Living in the Lowcountry we are all too familiar with cockroaches. We are known most everywhere for our notorious Palmetto bugs so it can be easy to forget that although the most prominent, there are many other pesky insect critters turning your home in to theirs. Next time you find an unfamiliar bug and think to yourself “What bug is this?” – compare it to those below and hopefully you find some answers.
These are one of the most common pests in our area and although they prefer to live outdoors, when our weather starts to cool down in the fall, they begin to make your home theirs. Their appearance can be alarming – they have pinchers that are a part of many an old wives tale – but they are actually not dangerous to humans at all. Earwigs mainly live off dead plant and animal matter, with some species consuming living plants and fruits. Within the United States there are 25 species of earwigs, and the European Earwig is the most common species found in South Carolina.
These pests look exactly as they are named – they have a silvery, metallic appearance with a fish-like shaped body and move quickly as if they are swimming. Silverfish do not feed on humans and tend to hide their presence. This means any damage they have caused could also go unnoticed. These nocturnal insects come out at night to feed on anything that contains starch or polysaccharides. This means sugar, book bindings, paper items, glue, clothing, wallpaper – even human hair and dandruff – are all at risk for consumption by this nuisance pest. Unfortunately, silverfish do not hibernate, so they are a problem all year long.
Many people find the appearance of centipedes to be very unsettling due to their numerous legs. Lowcountry homeowners have undoubtedly seen centipedes scurrying in and out of bathroom sink drains and showers. These scary looking pests are sometimes called “hundred-leggers” because they have so many pairs of legs. However, centipedes can actually have anywhere from 15-77 pairs of legs depending on the species! The House Centipede is the most common species to find their way into South Carolina homes and although they are not naturally aggressive to humans, they may bite you if provoked. Fun fact about centipedes – they always have an odd number of pairs of legs!
Like centipedes, homeowners in the Lowcountry typically are startled by the appearance of these pests. They are sometimes called “thousand-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs and can actually have anywhere from 30-90+ pairs of legs. There are several species of millipedes, and the leggiest of them all boasts 333 pairs of legs! Unlike centipedes and other nuisance pests, some species of millipedes excrete a stinky fluid that can be toxic to small animals and pets and can even cause blistering in humans. Luckily these insects cannot survive indoors for long, and when found [outdoors] they are typically discovered under trash, in piles of grass clippings, in flower-bed mulch, etc.
Thanks to the loud chirping sound these insects make, we are all too familiar with house crickets in the Lowcountry. This sound is made by rubbing their front wings together in attempt to attract females. House crickets can bite, but they are not inclined to bite humans and in the rare case that they do their mouthparts typically are not able to break the skin. When these pests make their way inside your home, your clothing and carpets may become damaged because they feed on the surface of these items, leaving the area roughened from pulling the fibers loose while eating.
Important fact about house crickets: Although they do not bite, they can carry and transport diseases and parasites in their bodies and in their waste, such as E. coli and salmonella.
Their name says it all! This insect pest is notorious for its “smelly” reputation, which is earned from its tendency to release an odor when disturbed or when crushed. Although their presence in your home is very unnerving, stinkbugs pose absolutely no threat to humans. If you find one of these nuisance pests inside your house, we recommend that you quickly remove them but avoid killing or vacuuming stinkbugs. Doing this will release the odor and although harmless, it is gross and easily preventable. Fun fact about stink bugs – they love rotted wood! If you notice any wood rot in or around your home, remove it to deter these bugs from bothering you.