to be confused with other species of mice found in the UK or even for a young rat. Two other common mice are the Wood Mouse and the Yellow Necked Mouse both of which can be found indoors, however, they usually prefer to live out of doors. The House Mouse is between 2 - 7cms in length with an average weight of approx 25gms (1oz). It has grey-brown fur which is lighter on its underside. The tail is longer than the head and body length.
Distribution - Within our homes mice will not venture more than 3 - 10 meters from their nest site. House mice tend to investigate strange objects and food sources very quickly, but their interest only lasts a short time.
Feeding habits - House Mice are surprisingly indiscriminate in their choice of food. In urban areas they eat the same food as humans. They are particularly attracted to birdseed and food moistened with vegetable oil. The House Mouse can survive on very little water and can live without drinking if the moisture content of its food is about 15%. House Mice are intermittent and eratic feeders and mainly come out at night. Their peak periods of activity generally follow the onset of darkness and sunrise.
Life cycle and behavior - House Mice are capable of reproducing at the age of about 3 months. Gestation (pregnancy) lasts around 17 - 20 days with each litter producing 5 - 6 young. The young are weaned in approximately 3 weeks and maturity is reached at about 3 months. Unlike most mammals, mice do not have to wait until the original litter is weaned and the female has stopped giving milk before being able to conceive again. Therefore, in ideal conditions the female can give birth every 21 days.

Rats:                              Return to top

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The Brown Rat(The Common Rat) is of particular public health significance because of its close association with man. Rats are known carriers of disease and in this country the most infamous disease carried by rats is Leptospirosis (Weils Disease). This bacterium lives in the kidneys of rats and is passed into the environment by rats' urine. The tiny bacteria may enter a person's body through cuts and grazes in the skin or through the membranes of the nose, ears and mouth. Another common disease carried by rats is Salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning. Humans may be infected as a result of eating food which has been contaminated with rat excrement. Gnawing is part of the routine for the rat and in the home, plumbing, electric cable and insulation materials are therefore all susceptible to damage.
Description - There are a number of features that separate the Brown Rat from the Black Rat: The Black Rat has larger ears and larger eyes than the Brown Rat. Its tail is longer in proportion to its body which is slender with finer features and generally smaller in size.
Distribution - The Brown Rat is found in rural and urban areas, and can be found both indoors and outside. It is often associated with sewer systems. The Black Rat is now rare and is confined mainly to port areas. In Britain it lives only indoors.
Life cycle - Rats can breed more efficiently than rabbits so infestations can develop very quickly from a single pair. In favorable conditions e.g. surplus food, adequate water, suitable temperature and good undisturbed harborage, a rapid population increase is inevitable. Female rats are able to reproduce at approximately 3 months and gestation (pregnancy) lasts about 21 days with each litter averaging 4 - 6. The young are weaned at between 3 - 4 weeks and reach maturity at around 3 - 4 months of age. Rats do not have to wait until the original litter is weaned before being able to conceive again.

Moles:                              Return to top
Description - Moles are generally found from sea level to 3,000ft in many soil types and live almost entirely under ground in tunnel systems which consist of main and subsidiary tunnels, whose main purpose is to trap earthworms for food.
Distribution - Tunneling is carried out from the nest which is its sleeping and breeding quarters. Breeding in March and May is the only time moles meet, otherwise they are solitary animals. Mole hills are a problem in lawns, sports grounds and pasture, causing considerable damage with soil and machinery. The mole, who consumes vast quantities of earthworms, can also cause serious disturbance to crop root systems.
Feeding Habits - Moles are solitary animals and very territorially protective of their area. This can be very misleading when confronted with an area with many molehills, but as a rule even heavy infestations can mean only eight moles per hectare (three per acre) even in good feeding areas with a high population of earthworms, their main feed.
Voles:                              Return to top
A vole is a small rodent resembling a mouse but with a stouter body, a shorter, hairy tail, a slightly rounder head, smaller ears and eyes, and differently formed molars (high-crowned and with angular cusps instead of low-crowned and with rounded cusps). There are approximately 155 species of voles. They are sometimes known as meadow mice or field mice in North America. Vole species form the subfamily Arvicolinae with the lemmings and the muskrats.
Description - Voles are small rodents that grow to 3 - 9 in (7.6 - 23 cm), depending on the species. They can have five to 10 litters per year. Gestation lasts for three weeks and the young voles reach sexual maturity in a month. As a result of this exponential growth, vole populations can grow very large within a very short period of time. Since litters average five to 10 young, a single pregnant vole can result in a hundred or more active voles in less than a year.
Voles are commonly mistaken for other small animals. Moles, Gophers, Mice, Rats and even Shrews have similar characteristics and behavioral tendencies. Since voles will commonly use burrows with many exit holes, they can be mistaken for gophers or some kind of ground squirrel. They will readily thrive on small plants. Like shrews, they will eat dead animals and like mice or rats, they can live on almost any nut or fruit. Additionally, voles will target plants more than most other small animals, making their presence evident. Voles will readily girdle small trees and ground cover much like a porcupine.
This girdling can easily kill young plants and is not healthy for trees or other shrubs.

Occasional Pests:

Earwigs:                              Return to top

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Earwigs are reddish brown and up to 3/4 inch long when fully grown. Earwigs have a pair of forcep-like pincers extending from the back end. The pincers are used for defense and also to catch the insects on which earwigs sometimes feed.
Young earwigs resemble adults but are smaller. The female mothers her eggs and young until they are big enough to wander away from the nest and obtain their own food. Usually, earwigs are first noticed in the spring around the outside of the home near the foundation. A certain percentage of adults and eggs last through the winter.
Earwigs are noted for the damage they do to flowers, other ornamentals and vegetables. Their feeding gives leaves a ragged appearance. Corn silk is a favorite food which is often consumed as it grows. This prevents pollination and causes poorly developed ears with many kernels missing on the cobs. As populations increase and spread, the areas in which they hide become more unusual.
For example, they may be found on a roof under shingles, under siding, or under items hanging on walls as well as the usual hiding places mentioned above. Because earwigs also feed on decomposing organic matter, compost and mulch may provide food and shelter. Earwigs are nocturnal, actively feeding during the night and hiding during the day. As morning approaches, they search for a place to hide, preferably a dark, damp area underneath rubbish, boards, wood piles, near plants, rock borders or even in a home.
Generally, they do not actively infest homes, but as they go up the foundations, any open area around the sill, door or window that will allow them to enter becomes an invitation to move in. They are not known to cause any damage to homes or their contents, but they are a nuisance, especially when they turn up in unusual places.

Box Elder Bugs:                              Return to top

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Description - Freshly laid eggs are straw yellow and turn red as the embryo develops inside. First instar nymphs are approximately 1.3 mm in length, wingless (with black wing pads) and have bright red abdomens. The legs and antennae are black. The nymphs become darker red as they mature through the five nymphal instars. The brownish-black adults are about 12 mm long and somewhat flattened on the top (Fig. 1). Three longitudinal stripes on the thorax and the margins of the basal half of the wings are reddish orange. The adult's abdomen is also reddish orange.
Damage - Both nymphs and adults remove plant fluid from newly developing leaves that may result in distortion of the foliage. Severely infested foliage may appear chlorotic (yellow). In addition to foliar feeding, boxelder bugs may also damage flowers, tender twigs, and seeds of boxelder.
Populations of this pest have been reported to prefer development on the female trees; thus, monitor for this species on these trees. It is, however, because of the boxelder bugs propensity to enter homes that causes the most alarm. Although the insects cause no direct damage to the structure, contents or the occupants, their presence is a nuisance. In heavily infested areas, thousands of boxelder bugs may enter the living quarters of buildings. Contrary to popular belief, over-wintering insects such as these do not reproduce within buildings.

Chiggers:                              Return to top

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Chiggers are tiny, six-legged wingless organisms (larvae) that grow up to become a type of mite. Chiggers are found in tall grass and weeds. Their bite causes severe itching.

Fleas:                              Return to top
Fleas are blood-sucking insects that feed on humans, dog, cats, and other animals. Fleas do not have wings.
Symptoms of a flea bite:
-Itching (can be severe, and may be all over or just where the rash is located)
-Rash with small bumps that itch and may bleed: Located on the armpit or fold of a joint (at the elbow, knee, or ankle) The amount of skin affected increases over time (enlarging skin rash or lesion) or the rash spreads to other areas When pressed the area turns white (blanches to touch) skin folds, such as under the breasts or in the groin may be affected (intertrigo)
-Swelling only around a sore or injury

Ticks:                              Return to top

To begin with, ticks don't fly, jump or blow around with the wind; these suspects are not ticks. Ticks are slow and lumbering, while spiders are quick and nimble. They are small, very patient and amazing in their capacity to locate their host/prey. Their purpose in life is only to propagate their species and unknowingly pass diseases to those hosts they feed on.
They don't feed often, but when they do, they can acquire disease agents form one host and pass it to another host at a later feeding. Their sensory organs are complex and they can determine trace amounts of gases, such as carbon dioxide left by warm-blooded animals and man.
They can sense the potential host's presence from long distances and even select their ambush site based upon their ability to identify paths that are well traveled.
Ticks have four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult. After the egg hatches, the tiny larva (sometimes called a 'seed tick') feeds on an appropriate host. The larva then develops (molts) into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult.
Both male and female adults find and feed on a host, then the females lay eggs sometime after feeding.

Wood Destroying:

Carpenter Ants :                              Return to top

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Identification: Large black or reddish black ants that nest in cavities above ground.
Types of damage: Nests constructed in solid material. Damage occurs when nests are expanded.
Damage Sites: Structural softwoods, soft building materials such as insulation board.

Termites:                              Return to top

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Identification: Delicate insects that construct colonies in wood.
Types of damage: Termites consume wood fiber ( cellulose ); damage usually starts on the inside.
Damage Sites: Generally softwoods but sometimes hardwoods too.

Carpenter bees:
Large heavy bodied bees that resemble bumblebees.
Types of damage: Large entrance hole with tunnels usually at right angles to entrance which allows water and rot fungi to enter.
Damage sites: Exterior trim wood, doors, siding etc.

Stinging Insects:

Bumble Bees                              Return to top
Bumble bees are very easy to identify with their round black furry bodies and yellow or orange colored stripes. The Queen will emerge from hibernation in the spring and feed on pollen and nectar until a suitable nesting site is found. This may be an underground mouse hole, compost heap, disused bird nesting box, under a garden shed or in a wood pile etc.
Once a nest site has been selected the Queen will lay eggs which will then hatch into worker bees. These bees will take over the building of the nest and gather food for the grubs. Unlike a wasp nest, a bumble bee nest will only have a few hundred workers.
Bumble bees normally will not sting unless severely provoked. In most cases it may be possible to place a piece of wire netting or something similar close to the nest to prevent small children or pests agitating the bees.

Honey Bees                              Return to top

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The honey bee is the only bee in this country that swarms and this is usually from mid April until early August with May and June being the months with the greatest activity. A bee swarm will only leave a nest in bright sunny weather and when there is little wind.
A swarm, when settled, will hang in one mass from the branches of a tree or shrub, garden furniture, hedges, walls of buildings or inside chimneys. Bee swarms that settle in chimneys may after a couple of days start to build a nest. The nest will survive until the winter, but due to lack of food or disease, may die before the following spring.
If a bee swarm is easily accessible then Abate can appoint a Bee Keeper who may be contacted to collect the swarm to establish a new colony. It is not recommended that the householder attempt to treat a bee swarm or nest. Honey Bees are not considered as pests and are very beneficial to the environment.

Carpenter Bee                              Return to top
Carpenter bees nest in a wide range of softwoods and hardwoods, particularly if the wood is weathered. Eastern species of carpenter bees prefer softwoods such as cedar, redwood, cypress, pine, and fir. The bees can more easily tunnel through woods that are soft and that have a straight grain. Western species of carpenter bees often nest in oak, eucalyptus, and redwood.
Carpenter bees attack structural timbers and other wood products, including fence posts, utility poles, firewood, arbors, and lawn furniture. In buildings, carpenter bees nest in bare wood near roof eaves and gables, fascia boards, porch ceilings, decks, railings, siding, shingles, shutters, and other weathered wood. These bees avoid wood that is well painted or covered with bark.
The carpenter bee entrance hole in wood may not necessarily be in an exposed area. For example, the inner lip of fascia boards is a common site of attack. Nail holes, exposed saw cuts, and unpainted wood are attractive sites for the bees to start their excavations.
Identification: carpenter bees are large and robust, is three-fourths to one-inch long, black, with a metallic sheen. The thorax is covered with bright yellow, orange, or white hairs, and the upper side of the abdomen is black, glossy, and bare. The female has a black head, and the male has white markings on the head.
Carpenter bees have a dense brush of hairs on the hind legs. Carpenter bees somewhat resemble bumble bees, except bumble bees have dense yellow hairs on the abdomen and large pollen baskets on the hind legs. Various species of bumble bees and carpenter bees are similar in size. Bumble bees typically nest in the ground whereas carpenter bees nest in wood
Hornet:                              Return to top
Mud Dauber - Paper Wasp - European Wasps:                              Return to top

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Wasps can be regarded as beneficial insects because they kill an enormous number of flies, caterpillars and other insects. This helps to prevent plagues of other insects occurring. However, in general they are regarded as a nuisance during the summer when workers go about the business of collecting food for young wasps and can indulge their passion for sweet foods, for example jams and syrups. It is their ability to cause painful stings that concern us the most.The sting is caused by the injection of venom into the victim by means of the modified ovipositor (egg laying tube) of the females. A wasp can withdraw its sting from the victim, a bee cannot. Histamine in the body reacts with the venom causing redness, flare and weal in the skin.
Description: There are several species of wasps and some of these are up to 30 mm in length. Their eyes are kidney shaped, they have two pairs of wings, the hind wings smaller than the forewings and are linked by a row of hooklets. The wings are folded longitudinally at rest and the mouth parts are adapted for chewing and licking. They can easily be distinguished from mining bees because of their pointed body and waist.
Distribution: Wasps can be found nesting underground, in cavities or trees, in bushes, sheds and garages, as well as houses. They commonly nest in loft spaces. Wasps are social insects with a Queen, which is much larger than the workers, starting a new nest each year. Nests are constructed of wood pulp, made by chewing wood and other plant debris mixed with saliva.
Cicada Killer Wasp:                              Return to top

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Adult eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5.0 centimetres (0.6 to 2.0 in) long, robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration superficially resembles that of some yellowjacket and hornet species. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance.
European hornets (Vespa crabro) are often mistaken for Eastern cicada killers.
Paper Wasp:                              Return to top

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Paper wasps are 0.7 to 1.0 inch (1.8 to 2.5 cm)-long wasps that gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material. Paper wasps are also sometimes called umbrella wasps, due to the distinctive design of their nests.
Yellow Jacket Wasp:                              Return to top

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Yellow jackets, often mistaken for bees as they are similar in size and appearance and both sting, are actually wasps. A typical yellow jacket worker is about 12 mm (0.5 in) long, with alternating bands on the abdomen; the queen is larger, about 19 mm (0.75 in) long (the different patterns on their abdomens help separate various species). Workers are sometimes confused with honey bees, especially when flying in and out of their nests. Yellow jackets, in contrast to honey bees, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies, they do not carry pollen, and do not have the flattened hairy hind legs used to carry it.
Mosquitoes:                              Return to top
The mosquitoes are a family of small, midge-like flies: the Culicidae. Although a few species are harmless or even useful to humanity, most are a nuisance because they consume blood from living vertebrates, including humans.
2012 West Nile virus update: September 4
As of September 4, 2012, 48 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 1,993 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 87 deaths, have been reported to CDC. Of these, 1,069 (54%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 924 (46%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease. The 1,993 cases reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the first week in September since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Over 70 percent of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan) and almost 45 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas.
Brown Recluse:                              Return to top

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Brown recluse spiders are usually between 6 - 20 mm (1/4 in and 3/4 in), but may grow larger. While typically light to medium brown, they range in color from cream-colored to dark brown or blackish gray. The cephalothorax and abdomen may not necessarily be the same color. These spiders usually have markings on the dorsal side of their cephalothorax, with a black line coming from it that looks like a violin with the neck of the violin pointing to the rear of the spider, resulting in the nicknames fiddleback spider, brown fiddler, or violin spider.