All information gathered directly from Pest World, the official website of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). For more information, visit pestworld.org.
Carpenter Ants: Carpenter ants get their name because they excavate wood in order to build their nests. Their excavation results in smooth tunnels inside the wood. These are large ants ranging in size from one-quarter inch for a worker ant to up to three-quarters inch for a queen.
Bed Bugs: Bed bugs likely get their name from their habit of feeding on humans while they sleep in their beds. They are found in virtually every place people tend to gather, including residences, hotels, schools, offices, retail stores and even public transportation.
American Cockroach: The American cockroach is the largest of the house-infesting roaches and a major pest in the United States. It’s also commonly known as the water bug, the Bombay canary or the palmetto bug. Despite its name, the American cockroach is not native to North America. Some evidence suggested that American cockroaches were introduced via ships from Africa in the early 1600s.
Oriental Cockroach: Oriental cockroaches are believed to be of North African origin, despite their name. Oriental roaches are sometimes called “waterbugs” because they come out of drains, and “black beetle cockroaches” because of their smooth, dark bodies. They are known for their strong, unpleasant, “roachy” odor.
German Cockroach: The German cockroach is the most common species of the cockroach. German cockroaches can breed at a rate of up to six generations per year. The German cockroach can fit through an opening as small as 3/8 inch in width.
Fleas: Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of any warm-blooded body. The most common species is the cat flea, which often feasts on cats, dogs and humans.
Mosquitoes: One of the best-known summer pests, mosquitoes breed in stagnant water or soft soil. There are about 170 different kinds of mosquito species in North America alone.
Silverfish: Silverfish get their name from the insect’s silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. Silverfish are also known as “bristletails” because of their three long, bristle-like or tail-like appendages on the rear end of their body. Silverfish are found throughout the U.S. and are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home, such as bathrooms, basements and attics. They tend to hide their presence from humans, which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well.
Stink Bug: Brown marmorated stink bugs are an invasive species from Asia that arrived in Pennsylvania in 1996. The stink bug earned its name from its tendency to release an odor when disturbed or when crushed. Many other insects have these same characteristics, including some species of ants, beetles and other bugs.
Centipede: Centipedes are sometimes called “hundred-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs. They are widely distributed throughout most of United States and the world. Centipedes are rarely seen by humans due to their nocturnal activity and the speed in which they move. Most centipedes live for more than a year and some up to six years.
Millipedes: Millipedes are sometimes called “thousand-leggers” because of their many pairs of legs, but they can actually have anywhere from 30-90+ pairs of legs, depending on the species. The leggiest is Illacme plenipes, which can have more than 333 pairs of legs.
Earwig: Earwigs got their name from the myth that they crawl into sleeping people’s ears and tunnel into their brains. The long cerci, or clippers, on their backsides easily identify an earwig.
House Crickets: House crickets get their common name from the fact that they often enter houses where they can survive indefinitely. This cricket species was introduced from Europe and is now found throughout the United States but primarily east of the Rocky Mountains. Interestingly, they are known for their loud chirping which is caused when males rub their front wings together to attract females.
Boxelder Bugs: Boxelder bugs get their common name from the fact that they are often found on and around boxelder trees. This species is native to the western states, but can be found from eastern Canada throughout the eastern United States, and west to eastern Nevada, wherever boxelder trees are found. Boxelder bugs are primarily a nuisance pest as they they enter structures, including homes, sheds and garages to overwinter.
Brown Recluse Spiders: Brown recluse spiders have a characteristic dark brown violin marking on their back. These spiders often infest cedar shake roofs and spin irregular webs, which are used as a retreat.
Black Widow Spiders: Black widow spiders are most recognized for the red hourglass shape under their abdomen. This spider gets its name from the popular belief that the female black widow spider eats the male after mating, although this rarely happens. Black widows are poisonous when ingested during the first 17 days of their life.
Common House Spider: The common house spider is usually the spider most often encountered indoors. It is a nuisance pest, probably more because of its webs than the spider itself. The house spider is found worldwide and is common throughout the United States and Canada.
Wolf Spiders: Unlike most spiders, wolf spiders don’t hunt with webs. Instead, they chase their prey using their fast running ability. These spiders are often big and hairy which alarms some people, but they are primarily nuisance pests. Over 100 species of wolf spiders are found in the United States and Canada.
Long-bodied Cellar Spiders: Long-bodied cellar spiders are commonly referred to as “daddy-long-legs” because of their very long, thin legs, and as their name implies, are found in dark and damp places like cellars and basements. There are about 20 species of cellar spiders in the United States and Canada.
Carpenter Bees: Carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. This type of stinging bee gets its common name from its habit of boring into wood like a carpenter.
Bumble Bees: Bumble bees are considered a beneficial insect because they pollinate crops and plants, however, they can sting.
Paper Wasps: Paper wasps get their common name from the paper-like material out of which they make their nests. Paper wasps are sometimes called umbrella wasps, after the shape of their distinctive nests.
Bald-Faced Hornets: The bald-faced hornet is a relative of the yellowjacket and gets its common name from its largely black color and mostly white face. This stinging insect is named a hornet because of its large size and aerial nest.
European Hornet: This hornet (also called Giant hornet) gets its common name from its introduction from Europe into the New York area in the 1800’s. European hornets are much larger than yellow jackets and unlike most stinging insects, can be active at night.
Yellowjackets: There are several species of yellowjackets. These flying insects typically have a yellow and black head/face and patterned abdomen. Because these pests are known to sting, it’s important to know how to properly get rid of yellowjackets to avoid injury.
Tree Squirrels: Tree squirrels get their common name from the fact that they are found only in areas where there are trees. There are three representative species of tree squirrels: fox squirrels, gray squirrels and pine squirrels.
Opossums: Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They live in many parts of the U.S., with the exception of the Rockies, western plains and parts of the northern U.S. Opossums usually live alone and are only active at night.
Raccoons: Raccoons can be found throughout the U.S., but are more common in the wooded eastern portions of the country than in the more arid western plains. Raccoons are rarely seen during the day because of their nocturnal habits.
Voles: Voles, also called meadow mice or field mice, are rodents with small eyes and partially hidden ears. Their underfur is generally dense and covered with thicker, longer guard hairs. There are 23 species of voles in the U.S., including the prairie vole, meadow vole, long-tailed vole, woodland vole, Oregon vole and California vole.
Groundhogs: The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck or whistle pig, is a member of the squirrel family. Although groundhogs are slow runners, they scurry quickly to their dens when they sense danger. The primary predators of groundhogs are hawks, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, dogs and humans. However, motorized vehicles kill many groundhogs each year.
House Mice: The house mouse is the most common rodent pest in most parts of the world. It can breed rapidly and adapt quickly to changing conditions. In fact, a female house mouse can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks, and can produce up to 35 young per year.
Deer Mice: The deer mouse is found in rural, outdoor areas. These rodents rarely invade residential homes, but they can be a problem in farming areas, vacation homes, outbuildings and sheds. Deer mice are of medical concern because they are common carriers of Hantavirus.
Norway Rats: Norway rats are believed to be of Asian origin, but are now found throughout the world. These rats can cause damage to properties and structures through their gnawing. Norway rats have smaller eyes and ears and shorter tails.
Roof Rats: The roof rat is the smaller of the two commensal rats, as the Norway rat is larger in size. Roof rats are also referred to as black rats or ship rats. The roof rat gets its name from its tendency to find shelter in the upper parts of buildings. Once inside, roof rats not only damage materials by gnawing through them, but they also contaminate stored food and serve as vectors of dangerous diseases.