Common Insects

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Common insects, which are key or continuous pests, are those organisms that are always present around human dwellings, and thus, require regular control. Below is a summary of the pest biology and control methods for each of these insects.

The common name of each animal is followed by its scientific name in parentheses.


German Cockroach

Oriental cockroach

Asian Cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach

American cockroach

Brown-banded cockroach

There are several species of cockroach in Georgia, including the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) measuring ½ inch, which has the highest reproductive potential; the Asian cockroach (Blattella asahinai) and the brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa) are about 1⁄2 inch long; oriental cockroach, AKA "waterbugs" (Blatta orientalis) measuring approximately 1 inch long;  the Smokybrown cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa) at about 1 1⁄4 inch long, which is most commonly found in residential homes and lastly the flying American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), which is the largest of the house roaches at nearly 1 1⁄2 inch.

Cockroaches complete simple metamorphosis, which includes 3 stages:  egg, several nymphs, and adult.

Cockroaches make up the family Ectobiidae, which is a large, diverse taxon of cockroaches.

Pest control

Spot or crack-and-crevice treatment is best for cockroach defense. Only the crack-and-crevice treatment method using residuals sprays is permitted in commercial food-handling facilities per pesticide labeling.  Bait stations are available and are suitable for German cockroaches due to their small size but are not recommended for the larger cockroach species.

Companion pets should be removed and aquariums covered before the application of any type of pesticide.


Argentine ant

Dark rover ant

Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) are the most common pest ant species in GeorgiaThese ants are nearly ⅒ inch long.

Dark rover ants (Brachymyrmex patagonicus) are the smallest, ant pests in Georgia. at less than ⅒ inch.

Ants undergo complete metamorphosis (4 life stages), including egg, larva, pupa and adult.

Pest control

Control of ants is accomplished by baits, sprays, dusts, or granular applications as a contact or residual treatments directed at the pest or its nest.

Stinging Insects

The abdomen or tail end of the carpenter bee is smooth like finished wood, unless the bumble bee abdomen, which is hairy.

Bees common to Georgia are the carpenter and bumble bee. Adult carpenter bees (left below) are robust, 1 inch or longer, with black and yellowish hairs on the thorax (the middle portion). The abdomen is shiny, black and hairless on top. Carpenter bees damage wood, especially cedar, but don’t ingest wood like termites. This type of bee can be distinguished from bumble bees (right below), which are similar in size and coloration, but bumble bees possess yellowish hairs atop their abdomen, measuring greater than ¾ inch long.  The abdomen is the tail end of the insect.

Carpenters bees nest near wood, where they build ½ inch holes into wood, while bumble bees nest outside near the ground. Bumble bees are similar in appearance to the heel or grub (bomb) fly.

Pest control

Control procedures for this type of pest include the use of aerosol insecticides as contact applications as well as residual surface, gallery treatments, and prophylactic treatments such as painting wood with thick coats of oil-based or latex paints. Painting can be done by a carpenter or contractor.

Wasps and Hornets

From L-R: Hornet, single-comb (red paper) wasp and yellow jacket

Hornets (Vespa spp.), single-comb wasps (Polistes spp.), and yellowjackets (genera Vespula and Dolichovespula) build paper-like nests. The hornet is the largest of these paper wasps at just over 1 inch long.

Wasps and hornets ranked from largest to smallest: 
hornets > single comb wasps > yellow jacket wasp

Pest control

It is suggested to wait out hornet and wasp infestations as the colonies will be abandoned at end of the summer season. Alternatively, pesticides can be applied in the early hours of the day or at dusk for hornets and wasps. Yellow jackets are treated in the spring at night. Dusts or baits, which are placed directly into the nest, are effective as well.

Solitary Stingers

The solitary wasp lives underground and can be identified by the yellowish-orange markings on its abdomen.

The solitary wasp {Anoplius samariensis) are about ⁵⁄₁₆ in length and build nests underground and don't form colonies like paper wasps. These wasps live independently, hence the term solitary.

Cicada killer does not build colonies but lives singly before mating.

The cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus ) is a solitary, stinging insect, which burrows into the ground to build nests. This is a large insect at 2 inches length.

Mud dauber builds nests of mud.

The mud dauber wasp (Sceliphron spp.) is a solitary insect like the cicada killer, which builds nests in secure locations using mud as its name implies. This wasp is roughly 1 inch in length.

Pest control

Males of the cicada killer can’t sting, thus control is usually discretionary, involving dusts or insecticide sprays.

The mud dauber is best managed by the removal of the nest site preceded by the application of insecticides.

Flies and Gnats

House flies are called filth files for their association with human and animal wastes.

The housefly (Musca domestica) can be identified by dark linear markings on the thorax that run lengthwise and is a ⅓ inch long. This housefly feeds on food and can be found in solid wastes, including excrement and garbage.

Contact of the housefly with food transfers infectious bacteria, which is the basis for the need for control.

Stable fly with a telltale proboscis for piercing prey.

The bite of the stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) is very painful via their conspicuous proboscis. This pest is similar in appearance and habitat to the house fly and is called the, "biting house fly," infesting animal sheds and feed troughs. The stable fly measures nearly a ⅓ inch in length.

The fruit fly with prominent red, compound eye.

The fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is associated with overly-ripened fruits or vegetables, living just over a week at ⅛ inch. Food is ruined by its egg-laying habits, which are found in the crevices of the fruit and vegetables.

Eye gnats are one of several thousand species of insects with this colloquial name.

Gnats (Genera Hippelates and Liohippelates) have grown as significant pests as large tracts of land containing their habits have been developed. These insects are one of the smallest pests at ¹⁄₁₆ to ⅛ of an inch in length.

Pest control

Wet and unsanitary conditions are breeding grounds for flies. Therefore, control of flies rests on eliminating moisture and improving sanitation. The chemical attractant Z-9-tricosene can also be used as a pesticide, which traps males, which prevents them from copulation.

Good sanitation and exclusion practices, such as regular garbage and other solid waste disposal habits as well as high-quality door and window screens, are recommended to control these flies.

Flies and gnats are controlled with insect growth regulators (IGR), which disrupt the normal development of immature insects into adults.