A Pest Guide For The Lake & Sumter Counties Of Florida
Listed below are some common insects, rodents, and wildlife found in our area. This quick reference page will provide you with helpful information about the pests that frequently invade homes and businesses in Leesburg, Clermont, Fruitland Park, The Villages, Wildwood, Lady Lake, and throughout the Sumter and Lake counties of Florida.
Cockroaches are one of the most common species of insect that live throughout most of the world. The American cockroach is the largest species of house-invading cockroach that lives throughout the United States. These cockroaches have the potential to grow up to more than three inches in length, but the good news is, most adults grow to between 1-1/2 and 2 inches in length. Both females and males are winged and can fly short distances. American cockroaches are dark reddish-brown in color, with a lighter color outlining their body. They have a yellowish-colored figure-eight pattern found behind their head, which helps to identify this species.
American cockroaches prefer living outside and scavenging for food; usually decaying organic matter. American cockroaches nest outside under mulch, on tree bark, in city dumps, in steam tunnels, and in sewers. American cockroaches often find their way inside homes and other structures while foraging for food, or if the weather outside becomes too hot and dry to live comfortably. Inside, they hide out in basements, crawlspaces, bathrooms, and other damp, dark areas they find. These pests are considered dangerous due to the wide variety of parasites, bacteria, and human pathogens they are capable of spreading. They also produce an odorous secretion that can affect the flavor of food, including food they are not physically feeding on or touching. In addition, their feces and shed skins can trigger asthma attacks in some people, especially children.
To prevent American cockroaches, control the moisture levels in and around your home and eliminate as many entry points as possible. Repairing leaky pipes and fixtures, placing a dehumidifier in your basement, and utilizing air conditioners are also helpful measures in deterring cockroaches. Trimming tree branches away from the exterior of your home allows the sunlight to dry the soil around its foundation, discouraging cockroaches from gathering there. Eliminating piles of organic debris from your property and leaving a barrier between any mulch and your home’s foundation is always a good idea. Getting rid of food sources by keeping locking lids on outdoor trash cans and compost piles keep cockroaches away from this potential food source. Keeping outdoor eating areas picked up also rids your property of potential food sources for cockroaches.
Bed bugs are ectoparasites that prefer to feed on the blood of humans. However, if no other food source is available, they will feed on other mammals as well. Adult bed bugs look similar to an apple seed, but with legs. They are oval in shape and flattened from top to bottom. Their flattened body allows them to hide out of sight during the day in tight cracks and crevices. At night, they emerge from their hiding spots to feed on their sleeping victims. Before feeding, bed bugs are reddish-brown in color. After feeding, they turn a purple-reddish color and their body expands and swells in a balloon-like manner.
Bed bugs live where people live and spend time because, like most pests, they like to be close to their preferred food source. Bed bugs hitchhike their way from place to place on the clothing, luggage, bags, and personal belongings of people. If bed bugs ever find their way into your home, common signs of an infestation include red dots of blood or black streaks of excrement on bedding, pillows, mattresses and box springs. You can also find live bed bugs underneath or in the seams of mattresses, box springs, and upholstered furniture. Another sign is a sweet smelling, musty odor in an otherwise clean area of your home. Bed bug bites are not a reliable indicator of an infestation because most people aren’t allergic to their saliva, and therefore, don’t have a visible reaction to their bites.
To prevent bed bugs you should keep personal belongings up off the ground in public places such as hotels, airports, buses, shopping centers, hospitals, schools, dormitories, movie theaters, museums, and libraries. Inspect hotel rooms before bringing luggage and personal belongings into them. Avoid purchasing used furniture, mattresses or box springs for use inside your home. Wash and dry all newly purchased clothing or clothing brought on a trip on the highest heat settings immediately after bringing the items home. Keep clutter to a minimum in your home to limit hiding spots, regularly vacuum your home, and use protective bed bug covers on all mattresses and box springs.
Fire ants are a small species of ant, but don’t let their size fool you. Fire ants are known as aggressive and can be easily agitated. Simply walking by their nest could give them cause to attack you. Fire ants are brownish-red in color and are also regularly identified by the unique nesting mounds they create. Their large nests are flattened and irregular in shape. Fire ants are native to South America, but not to North America. They have become a difficult and dangerous species of ant to eliminate and control in the United States.
Fire ants like to create their nests in open, sunny spaces like residential lawns, sports fields, golf courses, parks, pastures, fields, and along roadways. Other problems associated with fire ants are the mounds of dirt at their nest openings. These dirt mounds are unsightly and can make mowing your lawn difficult. Fire ants will attack anything they view as a threat to themselves or their nest. Fire ants use their strong mandibles to grab hold of their victim’s skin and then strike with their stingers to inject venom. Their stings are painful and their venom is strong enough to cause a serious allergic reaction in some people. In the case of a group attack, their venom is powerful enough to trigger anaphylaxis.
Fire ant prevention tips to keep in mind include placing weather stripping around windows and doors, installing door sweeps, and sealing spaces around air conditioning units. Fire ants are difficult and dangerous to eliminate and control. Trying to take care of these ants on your own is never recommended. If you notice a fire ant mound on your residential or commercial property, immediately call a professional pest control provider.
Raccoons are a species of nocturnal mammal that are commonly found in wooded areas and close to water. However, they have the potential to live in any urban, suburban, or rural area. Raccoons are most known for their distinctive markings; a black "mask" of fur covering their eyes. They have black and gray ringed tails and thick fur that is salt and pepper colored. They grow to about the same size as an average house cat. Raccoons also have long, slender feet and finger-like toes. Raccoons' hind legs are longer than their front legs, giving them a hunched appearance as they walk.
Outside, raccoons are typically found living in the cavities of trees, in the crevices of rocks, and in the abandoned burrows of other animals. Raccoons are omnivores and feed on a wide variety of things including fruits, berries, corn, pet food, insects, crayfish, eggs, and rodents. Raccoons can become a big problem for homeowners. They dig through trash, and damage gardens and compost areas. Raccoons also damage siding, roof shingles, and chimneys while creating an entrance and exit into homes, garages, and sheds. They introduce fleas, ticks, and mites onto your property and into your home and transmit dangerous diseases, including rabies, to people and pets.
Raccoon prevention tips include placing wire mesh around decks, sheds, and similar structures to keep raccoons from nesting underneath them, trimming tree branches away from the outside of your home, and picking up uneaten pet food. You should also make sure that vents leading into your home have tight-fitting covers over them. Be sure to repair any loose window screens or other large openings into your home. Outdoor garbage cans and compost bins should have tight-fitting lids on them. Place vegetable gardens a distance away from the outside of your home or commercial building.
Roof rats are a common species of rodent. They are dark brown or black, with gray highlights running throughout their fur. Their noses are pointed and they have big, dark-colored eyes and large ears. Their ears and tails are usually void of hair. Adults grow to about 8 inches in length and their tails add another 6-8 inches to their total body length.
Roof rats have a long, slim build and are great climbers. They often find their way into homes and buildings along the roof. All rodents have front incisors that continuously grow throughout their life. To prevent their teeth from overgrowing they constantly chew on objects, making them damaging pests.
Outside, roof rats like to nest high in trees, but will also burrow under plants, dense vegetation, buildings, or inside wood or rock piles. They also commonly find their way into homes and other structures while foraging for food. Inside, roof rats live and nest in the upper levels of buildings, such as in attics and chimneys, behind walls, and above ceilings. Roof rats can create many problems for home and business owners including introducing disease, contaminating food, and causing structural damage throughout buildings.
To prevent roof rats you should seal the spaces found in your home's foundation, roofline, and exterior walls to prevent easy access into your home. Make sure that all chimneys have tight-fitting caps on them and cut tree limbs away from the exterior of your home. Outdoor trash cans and compost bins should also have tight-fitting lids. Pet food should be picked up between feedings, and wild animal feeders should be removed from your property. Eliminate easy access to water sources by maintaining gutters and downspouts.
Spiders are common household invaders. One of the most common spiders living in our area is the Florida house spider. All spiders have two body regions (cephalothorax and abdomen). They also have eight legs and fangs (chelicerae). Spiders do not have wings or antennae. Spiders are a type of arachnid and are closely related to mites, ticks, and scorpions. Spiders are a predatory species and are environmentally important. They aid in the natural control of nuisance insect populations.
All spiders have jaws and fangs to deliver venom. However, most spiders do not possess venom that is strong enough to affect people. Most spiders living in the United States are nuisance spiders. The Florida house spider is an example of a nuisance spider. There are, however, some species of dangerous spiders living in the United States whose venom is strong enough to cause serious health problems in people. Spiders usually prefer to live outside, but find their way inside following their prey (insects and other spiders), or if the weather becomes too hot, dry, or wet. Once inside, they can be difficult to find and eliminate.
To prevent spiders, you should remove fallen trees, rock piles, and other debris from your property where spiders can hide and build their webs. Keep your lawn cut short and trim tree branches, bushes, and shrubs away from the exterior of your home. You should seal all openings leading into your home through its exterior. Make sure all windows and doors have intact screens placed in them. Eliminate as many water sources as possible by making sure gutters are clear of debris and by repairing leaky hoses or fixtures.