Indentify that bug!

First things first

The most important part of pest management is properly identifying the pest. In some cases an unknown bug in the house might be beneficial, so it is necessary to know what it is. How can any bug be beneficial in a house? A couple of years ago an exterminator identified some small black things in a house as carpenter ant poop. They then sprayed the whole house for carpenter ants. The poop kept returning to the same area, so they re-sprayed the house. Finally, the customer got tired of being infested with ant poop and she called me for advice. I inspected the “poop” and determined it was actually little mold beetles. These beetles feed on mold so I told her she had some mold someplace. She had a plumber come out and he found a leak in a pipe in a wall. The mold beetles told us about the mold. The exterminator thought they were ant poop. In another case in Albuquerque, an inspector for a pest company told a customer she had Johnson beetles eating the Johnson grass in her backyard. She didn’t believe him as she didn’t have any Johnson grass. I told her there was no such thing as Johnson beetles. What she had when I went to her home were a lot of false chinch bugs, which are often very common and not really a pest, but just a nuisance by their numbers. Then there was the fellow who told a potential customer they had fleas and he treated the house for them. He treated several times as it didn’t work. They called me and I went out there and the pests were actually springtails, which are harmless. Fortunately this person was a lawyer and sued the pest company. There was also a case where a pest person identified moths in a closet as codling moths. I told the customer the only way he could have codling moths in the closet is if he had an apple tree growing in the closet. These stories are all true, so be careful.

Most pest companies would know the difference between insects and fecal matter, would know there is no such thing as Johnson beetles and can tell the difference between fleas and springtails. If you hire somebody, make sure they can properly identify the pest and even give you the scientific name so you can research it more if you want.

If you want to manage the pest yourself as most people do, then you need to get it identified. If you can’t find someone who can help you identify it, I will be glad to help. First, try to take a good picture of it if possible and email it to me. My email is askthebugman2013@gmail.com. If a picture isn’t practical, and you already killed the specimen, then you can send it to me. Most specimens you can put in a vial packed with cotton, pack the vial in a small box or bubble envelope. In some cases of soft-bodied or very small specimens such as mites, it is best to send them in a leak proof vial of alcohol so they don’t dry out and become unrecognizable. Pack the vial the same way as above. Make sure to include your email address as well as some information on where the specimen was and what it was doing. I will identify the specimen, tell you whether or not you need to manage it and how you can manage it, if necessary, without using toxic pesticides. How much do I charge for this? There is no set fee. That is up to you. You can include a check for whatever the identification and information about the specimen is worth to you. If money is tight as it often is, then don’t send any check. Contact me and I will give you my mailing address.