Get to Know Pests!

Learning Center

Are bugs bugging you? Defense Pest Control has put together a comprehensive library of the most common pests found in Arizona. This will help you identify the pests you are dealing with and what you can do to avoid them. You can even learn about their appearance, habits, diet, and possible dangers.

If you are having trouble identifying the pests in your house, contact us today for a free inspection.

Spiders

American House Spider

Appearance:  ¼ inch in length. Dull brown in color with a slightly spotted pattern. Bulbous in shape.  

Habits:  Typically found near or in houses in secluded areas, these spiders spin dense webs resulting in cobwebs.

Diet:  American House Spiders eat insects caught in the web made by the female. 

Reproduction:  Female spiders produce up to 17 egg sacs in a lifetime. Each egg sac contains 100 to 400 eggs. 

Other Information: These spiders will only bite in self defense. Bites are no more painful than a bee sting and do not require medical attention.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Appearance:  These spiders sport distinctive black and yellow markings. Females range in length from ¾ to 1 inch.

Habits:  Female spiders spend the majority of their life in one location. They spin large circular webs with dense zigzags of silk through the center.

Diet:  Insects as well as small vertebrates that become ensnared in the web.

Reproduction:  Females breed twice a year. Male spiders die after breeding. The egg sac can range from ⅝ to 1 inch in diameter and hold up to 1,000 eggs.

Other Information:  These spiders only bite out of self-defense. Will not attack humans or large animals.

Desert Tarantula

Appearance:  Tarantulas grow to be 3 to 4 inches in length. Females have lighter shades of brown and tan hair, while males have shades of black and red hair.

Habits:  Typically lives in burrows in the ground. Can also be found between logs, under rocks and other small crevices. Females live up to 25 years.

Diet:  Tarantulas feed on insects, scorpions, lizards, and other spiders.

Reproduction:  These arachnids can lay up to 300 eggs. Surviving young stay in their burrow for 7 weeks before leaving.

Other Information:  Despite many people's fears - tarantulas are not dangerous to humans. They are very docile and likely won't bite anything bigger than they are. 

Black Widow

Appearance:  Female is ½ inch in length.  Shiny black in color.  Distinct red hourglass-shaped mark on underside of abdomen.

Habits:  Can be found anywhere- inside or outside.  Nests are usually built close to the ground.

Diet:  Insects trapped in the web made by the female.

Reproduction:  Unlike the myth, females are usually unsuccessful in eating the male after mating.  300-400 eggs are laid in a silky cocoon and hatch in 10 days.

Other Information:  Not aggressive and won’t bite unless provoked.  Bite is poisonous.  Seek medical attention – rarely fatal.

Brown Recluse

Appearance:  5/8 to 1 ½ inch in length.  Wide, oval and flat body.  Some species can fly.  Vary in color from brown, reddish or black.

Habits:  Most active at night.  Some produce odorous secretions creating an unpleasant odor when populations are high.  Prefer warm and humid environments such as cracks and crevices.  Although they are not social insects, they are often found in groups while resting, hiding or feeding.

Diet:  Omnivorous.  Eat almost anything – starch foodstuffs, meat, sweets, grease, cheese, beer, paper products, plants, leather, etc.

Reproduction:  Depending on species, females produces 4 to 90 egg capsules in their life time each containing 14 to 48 eggs.  The nymphs emerge from the capsule as smaller versions of the adult.

Other Information:  Known to cause asthma.  Some species also known as water bugs.

Cockroaches

German Roach

Appearance: These smaller species are typically ⅖ - ⅗ inches in length. Adults have a lighter tan color but are a darker black before reaching adulthood. They can be easily identified by two distinct black stripes behind the head.

Habits: Most commonly found in the kitchen or bathroom because they prefer warmer and more humid environments unable to survive in severely cold conditions. Most active during the night and will emit an unpleasant odor if frightened or excited.

Diet: Omnivorous scavengers particularly attracted meats, starches, sugars, and fatty foods, but will eat common household items such as soap, toothpaste and book bindings if there’s a food shortage. They are notorious for eating leftover food scraps on dirty plates left in the sink.

Reproduction: This specie reproduces faster than most and one female is capable of producing 30-40 offspring in their life. Each egg only needs a few days before they hatch, so a small problem can turn into a big problem in only a week.

Other Information: Although adults have wings and are able to fly they rarely do and prefer to run instead.

 

Brown-Banded Roach

Appearance: These roaches are named from their distinct light brown or tan lines running across their wings. They are one of the smallest of the invasive cockroaches and usually don’t grow more than a half of an inch in length, averaging at  5⁄8 in (10 to 14 mm) long.

Habits: Unlike most roaches these prefer less humid and much warmer climates and are most commonly found crawling on ceilings, in attics and appliance motors.

Diet: They will eat almost anything but prefer to eat materials with a high starch content such as wallpaper glue, stamps or book bindings.

Reproduction: The female lays about 10-18 eggs at a time in capsules and carries them for about 30 hours before she fastens it on walls, ceilings, and hidden areas. They can live anywhere from 130 to 315 days, and have an average lifespan of 206 days.

Other Information: Brown-banded roaches have been reported to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.

 

Oriental Roach

Appearance: They have a shiny black to a dark reddish-brown color. The adult male’s size is slightly less than an inch while the female is typically 1 ¼ inches in length. Neither male nor female is capable of flight

Habits: Primarily an outdoors species, most populations can be found living under the mulch in landscape beds, rocks, in leaf litter, or under porches. In more metropolitan areas, oriental roaches can be found in large numbers living in storm drains, sewers, basements, cellars or crawl spaces.

Diet: They are known for their preference of feeding on garbage, filth or material that has begun to decay. These cockroaches are very dependent upon water, and although they can survive for up to a month without food, these insects can not survive for more than two weeks without water.

Reproduction: On average an adult male oriental cockroach will live 110 to 160 days, whereas the adult female can live anywhere from 35 to 180 days. During that time, a single female oriental roach can produce approximately 130 offspring.

Other Information: These can be responsible for foodborne pathogens such as E.coli and Salmonella since they prefer to eat garbage and decaying organic matter.

 

American Roach

Appearance: The largest of all cockroach species where adults average from 1 1/2 - 3 inches long. Their body color is reddish brown while the area around the edge of their head is outlined with a yellow band.

Habits: The insect can travel quickly and is considered one of the fastest running insects. It  is commonly found basements or drain pipes and can enter through small cracks under doors or windows despite its larger size.

Diet: They forage for any food crumbs and water under appliances, drains, kitchen sinks, cabinets, floor and even pet food that is left out overnight.

Reproduction: These roaches like to breed in sewers and on average they live for about 30 months. One female produces an average of 150 young in her lifetime.

Other Information: They commonly pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through sewage pipes and then transfer these germs to food or onto food surfaces causing diseases or allergy complications.

 

Ants

Carpenter Ant

Appearance:  One of the largest ant species in the country, carpenter ants can be up to 13 mm in length. These ants are dark red or reddish black in color with wings, narrow waists, and bent antennae. 

Habits:  Colonies of carpenter ants often reside in moist or damaged wood; in fact, many homeowners can mistake swarms of carpenter ants for termite colonies. These colonies damage wood by excavating and creating tunnels for their nests and creating "satellite" colonies, with worker ants traveling back and forth.  

Diet:  Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but they will feed on sweets and meats that people leave behind. They will also feed on other insects.

Reproduction:  Colonies are usually around 15,000 workers when mature, but potentially could be over 100,000 workers. 

Fire Ant

Appearance:  There are three main species of fire ant in Arizona - the most common being the southern fire ant. Depending on their position in the colony, these ants range in size from 1/16 of an inch to a quarter of an inch. They are reddish-brown in color. 

Habits:  These ants prefer warm, dry surroundings and may build a colony in an open field or lawn. Fire ants usually build mounds for their colonies outside, but will also venture indoors if they find a source of food. 

Diet:  Fire ants will eat sweet, fatty foods, as well as other insects. 

Reproduction:  The average lifespan of a worker fire ant is five months. Queens can live up to seven years. In one day, a queen can lay thousands of eggs. 

Stinging:  When attacked, fire ants are very aggressive and will often sting predators to defend themselves and their colony. Their venom is only dangerous in large quantities, or for people and animals with an allergy to the venom. 

Harvester Ant

Appearance:  In Arizona, harvester ants may be one of a variety of species. They can be as large as one-half inch long, and may be black, red or brown in color. Both male and female harvester ants lose their wings after mating. They also have a stinger for protection.

Habits:  Harvester ants create large mounds, forming colonies alongside gardens or other planted areas. These ants can actually be beneficial to the environment, spreading seeds and serving as food for other wildlife. They usually only pose a problem when their mounds are located near areas that people may have close encounters with them. 

Diet:  Harvester ants are foragers, going out in search of seeds and dead insects to bring back to the colony for food. 

Reproduction:  Some lay 1 egg/day while others lay 15 to 30 eggs each year.  Some queens are known to live up to 25 years.

Stinging: These ants will aggressively defend their colonies and may sting. The venom from a harvester ant is more powerful than that of a honeybee, and people who are allergic to their venom can experience pain and swelling. 

Silverfish

Silverfish

Appearance:  ¼ to ½ inch in length.  Similar to a carrot in shape.  Color varies from brown to grey or silver.  Three filaments extend from rear.

Habits:  Nocturnal.  Move quickly and can jump.  Can do excessive damage to paper products including books, wallpaper, etc.

Diet:  Feed on starch, paste, glue, paper products of all kinds, starched clothing and textiles.

Reproduction:  Life span averages 2 to 2 ½ years.  2 to 3 month reproductive cycle.  Each batch produces about 50 eggs.

Other Information:  This is one of the most primitive existing insect orders – more than 400 million years old.

Earwigs

Earwigs

Appearance:  5/8 to 1 inch in length.  Dark reddish brown to black in color with yellow-brown legs.  Readily recognized by the pinchers or forceps -like appendages at the end of the abdomen which pose no threat to humans.

Habits:  Active at night.  Some species are attracted to lights. Commonly found in the new developments where land has been cleared for building.

Diet:  Scavengers.  Feed on anything – dead animals, plants, etc.

Reproduction:  Has the ability to develop large populations in a single season.  Females lay and guard up to 60 eggs in burrows in the ground.  Eggs hatch in the spring.

Other Information:  Some species produce a strong odor when crushed.

Fleas

Fleas

Appearance:  Small, wingless, flattened body covered in bristles.  1/12 to 1/6 inches in length.  Six long, powerful legs.

Habits:  Concentrated in pet resting areas inside and outside.  Do well in warm and humid environments.  Can jump 7 to 8 inches high.

Diet:  Blood.  Can go for long period of time without feeding.

Reproduction:  Females lay a few eggs each day until 200 to 400 eggs have been laid.  Eggs hatch in 2 to 3 days.

Other Information:  Known to carry many diseases.

House Crickets

House Crickets

Appearance:  ¾ to 1 inch in length.  Light yellowish brown in color.  Three dark brown bands are present on the head.

Habits:  Nocturnal.  When inside, found in warm areas such as kitchen, basement, fireplace as well as in cracks and crevices and behind baseboards.  Makes a very distinctive chirping sound.

Diet:  Will eat anything but loves bread crumbs and any liquids.  Can damage stored clothing.

Reproduction:  40-170 eggs are deposited individually in cracks and crevices and behind baseboards – takes 12 weeks to hatch.

Rodents

Mice

Appearance:  3 to 4 inches in length.  Trim and slender with fairly large ears, small eyes, pointed nose, and long, naked tail.  Varies in color from light gray, brown and black with whitish to buff under parts.  Droppings are rod-shaped.

Habits:  Capable of getting into “impossible” places – can squeeze through ¼ inch space.  Keen sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing and balance but poor eyesight.  Curious but wary.  Primarily nocturnal.

Diet:  Omnivorous.  Sporadic feeding – taking a little from various places.  Feed on wide variety of foods but prefer sweets or meats.

Reproduction:  Lifespan averages 1 to 2 years.  A female may have up to 10 litters in her lifetime (averaging 6 each).  Breeding starts at 1 ½ to 2 months of age and occurs year round indoors and peaks in spring and fall outdoors.

Other Information:  Known to carry serious diseases.

Scorpions

Scorpions

Appearance:  1 to 5 ½ inches in length including tail.  Depending on species, can be brown, yellowish, tan, gray or greenish in color.

Habits:  Most active at night.  During the day, they will hide under bark, boards, rocks or rubbish or if inside in closets, seldom-used shoes or folded laundry.  They will enter the home in search of food, water and shade.

Diet:  Feed on spiders and soft bodied insects.  Poor eyesight so they will lie in wait to grab their prey with their pinchers.

Reproduction:  Will bear 18+ live young.  After birth, the young will cling to their mothers back until they molt (about 2 weeks) and then they scatter to live on their own.

Other Information:  All species are venomous and some species can cause serious and sometimes fatal effects.  Seek medical attention if stung.

Ticks

Ticks

Appearance:  Small and float of sac-like.  There are both soft and hard ticks.  Colors vary from red shades, brown and black with patterns of white or lighter colors. When engorged, color can change to gray-blue or olive.

Habits:  Cannot run, hop, fly or move quickly.  They climb onto an object (tall grass or weeds, fences or sides of buildings) to wait for a host to pass by.  Adults are most often found on the hosts ears, neck and between toes.  Larvae and nymphs are commonly found on the long hair on the back of the dog.

Diet:  Blood.  Hosts include reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds.  Some can go years without feeding.

Reproduction:  As many as 10,000 eggs are laid in cracks and crevices of roofs of kennels or ceiling of porches.  Eggs hatch weeks to months later.

Other Information:  Carrier and transmitter of many diseases.