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Bugs in Your Home: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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When most of us see a bug scampering across the floor, our first reactions are probably to give a scream, then grab the first convenient smacking tool. And with seasonal shifts in weather, there’ll be a lot more opportunities as some outsiders come in searching for food and shelter. And make no mistake, when they’ve come inside uninvited, they’ve become a pest.

While it can be satisfying to give in to a healthy round of bug-smashing (or recruit someone else to remove the offending insect), there are many bugs that can be beneficial to have around the house – as long as you’re not being overrun by the creepy crawlies.

American Roach

If you’re seeing a lot of bugs pop up around your home, and you’re thinking about calling an exterminator, you should know which bugs are good, which are bad, and which are simply ugly. Thanks to my knowledgeable technician with Florida Pest Control, you’ll read about the most common bugs you’ll see around the home, and how you should handle them. While he was spraying the office, here’s what I got from him:

The Good

Many of the good bugs you’ll contend with around the house will be outdoors, usually around your garden or flowerbeds. Some may find their way inside, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having a few of these around the house isn’t anything to fear.

  • Ladybugs: In addition to being adorable, ladybugs are also efficient predators of other pests. Each ladybug will eat about 5,000 pests in a lifetime, so they’re great garden defense. But they can still be a pest if they decide to come indoors, which is a hallmark of the Asian Lady Beetle that’s often confused with the traditional Ladybug.
  • Bees and wasps: As long as they don’t get trapped in enclosed spaces like your porch or kitchen, wasps – especially parasitic wasps – will generally ignore humans and are terrific predators. Obviously, if you find a nest close to doors or windows, you’ll want to remove them quickly, but in general wasps do much more good than harm.
  • Centipedes and millipedes: Sure, they look nasty, but these crawlers are great for keeping slugs and worms in check. Till your garden regularly to keep them from getting out of hand.
  • Mantis: The preying mantis is very recognizable, and it’s a great bug to have around. They are great at keeping stinging pests like mosquitos under control, so don’t let their presence bug you.

 

The Bad

There are plenty of bugs that you’ll want to call an exterminator for immediately. Most of these will be indoor pests. If you see one, there’s a fair bet that his friends are close by.

  • Termites: Sure, it seems obvious to say termites are bad, but many people react slowly to signs of termite infestation. If you see a termite or two, waiting to see if the problem gets worse is just about the worst thing you can do. You don’t have to immediately freak out, but quick action is recommended.
  • Ants: You’ll see a number of different ant species in and around your home, and you’ll be able to take care of most ant infestations on your own. However, more invasive species – like carpenter ants – may require tougher action.
  • Bedbugs: Unfortunately, bedbug infestations are on the rise everywhere, but mostly in cities. These little parasites can be a challenge to get rid of, and it’s best to seek professional help immediately if you find them in your home. Bedbugs typically start activity about 7 p.m. – you know, when you’re getting ready to crawl into bed. Horrifyingly, though, bedbugs will adapt their schedule for hosts who work the night shift and sleep during the day. (If you click that link, there’s a good bet your skin will crawl.)
  • Fleas: While home remedies like Borax treatment for carpets can be effective, it is nearly impossible to treat a serious flea infestation on your own. Definitely make sure all your pets are on flea and tick prevention to help prevent an infestation in the first place.

 

West Indian Drywood Termite

 

The Ugly

  • Spiders: While spiders are high on the most-smackable bug list, many spiders are actually very good to allow around the house (on a limited basis). Household spider eradication can be difficult and usually unnecessary. While you’ll want to remove recluses, widows, and wolf spiders, other eight-legged pests are great to help keep other bugs from invading your home.
  • Roaches: Roaches are almost always a product of human behavior: food left around, damp places, etc. While they’re unsightly, you shouldn’t have trouble clearing them with a bit of clean-up. Remove debris and junk from your floors and place roach motels in corners and high-traffic areas like bathroom cabinets.
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About Brian P. Russell

Brian Russell lives in University of Florida's Gator Country. He enjoys exploring new places and learning new things, plus sharing what he's found with others. Turnoffs include double spaces after periods and emails with unneeded CCs. He plays H-O-R-S-E at 3 p.m. EST every weekday at 352 Media Group.