As the weather warms up, the bugs come out – and some are less welcome than others! Biting bugs are generally disliked everywhere, but few are more reviled than the dreaded tick. However, not every tick looking bug is a bloodsucker. Poplar weevils, brown marmorated stink bugs, and clover mites are all insects that look like ticks. But how can you tell them apart?
Nothing to fear here, this little fella is just a common Weevil. It has six legs, three body regions, and a stubby pair of antennae; making it a vastly different critter to a tick when examined under a microscope. In comparison, a large adult tick would have eight legs, two body regions, and no antennae to speak of. Also, they’re harmless and of no concern to humans.
Spider beetles are tiny insects that do in fact look very much like tiny spiders – however are totally harmless to humans. They have only six legs, however, although there are two long extensions near their head which resemble legs, making many people think they are spiders and not beetles. Spider beetles also have round bodies with a smooth carapace, or outer shell, which adds to the spider-like appearance. The most common types of spider beetles in North America is the Mezium americanum, or American Spider Beetle. There are also White-marked spider beetles and the Smooth spider beetle.
For the most part, they are not considered a serious pest, but given the right conditions, spider beetles can become numerous and their tendency to eat large amounts of food stuff make them a nuisance. When this happens, they can end up in food preparation areas or restaurants, retail outlets or throughout hotels, hospitals and other areas with large kitchens. Plus, they can easily end up transported and inside homes, hiding in pantries and cupboards.
Clover mites do not pose any serious risks to humans. They don’t bite, and only feed on grass, plants, weeds, and clover (hence their name). During the fall however; after the plants they feed on start to perish from the cold, they commonly “invade” homes in large quantities, causing quite a nuisance. When clover mites are crushed, they often leave behind a red stain that will show up on especially light materials such as rugs, curtains, and pillows. This is why it is recommended that the mites are vacuumed up rather than squished.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is an invasive stink bug species that was first identified in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2001. It is thought that they first came to the United States in shipping containers arriving from Asia.
Besides its pungent odor, the brown marmorated stink bug is most notorious for having become an annual nuisance for homeowners for its habit of gathering in large numbers on the sides of houses and buildings in the late fall, and entering these structures in order to survive the winter.
Carpet beetles, as their name implies, sometimes infest carpets. Similar to clothes moths, the pests also feed on many other items composed of wool, fur, felt, silk, feathers, skins, and leather. Such materials contain keratin, a fibrous animal protein which the larvae are able to 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.
Reddish brown in color, fleas are a common sight for people having pets or animals in general. Fleas are among the bugs mistaken for bed bugs because their bites are traditionally very itchy. However, they differ from bed bugs in terms of size (⅛ inch) and shape (segmented and laterally flattened). If you suspect a flea bite, go see your doctor. As it is the case with other insects, fleas are vectors for plenty of diseases.
Bed bugs have made a major comeback in the U.S. and around the world. The public experienced a reprieve from the pests after World War II, due in part to the widespread use of DDT. The rebound in recent years was probably due to multiple factors, including less potent insecticides, global travel, and a loss of vigilance practiced in years past. Whatever the reasons, bed bugs are again part of everyday life, with infestations common in homes, apartments, hotels, dormitories, schools and shelters. They also occur in hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, theaters, offices, municipal buildings, and on public transportation— wherever there are people there can be bed bugs.