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What You Need To Know About Common Texas Pests

Listed below are some of the most common pests found in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. This quick reference page will provide information about the insects and rodents that frequently invade Texas properties and homes. Knowing the dangers and damage they can pose can help you to protect your home, property, and family from invasive pests.

Termites

two termites up close eating wood inside a wilmer texas home

Termites are social insects. They have a complex social structure and live together in large colonies. What exactly a termite looks like depends on what "caste" or group within the colony that they are a part of.
 
Worker termites
Workers make up the majority of a colony. They have soft, creamy-white bodies, are wingless, blind, and grow to be about 1/4 of an inch in length. They are responsible for gathering food to feed the entire colony.
 
Soldier termites
Soldiers look similar to workers, but they are slightly larger in size, have short legs, and their heads are elongated and yellow in color. Soldiers use their powerful jaws to defend their colony.
 
Reproductive termites
Reproductive termites are the largest sized member of a colony and are dark brown to black in color and are the only winged members of a colony.
 
Termites nesting and feeding outside are a beneficial species, feeding on and breaking down water-damaged or decaying pieces of wood and other organic debris that is made of cellulose. However, when termites find their way into homes and other buildings, they turn from helpful to destructive. Termites are initially attracted to structural wood that is decaying or has been damaged by water (structural wood found behind walls, window and door frames, ceilings, and floors). As an infestation grows, they will also attack sound wood. If left untreated, an infestation can lead to costly structural repairs. Most homeowners' insurance doesn't cover termite damage because it's viewed as preventable.
 
To protect your home from moisture-seeking termites, it is important to reduce as much excess moisture in and around your home as possible by using dehumidifiers or air-conditioners, making sure that crawlspaces and attics are properly ventilated, maintaining your home's gutters, placing weather stripping around all windows and doors, repairing leaky pipes or fixtures and remove any wood in your home that has been damaged by water, eliminating as many entrance points as possible, limiting soil-to-wood contact on your property, sealing cracks in your home's foundation, and creating a barrier between your home’s foundation and any soil or mulch. 

Bed Bugs

a bed bug up close in a dallas texas home

Bed bugs are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of mammals. Humans are bed bugs' favorite source of food, but if necessary, they will feed on pets or other animals. Adult bed bugs are wingless, about 1/4 of an inch long, and have a flat, oval shape. They are often likened to an apple seed with legs. Before feeding, bed bugs are reddish-brown in color. After feeding they turn a deep purple-reddish color and their bodies expand in a balloon-like manner. Nymphs (immature bed bugs) resemble adults, except they are smaller and are a whitish-yellow color. After they have their first blood meal nymphs turn bright red.
 
Bed bugs are found where there are people because, as with other pests, they like to live near their main food source. Hotels, motels, airports, buses, taxis, shopping centers, hospitals, schools, dormitories, movie theaters, and libraries can all house populations of bed bugs. Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day in tight cracks and crevices, emerging at night to feed on their host(s). Common bed bug hiding spots include the seams of mattresses and box springs, in furniture, behind window and door frames, in wall voids, behind light switches and electrical outlets, underneath piles of dirty laundry, behind loose wallpaper, inside electronics, and in other similar areas.
 
Though bed bugs are expert hitchhikers, there are a few things you can do to avoid introducing bed bugs into your home including keeping your belongings up off the ground when in public places, avoiding purchasing used furniture, mattresses or box springs for use within your home, inspecting your hotel room before bringing belongings inside, regularly washing your family’s bedding and vacuuming your home, and using a protective cover that encases your mattresses and box springs to help eliminate hiding spots.

Rodents

two mice eating cereal inside an addison texas home

Rodents are a type of mammal and are part of the order Rodentia. They are found living throughout most of the world. Rodents are all characterized by a single pair of front incisors in their upper and lower jaws that continuously grow. Two of the most well-known species of rodents are rats and mice. Both are adaptable, live in diverse habitats, and are active throughout the year. The most noticeable difference between the two is that adult rats are much larger in size than adult mice.
 
Rats and mice are common invaders of homes and businesses. They are initially attracted to properties that offer easy access to food, water, and shelter. Open garbage cans, gardens, pet food, bird feeders, fruit trees, and compost piles will cause rodents to make your property into their new home. After making themselves at home on your property, mice and rats will eventually find their way into your home, usually while foraging for food. Inside, they will forage for and contaminate food, spread disease and bacteria, and cause structural damage by chewing through pipes, wires, insulation, flooring, and drywall.
 
Preventing problems with mice, rats, and other rodents can be difficult. To stop your home from being invaded by these dangerous and damaging pests it is important to make it as unappealing to them as possible by removing wood piles, piles of leaves, garbage, and debris from your property so that rodents can't hide or nest within, eliminating as many water sources as possible, making sure outdoor trash cans should have tight-fitting lids, establishing gardens, compost piles, and wood piles a good distance away from the exterior of your home, sealing any cracks in your home's foundation and exterior walls, filling in spaces around utilities entering your home through its exterior, repairing or replacing loose or missing roof shingles, placing caps on chimneys, repairing holes along your roofline, and more.

Cockroaches

a cockroach crawling on the floor of a saint augustine texas home

Cockroaches are an invasive species of insect that live in a wide variety of indoor and outdoor environments. They are social insects and usually live together in large groups. Adults have semi-hard, oval-shaped, flat bodies. Their heads are small in size compared to their bodies. Most species are winged, but not all are capable of flying. Their six legs are covered in spines and are sensitive to touch. Their antennae are usually just as long or longer than their bodies.
 
Inside homes and businesses, cockroaches are found living and nesting in a variety of different locations including above ceilings, in attics, inside crawlspaces, behind large electrical appliances, near pipes and faucets, and in basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.

Cockroaches are scavengers and feed on a variety of food and non-food (toothpaste, paper, glue) items. These insects are dangerous pests, as they carry a large number of viruses, bacteria, and parasites on their bodies, legs, and in their feces. In addition, their shed skins and excrement can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks in people, especially children.

To prevent problems with roaches in your home, it is important to inspect your home’s exterior and seal spaces in its foundation, place weather stripping around windows and doors, make sure door sweeps are installed, repair leaky pipes and fixtures, use dehumidifiers, store food inside air-tight containers or inside the refrigerator, and inspect used furniture, appliances, and all packages for cockroaches before bringing them into your home.

Mosquitoes

a mosquito sucking blood from the neck of a broaddus texas resident

Mosquitoes are parasitic, fly-like insects that feed on the blood of people and animals. However, it is only female mosquitoes who feed on blood, as they need the protein acquired from blood to create their eggs. Both male and female mosquitoes' main food source is plant nectar and pollen. Adult mosquitoes have slender bodies; long, thin legs; and narrow, hairy wings. Mosquitoes feed using an extended, tube-like mouthpart (proboscis). Most species of mosquitoes are black, dark brown, or black and white in color.
 
Females lay their eggs on top of standing water. Standing water is also where their eggs hatch and where larvae develop into adults. Clogged gutters, bird baths, ornamental ponds, baby pools, pool covers, potted plants, buckets, and other containers that collect water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. During the heat of the day, mosquitoes like to hide in tall grasses, under trees and bushes, and underneath decks and porches. They are most active during dusk and dawn. Avoiding mosquitoes is important, not only because their bites are quite itchy, but because they spread a variety of dangerous diseases and parasites.
 
The best way to reduce the number of mosquitoes on your property is to get rid of standing water. To accomplish this, make sure to store containers that collect water upside down when not in use, regularly change out water in wading pools, bird baths, and pet bowls, and properly maintain pools, fill in low-lying areas on your property, and eliminate mosquito resting spots by keeping your lawn cut short and trimming back or removing overgrown vegetation from your property.

Spiders

a huntsman spider up close inside a home in irving texas

All spiders have two body regions (cephalothorax and abdomen), eight legs, and fangs (chelicerae). Spiders do not have wings or antennae. Most, but not all, spiders have eight eyes. Spiders are arachnids and are closely related to mites, ticks, and scorpions. A common spider species is the huntsman spider. They are a large species of spider and have large legs that extend from their bodies at a 90-degree angle. They are good hunters. They do not build webs to catch their prey. Instead, they chase after and "hunt" down their prey. Huntsman spiders come in various shades of brown. They have black spots on their legs and a lighter-colored band on their head.
 
Most of the spiders that live throughout the United States, including the huntsman spider, are not dangerous to people and are considered nuisance pests. However, there are a couple of species whose venom is strong enough to cause serious health problems in people. Care should be taken around all spiders and they should not be purposely handled. Spiders usually prefer to live outside, but do sometimes move inside homes and other buildings while following their prey. They may also move indoors if the weather becomes too hot, dry, or wet for them to live successfully outside.
 
To stop spiders from becoming a problem on your property and finding their way into your home, we suggest removing piles of wood, fallen trees, rock piles, and other piles of debris from your property that spiders can live and hide within, keeping your lawn trimmed short, trimming back tree branches, bushes, and shrubs away from the outside of your home, sealing all openings leading into your home through its exterior, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, eliminating as many water sources as possible by making sure gutters are clear of debris, and repairing leaky pipes, faucets, or fixtures.

 

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