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Bug Identification

Not sure which insect has infested your home? Use these images of common Virginia pests to identify the bug you’ve encountered.

Bed Bugs

Cimex lecturlarius

Places to watch
Bed bugs are often found in or around beds, including mattresses, box springs and bed frames. Bed Bugs also hide behind baseboards, picture frames, wallpaper and other cracks and crevices. Bed Bugs can survive in temporary habitats like suitcases or the seats of buses and cars. Nocturnal.

Distinguishing Characteristics
About 1/4″ in length. Flat, brown and broad oval in shape when unfed. After eating, their swollen bodies are more elongated and reddish.

Subterranean Termites

Family Rhinotermitidae

Places to watch
Look for the distinctive small tunnels of mud termites create on the outside of buildings. Most of their time is spent underground.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Cream-colored and 1/8″ to 3/8″ in length.

Spiders

Class Aranaea

Places to watch
Most prefer dark, shaded areas including cabinets, basements and attics.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Segmented bodies with jointed limbs. Eight legs. No antennae or wings. Wide range of sizes.

Mosquitoes

Culex species and others

Places to watch
Most active from dusk to dawn. Breed in stagnant water.

Distinguishing Characteristics
1/4″ to 3/8″ in length. Commonly are pale brown in color with light-colored stripes across the abdomen.

Lady Bugs

Family Coccinellidae

Places to watch
Found on plants where they feed on aphids or scale insects. May swarm homes in the fall looking for shelter in cold temperatures.

Distinguishing Characteristics
About 1/4″ in length. Commonly yellow, orange or red with small black spots and black legs and head. Oval body.

Carpenter Bees

Xylocopa virginica

Places to watch
Solitary insects, the female chews tunnels into wood to create her nest. The male carpenter bee spends his time guarding the nest.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Look like typical bumblebees but often without the yellow stripes.

Carpenter Ants

Camponotus spp

Places to watch
Found throughout the United States, carpenter ants prefer moist wood and are extremely destructive.

Distinguishing Characteristics
These are among the largest of ants and are vicious biters. Workers can vary greatly in size from 1/4″ to 3/4″ in length, and are usually black or brown in color. They’re long-legged and move swiftly.

House Ants

Formicidae

Places to watch
A wide variety of species found throughout North America. Most feed on organic matter and are especially attracted by sweet foods. Often travel in and out of buildings in search of food.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Although there are many different species of common house ants, most are black, brown, or reddish in color. They range from 1/6″ to 1/4″ in length with an enlarged abdomen. May be winged or wingless.

Powder Post Beetles

Family Lyctidae

Where to Look
Any type of wood. Paneling, furniture, 2x4s, hardwood floors, etc.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Second only to termites in destroying wood. They leave small, round holes in wooden articles along with a residue of fine, powder-like dust. The various species of these beetles range from 1/12″ to 1/3″ in length, and from reddish-brown to black in color. The basal segment of the abdomen is as long as the second and third combined. The body is flattened and the head is visible from above.

American Cockroach

Periplaneta americana

Places to watch
Found in dark, moist areas such as around bathtubs, clothes hampers, sewers and basement corners. Also wherever food is prepared and stored.

Distinguishing Characteristics
The largest of the common species, growing to a length of 1 1/2″ or more. Reddish-brown with a yellow border on the back of the pronotum. The wings of the male extend beyond the tip of the abdomen, while the female’s wings are about the same length as the abdomen.

Brown-banded Cockroach

Supella longipalpa

Places to watch
Since they need less moisture, they can be found anywhere in the house, especially high on walls, behind pictures, in furniture and closets.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Most prominent in the south. One of the smaller roaches, rarely over 1/2″ long. It is light brown with two light bands running across the base of the wings and abdomen. The female is much broader in the body than the male. The adult male is quick to fly when disturbed.

German Cockroach

Blatella germanica

Places to watch
The most common roach in U.S. homes. Breeds throughout the year. Favors humid atmosphere and an average temperature of 70 degrees. Found in dark, moist areas such as around bathtubs, clothes hampers, sewers and basement corners. May also be found wherever food is prepared and stored.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Adults are about 1/2″ long, brown with two dark streaks on the thorax. The female is darker in color with a broader, more rounded posterior. Both sexes have wings as long as their bodies.

Oriental Cockroach

Blatta orientalis

Places to watch
Watch high moisture areas, especially around decaying organic matter. Most common in late spring or early summer.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Found in all parts of the United States. Very dark brown or black. Male is about 1 1/4″ long while the female reaches only 1″ in length. The female has functionless wing stubs. The male’s wings cover 3/4 of the abdomen. Neither sex flies. Females are broader and heavier.

Smokybrown Cockroach

Periplaneta fuliginosa

Places to watch
Most common in central Texas and the extreme south. Equally at home indoors or outdoors, walking or flying in and out of buildings to feed.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Closely related to the American cockroach, but only about 1″ long and uniform mahogany in color. Both males and females have wings longer than their bodies and are excellent fliers.

Earwigs

Order Dermaptera

Places to watch
Earwigs are active at night and hid in cracks or underneath objects during the day. Most species scavenge on dead animal and plant material. Eggs are laid in underground burrows. Often introduced indoors via potted plants.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Earwigs are most readily recognized by the forceps at the end of the abdomen. Species range from 1/2″ to 1″ in length, and from light reddish-brown to jet black in color. Some species are marked with stripe or bands on the body and legs.

Flea

Ctenocephalides felis

Places to watch
Most common during the summer, especially when homes are reoccupied after vacation. Cat fleas are often found in carpets and on upholstered furniture. Most commonly hosted by cats, dogs, humans and a wide variety of animals.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Fleas are extremely small, averaging 2 to 4mm in length. The body is flattened vertically and is covered with spines which project backward. They are wingless but have long, powerful legs for jumping great distances.

Brown Dog Tick

Rhipicephalus sanguineus

Places to watch
Can live its entire life indoors. Prefers feeding on dogs. Active from spring to fall. Can be found on dogs or other mammals and in cracks and crevices in houses and garages.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Hard exoskeleton. Eight legs. Brown body. Significantly larger after feeding.

House Fly

Musca domestica

Places to watch
Through out the home or office. Eggs are laid in almost any moist and warm material such as manure, decaying vegetable material and garbage. They rest on floors, walls, ceilings, on electrical cords, etc.

Distinguishing Characteristics
The common species are about 1/6″ to 1/4″ in length. The adult has sharply angled fourth wing vein and four lengthwise dark stripes on the thorax. The space between the eyes of the female is almost twice as broad as that of the male.

Centipedes

Class Chilopoda

Places to watch
Found throughout the country. House centipedes live in damp areas such as cellars, closets and bathrooms. Outdoors they can be found in damp locations, under leaves and stones, mulch beds, etc.

Distinguishing Characteristics
A flat, wormlike body, 1″ or more in length with one pair of long legs for almost each body segment. The house centipede is grayish-yellow with three dark stripes running the length of the body. It has 15 pairs of legs with hind legs more than twice its body length.

Millipedes

Class Diplopoda

Places to watch
Normally found outdoors in damp places such as under leaves and in mulch. At times they swarm into building basements and first floor rooms.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Unlike centipedes, millipedes have round bodies, not flattened. Plus, they have two pairs of legs for almost each body sement. They’re brownish in color and are usually between 1/2″ and 1 1/2″ long. They coil up when resting.

Sowbugs & Pillbugs

Class Crustacea

Places to watch
Sowbugs and pillbugs both prefer moist locations and can be found under vegetable debris or any object on damp ground. Frequently invade damp basements, crawl spaces and may infest potted plants, or mulch beds on the home’s exterior.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Oval bodies, convex above and flat or hollow underneath. Never over 3/4″ long. Both have seven pairs of legs. The sowbug has two tail-like appendages that prevent it from rolling up in a ball. The pillbug, however, lacks these appendages and rolls itself into a tight ball.

Silverfish

Lespisma sacchrina (Linnaeus)

Places to watch
Feeds on paper, glue, clothing and food. Require high humidity. Often found in damp places such as bathrooms, sinks, tubs, basements or garages. Also watch bookshelves and magazine racks.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Silvery, metallic body. Fish-like shape and movements. 3/4″ in length.

Stink Bugs


Halyomorpha halys

Places to watch
Stink Bugs are often attracted to lights at night. Stink Bugs stay active from spring through late fall.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Stink Bugs secrete a bad-smelling fluid when handled, disturbed or crushed. 3/4″ in length. Distinctive markings on thorax include a triangular shape that extends halfway down their backs.