Pest Identification- Ask An ACE

Image of five Associate Certified Entomologists. Patton Termite & Pest Control's Wichita ACE team includes Mike Patton, Ryan Cocking, Tim Dahl, and Gerry Marsh for Pest Identification. Staff Entomologist, Jordan Randall.

When you encounter a strange pest, after taking some photos, the first step is to usually to go straight internet for help with identification. You’re probably searching for an answer to the question, “What is this bug?” Patton Termite & Pest Control of Wichita has put together this pest identification page to help you through the process of finding out what bugs you are seeing so you can take the best course of action. Some bugs are harmless and some can cause serious infestations in and around your home. Above all, these infestations can be potentially damaging to your home, health, and sanity.

Pest Identification Basics- Wichita Pests

Pest Identification is crucial for pest control treatment in Wichita, Kansas.

Proper pest identification is necessary before any treatment is done. We need to consider many different things when treating for pests. Pest biology, behaviors, breeding, habitat, and infestation level all factor into the identification and pest control service process.

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Responsible Pest Control Service

By considering the factors above (pest biology, behavior, breeding, etc.) before treatment, we can make sure we are using the correct materials in the right places. This consideration allows us to use materials responsibly and efficiently. As a Green Pro Certified company, Patton Termite & Pest Control also relies on Integrated Pest Management solutions for pest infestations.

IPM

“IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.”

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Principles

Identify Your Pest

Jordan Randall staff entomologist providing Wichita Pest Identification.

The Pest Identification Guide below will help you identify the type of pest you are seeing in Wichita, Kansas or surrounding areas. However, it is best to bring your findings to the attention of a trained professional like Patton Termite & Pest Control to come up with a treatment plan and pricing.

Pest Identification is crucial to know which type of ants you are seeing in Wichita.

Ants

Ants are social insects that typically live in colonies in the ground. They are commonly found outdoors but will enter buildings seeking food and shelter. Ants start searching for nutritional resources as early as February and March. They can be identified by their three distinct body regions including the following: head, thorax and abdomen. Ants are known for having a cinched waist and elbowed antennae. Although there are thousands of varieties of ants, there are a few that are commonly found in Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas.

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Odorous House Ants

Odorous House Ants are very commonly found invading structures. Their nests are usually established near a water source so they are often found in crevices and wall voids in kitchens and bathrooms. Odorous House Ants travel in trails and prefer sweets. Although, they will eat almost any household food. They are small, dark ants that have a foul smell when crushed.

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Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants typically hollow out galleries in wood to nest. They will choose decayed wood as well as sturdy wood depending on what’s available. Their nests can result in wood damage so they are considered a wood-destroying insect. They are larger than some of the other common ants found in Kansas. They also produce swarmers, much like termites, but there are some distinct differences to tell them apart. Signs of carpenter ants can be the ants themselves, swarming ants with wings, wood damage, and sawdust or wood shavings.

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Acrobat Ants

Acrobat Ants, for example, have a pointed, heart shaped, abdomen that they raise up when disrupted. Typically, they nest outdoors under stones, logs, firewood, and around foliage that readily has aphids or mealybugs. They also nest indoors in decaying wood or areas with excessive moisture.

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Pavement ants

Pavement Ants, for example, are commonly found along cracks in landscaping bricks and concrete. Occasionally, they will invade structures but will usually be found near the foundation or stone or brick work along the home and under slabs. These ants will search for meats and grease as a food source. They specifically feed on other insects, so the outdoors are favorable for this food source.

Bed bugs are common pests in Wichita with easy pest identification provided by a professional.

Pest Identification- Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs are blood-sucking insects that are very widespread in the US. Blood meals are necessary for their growth and reproduction. That is why they become established in places where they will easily and frequently have a blood meal (ex: beds). If you suspect you have bed bugs, you may find some or all of the following:

Image features an adult bed bug that is a dark brown/crimson color. It is engorged from feeding so its abdomen is elongated and slightly rounded.

Bed Bugs- bed bugs are small, wingless bugs that are similar in size and shape to an apple seed when fully developed. In younger stages, they can be smaller and lighter in color. Otherwise, they range from brown to a dark brown-red. Sometimes people confuse bed bugs with ticks, but ticks won’t infest your home.

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Eggs- Bed Bug eggs are often found clustered together in the seams, cracks, and crevices in furniture. They look similar to, although much smaller than, a grain of rice.

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Fecal Matter, Spotting, and Staining- Bed bugs often leave behind evidence of their activity through fecal spotting on furniture. Staining may also occur when the bugs are smashed.

Pest Identification for the type of beetles you are seeing is important for treatment.

Pest Identification- Beetles

Beetles are insects that have a hardened frontal part of their wings that help distinguish them from other insects. There are 350,000 species of beetles worldwide which make them the largest order of insects. Pest Identification for the beetles you find in or around your Wichita home may not make too much of a different when it comes to service. Materials designed to treat for beetles cover a wide variety of beetles.

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Pest Identification- Fleas

Fleas are flightless insects, that can jump very far, that rely on blood meals from a host. Fleas feed on a variety of hosts including the following: humans, cats and dogs, squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice, and birds. They are very small (adults getting up to about 3mm in size) and can maneuver around different hairs and fibers easily. Despite their small size, fleas reproduce rapidly and in high numbers so infestations can become very large, very quickly.

Pest Identification- Small Flies/ Gnats

Small flies such as fruit flies, gnats, and drain flies can be very pesky indoor pests. These flies are often found in kitchens and bathrooms. Moisture and decaying organic matter are the preferred food sources of small flies. Sanitation practices are required for control of these indoor pests.

Pest Identification- Cockroaches

Cockroaches are social insects that commonly infest homes and commercial businesses. They have hard, long, oval-shaped bodies and long antennae. Their food preferences, habitat preferences, and behaviors vary between species so pest identification is crucial when it comes to cockroach control. The cockroaches that commonly infest homes in Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas are listed below.

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German Cockroach

The distinct pattern for identification of the German cockroach is the two dark stripes down the thorax (back). Also, these cockroaches are often found in kitchens and bathrooms, specifically within cabinets or cracks/crevices. German cockroaches are easily introduced into homes through grocery bags, cardboard boxes, and drink cartons. Food sources within homes include the following: kitchen items, pet food, toothpaste, soap , and glue.

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American Cockroach

While German cockroaches are more commonly found in residential settings, the American cockroach is often associated with sewers and commercial facilities. They prefer to inhabit warm, damp locations. These cockroaches are also known to be strong fliers and easily migrate from building to building.

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Oriental Cockroach

The oriental cockroach is heavily associated with moisture within a home. They are often found in crawlspaces, basements, water-meter boxes, drains and sewer-ejector pits. The female oriental roach is wingless and both genders are very dark in color, almost black.

You may encounter other cockroaches occasionally, such as Wood Roaches, that will not establish an infestation in your home. They are “Occasional Invaders” we treat for in a routine pest control service.

Pest Identificaion by a Wichita professional can tell you if you have rats or mice in or around your home.

Pest Identification- Rodents

Rodents are small mammals that commonly infest homes and businesses in Kansas. Mice and Rats are the most common. Rats and Mice can be differentiated by their ears, tail length, droppings, and size. Both of these rodents are pests that can infest homes, cause structural damage, and contaminate stored food and food surfaces. Both mice and rats will also transmit and spread diseases. Different bait and trapping methods are needed for each due the the difference in size and behavior between the two rodents.

Mice, the top image, are much smaller than rats. They can fit in the palm of your hand. Their droppings are close to the size of sprinkles. When they infest food bags and containers. It looks more like a nibble when they invade your stored foods. Mice, more commonly than rats, are found infesting homes in Wichita, Kansas and surrounding areas.

Pest Identificaion by a Wichita professional can tell you if you have rats or mice in or around your home.

In contrast, rats are much larger in size than mice and have longer tails. They are closer in size to a guinea pig. Their droppings are about 4 times larger than those of mice. When they infest food bags and containers they really do some damage. Rats are much more destructive. They are more commonly found infesting yards and outbuildings. Also, you can find them by looking for burrowing.

Pest Identification- Wichita Spiders

Spiders are predatory arachnids that have eight legs and two body regions. Many people are afraid of spiders, although not all spiders bite or cause harm to humans. The two spiders below, the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow, are of significant importance in human environments because their bites can cause serious or even fatal reactions in humans.

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Brown Recluse Spiders

Male and Female Brown Recluse Spiders can be a variety of shades of brown and have a dark brown, fiddle-shaped marking on their backs. They are a medium sized spider ranging from the size of a quarter to a 50 cent piece. These spiders will hide in closets, boxes, clothing piles, shoes, under beds, as well as other places on the ground. Brown Recluse Spiders are typically found indoors. However, they can also be found outdoors in well hidden and protected areas.

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Black Widow Spiders

The Female is easily identified by her black color and red hourglass design on her abdomen (underside). On the other hand, the male Black Widow Spider is smaller and is often light brown. However, males aren’t too much cause for concern as they do not produce toxic venom.

Female Black Widows produce webs that are thick and disorganized. You will find them in secluded areas in garages, cellars, crawl spaces, sheds,  outbuildings, and other undisturbed areas in and around the home. They can also be found in and around wood piles, organic debris, and within enclosed, protected areas (like an electrical box or unused planter). She is usually found with her egg sac, therefore, she does not go far.

You may encounter the spiders below, as they can invade homes, but they will not reproduce to cause an infestation.

cellar spider
Cellar Spider
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Garden/ Golden Orb Spider
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Orb Spider
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Grass Spider
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Wolf Spider

Pest Identification- Stored Product Pests in Wichita

You may have a problem with stored product pests, for example, if you find eggs, larvae, or adults(displayed below) inside your home. These pests are introduced from stored products normally found within kitchen cabinets. Common products that cause infestation include the following: whole grains(rice and oats), beans, flour, corn meal, cake mixes, spices, dried fruits, nuts, dried peppers, crackers, bird seed and pet food.

Indian Meal Moths

Stored product pests, such as Indian Meal Moths, require proper pest identification from one of our Wichita Associate Certified Entomologists.

Flour Beetles

Stored product pests, such as Flour Beetles, require proper pest identification from one of our Wichita Associate Certified Entomologists.

Stored product pests are an introduced pest that are very difficult to control. Therefore, these pests require professional diagnosis and elimination methods.

Termites

Termites are wood-destroying insects which commonly infest forested environments and generally live in the soil. Much like ants, they are social insects that randomly and continuously forage for food (wood). Workers are light-colored and look like grubs. They are very small, about the size of a grain of rice, and are usually found in groups since they are social insects that live in colonies.

Termites found in Wichita with wood and dirt particles under a microscope for pest identification.
Subterranean Worker Termites
Termite swarmers brought into our Wichita office for pest identification.
Termite Swarmers
Flying Ants and Termite Swarmers are both common in Wichita and need proper pest identification for treatment.
Flying Ant vs Termite Swarmer

Other Occasional Invaders

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Stink Bug
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Pillbug
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Millipede
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Crickets
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Box Elder Bug

There are a variety of occasional invaders in and around your home we can provide pest control services for. These include the following: various beetles, centipedes, millipedes, crickets, clover mites, pillbugs, scorpions, stink bugs, box elder bugs, weevils, and more. In conclusion, if you have a problem with any of the above pests, we can work out a treatment program that will take care of these for you!

Ask A Wichita Associate Certified Entomologist about Pest Identification