visual id guide to structural pests




Most Carpenter Ants establish their nests in decayed wood and later expand or enlarge into sound wood. Inside, nests are located in wood softened by fungus or rot. The presence of a Carpenter Ant nest is sometimes indicated by a rustling sound coming from the wall voids or from wood where the colony is located. Otherwise the emergence of swarmers indoors may be the first indication of an indpoor colony.



Inside, nests are located in woodwork, decaying wood and masonry. The ants feed on grease, oil, fruits, vegetable materials such as corn meal and sweets. Outside they nest under stones, rocks, in rotting logs, in lawns or open areas. The workers feed on other insects, honeydew and plant secretions.



Inside, these ants will occasionally nest in walls, in insulation and under floors. The most likely place is in level masonry walls of the foundation and especially near some heat source in the winter. Outside, these ants typically nest under stones, in cracks, in pavement and next to buildings. Although not aggressive, workers can bite and sting.


Since Bees, Hornets and Wasps are beneficial, control should only be done where there is immediate threat to people or their pets, or when peace of mind is required.



These bees are social insects which live in nests or colonies. Bumble Bees foraging for nectar fly at 7-12 mph and spend only 2-4 minutes inside the nest between visits. They will travel up to 3 miles if necessary for nectar. Defense is usually done by using the relatively smooth stingers which can be used over and over.



Carpenter Bees are not social insects and do not live in nests or colonies. Female's will nest in a wide range of woods, but prefer weathered and unpainted wood. Male Carpenter Bees tend to be territorial and often aggressive when humans approach, sometimes hovering a short distance in front of the face or buzzing one's head. Since males have no stingers these actions are merely show. The female does have a potent stinger which is rarely used.
On the left we illustrate the distinct difference between the Bumble Bee which can sting and the Carpenter Bee which doesn't sting.



Honey Bees are not aggressive, and do not search for something to attack. Instead they are defensive and will attack only whatever seems to threaten the colony. Bees in a swarm are very docile and not likely to sting because they harbor no food stores or young. The worker bees have barbed stingers and when used it is torn from the body. The stinger gives off a pheromone which attracts other bees and induces an alarm and an attack behavior. So it is important to remove the stinger immediately.



These are solitary bees which do not live in colonies. They nest in various natural cavities or  in the ground. Sometimes large numbers of these bees will nest close together, particularly in bare ground areas. They provision each nest with pollen and nectar. They can give a mild sting, especially when being brushed away.



This wasp gets its common name from the fact that it hunts and provisions each of its nest cells with a cicada. They typically use bare ground for nesting sites. While digging their burrows the females excavate a sizeable pile of soil which can be disfiguring to a lawn. Females in general will not sting unless handled or stepped on, such as by barefooted children. Males will bus people away but cannot sting.



These bees are social insects which live in aerial nests. The adults are represented by workers which are sterile females, queens and males.  The nest will consist of 3-5 rounded paper cones which are open ventrally and attached one below the other, and are covered with a many layered envelope. Bald Faced Hornets will become aggressive and sting when their nest is being approached.
Bald-Faced Hornet Aerial Nest.



Mud Daubers are solitary wasps they are not social and do not live in colonies. They do not defend their nests and only rarely sting. They select a sheltered site to build their mud tubes. Favorite sites include under eaves, porch ceilings, in garages and sheds if left open, barns, attics, etc.



These are solitary wasps. Digger Wasps fly above lawns which are infested with scarab bettle larvae (white grubs). The female does not burrow but instead stings the larva to paralyze it, attach her eggs and then build a crude cell around the larva.  The wasp larvae feed on the paralyzed scarab larva, These wasps rarely sting people. As a matter of fact one can safely walk through them as they fly over a lawn..



Paper Wasps exist in small colonies. The nest consists of a single layer of paper like comb with the cells opening downward. Paper Wasps hang their comb nests from twigs and branches of trees and shrubs which can cause concern when shrubs are trimmed. There is a high probability that the person doing the trimming will get stung.



Yellow Jackets are social insects and live in nests or colonies. A nest can usually contain 1,000 to 4,000 workers at its peak. These bees are slow to sting unless the nest entrance is approached and then they are quite aggressive. Each can sting a number of times, inflicting much pain.
Yellow Jacket Nest




As days shorten and weather cools, cluster flies often enter structures to overwinter, sometimes traveling more than a mile to do so. They usually occupy attics and/or between wall voids of walls which receive the most sunlight. Typically they use the same structure year after year. They do not multiply within structures.



These flies are attracted primarily to fresh fruit and vegetables and those fermenting because of yeast. Materials commonly infested include bananas, grapes, peaches, pineapples, tomatoes, mustard pickles, potatoes, etc. Also fermenting liquids such as beer, cider, vinegar and wine. Some species are attracted to human and animal excrement.



Although house flies have been shown to migrate up to 20 miles, most stay within 1-2 miles of their release point if sufficient food is available. Adults live 15-25 days. Flies have sponging mouth parts, they can feed on liquids and solids. A house fly excretes and regurgitates whatever it comes to rest on. This habit coupled with its many body hairs and bristles and the sticky pads at the base of the claws on each leg make house flies well adapted for transporting disease organisms. They have been shown to harbor over 100 different kinds of disease causing pathogens, many of which are associated with filth. Such pathogens include polio and salmonellosis, as well as parasitic worms.  They have been shown to be disease pathogens transmitters via their vomit, feces and contaminated external body parts.




These flies are attracted primarily to fresh fruit and vegetables and those fermenting because of yeast. Materials commonly infested include bananas, grapes, peaches, pineapples, tomatoes, mustard pickles, potatoes, etc. Also fermenting liquids such as beer, cider, vinegar and wine. Some species are attracted to human and animal excrement.




Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest because they enter structures to overwinter. In the Autumn Boxelders become gregarious and congregate on the south side of rocks, trees and buildings where the sun hits. After large masses congregate, they may fly to nearby buildings to hibernate for the winter. Inside the home these bugs are a pest because their fecal material may cause a red stain resulting in a discoloration on curtains, drapes, clothing and other resting places. When crushed or handled rough they produce a strong disagreeable odor. They will occasionally bite people.



Earwigs are nocturnal or active during the night and hide during the day in moist shady places such as under stones or logs, or in mulch. Earwigs feed on live or dead plants/or insects. At times they damage cultivated plants. Earwigs are attracted to lights or insects attracted to light. They have a distinctive disagreeable/repugnant odor which is released when they are crushed. Red-legged earwigs have been reported to cause minor skin abrasions in humans.



Millipedes are sometimes called "thousand leggers", but they usually have 30-90+ pairs of legs. They have high moisture needs and are typically found in areas of high moisture and decaying vegetation such as under trash, piles of grass clippings, flower beds, mulched areas, etc. Millipedes are nocturnal. They are primarily scavengers and feed on decaying organic matter, usually plant material but occasionally on dead insects, earthworms and snails.



Pillbugs are sometimes called "roly-poly", and get this common name because they roll up into a tight ball when disturbed.  Pillbugs are inactive and remain hidden under objects during the day to reduce water loss. During the day they can be found around buildings in such places as under trash, boards, rocks, flower pots, piles of grass cllippings, flower bed mulches and other decaying vegetation. Indoor invasion typically means that there is a large population immediately outside the building.



Because water loss is such a problem, sowbugs are inactive during the day and remain hidden under objects to reduce water loss. During the day they can be found around buildings, under trash, flower pots, piles of grass clippings, etc. Usually they do not survive indoors for more then a couple of days.




The American cockroach is also called the waterbug. Although cockroaches are found in residences, they are much more common in larger commercial buildings such as restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, food processing plants, hospitals etc. where they usally infest food storage and food preparation areas, basements and steam tunnels. During the summer months they can be found outdoors in yards and alleys. This is the most common species found in city sewer systems. Cockroaches show a particular fondness for fermenting food.



Brown banded cockroaches are found throughout structures, but show a preference for warmer areas.  They can be found in ceilings, anything high on walls such as picture frames and wall moldings, near appliance motors, and in light switches, closets, and furniture. The adult Brown banded can live about 260 days.



The German Cockroach is by far the most important and usually the most common of the cockroaches. In addition to being a nuisance, it has been implicated in outbreaks of illness, the transmission of a variety of pathogenic organisms including at least one parasitic protozoan and allergic reaction in many people.  These cockroaches can be found throughout structures but show a preference for warm and humid places. They are usually found in kitchens and bathrooms, but infestations often occur in rooms where people eat and drink while watching TV. They feed on almost anything with nutritive value including all kinds of foods, and such things as soap and toothpaste, or glue. Adults live about 100-200 days.



In many cases this cockroach survives quite well outdoors and spends considerable time there. It is typically found under debris, stones and leaf liter, but also in wall and porch voids. It has been observed to survive 13 weeks of almost continuous freezing weather. Indoors they are found in crawl spaces, cellars, basements, and on water pipes which they typically climb. They feed on all kinds of food and decaying organic matter, but prefer to feed on starchy foods. They are much despised because of their strong "roachy" odor and because they feed on filth. Adult females live 34-181 days and males 112-160 days.




The adults cause no damage. The larvae are surface feeders and generally produce a lot of webbing throughout the infested part of the material. They are generally feeders and attack grain and grain products, a wide variety of dried fruits, seeds, nuts, graham crackers, powered milk, and dog food and bird seed. The larval period lasts for 13-288 days and the adult cycle lasts 25-135 days.



The Sawtoothed grain beetle does considerable damage to grains but it cannot attack sound kernels. Its flat body form permits access through very small cracks and into imperfectly sealed packages. Adults are known to fly and are not attrated to light. It attacks a wide range of foods, cereals, breads, breakfast foods, macaroni, dried fruits, nuts , sugar, chocolate, dried meats, candy bars, drugs, tabacco, snuff and many other products. On the average, adults live 6-10 months but may live longer than 3 years.




Signs of damage and infestation are round holes. Another indication of an infestation is the accumulation of piles of powdery, meal like frass  beneath the exit holes, or streaming from them. The frass/dust is tightly packed in the tunnels or galleries and containes no pellets like the frass. These beetles attack both softwoods and hardwoods, and mostly sapwood. They usually atttack new hardwood lumber and manufactured products, wood that is less than 10 years old.





Termites have been around for over 250 million years. They are social insects and live in colonies, which are located in the ground or in wood.. There are three kinds of termites, the worker, the soldier and the swarmers/reproductive. The worker is creamy white with the head slightly darker, no eyes or wings. They maintain the colony, construct and repair the nest. The solider is creamy white with a dark and enlarged head. The head has a large pair of mandibles. Eyes are present but it has no wings. The soliders have one function to protect the colony. The swarmers are pale yellowish to reddish brown to black. Compound eyes are present and wings are clear to smokey black. Termite swarmers/reproductive starts new colonies.

SUBTERRANEAN termites eat mostly spring wood and leave the containing summer wood they cannot effectively digest. Hence, damaged wood appears to be layered. Soil is typically found in these galleries. A typical mature colony may consist of  60,000 to over  a million workers. Sixty thousand workers can/may eat 1/5 ounces or 5 grams of wood each day. The queen may produce about 5,000-10,000 eggs a year. Subterranean termite colonies are usually located in the ground. Location is usually below the frost line, but above the water table and rock formations. Mud tubes are built to cross areas of adverse conditions between the colony and food sources. They can enter structures through cracks less than 1/16" wide. If there is a constant sourse of moisture availablle (like leaky pipes), colonies (called secondary colonies) can exist above ground and without ground contact.




The Brown Recluse or fiddle back/violin spider gets its common names from its coloration and reclusive habitis, or the dark violin/fiddle-shaped markings on the top of the spider. Outside, brown recluse spiders are typically found around rocks, piles of inner tubes, utility boxes, woodpiles, under bark, etc. These spiders have been found in rodent bait stations and infesting cedar shake roofs. Inside the home, they can be found in almost any undisturbed area which they can gain access. They are most commonly found in boxes, among papers, and in seldom used clothing and shoes, although they can be found in cornors, underneath tables and chairs, or in crevices such as those found along baseboards, doors and window moldings. Bites have been reported to occur when putting on seldom-used clothing or shoes, when cleaning out storage areas or while rolling on the spiders nest.



Or sometimes called cellar spiders construct loose webs in cornors. They hang upside down on the underside of the web. The webs are found in dark and damp places such as cellars, basements, warehouses, eaves, windows, ceilings and in closets. These spiders eat other insects that become trapped in their web.



This spider is the most common spider encountered indoors. It is a nuisance pest, more because of its webs then the spider itself. Survival is low in modern homes with low humidity and few insects, higher in garages, sheds, barns, warehouses, etc because of more prey and higher humidity.



Unlike most spiders, these spiders are active during the daytime and like sunshine. They are hunters and have the keenest vision of all the spiders, being able to detect and react to movement up to 18" distant: but their night vision is very poor. They are excellent jumpers. They either jump on passing prey or stalk it and then pounce. When hunting they may jump 1" or more but when threatened they may jump 20 times their body length. Inside they build under furniture, in drapery folds between books on bookshelves, in cracks such as found in wood floors, around doors and window moldings, etc.



These spiders can be found indoors throughout the year, they more commonly enter structures in greater numbers in the early autumn when their food supppy decreases and temperatures cool.  Once indoors, they may build their silk retreats in the upper cornors and the ceiling wall junctions of rooms and rest there during the day, in basements and crawl spaces. At night the spiders are often seen runnning on the ceiling and walls. Bites usually occur when the spider crawls into clothing or bedding and becomes trapped against a persons skin.




Signs of infestations are gnaw marks, droppings, tracks/footprints, rub marks, burrows and damaged goods. They prefer sites that are dark secluded places where there is abundant nesting material nearby. They require an opening of greater then 1/4" to gain entry. The most threatening organism spread by mice is Salmonella, spread by their droppings. Other transmittable organisms include tapeworm, rat-bite fever, infectious jaundice, Weil's disease and possibly Polio.



Signs of infestations are gnaw marks or holes, droppings, track marks and damaged goods. These rats will practically eat anything but prefer meat, fish and cereal. Norway rats will travel 100-150 feet from their home to find food or water. They will gnaw through almost anything to obtain food and/or water, even plastic or lead pipes. Transmittable diseases from rats are fleas, infectious jaundice, Weil's disease, rat-bite fever, food poisoning or Salmonellosis.




Female bed bugs will lay 1-5 eggs a day, maximun up to 12 eggs. Humans are the preferred host of bed bugs, but in their absence bed bugs will feed on poultry, canaries, sparrows, mice, rats, guinea pigs and bats. Although the bite of bed bugs is painless most people (80%) develope an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bug as it feeds. With normal feeding and reproductive cycles the individual bed bug can live up to 316 days.



Female fleas lay 4-8 eggs after each blood meal, laying some 400-500 during their lifetime. Flea eggs hatch usually within 1-12 days. Fleas can survive up to a year. It is not necessary to have pets to have fleas present. Fleas can jump about 6" vertically, they can easilly hitch a ride on shoes or clothing.




Brown bat females form nursery colonies in structures in the spring while males roost elsewhere: later in the summer the sexes roost together. They commonly roost in attics, church belfries, behind shutters and loose boards on buildings. They leave their roost about dusk in a slow fluttering flight. Bats usually feed near the ground and feed on insects, primarily on beetles but also wasps, ants, planthoppers, leafhoppers, flies, moths, etc.


We hope you found this information useful and informative.

Please feel free to call our office with any questions you may have.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Jeff Ward and Mike Lynch

(518) 356-4226  
(518) 580-1164
(518) 462-1180
(518) 673-2741

Email Us


Contact us

3645 Guilderland Ave
Schenectady, NY 12306

(518) 580-1164
(518) 356-4226
(518) 673-2741
(518) 462-1180

Email Us

We Accept:

Mention this Internet
offer when calling.

Save 10% off Home Protection Plan (new customers)

Hours of Operation:

Weekends are by appointment only.