Pest Library

Common Pests Of Southwest Florida

Are you dealing with bugs, rodents, or wildlife in your yard or in your home? Use this quick reference page to find out what threats those pests may present to you, your family, and your property. Here are some of the most common pests we see in our area.

American Cockroaches

american cockroach in a basement

American cockroaches are the largest species of house-invading roach living in the U.S. These cockroaches have the potential to grow up to more than 3 inches in length, but most adults grow to between 1½ and 2 inches in length. Both female and male American cockroaches are winged and can fly short distances. American roaches are dark reddish-brown in color, with a lighter color outlining their bodies. Their most unique feature is a yellowish-colored figure-eight pattern found behind their heads.

American cockroaches are usually found living outside, scavenging for food. They feed on a variety of things but have a love for decaying organic matter. American cockroaches live outside in diverse environments, such as under mulch, on tree bark, in city dumps, in steam tunnels, and in sewers. These roaches commonly find their way inside homes and businesses where they take up residence in damp, moist areas like attics, crawlspaces, and bathrooms. American cockroaches are considered dangerous pests because of the wide variety of parasites, bacteria, and human pathogens they are capable of spreading. In addition, they produce an odorous secretion that can affect the flavor of food, even food that they are not physically feeding on or touching.

To stop your property from becoming a home to American cockroaches, it is important to control moisture issues in and around your home and eliminate as many entrance points as possible. Fix leaky pipes and fixtures and utilize air conditioners. Trim back tree branches to allow the sunlight to dry the soil around your home’s foundation. Eliminate piles of organic debris from your property. Eliminate food sources by keeping locking lids on outdoor trash cans, keeping outdoor eating areas picked-up, and placing compost piles a distance away from your home.


big headed ants fighting

Ants are some of the most common household invaders. All ants have three distinct body regions - head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have six legs and a pair of antennae. The reproductive members of the colony are winged, but only emerge from the colony a few times a year. Ants range in size and come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, red, and yellow. Ghost ants and big-headed ants are two common species of ants found living and invading homes in our area.

Ants are social insects and are usually found outside in underground nests. They will also nest in tree cavities, tree stumps, underneath rocks or fallen logs, inside wood piles, along foundations, or in cracks in pavement or cement. Ants forage for food sources outside, and when living near homes, often find their way inside. They enter through cracks in the foundation, spaces around windows and doors, and through spaces around utilities. Inside homes, ants nest under floors, behind walls, inside crawlspaces, behind appliances, near hot water heaters, and inside insulation.

To keep invasive ghost ants, big headed ants, and other species off of your property and out of your home, it is important to partner with a professional. Ants are difficult to control and will contaminate food sources and the surfaces of your home with bacteria and parasites. To prevent problems with ants on your property, remove food and water sources. Keep locking lids on trash cans, place garden and compost areas away from the outside of your home, pick up pet food between feeding, and maintain gutters. To prevent ants from entering your home, inspect its exterior and seal any spaces. Make sure all screens are intact, and place weather stripping around windows and doors.

Bed Bugs

bed bug close up on cloth

Bed bugs are prolific pests that live across the entire U.S. These parasitic pests feed on the blood of mammals, with humans being their preferred host. Bed bugs are mainly nocturnal, hiding during the day in tight cracks and crevices, and emerging at night to feed on their sleeping, unsuspecting hosts. Adult bed bugs are wingless, are about 1/4 of an inch long, and have a flat oval shape like an apple seed. Before feeding, they are reddish-brown in color. After feeding, they turn a purple-reddish color and their bodies expand and swell.

Bed bugs have the potential to live wherever people are present, especially in areas where groups of people are constantly coming and going. Hotels, motels, airports, shopping centers, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, dormitories, movie theaters, museums, and libraries can all house populations of bed bugs. Bed bugs climb onto people or their belongings, hitchhiking their way into a home. Inside, they usually first take up residence in sleeping areas. However, if the infestation is allowed to continue, they will travel behind walls and infest multiple rooms of your home. To contain an infestation it is important to contact a professional at the first sight of bed bugs in your home.

To avoid accidentally introducing bed bugs into your home it is very important to keep bags, luggage, coats, and other personal belongings off the ground of public places. Always inspect your hotel room before bringing luggage and personal belongings into it. Do not to purchase used furniture, mattresses or box springs for use inside your home. Regularly wash your family’s bedding and outerwear on a high heat cycle. Routinely vacuum your home, paying close attention to the cracks and crevices found in floors, mattresses, box springs, and furniture. Place a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs to reduce hiding spots.

Stinging Insects

honeybee flying near flowers

Two of the most common species of stinging insects found in our area are honey bees and paper wasps. Honey bees are light golden brown in color, have a darker brown banding, and are covered in a layer of fine hair. Bees are beneficial pests that are responsible for pollinating a wide variety of plants and crops. They do this by transferring pollen from one flower to another. Paper wasps are most often identified by the umbrella-shaped nests they create from a paper-like material created from a combination of saliva and plant fibers.

Most species of stinging insects are social, living and working together to maintain their colony. Colonies reach their peak numbers and are most active during the late summer and early fall months. Stinging insects nest in places like on tree limbs, in tree cavities, in bushes, in the spaces between rocks, inside attics, and wall voids, or underneath decks or roof eaves. Stinging insects protect themselves and their colony from threats by delivering painful stings. Their venom is strong enough to cause a serious allergic reaction in people, which may require medical attention.

Preventing problems on your property with stinging insects can be a difficult task. To make your property less attractive to them, trim back shrubs and trees away from the exterior of your home, and limit the amount of flowering plants and trees planted near the exterior of your home. Place tight-fitting lids on all outdoor trash cans to prevent stinging insects from foraging for food sources in them. Remove water sources by maintaining gutters and fixing leaky outdoor fixtures. To keep stinging insects from finding their way into your home, place tight-fitting caps on all chimneys, repair holes along rooflines, and all windows and doors should have intact screens.

Nuisance Wildlife

armadillo taking a drink of water

Wildlife includes all animals that are found living outdoors in nature. As our habitats have merged together with the habitats of wild animals, they have learned to successfully live near people and even somewhat rely on us for their food, water, and shelter. We encounter wildlife on a daily basis, so it is important to keep a barrier in place to protect property, homes, and families from potential danger and damage. There are many species of wildlife living in our area, including armadillos and roof rats. All wildlife has the potential to cause structural damage, introduce disease, contaminate food, damage lawns and gardens, and cause injury.

Outside, wild animals live in trees, in crevices between rocks, in abandoned animal burrows, in hollow logs, and along riverbeds. Some species burrow (armadillos) underneath lawns or gardens, foundations, decks, and sheds. Inside homes and other buildings, they hide out in attics, chimneys, behind wall voids, and inside crawlspaces. Wild animals are attracted to properties that supply them with easy access to food and water sources. These include open trash cans, compost piles, pet food bowls, gardens, bird feeders, and wading pools.

To stop wild animals from becoming a problem on your property or in your home, remove the things from your property that may attract them. Get rid of bird and wild animal feeders. Keep locking lids on trash cans and compost bins, storing both away from the outside of your home. Pick up pet food between feedings and keep garden areas picked up. Keep wildlife out of your home by placing caps on chimneys, making sure screens are secure, and fixing loose or missing roof shingles or siding. It is also helpful to place fencing around garden areas and ornamental trees. Contact APE Pest Control for residential and commercial wildlife control solutions for your Southern Florida property.

Spiny Orb-Weavers

spiny orb weaver on a leaf

Spiny orb-weaver spiders are a common type of garden spider. They are an eco-beneficial species, feeding on a variety of nuisance pests and helping to keep their populations under control. These spiders received their name from the spines that protrude from their abdomen. They are easily recognizable by their crab-like appearance. Spiny orb-weavers are colorful spiders, sporting a white abdomen with black spots, and spines that are red in color.

Spiny orb weaver spiders are notorious for the large webs they build. While typically a harmless species of spider, they and their webs can become a nuisance for homeowners. On residential properties, spiny orb-weaver spiders like to build their webs on lanai cages as well as trees, shrubs, bushes, and in garden areas. They can become a particular annoyance in plant nurseries. Like other arachnids, their diet consists of small insects they capture in webs. Some of their favorite food sources include beetles, flies, mosquitoes and moths.

The best way to prevent problems with spiny orb-weavers and other species of spiders on your property is to limit their food sources. Limit the amount of lighting outside your home to prevent attracting insects to it. It is also a good idea to switch out white outdoor lights with yellow lights, which are less attractive to insects and spiders. To keep these spiders from finding their way inside of your home, trim back bushes and shrubs from the outside of it. Make sure screens are intact, put weather stripping around windows and doors, and install door sweeps. To learn more about our professional spider control services, contact APE Pest Control today!

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