Your Guide To The Common Pests In Cobb & Fulton County, Georgia
If you begin to see pests crawling around your home or business, you will want to know what they are and how they got inside. Fortunately, our pest library can help! This handy resource guide provides answers to all your most pressing questions about the most common pest invaders that infest Marietta, Cobb and Fulton County, GA homes and businesses.
Ants are common pests found wandering around our yards, gardens, driveways, walkways, and – at times – inside our homes and businesses. Ants are social creatures, working together in large groups. If ants are living in or around your property, the infestation can be vast and difficult to control. Ants are a type of insect and have three distinct body regions (head, thorax, and abdomen), six legs, and a pair of antennae. The reproductive members, which are the queens and males, are the only members of an ant colony that have wings.
There are more than 10,000 species of ants living across the world. Most species we come across in the United States are nuisance pests. While annoying to deal with and hard to control, they don’t bite or sting, spread significant diseases, or damage the structures of homes or businesses. Still, there are some ants that property owners in our area need to be aware of such as carpenter ants and fire ants. Carpenter ants are a problem because of the damage they cause by tunneling through and nesting inside the structural wood found in our properties. Fire ants pose risks to both people and property. These ants are aggressive and deliver painful, venom-filled stings that, just like bee stings, can trigger severe allergic reactions. They also invade and damage farm equipment, along with air-conditioning and heating units.
To keep ants from becoming a problem on your property, it’s important to take away their easy access to food, water, and shelter. Eliminate water sources by making sure gutters and downspouts don’t become clogged, fix dripping hoses and outdoor fixtures, and repair leaky pipes. Limit their access to food by placing tight-fitting lids on all outdoor trash cans and compost bins. Pick up fallen fruits and vegetables in garden areas and uneaten pet food between feedings. Make sure that outdoor eating areas are free of food debris. To stop ants from nesting on your property, remove fallen trees, tree stumps, and other debris from your property. Seal up any cracks or openings in the exteriors walls, foundation, or roof line of your home. Place mesh covers over vents and seal the spaces around wires, pipes, and other utilities entering your property.
Bed bugs are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of mammals. Just a few of these insects will quickly create a large-scale infestation in any property. A single female bed bug lays between 1 and 5 eggs per day, or about 540 eggs in its lifetime! From nymph to adult, bed bugs reach adulthood in only 21 days. Humans are the bed bugs preferred host, and so these biting, blood-feeding pests live wherever people live. Bed bugs have six legs and flat, oval-shaped bodies that are reddish-brown and grow to about 1/4 of an inch long. After feeding, they turn a purplish-red color and their bodies expands and elongates.
Bed bugs move from place to place by hitchhiking their way on people’s clothing or in their belongings. Through the ease of travel and international shipments, bed bug populations have boomed. These pests live worldwide and in all 50 of our states. After finding their way inside your property, bed bugs typically invade sleeping areas first. They hide in seams or underneath mattresses and box springs. As their numbers grow, bed bugs travel through walls and floors, invading multiple rooms. These insects are nocturnal and hide inside dark, quiet areas during the day such as the seams of mattresses, box springs, and upholstered furniture. They also hide in cracks found in walls and wooden furniture, behind wall hangings, and inside wall voids behind electric outlets. At night, they emerge from their hiding spots to feed on the blood of their sleeping hosts and are most active right before dawn.
The best way to avoid bed bugs is to always keep bags, coats, luggage, and other personal belongings off the ground while in public places and away from other people's belongings. It is also essential to inspect a hotel room or any other type of vacation rental before bringing your luggage inside. Do not purchase used furniture, mattresses or box springs for use in your home. To limit hiding spots, place a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs, and keep your property organized and free of clutter.
One of the most loathsome pests that invade properties across the country is the cockroach. These insects live together in large groups in both indoor and outdoor environments. There are thousands of species of cockroaches living worldwide but only the few that live near humans are considered dangerous. Outside, cockroaches are beneficial scavengers that help to recycle dead plants, carrion, and animal excrement. In our area, the types of cockroaches that are problematic for both home and business owners include the American cockroach, German cockroach, and Oriental cockroach.
Most cockroaches prefer to live and nest inside dark, damp, and secluded areas like gardens, behind tree barks, in sewers, trash piles, and around drains. They are nocturnal, hiding during the day and emerging at night to forage for food. Keeping cockroaches away from your home or business is vital for several reasons. They carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites on their bodies, legs, and feces. Their feces and shed skins trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, especially in young children. Cockroaches also secrete a substance that stains surfaces and produce bad odors. They find their way inside on their own while foraging for food or inside used appliances, packages, moving boxes, or potted plants.
Keep cockroaches out by sealing spaces in the foundation, exterior walls, and roof line of your home or business. Place door sweeps on all exterior doors. Reduce moisture levels in and around your home or business by fixing leaky pipes and fixtures, using dehumidifiers, and maintaining gutters and downspouts. Keep lids on trash cans and compost bins, and pick up pet food between feedings. Indoors, store food either in the refrigerator or in containers with airtight lids. Always remember to inspect used appliances, furniture, packages, or potted plants for cockroaches before bringing them inside.
Mosquitoes are fly-like insects that have slender bodies with long, thin legs and narrow, hairy wings. They also have extended mouthparts (proboscises) they use for feeding; plant nectar and pollen is their primary source of food. Mosquitoes thrive in warm, wet weather during the spring, summer, and early fall seasons. Females lay their eggs, and the larvae develop in areas of standing water. When at rest, usually during the heat of the day, they hide in tall grasses, under trees, along fences, and under decks and porches.
Female mosquitoes are biting insects that feed on the blood of people and animals to gain the protein necessary for viable eggs. Mosquitoes feed on the blood of a wide variety of hosts, which unfortunately means they can carry transmit a wide range of diseases to both people and animals. Mosquitoes spread illnesses like encephalitis, West Nile virus, and Zika virus, and they also transmit parasitic heartworms to dogs which can be fatal if not treated. Mosquitoes live and breed outside. They usually live within a few hundred feet from where they hatch but will travel 1-3 miles in search of food. Their ability to travel makes them formidable pests to control.
The best way to prevent problems with mosquitoes is to eliminate breeding grounds (standing water) from your property. Get rid of standing water by storing containers that can collect water upside down when not in use. Fill in low-lying areas that collect rainwater, avoid overwatering potted plants, and regularly empty and re-fill things like birdbaths, wading pools, and pet bowls with fresh water. Reduce resting spots by keeping your lawn cut short and removing overgrown vegetation. If possible, reduce the amount of flowering vegetation planted on your property. Mosquitoes are weak flyers, so using an outdoor fan on decks or porches helps to keep these biting insects at bay.
Rodents such as mice and rats are the most common species of wildlife that find their way into homes and businesses. While wild at heart, rodents have come to somewhat rely on people for their basic needs. They enter into our structures seeking safe, temperature-controlled nesting spots and easy access to food. Unfortunately, rodents do not make good house guests and cause a variety of problems. They damage the structure of our homes and businesses, contaminate our food with their saliva and excrement, destroy personal property such as books, boxes, clothing, furniture, and pictures, and introduce bacteria, diseases, and parasites onto our properties.
Rodents are mammals and belong to the group Rodentia. All rodents, no matter their species, have a single pair of front incisors in their upper and lower jaws that grow throughout their lifetime. To prevent their teeth from overgrowing, they gnaw on just about everything. When living and nesting inside, they chew through wires, pipes, insulation, drywall, and more. Their chewing habits cause fires and create water damage inside homes and businesses. Rodents live and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions and live successfully in homes, businesses, farmland, gardens, open fields, parks, and wooded areas – making them difficult to control.
Mice, rats, and other rodents have come to rely on us for some sources of food, water, and shelter. Eliminating their access to these necessities from your property is important and will make it less attractive to rodents. Remove woodpiles, piles of leaves, and other debris where they can hide. Keep the grass cut short and trim tree branches, shrubs, and bushes away from the exterior of your home or business. Place tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins. Make sure outdoor eating areas are free of food debris. Get rid of entry points into your property by sealing any cracks or opening found in the exterior walls, foundation, or roofline. Place caps on chimneys, repair roof damage, and put mesh covers over vents. Get rid of water sources by fixing leaky pipes, fixtures, or clogged gutters.
Environmentally, spiders are very important pests. They are predators that feed on a wide variety of garden and other nuisance pests, helping to keep their populations from overtaking an area. These eight-legged creatures are part of the class Arachnida. Spiders have only two body regions (head and abdomen), unlike insects that have three. They lack wings and antennae but have fangs that they use to inject venom into their prey. Spiders also have spinnerets at the end of their abdomen they use to produce silk, although not all spiders use it to build webs. This silk is used to climb, line their burrows, wrap up their prey, and even as a lifeline to help spiders find their way back to their webs or burrows. Under the right environmental conditions, spider silk is stronger than steel!
Spiders are shy by nature and build their webs or burrows in quiet, secluded spots. Gardens, rock crevices, tall grasses, woodpiles, areas behind window shutters and wooden shingles, and underneath decks are all common outdoor hiding spots. Spiders mainly live outside but will follow their prey indoors. Garages, sheds, basements, crawlspaces, closets, and under furniture make excellent hiding spots for spiders. Most species of spiders, including the common house spider, are harmless to people and considered nuisance pests. If they do bite, their venom is not strong enough to cause health problems in people.
Limit spider nesting spots on your property by removing piles of wood, rocks, leaves, and other debris. To stop spiders from gaining easy access to your home or business, trim back overgrown shrubs and bushes from the exterior of your structure. Inspect your building’s exterior and repair any openings around windows and doors, the foundation, exterior walls, or the roofline. Keep the grass short and plant garden areas a distance away from the exterior of your property. Make sure to keep gutters and downspouts free of debris and fix dripping fixtures and pipes to get rid of their easy access to water.