Ants are social insects which live in nests. These nests vary in size, depending on their age and the species. They are generally found in the ground, in wood or under rocks, although ants can also nest in walls, fireplaces, under paths and in buildings. Ants are a very successful insect group with over 1200 species in Australia. All species can be beneficial to the environment. Ants are known to improve soil through their nests and by quickly recycling nutrients back into the soil. They also eat other insect pests and are also a choice of food for a wide range of native birds, reptiles and other small animals.
There are numerous species of Termites that can damage wooden structures such as furniture or houses. Of about 2000 known species, most are distributed in tropical countries and some inhabit the temperate regions. Termites are sometimes referred to as ‘white ants’ because of their cream colouring and ant-like appearance. There are over 350 species of termites in Australia, 20 of which can damage timber in houses. In nature, they assist in the recycling of organic matter and nutrients back to the soil.
There only 6 families of cockroaches found worldwide, consisting of 4000 species. Australia has representatives of 5 of these families but with only 428 species present. Half of a the cockroaches in Australia can be found in the Blattidae family, which includes both the native and introduced species. Cockroaches are one of the most significant species we treat as they can be very harmful for Commercial Industries.
Spiders are invertebrates with a two part body (phalo thorax and abdomen), biting chelicerae and silk glands that discharge through spinnerets. They have 4 pairs of legs and additional pair of short appendages (pedipalps) beside the chelicerae. Redbacks – the mature female Redbacks are jet black with a variable red stripe on the back of their spherical abdomen. Their tough, untidy webs are usually near the ground with the spider hiding in a shelter in a corner, often guarding her round woolly egg sacs. Immature females are smaller, usually brown with whitish markings. Males are rarely seen; they are small and brown with red and white markings.
In Australia, a number of rodent species are agricultural pests. Two species, the house mouse (Mus domesticus) and black rat (Rattus rattus), were introduced around the time of European settlement. House mice are found throughout agricultural cropping areas, around sheds and in houses. When conditions are favourable, their numbers can increase to plague levels. Black rats are found throughout temperate and tropical Australia in human-modified environments.
Moths are commonly experienced in similar environments to carpet beetles, namely woollen materials, felt, fur and other materials of animal gin.The two most common species of moths are the case making clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) and the common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella).
Possums are quadrupedal diprotodont marsupials with long thick tails. The smallest possum, indeed the smallest diprotodont marsupial, is the Tasmanian pygmy possum, with an adult head-body length of 70 mm and a weight of 10 g. The largest is the bear cuscus that may exceed 7 kg. Possums are typically nocturnal and partially arboreal. The various species inhabit most vegetated habitats and several species have adjusted well to urban settings. Diets range from generalist herbivores or omnivores (the common brushtail possum) to specialist browsers of eucalyptus (greater glider), insectivores (mountain pygmy possum) and nectar-feeders (honey possum).
There are 16 different families of fleas worldwide, consisting of about 2380 species. In Australia 9 of these families are represented with 90 different species. About half of the endemic species that occur in Australia are found in the iopsyllidae family. The Pulicidae family contains many of the introduced fleas such as the cat, dog and human flea, as well as some native species.
Bees & Wasps
Bees belong to the insect Order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps, ants and sawflies. In Australia there are four main bee families: Apidae, Colletidae, Halictidae and Megachilidae. Many of these bees are solitary nesters, while others may share a nest. Although some bees sting, they are not considered to be pests as they play an important role in the Australian environment as key pollinators of many native plant species. Wasps are a diverse group of insects. In Australia alone there are over 12,000 species, ranging from the tiny priid wasps, which are barely visible to the naked eye, to the spider and cicada-killer wasps, capable of taking large prey. Most wasps have carnivorous larvae that feed on other insects and spiders. The adults provide food for them by capturing prey or by laying the egg on or near the food source.
There are only 4 families of silverfish found worldwide, consisting of about 370 species. In Australia just 2 of these families are represented with 28 species present. The 2 Australian families are easily separated from others found throughout the world as the oletiidae family are eyeless and the Lepismatidae have only small compound eyes.
Carpet beetles damage fabrics, furnishings and clothing that contain wool, silk, hair, bristles, fur and feathers. Synthetic items are resistant to attack, but mixtures of synthetic and natural fibres can be damaged. The natural habitats of carpet beetles are nests of birds, rodents, insects, and spiders. The beetles are pollen feeders and can be found in large numbers in flowers; they can be brought into the house in cut flowers.
Wood borer are insects which damage wood by tunnelling at the larval (grub) stage for food or leaving an emergence hole on the surface of the wood after becoming an adult (beetle). These emergence holes (‘pin holes’) are quite visible and are usually the first signs of an active infestation of wood borer.