Know your pest

House Fly

Length: Adult is 3-6 mm

Color: Adult is grey with yellowish abdomen.

Other Features: Adult has four dark longitudinal stripes on the thorax; red eyes.

The female house fly lays her eggs in warm, moist rotting, high protein organic matter. The eggs hatch into larvae (maggots). These pupate after one to two weeks to emerge as adults two or three days later. Under ideal conditions, house flies can complete their entire life cycle in a week. The thorax is a shade of gray, sometimes even black, with four dark, longitudinal bands of even width on the dorsal surface. The whole body is covered with short hairs. The house fly feeds on liquid material and will regurgitate the semi digested material of its last meal (vomitus) on to the intended food source.

False Stable Fly

Length: Adult is 6-8 mm. Larvae up to 18 mm.

Color: Adult is grey. Larvae cream.

Other Features: Different wing venation than the house fly.

The False Stable fly resembles the House fly; however, it is larger in size. The False Stable fly is so named because the eggs are laid in decaying vegetation, including lawn clippings. The False stable fly has non-biting mouth parts, unlike the Stable fly, which bites fiercely. The abdomen of the false stable fly is either entirely black, or black with red sides. Its head ranges in color from a darkish grey to a whitish hue. The circular spiracular plates can be found separated by about one plate's width in the posterior area. The eggs are sometimes laid on open food, especially If the food is slightly rancid. Larvae will feed on other fly larvae. The complete life cycle may take 30 days.

Cluster Fly

Length: Adult is 2-6 mm

Color: Adult is dark grey.

Other Features: Adults have yellow hair at the side of thorax. Wings folded over back. Larvae are found as parasites of earthworms.

Cluster flies resemble House flies. However, they are easily distinguished by their sluggish behavior and by wings that overlap when at rest. They derive their name from their habit of entering a house from August to September and clustering together to overwinter.

They gather in wall voids, attics, window frame voids and other secluded areas, with the arrival of spring. They emerge by the hundreds on warm days to bask in the sun on the outside walls or on the insides of windows. These dead flies can form the source of food for Larder beetles, populations of which can build up rapidly.

Flesh Fly

Length: Adult is 6-14 mm. larvae up to 18 mm.

Color: Adult is grey and black checkerboard abdomen.

Other Features: Adult has three dark longitudinal stripes on the thorax; abdomen of male has red tip; eyes reddish-brown.

Several species of Flesh Flies occur in Ontario. These flies seldom enter houses, but some species that breed on excrement may become domestic pests. Eggs hatch in the abdomen of the female and larvae are extruded headfirst into decaying organic matter. The complete life cycle ranges from 8-21 days. Flesh fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae, although this is usually because the other larvae are smaller and get in the way. Flesh flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement and they may be found around compost piles and pit latrines.

Black Blow Fly

Length: Adult 10-15 mm. Larvae up to 18 mm.

Color: Metallic black & blue on thorax and abdomen.

Other Features: These flies have blue or green sheen and are similar in size to common houseflies.

This fly breeds in carrion and waste meat at garbage sites, slaughterhouses and is often a pest in houses when an animal dies in an attic or chimney. Eggs may also be laid near the edge of wounds on live animals. Outdoors, the larvae leave the carrion to pupate in soil. Indoors, the larvae may drop or crawl to the floor and attempt to complete their life cycle in the carpeting. The complete life cycle takes 10-25 days. The key characteristics include black gena, mostly white calypters, and anterior thoracic spiracles that appear to be orange yellow due to being surrounded by bright orange setae.

Green Bottle Fly

Length: Adult is 10-14 mm. Larvae up to 18 mm.

Color: Adult has metallic green thorax and abdomen.

Other Features: Their wings are clear with light brown veins, and the legs and antennae are black.

Garbage, manure, carrion, dog droppings and other decaying matter are common egg deposit sites. Larvae emerging from organic matter will migrate to drier areas in which to pupate (they have been used medically to clean gangrenous wounds by feeding on necrotic tissue). The wings are clear with light brown veins, and the legs and antennae are black. The larvae of the fly may be used for maggot therapy, are commonly used in forensic entomology, and can be the cause of myiasis in livestock and pets. Under ideal conditions, the life cycle can be completed in 7 days.

Hover Fly

Length: Adult is 9-16 mm. larva up to 2.6 cm.

Color: Adult is yellowish brown. Larvae cream colored.

Other Features: Like the German cockroach but tegmina of the Asian cockroach are narrower and longer.

These flies resemble wasps or bees in appearance. Unlike these hymenopterans which have two pairs of wings, they have one pair, no waist and do not sting. Adult females lay their eggs in semi-liquid organic matter found in such areas as open latrines, moist carrion or stagnant water and occasionally in wet basements of feed mills.

A common species, the Drone fly, has larvae called “rat-tailed” maggots, so named from elongated, snorkel-like breathing tubes. Larvae are found in polluted water. Most adults on pollen and nectar of wildflowers are often seen “hovering” like hummingbirds.

Moth Fly

Length: Adult 2 mm. Larvae up to 9 mm.

Color: Adults are grey. Larvae cream colored.

Other Features: Both the body and the spear-shaped wings are covered in long hairs which gives the Moth Fly a fuzzy appearance.

Eggs are laid in decaying organic matter, for example, the slime associated with poorly maintained water traps in bathrooms, drains, overflows and organic matter in open sewage tanks and garbage containers. Larvae live in the decomposing film to become pupae and then emerge as adults within 21 days.

In homes, it mostly originates in sink, bathtub, shower particularly drains that are rarely used or slow running. The small fly larvae develop in and feed on the gelatinous film that can build up inside drains. It reproduces in other constantly moist areas of decaying organic matter like under dripping pipes or refrigeration equipment.

Pomace Fly

Length: Adult 2-4 mm. Larvae up to 5 mm.

Color: Adult is yellow, tan to black with red eyes. Larvae cream colored.

Other Features: It has a rounded head with large compound eyes and short antennae.

It is also called the Vinegar fly or Fruit fly, this small, red-eyed fly breeds rapidly in decaying vegetables, fermenting fruit, beer, wine, vinegar or cider. Improperly rinsed mops, cloths etc. It is used to clean up kitchen floors, may also act as breeding sites.

Composters located too near a doorway may allow breeding flies to enter the structure. The eggs of the pomace fly are laid on over-ripe fruit and the larvae feed on the yeasts present in the fermenting process. Larvae are legless, eyeless and tapered to a point at the head end. Larvae have an extended stalk-like breathing tube at the tail end of the body.

German Cockroach

Length: Adults is 10-15 mm

Color: Adult is Yellowish-brown

Other Features: Two distinctive dark parallel bands run the length of the pronotum on the adult and full body on the nymph.

The German cockroach is probably the most widespread species of cockroach in the world, having spread largely through the shipping of foods and other goods. Eggs are laid in egg cases with about 38 eggs per case.

The adult female drops each case close to food, 1-2 days before the eggs hatch. Mating only once the adult female can produce up to seven of these cases in a lifetime. The German cockroach develops rapidly under suitable conditions, preferring a warm, moist environment. Harborage locations (places where the cockroach hides and rests) include crevices behind sinks, beneath service telephones and under broken plaster.

Brown banded Cockroach

Length: Adult is 10-14 mm

Color: Adult is brownish-buff color, with the face and tip of the abdomen being chestnut brown or black.

Other Features: The nymph and adult stages have two brownish yellow bands across the tegmina(wings). The lateral edges of the pronotum are transparent, the center dark.

Although the Brown-banded cockroach is nocturnal, it may often be seen during the day. It is capable of flight and can be found fluttering around lights in the house. It may be found throughout infested premises. However, it prefers to hide in crevices high up in heated rooms where the average temperature is 26 Degree Centigrade.

Common harborage areas include furniture, bedding, behind picture frames, in old clothes, cupboards, inside ceiling fixtures, behind curtain hooks, bookshelves and behind wall paper. This cockroach commonly feeds on book bindings and wallpaper pastes.

Oriental Cockroach

Length: Adult is 25 mm

Color: Adult is dark brown, almost black

Other Features: The tegmina (front wings) of the male covers about three-quarters of the abdomen and are darker than the abdomen. The tegmina of the female are only partially developed and they appear almost wingless.

This species of cockroach is less wary and more sluggish than the others. This cockroach prefers dark, damp crevices in such places as basements, utility and service tunnels and sewer pipes. It can climb the outside of water pipes to reach the upper floors in buildings. Since the Oriental cockroach prefers to live in colonies, great numbers may occur around water leaks in the basement, behind toilets, baths or laundry tubs.

American Cockroach

Length: Adult is 30-40 mm

Color: Adult is shiny reddish-brown with a paler yellow area around the edge of the pronotum.

Other Features: The fully developed tegmina extends well beyond the tip of the abdomen in the adult male, but only just overlaps the abdomen of the adult female.

The American cockroach is the largest of the common cockroaches. This species can fly but flight is rare and sluggish. Each egg case usually contains 16 eggs which are indiscriminately dropped by the female. The incubation period of the egg ranges from 24-60 days.

Depending on the surrounding temperatures. After the young cockroach nymph emerges from the egg capsules, it undergoes 7-10 moults before reaching the adult stage. The adult life span can be up to two years during which time the female can produce 10-15 egg cases. Utility tunnels housing hot water pipes are also a preferred habitat of this cockroach.

Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach

Length: Adult is 22-30 mm (males) 12-20 mm (females)

Color: Adult is yellowish-chestnut brown

Other Features: The thorax and tegmina are edged in pale coloration. Long antennae.

The Pennsylvania wood roach is normally an outdoor pest but can sometimes be found in homes and cottages. Its diet consists mainly of organic matter, sweet or fermenting substances and fungi. It hides beneath loose bark, ground litter, in wood piles, stumps and hollow trees. The males of the wood cockroach are strong flyers and are often attracted to lights at night. Nymphs and adults are also found outdoors beneath loose bark in wood piles, stumps, and hollow trees. Brought indoors on infested firewood, they wander about the house without congregating in any room.

Asian Cockroach

Length: Adult is 10-15 mm

Color: Adult is pale yellowish-brown

Other Features: Like the German cockroach but the tegmina of the Asian cockroach are narrower and longer.

The adult Asian cockroach readily flies. It can take off from a horizontal surface in contrast to the German cockroach which normally obtains flight by gliding from above ground positions. The Asian cockroach crawls quite rapidly as well. It is active outdoors, moving to illuminated surfaces at sunset. Indoors, this cockroach moves to lighted rooms and can be discovered in moist areas in the morning. It may carry disease causing microorganisms on their bodies. When it walks over pantry goods, counters and cooking utensils, the pathogens have higher chances to spread.


Length: Adults up to 4.5 mm

Color: Reddish Brown

Other Features: Nymphs and adults are wingless, adults possess vestigial wing pads

Bed bugs are small, flat, oval bloodsucking insects that infest the sleeping quarters of man and other animals. Their presence is not necessarily the result of poor housekeeping since these insects may be brought into a home despite all reasonable precautions. If introduced into a home, they may become very numerous and irritating, and affect the welfare of the occupants.

Occasionally bed bugs of a different species may be found associated with bats or swallows, but they are rare in Ontario. Bed bugs feed mostly at night by biting sleeping people. Under normal conditions, mature bed bugs may live four months to a year or more. After mating and having a meal of blood, the female deposits from 10-50 eggs in irregular masses until 200 or more have been laid.

Eastern Carpenter Bee

Length: Adult is 18-20 mm.

Color: Adult resembles a bumble bee, except abdomen is almost hairless and it is a metallic blue-black color.

Damage: Exit/Entrance holes are round and 25 mm in diameter.

The Eastern carpenter bee usually excavates galleries in facia, siding, porch beams, exterior columns, telephone poles, fence posts and trees with natural cavities including pressure treated wood. Extensive excavation of wood members may weaken their structural soundness. Females will bore into wood for 15-20 cm to make a brood gallery or use an existing chamber, natural or excavated. This brood chamber is made at right angles to the entrance hole. The female will provision an average of 6 cells with a supply of pollen and a single egg.

Norway Rat

Length: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches)

Color: Brownish-grey back and Greyish-white belly.

Weight: 200-480 g (7-17 oz)

The young are born blind following a gestation period of between 20-25 days. Litters range from two to twenty-two young, with five to twelve being common. The eyes open on about the 14th day and the rat travels freely after one month.

Normally, the Norway rat lives at or near ground level. It nests and burrows in the ground, near buildings, in rubbish and rubble. It uses an excellent climber, swimmer and jumper, and is found everywhere. Dumps and sewers are major habitats and it can consume 30-90 grams of food per day.

Carpenter Ant

Length: Workers are 6-13 mm. Queen is 25 mm or more.

Color: Reddish brown or black.

Other Features: Large mandibles, rounded thorax, single node, cone hair on tip of abdomen.

In their natural surroundings, Carpenter ants, the largest of our common ants, are beneficial insects. Their excavation of galleries in wood, together with meticulous finishing and cleaning of surfaces within wood, has earned them their name. Their galleries open up damp and rotting wood so that it can be more quickly broken down by decomposers such as other insects and fungi. They are also beneficial since they feed on many pests. This behavior is not considered beneficial when they nest in structural lumber.

Honey Bees

Length: Worker 11-15 mm.

Color: Worker is yellowish brown with black markings.

Honey bees are the most social of the group. Larvae are fed nectar and pollen. Wild colonies construct vertical wax combs in sheltered places and seldom build nests in windy sites. A swarm may form from an over-populated hive and following a queen’s pheromone lure, fly around for a location for a new nest.

These swarms are sometimes seen clustering on a branch and will build nests in hollow trees. They should not be disturbed. In most cases, they will move on in a day or two. Nests in attics or wall voids often become infested with wax moths.


Length: 10-15 mm

Color: They appear light gray to blue, but have a shimmery silver look as they are seen moving across the floors in a fish-like manner.

Other Features: It has a scaly body that tapers with two slender antennae in front and three long, thin appendages.

Silverfish and firebrats are wingless insects, belonging to the order Thysanura, considered to be both primitive and unspecialized compared to other insects. They have a somewhat flattened, tapered torpedo-shaped body which is covered with metallic-looking scales. They are sometimes called “bristle-tails”, a name derived from three long sensory appendages attached to the hind end of the body. Silverfish can regenerate terminal filaments and antennae, if lost, in two to four weeks. Silverfish typically live for up to three years.

Pharaoh Ant

Length: Adult ant is 1.5 mm.

Color: Adult ant is yellow or light brown to red.

Other Features: Club at end of antennae has three segments.

These minute, multi-colony ants are extremely difficult to eradicate. In hospitals, they have become a serious health concern, transmitting infectious disease because of their attraction to blood, intravenous fluids, body fluids and wounds. The pharaoh ant nets in inaccessible locations near warm, moist areas. A very low percentage of a colony leaves the nest to forage; those that do, forage long distances, feeding on protein and sugar sources. It has an ability to survive the most conventional household pest control treatments and establishes the colonies throughout the building area.

House Mouse

Length: About 175 mm (6.8 inches) including tail.

Color: House mouse are usually dusty gray with cream-colored bellies.

Weight: 12-30 grams but average is 15 grams (1/2 ounce)

The House mouse reaches maturity near six weeks and has a life span of about one year. Within her lifetime, a female may bear as many as 8 liters of 5 or 6 young if food and shelter are plentiful. In the summer months, the House mouse may live outdoors burrowing for shelter in concealed areas close to buildings, sidewalks or in underbrush. Although the House mouse will eat any food which is available, it prefers cereal grains and seeds. The House mouse is a nibbler, eating erratically. It requires little water and only about 3 grams of dry food each day.


Length: About 175 mm (6.8 inches) including tail.

Weight: 12-30 grams but average is 15 grams (1/2 ounce)

The House mouse reaches maturity near six weeks and has a life span of about one year. Within her lifetime, a female may bear as many as 8 liters of 5 or 6 young if food and shelter are plentiful. In the summer months, the House mouse may live outdoors burrowing for shelter in concealed areas close to buildings, sidewalks or in underbrush. Although the House mouse will eat any food which is available, it prefers cereal grains and seeds. The House mouse is a nibbler, eating erratically. It requires little water and only about 3 grams of dry food each day.


Length: 60-95 cm (24-38 inch)

Color: Reddish brown above; greyish below; black mask on face.

Weight: 5.5-22 kg

The Racoon is a highly intelligent carnivore belonging to the family Procyonidae and is related to bears and to the Giant panda. Generally, it is active only at night, and may become a nuisance in suburban areas when it raids garbage cans for food. It has few natural enemies except for the bobcat, fox and coyote. The raccoon is omnivorous, feeling upon fish, frogs, small mammals, birds and their eggs, molluscs, crustaceans, fruits, small grains and corn in storage and in fields. The larger surfaces of its hind feet allow it to balance easily.

Carpet Beetles

Length: Adult black carpet beetles range from 1/8 to 3/16 inch long.

Color: They are shiny black and dark brown with brownish legs.

Other Features: It can take around 1-3 years to grow from an egg to an adult.

Carpet beetles, as the name suggests, infest carpets. Like clothes moths, the pests also feed on many other items composed of wool, fur, felt, silk, feathers, skins, and leather. It contains keratin, a fibrous animal protein which the larvae can digest. Cotton and synthetic fabrics such as polyester and rayon are rarely attacked unless blended with wool, or heavily soiled with food stains or body oils. Infestations of carpet beetles can develop undetected, causing harm to vulnerable items.

It belongs to the insect order Coleoptera. It is one of the largest orders of insects. There are more than a quarter million species of beetles in the world. North America itself is estimated to have 25,000 beetle species.


Length: The largest spiders can have body lengths up to 90 mm (3.5 inches).

Color: The abdomen of the spider is mostly dark color like Brown, black or tan mixture; with patterns & stripes.

Other Features: It has eight jointed legs and interestingly does not contain wings or antennae.

All spiders are predators, especially insects. Few are active hunters that chase and overpower their prey. These typically have a well-developed sense of touch / sight. Others instead weave silk snares to capture prey. Webs are instinctively constructed and the trap flying insects. Most of them inject venom into their prey to kill it, there are few who use silk wrappings to immobilize their victims.

The Spider abdomens bear appendages that have been modified into spinnerets that extrude silk from 6 types of glands. The spider web varies in size, shape and the quantity of sticky thread that is used.

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