Occasional Invaders

Varied Carpet Beetle

Color: Black centers, with white, brown and yellow patches in an irregular arrangement
Legs: 6
Shape: Round – Oval
Size: 1/8″
Antennae: Yes

Varied carpet beetles get their name from the rainbow of color on their backs.

Habits
These pests eat carpets, woolen fabrics, dead insects, furs, hides, feathers, horns, hair, silk and bones. It can take 249-354 days to three years for varied carpet beetles to grow from an egg to an adult.

Habitat
Varied carpet beetles are found in homes in attics, Oriental carpets, tapestries and wood-based wall-to-wall carpeting.

Threats
Varied carpet beetles feed on dead insects, but also feed on upholstery and carpet, so they can damage those materials. They can also damage clothing fabric.

Powderpost Beetles

Color: Reddish brown to black
Legs: 6
Shape: Narrow oval
Size: 1/8 – 1/4″
Antennae: Yes

Powderpost beetles lay their eggs in cracks of wood and the larvae tunnel into the surface, filling it with a very fine powder-like dust. Powderpost beetles have long, narrow, flat bodies that allow them to easily attack wood surfaces. These beetles are reddish-brown in color.

Habits
Adult powderpost beetles are very active at night, enjoy flying and are attracted to the light.

Habitat
Powderpost beetles often attack hardwoods, and can be found in hardwood floors, timbers and crates, antiques and other objects made of hardwood materials.

Threats
Some researchers believe that powderpost beetles are second only to termites in the United States in their destructiveness to wood and wood products.

Stink Bugs

Color: Brown- Gray or Dark Green
Legs: 4
Shape: The triangular-shaped part of the thorax extending halfway down the back of a stink bug is one of th
Size: 3/4″
Antennae: Yes

Several kinds of stink bugs feed on tomatoes, but all are similar in life history and damage. The most common species statewide is the consperse stink bug, which tends to be the most important species in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys. The red-shouldered stink bug is considered the most prevalent species in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Chlorochroa sayi and C. uhleri are most prevalent on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula, occurs in parts of the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys, but is kept at relatively low levels by an imported parasite. Adult stink bugs are distinctly shield shaped and either brown or green. Some species have red, pink, or yellow markings. Adults overwinter on the ground under leaves, in orchards, legume crops, blackberries, or on certain weeds such as Russian thistle, mustards, and little mallow (cheeseweed). They become active in March and April and begin laying eggs at this time. Eggs are drum shaped with circular lids and are laid in clusters on foliage. Immatures resemble adults but do not have developed wings.

Habits
Most species of stink bugs are innocuous, only feeding on their host plants, and are seldom encountered by humans. Stink bugs feed on a variety of plants, including crop species. When stink bugs feed on tree fruits such as apples, it results in a characteristic distortion, referred to as “cat facing, ” that renders the fruit unmarketable. Some species can cause damage in cotton and other crops. Predatory stink bugs use their mouth parts to drain fluids from other pest insects. Some predatory stink bugs are important, beneficial insects in crops and gardens. They prevent caterpillars and other insect pests from destroying plants, trees, crops and gardens. Scientists are interested in using them as natural control agents of crop pests. When handled or disturbed, stink bugs are able to secrete a bad-smelling, bad-tasting fluid from pores on the sides of their bodies. This secretion protects stink bugs from predators. They are often fed upon by birds, spiders, assassin bugs and other arthropod predators (including other stink bugs). Many species are attracted to lights at night. Adult stink bugs of various species are active from spring through late fall.

Habitat
During warm months, female stink bugs attach large masses of eggs to the underside of leaves and stems. After hatching, the wingless nymphs go through five immature stages before becoming full-sized, winged adults. Stink bugs are not known to bite humans but caution should be used when handling them to avoid a release of their odor.

Threats
On green fruit, damage appears as dark pinpricks, surrounded by a light discolored area that turns yellow or remains light green on ripe fruit. Fissures below the surface turn corky. Stink bugs may also carry yeast and other pathogens that may cause decay when introduced into fruit on the bugs mouth parts. A few fields have been significantly damaged by yeast introduced by stink bugs; this damage is scored as “mold ” by state graders.

Silver Fish

Color: Silver to brown
Legs: 6
Shape: Oval, elongated
Size: 3/4″
Antennae: Yes

Region: Found throughout U.S.This insect gets its name from its silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. Silverfish have no wings, but are able to run very fast. They tend to hide their presence from humans which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well.

Habits
Silverfish tend to feed on paper items, glue, clothing and food items, such as flour and rolled oats. Silverfish can live up to a year without food, but require a high humidity environment. They move fast and are typically nocturnal.

Habitat
Silverfish are found throughout the U.S. and are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home, such as bathrooms, basements, and attics.

Threats
While silverfish are mainly a nuisance pest, they can contaminate food and damage paper goods such as wall paper and books.

Prevention
Consider a dehumidifier for your home, repair leaky pipes and drains and eliminate or repair any moldy or wet wood. Don’t keep old books and magazines in areas where silverfish are usually found like basements, attics and garages. It’s also important to keep food items such as flour and sugar in tight containers.