Animals found in homes that are considered pests or nuisances to be abated or eliminated.
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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. The females of many species of mosquitoes are blood eating pests. In feeding on blood, some of them transmit extremely harmful human and livestock diseases, such as malaria. Some authorities argue accordingly that mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on Earth.
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae (from the Latin culex, genitive culicis meaning "midge" or "gnat"). The word mosquito (formed by mosca and diminutive ito) is from the Spanish for "little fly". Superficially, mosquitoes resemble crane flies (family Tipulidae) and chironomid flies (family Chironomidae); as a result, casual observers seldom realise the important differences between the members of the respective families. In particular, the females of many species of mosquitoes are blood eating pests and dangerous vectors of diseases, whereas members of the similar-looking Chironomidae and Tipulidae are not. Many species of mosquitoes are not blood eaters, and many
A mouse (plural: mice) is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles. They are known to invade homes for food and occasionally shelter.
The American white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) and the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), as well as other common species of mouse-like rodents around the world, also sometimes live in houses. These, however, are in other genera.
Cats, wild dogs, foxes, birds of prey, snakes and even certain kinds of arthropods have been known to prey heavily upon mice. Nevertheless, because of its remarkable adaptability to almost any environment, the mouse is one of the most successful mammalian genera living on Earth today.
Mice can at times be vermin, damaging and eating crops, causing structural damage and spreading diseases through their parasites and feces. In North America, breathing dust that has come in contact with mouse
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. The term is used loosely to refer to any species of the genus Cimex, and even more loosely to refer to any member of the family Cimicidae (cimicids). The common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, is the most infamous species of the family and prefers to feed on human blood. The name of the "bed bug" is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal and are capable of feeding on their hosts without being noticed.
A number of adverse health effects may occur due to bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms.
Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. At a point in the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have recently increased in prevalence since 1995. Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase, bed bug bites and related conditions have been on the rise, as well.
Adult bed bugs are light brown to reddish-brown,
Fleas are the insects forming the order Siphonaptera. They are wingless, with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Fleas are external parasites, living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals and birds.
Some flea species include:
Over 2,000 species have been described worldwide.
Fleas are wingless insects (1/16 to 1/8-inch (1.5 to 3.3 mm) long) that are agile, usually dark colored (for example, the reddish-brown of the cat flea), with tube-like mouth-parts adapted to feeding on the blood of their hosts. Their legs are long, the hind pair well adapted for jumping: a flea can jump vertically up to 7 inches (18 cm) and horizontally up to 13 inches (33 cm), making the flea one of the best jumpers of all known animals (relative to body size), second only to the froghopper. According to an article in Science News, "researchers with the University of Cambridge in England have shown that fleas take off from their tibiae and tarsi—the insect equivalent of feet—and not their trochantera, or knees. The researchers report their conclusion in the March 1 Journal of Experimental Biology." It has been known that fleas do not use muscle power but energy stored in a protein named
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Many members of other rodent genera and families are also referred to as rats, and share many characteristics with true rats.
Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size; rats are generally large muroid rodents, while mice are generally small muroid rodents. The muroid family is very large and complex, and the common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. Generally, when someone discovers a large muroid, its common name includes the term rat, while if it is small, the name includes the term mouse. Scientifically, the terms are not confined to members of the Rattus and Mus genera, for example, the pack rat and cotton mouse.
The best-known rat species are the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1.1 lb) in the
True flies are insects of the order Diptera (from the Greek di = two, and ptera = wings). Their most obvious distinction from other orders of insects is that a typical fly possesses a pair of flight wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax. (Some species of flies are exceptional in that they are secondarily flightless). The only other order of insects bearing two true, functional wings plus any form of halteres are the Strepsiptera, and in contrast to the flies, the Strepsiptera bear their halteres on the mesothorax and their flight wings on the metathorax.
The presence of a single pair of patent, metathoracic flight wings distinguishes most true flies from other insects with "fly" in their names, such as mayflies, dragonflies, damselflies, stoneflies, whiteflies, fireflies, alderflies, dobsonflies, snakeflies, sawflies, caddisflies, butterflies or scorpionflies. However, some true flies have become secondarily wingless, for example many members of the superfamily Hippoboscoidea and some species that are inquilines in social insect colonies.
Some authors draw a distinction in writing the common names of insects. True flies are
Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as "true crickets"), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers, and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are about 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs. Crickets are harmless to humans.
The sound emitted by crickets is commonly referred to as chirping; the scientific name is stridulation. Only the male crickets chirp. The sound is emitted by the stridulatory organ, a large vein running along the bottom of each wing, covered with "teeth" (serration) much like a comb. The chirping sound is created by running the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing. As he does this, the cricket also holds the wings up and open, so that the wing membranes can act as acoustical sails. It is a popular myth that the cricket chirps by rubbing its legs together.
There are four types of cricket song: The calling song attracts females and repels other males, and is fairly loud. The courting song is used when a female
Hornets are the largest eusocial wasps; some species can reach up to 5.5 cm (2.2 in) in length. The true hornets make up the genus Vespa and are distinguished from other vespines by the width of the vertex (part of the head behind the eyes), which is proportionally larger in Vespa and by the anteriorly rounded gasters (the section of the abdomen behind the wasp waist). The best known species is the European hornet (Vespa crabro), about 2-3 cm in length, widely distributed throughout Europe, Russia, and Northeast Asia.
In Vespa crabro, the nest is founded in spring by a fertilized female known as the queen. She generally selects sheltered places like dark hollow tree trunks. She first builds a series of cells (up to 50) out of chewed tree bark. The cells are arranged in horizontal layers named combs, each cell being vertical and closed at the top. An egg is then laid in each cell. After 5–8 days, the egg hatches, and in the next two weeks, the larva undergoes its five stages. During this time, the queen feeds it a protein-rich diet of insects. Then, the larva spins a silk cap over the cell's opening and, during the next two weeks, transforms into an adult, a process called
Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattaria or Blattodea, of which about 30 species out of 4,500 total are associated with human habitats. About four species are well known as pests.
Among the best-known pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long, the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, also about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 25 millimetres (0.98 in). Tropical cockroaches are often much bigger, and extinct cockroach relatives and 'roachoids' such as the Carboniferous Archimylacris and the Permian Apthoroblattina were not as large as the biggest modern species.
The name cockroach comes from the Spanish word cucaracha, "chafer", "beetle", from cuca, "kind of caterpillar." The scientific name derives from the Latinized Greek name for the insect (Doric Greek: βλάττα, blátta; Ionic and Attic Greek: βλάττη, blátte')
The English form cockroach is a folk etymology reanalysis of the Spanish word into meaningful native parts, although cock referred to a rooster and a roach is a type of
Termites are a group of eusocial insects that, until recently, were classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera (see taxonomy below), but are now accepted as the epifamily Termitoidae, of the cockroach order Blattodea. While termites are commonly known, especially in Australia, as "white ants", they are only distantly related to the ants.
Like ants, some bees, and wasps—which are all placed in the separate order Hymenoptera—termites divide labor among castes, produce overlapping generations and take care of young collectively. Termites mostly feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung, and about 10% of the estimated 4,000 species (about 2,600 taxonomically known) are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests. Termites are major detritivores, particularly in the subtropical and tropical regions, and their recycling of wood and other plant matter is of considerable ecological importance.
As eusocial insects, termites live in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals. Colonies use decentralised, self-organised
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida. Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, Q fever (rare; more commonly transmitted by infected excreta), Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, African tick bite fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Tick paralysis and tick-borne meningoencephalitis, as well as bovine anaplasmosis.
There are three families of ticks, one of which – Nuttalliellidae – comprises a single species, Nuttalliella namaqua. The remaining two families contain the hard ticks (Ixodidae) and the soft ticks (Argasidae).
Ixodidae are distinguished from the Argasidae by the presence of a scutum or hard shield. Ixodidae nymphs and adults both have a prominent capitulum (head) which projects forwards from the body; in the Argasidae, conversely, the capitulum is concealed beneath the body.
Argasidae contains 193 species, although the composition of the genera is less certain, and more study is needed before
The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural biocontrol. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.
The majority of wasp species (well over 100,000 species) are "parasitic" (technically known as parasitoids), and the ovipositor is used simply to lay eggs, often directly into the body of the host. The most familiar wasps belong to Aculeata, a "division" of Apocrita, whose ovipositors are adapted into a venomous sting, though a great many aculeate species do not sting. Aculeata also contains ants and bees, and many wasps are commonly mistaken for bees, and vice-versa. In a similar respect, insects called "velvet ants" (the family Mutillidae) are technically wasps.
The suborder Symphyta, known commonly as sawflies, differ from members of Apocrita by lacking a sting, and having a broader connection between the mesosoma and
Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species, and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists; however, there has been confusion within the scientific community as to how all these families should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900.
Anatomically, spiders differ from other arthropods in that the usual body segments are fused into two tagmata, the cephalothorax and abdomen, and joined by a small, cylindrical pedicel. Unlike insects, spiders do not have antennae. In all except the most primitive group, the Mesothelae, spiders have the most centralized nervous systems of all arthropods, as all their ganglia are fused into one mass in the cephalothorax. Unlike most arthropods, spiders have no extensor muscles
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae ( /fɔrˈmɪsɨdiː/) and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist.
Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies sometimes are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.
Ants have colonised almost every landmass on Earth. The only places