Carpenter ants are the largest type of ant in the United States, ranging in size from .25" to 1" in length. The most common species are black, but there is a related species which is red. They nest in wood, preferring dead, damp wood, but will tunnel through any type of wood when seeking food, and may cause damage similar to that caused by termites. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don't eat the wood, but use it for nests and transportation.


Fire ants are small, 3 to 6mm long, and have red heads and bodies and black abdomens. They don't usually enter buildings, preferring the outdoors. Fire ants will nest under nearly any undisturbed object resting on the soil. They will also build mounds in open areas that can reach heights of 16".


The German cockroach is the most common household pest in the world. They measure between .25" and .5" in length. Adults are a light tan to medium brown in color, with two distinct stripes running from the head to the base of the wings. While it has wings, the German cockroach is incapable of sustaining flight. Like most roaches, they are nocturnal and will eat nearly anything.



American cockroaches, also called palmetto bugs or waterbugs, are one of the largest species of roach in America, usually 1"-1.75". They are reddish brown, with a yellowish coloration near the edges of their bodies. A similar cockroach, the smoky brown cockroach, is only distinguishable from the American by the color (very dark brown or black). They have wings, and are capable fliers. Like all roaches, they prefer to nest in dark, damp, sheltered places, and will eat nearly anything.


Japanese beetles are not native to the U.S., but were unintentionally introduced to our environment around 1912. They are about .75" long and .5" wide, and are shiny copper and green. They are serious threats to plant life, especially roses, vegetable and fruit plants, and grasses.


The most common millipede (there are over 10,000 species) in America is Narceus americanus, the North American millipede. These millipedes are dark brown or black, and can reach lengths of 4".


Silverfish are wingless insects that are between .5" and 1" when fully grown. They are dark brown until their third molting, when they develop the silvery scales that give the insect its name.


The black widow spider is fairly large, sometimes growing to 1.5", including legs. The females are black in color, with a distinctive hourglass-shaped marking upon their abdomens. This marking is most often red, but can be varying degrees of white, yellow, or orange. Males are smaller, usually no larger than .75", are usually dark brown, and may or may not exhibit hourglass markings.


Brown recluses are usually between .25" and .75", including legs. They are a light brown to dark yellow color, and sometimes exhibit a marking resembling a violin on the top of the head. Recluses differ from most other types of spider in that they have six eyes instead of the usual eight.


Wolf Spiders are among the largest spiders in America, growing up to about 3.25", including the legs. They are usually light brown or tan with darker markings along the body, though they are found with other combinations of brown tones. They are usually found in mulch beds, gardens, and under rocks or logs.


The black and yellow argiope, or writing spider, is a very large, brightly covered spider found in gardens. The females can grow to 3" or larger; the males are significantly smaller. Their appearance consists of patterns of black, yellow, and white, which usually appear on the abdomen and sometimes the legs.




Ticks are parasitical insects which survive by consuming the blood of other living creatures, specifically mammals and birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. Ticks attach themselves to their hosts by waiting in tall grass or shrubs for a potential host to pass, and then crawl or drop onto the host. They are usually smaller than a match head, but enlarge while feeding. They will remove themselves from the host once satisfied, but this usually takes several days. 


There are two separate, non-related insects known as hornets: the European hornet, which was accidentally introduced into the United States (there are no true hornets native to the U.S.), and the bald-faced hornet, which is actually a type of wasp. While they are not the same species, their behaviors are similar.


There are four kinds of wasp common in America: yellow jackets, mud daubers, paper wasps, and bald-faced hornets (for information on bald-faced hornets, see hornets). Yellow jackets are predominately yellow with black markings. Paper wasps can be black, red, black and yellow, or black and red. The most common type of mud dauber, the pipe organ mud dauber, is solid black. Wasps usually grow no larger than 1.25".


Mosquitoes are the deadliest insects on the planet, not because of the mosquito itself, but because of the diseases that they carry and transfer to their hosts while feeding on the host's blood. Mosquito-born disease is responsible for the death of millions of people each year; an estimated 70 million are infected through mosquito bites annually. Diseases they carry include malaria, yellow fever, dengue, encephalitis, and West Nile virus.