Size: These venomous spiders are usually a 1/2 inch in length, with a shiny black body, long thin legs and large oval abdomen. Females typically exhibit a red "hourglass" pattern on the underside of the abdomen, but this is not always the case.
Color: Usually shiny black but may also be various shades of brown or mottled brown and white.
Habits: The black widow spider weaves a very strong but formless and erratic web close to the ground and can often be found in drain pipes, under outhouse toilet seats and beneath logs and rocks. The tips of the spider's legs are oily to prevent it from becoming stuck in its own web. It can usually be found hiding belly up in its web waiting to catch prey.
What Do Black Widow Spiders Eat?: Both males and females construct webs to capture their prey, which includes flies, moths and crickets and may also consist of reptiles and other small animals. Their fangs inject venom as well as digestive juices into the prey. This method not only kills the prey, but also liquefies its flesh so the spider can eat it more easily.
Reproduction: A female black widow can produce up to nine egg sacs with an average of 300 to 400 eggs in each sac. The sacs are about 1/2 inch in diameter and have a smooth surface. The newly hatched spiderlings emerge from the sac and remain close to it for a day or two. Although they are not poisonous, they are cannibalistic and will often eat one another. After a few days the spiderlings climb to high points, release a strand of webbing and propel themselves to other locations in a process known as ballooning.
Other Information: The black widow spider is the most dangerous North American spider because they inject a neurotoxin when they bite, the effect of which can be serious and even fatal. A bite results in extreme pain and cramping that can take several days to diminish. Many people are bitten when they pick up a log or other item the spider is hiding under.
Size: Earwigs range from 1/2 to 1 inch in length.
Color: They are brownish to black in color and have a pair of defensive forceps at the tail. Forceps are used to defend the nest, capture prey, probe narrow crevices and fold or unfold wings.
Habits: Earwigs are typically found in areas where they remain sheltered and can easily find food. They usually live together in large numbers and can be found in tree holes, under landscape mulch and other objects on the ground as well as in exterior building cracks. When indoors, they move rapidly around baseboards at the ground level, and can emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands. They are most active at night.
What Do Earwigs Eat?: Earwigs eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter, as well as other insects. Indoors they eat sweet, oily or greasy foods and plants.
Reproduction: Females lay 20 to 50 smooth, oval, white eggs in a below-ground chamber in the soil. Eggs go through four or five stages before becoming adults. The female moves, cleans, and protects the eggs until the young leave the nest to fend for themselves. Earwigs have a simple life cycle, requiring three to five months to go from egg to adult, depending on temperatures. Adults generally live only about one year.
Other Information: Earwigs rarely fly and are unable to crawl long distances. They often hitch a ride in laundry baskets, luggage, newspapers, lumber and baskets of fruits and vegetables. They prefer moisture and may migrate indoors to find water. Earwigs are often found in damp crawl spaces, mulch, compost piles, trash, under boards and in wood piles. They are attracted to lights.
Size: Adult flesh flies are some of the largest flies and can grow as large as 1/2 inch long.
Color: Flesh flies are black and light gray with a checkerboard effect on the top of their abdomen. They usually have red eyes and a red tip at the anal area.
Habits: Flesh flies are scavengers that spend their lives in and on decaying flesh. They will also inhabit decaying organic materials such as vegetation piles and animal droppings as well as garbage dumpsters. They are very loud, buzzing fliers and are strongly attracted to light.
What Do Flesh Flies Eat?: Flesh fly maggots occasionally eat other larvae but also eat the larvae of grasshoppers and have been known to eat beetles, snails and caterpillars. Flesh flies and their larvae are also known to eat decaying vegetable matter and excrement.
Reproduction: Eggs hatch within the female, and she then deposits living larvae onto a food source usually an open animal wound or a badly decomposed human or animal carcass. Flesh flies have been known to lay so many eggs on an animal carcass that, when they hatch, the carcass is transformed into a squirming mass of maggots.
Other Information: Forensic entomologists use flesh flies and their larvae to determine the progress of decomposition at crime scenes. A sudden appearance of flesh fly swarms inside a home could indicate there is a dead animal in the walls, attic or basement.
Size: House crickets are generally about 1 inch long.
Color: House crickets are light tan or brown and have long, thin antennae and enlarged hind legs for jumping. The adults have wings that are held flat and overlapping on their abdomen. On the head there are three black bands that run side to side.
Habits: House crickets attack all types of material, and often it is synthetic fabrics that are most damaged, although cotton, wool and silk are attacked as well. They also feed on food such as baked goods as well as other organic matter and insects both dead and alive.
What Do House Crickets Eat?: House crickets attack all types of material, and often it is synthetic fabrics that are most damaged, although cotton, wool and silk are attacked as well. They also feed on food such as baked goods as well as other organic matter and insects both dead and alive.
Reproduction: Females appear to be prolific, producing an average of 730 eggs. The eggs hatch within two to three months. Females use a long narrow structure called an ovipositor to deposit eggs into the ground or other damp material such as sand or peat moss. Adult crickets will often eat their own young and it is normal for some adults to die naturally after mating.
Other Information: House crickets are known for their characteristic chirping noise. It is only the male cricket that sings, and he does so to attract females. When they chirp, crickets rub the teeth on the sharp edge of one wing against a thick, rough scraper on the opposite wing, using it as a bow. As the temperatures rise, their songs become louder and faster.
Size: The Oriental cockroach is a large roach reaching about 1 inch in length.
Color: They are very dark brown to black. Females are oval shaped and have short stubby wings. Males have wings that do not reach the end of the abdomen.
Habits: Oriental roaches are commonly known as �water bugs� and can be found living outdoors in damp locations such as underground water and sewage systems. Their travel through such unsanitary habitats increases their potential as disease vectors. They often enter structures by crawling under doors or through other exterior openings and often take up residence in damp basements, cellars, crawl spaces, near drains, leaky water pipes and beneath refrigerators, sinks and washing machines, under floors, and inside walls. Oriental cockroaches are nocturnal, avoid light, and, although the male has well developed wings, neither sex can fly.
What Do Oriental Roaches Eat?: These insects feed on garbage and decaying organic matter and are often considered the filthiest of the house-infesting roaches.
Reproduction: Females carry their egg capsules for about one day, and then deposit the capsule in a secluded place. Each capsule has an average of 15 eggs. Eggs hatch in about 60 days and nymphs develop in about one year. Adult females live one to six months.
Other Information: Oriental cockroaches can live without food for up to a month if water is present, but will die in two weeks without food and water.
Red Imported Fire Ants
Size: This is a highly polymorphic species, with various sizes of workers within a single colony. The largest workers in the colony can be as much as ten times the size of the smallest workers.
Color: The red imported fire ant is covered in long, bristly hairs and is identified by its red head and thorax and red and black abdomen.
Habits: The red imported fire ant is one of the worst ant pests in the U.S. in terms of human health, property damage, and environmental damage. Colonies may have several hundred thousand workers and dozens of queens, and workers very aggressively defend their nest with stinging. Nests are created in the soil and can be identified by the large mound of soil raised above the surface. They are very common in turf. Red imported fire ant nests may go as deep as eight feet in the soil, and produce mounds above ground that are three feet tall and two feet wide. When their mound is disturbed they will rapidly overwhelm the intruder and, on a chemical command, begin stinging simultaneously. Nests may be found in wall voids, rain gutters, bath traps, and under carpets, as well as in electrical equipment.
What Do Red Imported Fire Ants Eat?: The workers are aggressive predators, feeding on any other insects they find as well as small mammals or birds, earthworms, frogs and lizards. They dramatically alter the natural habitat when they move into an area.
Reproduction: Males die after mating and the female creates a brood cell in the soil and deposits 10-15 eggs using her tubelike ovipositor. These hatch in seven to ten days and are fed by the queen. Within 15 days, pupae emerge and begin to forage for food. Within 30 days, larger workers emerge and the colony grows. The queen lives up to seven years and produces an average of 1,600 eggs per day throughout her life. A red imported fire ant colony can hold more than 250,000 ants.
Other Information: Most red imported fire ant stings result in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. If a person is allergic, however, he or she may experience a more grave reaction. Victims rarely receive a single sting; instead, a person typically receives many hundred stings simultaneously. Red imported fire ant colonies may contain numerous queens and have multiple satellite colonies. Up to 200 mounds per acre have been found.
Size: Springtails are usually less than 1/8 inch long.
Color: Springtails range from black to silvery gray, depending on the species. The distinctive character is the furcula or tail-like mechanism attached to the tip of the abdomen.
Habits: Springtails are so-named because of their sharp projection at the tail end called a furcula. They snap this appendage down on a surface to suddenly spring themselves into the air. Springtails are tiny insects that thrive in damp locations. They live in the soil, in leaf mold, under bark, in decaying logs and on the surface of freshwater pools. When found in structures, their presence may indicate excessive moisture conditions in walls or crawl spaces, under sinks, or around indoor plants. Springtails are harmless to humans, although allergies and dermatitis have been reported in some people sensitive to their presence.
What Do Springtails Eat?: Springtails feed on algae, fungi, and decaying plant materials.
Other Information: Springtails become active in early spring and may be seen on snow cover, which is why they have often been called snow fleas. They are drawn to water, and commonly appear in vast numbers on the surface of swimming pools, seemingly overnight.
Size: Wolf spiders vary in size from small species with only 1/2 inch leg spans to large ones whose legs may stretch out 5 inches.
Color: Wolf spiders are long legged and covered with short hairs, gray to brown to dark brown in color, and have several darker stripes.
Habits: Wolf spiders are large, hairy spiders not associated with a web. In fact, they only use silk for lining their nest and covering their eggs. They are very mobile, very fast, and very aggressive when threatened. Smaller species have been knows to run across the water of a swimming pool, suspended on the surface tension of the water. Retreats for the spiders are holes in the soil, under debris on the ground or within woodpiles. They commonly enter structures and can be found running across floors or walls as they search for food.
What Do Wolf Spiders Eat?: Wolf spiders are hunters and hunt for insect prey under cover of night.
Reproduction: The female constructs an egg sac of white papery silk, which she carries around attached with strong silk to her spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch, they are carried around on the females back until they are ready to disperse by ballooning to the ground.
Other Information: Wolf spiders are often confused with the brown recluse, but they lack the violin-shaped marking behind the head. The wolf spider is shy and runs away when disturbed.
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