a trail of ants crawling outside of a home in boca raton florida

Your Guide To Common Pests In Boca Raton & Southeast Florida

If you have pest questions, then our pest library is the resource for you! In this pest guide, we aim to provide helpful information on the most common pests found in Boca Raton and throughout southeast Florida including how to identify them and the problems they cause as well as some tips to help you prevent them from becoming a problem on your property. Don't see your pest listed below? Give us a call! We'd be glad to help you identify the pest you're up against and discuss what can be done to solve the problem.

Acrobat Ants

two acrobat ants on a fence near boca raton florida

Acrobat ants are a small species of ant, growing anywhere between 1/16-1/8”. These ants can be yellowish-brown to black in color, or they can be multi-colored. The acrobat ant has a heart-shaped abdomen that it raises over its thorax in an acrobatic display when threatened or disturbed. These ants emit a foul-smelling odor when disturbed and may also bite if they feel threatened.

Acrobat ants live primarily outside, nesting inside moist wood, under rocks, in logs or tree stumps, or under fallen trees. These ants feed on other insects, mealybugs, and honeydew produced by aphids. While foraging for food, or if the weather outside becomes too dry or wet, they may decide to move inside, usually finding their way inside along electrical or telephone lines and tree limbs or through spaces discovered in the foundation or exterior walls. Once inside, they may decide to stay and nest in wall voids, behind baseboards, behind window and door frames, or inside insulation, especially if moisture or water damage is present.  Having an acrobat ant infestation may indicate that you are dealing with a moisture problem somewhere inside your home.

If you're struggling with an acrobat ant infestation, close off your home by sealing as many entry points as possible. Caulk cracks in the foundation, place weather stripping around exterior windows and doors, and make sure that your screens are completely intact. Cut branches back away from the exterior of your home. Seal spaces around any wires and utilities entering into your home. Create a stone barrier between grass or mulch and your home’s foundation. Keep tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins. Maintain outdoor eating areas by picking up food scraps and wiping down surfaces. Inside of your home, keep kitchen and pantry areas clean and picked up. Fix any leaky pipes and fixtures, use dehumidifiers to reduce the moisture levels in your home, and make sure your crawlspaces are properly ventilated to eliminate excess moisture.

American Cockroaches

an american cockroach on a wooden chair in a boca raton florida home

The American cockroach is the largest species of home-invading cockroach that can be found living throughout the United States. Most adults grow to between 1 ½ and 2 inches in length, but they have the potential to grow more than 3 inches in length. Both the female and male American cockroach are winged and can fly short distances, if necessary. They are dark, reddish-brown in color, with a lighter color outlining their body. American cockroaches also have a yellow figure-eight pattern behind their heads that helps to identify this species.

American cockroaches are usually found living outside in a variety of places including under mulch, behind tree bark, in city dumps, in steam tunnels, and in sewers, scavenging for decaying organic matter to feed on. After making their way inside, they will take up residence in environments that mimic their outdoor living conditions - mostly dark, damp areas like basements, crawlspaces, and under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. American cockroaches are dangerous pests because of the wide variety of parasites, bacteria and human pathogens that they are capable of spreading. Their shed skins and feces can also trigger allergies and asthma attacks, especially in young children and the elderly.

Keeping cockroaches out of your home requires a bit of work. One of the best ways to deter these roaches is to control moisture issues in and around your home by fixing leaky pipes and fixtures, placing a dehumidifier in the basement, properly ventilating crawlspaces, and using air conditioners. Trim back tree branches away from your home to allow the sunlight to dry the soil around your home’s foundation. Eliminate as much organic debris from your property as possible. You can also limit their access to food sources on your property by keeping locking lids on outdoor trash cans and compost bins. Lastly, keep outdoor eating areas picked up and clean, especially around grill areas.

Big-Headed Ants

a big headed ant on a leaf in a boca raton florida garden

The big-headed ants' appearance is defined by whether they are a major or minor worker. In this species, the minor workers have proportionate heads to their bodies while the major workers have heart-shaped heads that are much larger than the rest of their body. Adult big-headed ants grow to about 1/8” and come in a variety of colors including red, brown, and light yellow.

Big-headed ants are not destructive or dangerous, but they are a significant nuisance pest, invading homes and properties regularly. Outside, big-headed ants prefer to nest under the ground in lawns and underneath of garden beds. These ants are often seen traveling together in long trails along driveways, sidewalks, and building foundations. Big-headed ants often find their way inside while foraging for food sources and are usually found in trails in kitchen and bathroom areas; these ants typically do not create indoor nests.

To prevent big-headed ants from invading your property, seal as many entry points into your home as possible. Caulk cracks in the foundation, place weather stripping around windows and doors, and make sure screens are completely intact. To prevent them from accessing your home, trim back trees and bushes that have grown too close to the exterior of your home, and place a barrier between grass or mulch and your home’s foundation. To reduce attractants on your property, keep tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins and maintain your outdoor eating areas by cleaning up food scraps and wiping down surfaces. In addition, it's important to remove potential nesting places near your home such as firewood piles. Place woodpiles up off of the ground on pallets and store them a distance away from the exterior of your home. Inside of your home, keep your kitchen and bathroom areas cleaned up.

Carpenter Ants

a carpenter ant crawling on a leaf outside a boca raton florida home

Carpenter ants are a large species of ant. Adult worker ants can grow up to 1/2 to 1" in length; carpenter ant queens grow up to 1" long. Their coloring depends on the exact species but, in general, carpenter ants are black, red, yellow, or a combination of both black and red. These ants have very strong mandibles that they use to tunnel through wood in order to create their nests.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants only nest inside of the wood they are tunneling through and do not actually feed on the wood. Carpenter ants have received their name because of the way they build their nests, excavating and tunneling through wood, forming smooth tunnels and nesting galleries. Outside in nature, the carpenter ant’s nesting habits help to speed up the decomposition of decaying trees. When these ants make their way inside, their nesting habits turn destructive and can eventually lead to significant structural damage. Indoors, carpenter ants are usually found nesting inside structural wood, and are especially attracted to wood that has been previously damaged by water.

There are several steps you can take to keep carpenter ants out of your home and prevent them from destroying your property. Like with many other ant species, one of the most effective ways to keep carpenter ants out of your home is by sealing any cracks and crevices that could function as entry points into your home. Other ways to deter carpenter ants from finding their way into your home include placing weather stripping around windows and doors, making sure screens are completely intact, and creating a stone barrier between any grass or mulch and your home’s foundation. In addition, one of the biggest attractants for carpenter ants is moisture. By taking steps to reduce moisture around your home like maintaining your gutters to ensure they are directing rainwater away from your home, you can help keep carpenter ants from targeting your property. Reducing outdoor food sources by keeping tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins and cleaning up food scraps from outdoor eating areas can also help keep foraging carpenter ants from taking an interest in your property.

Inside your home, keep your kitchen and pantry areas clean and organized and store all food items in either containers with sealed lids or in your refrigerator. It may also help to reduce moisture levels inside of your home by using dehumidifiers, fixing leaky pipes and fixtures, and making sure your crawlspaces are properly ventilated.

Crazy Ants

a crazy ant crawling in mulch outside a home in boca raton florida

As their name suggests, crazy ants move in an unorganized, erratic pattern. However, other than their unique sporadic movements, crazy ants have no real distinguishing physical features. These ants vary in color from reddish-brown to a grayish-black color, and they range in size from 1/16th to an 1/8th of an inch.

Crazy ants are nuisance pests that often find their way inside while foraging for food or while looking to escape unsuitable weather conditions. Outside, crazy ants nest in mulch, under rocks, or in leaf litter. These ants often find their way indoors through spaces in the foundation or exterior walls. Once inside, they are often found traveling in erratic trails along baseboards or the edges of carpets or foraging for crumbs and other sources of food and thus, they can become a big problem in the kitchen and/or pantry areas. Additionally, crazy ants also have the potential to invade and cause damage to electrical equipment.

To reduce the risk of crazy ants invading your home, seal any cracks, crevices, or gaps in the exterior of your home that could function as entry points by caulking cracks in your foundation, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, and making sure screens are completely intact. When dealing with crazy ants, its also important to trim vegetation away from the exterior of your home in order to prevent pathways inside. Clean up food spills and other potential attractants as soon as possible; this includes keeping tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins, cleaning up outdoor eating areas, and picking up uneaten pet food in between feedings. Lastly, keep your kitchen and pantry areas cleaned up to reduce their access to food sources.

Dog Ticks

a dog tick crawling inside a home in deerfield beach florida

Ticks are arachnids and are closely related to spiders. Ticks are a type of ectoparasite that feeds on the blood of people, pets, and wild animals using their specialized mouthparts. Before feeding, ticks have flat, oval-shaped bodies; as they feed the tick’s body expands in a balloon-like manner. The coloring and exact size of a tick is species-dependent. The dog tick is a common tick species found living throughout our region. Before consuming a blood meal, dog ticks are reddish-brown in color, while they turn a grayish-blue color after feeding.

Ticks are introduced onto properties by wild animals like deer, raccoons, mice, and skunks. After feeding, they fall off their hosts and hide out in dark, moist areas, waiting for new hosts that they can crawl onto and begin feeding on; one of their most popular hiding spots is where wooded areas meet lawns. Contact with ticks should be avoided, as they have the potential to spread a wide variety of diseases to people and pets. Depending on the species, ticks spread diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis.

Reduce potential hiding spots for ticks on your property by keeping your lawn cut short, trimming overgrown shrubs and bushes, and placing a barrier of crushed stone between your lawn and wooded areas. It is also a good idea to remove woodpiles and other debris piles from your yard. Remove bird feeders and other feeders from your property that can attract wild animals. When spending time outside, especially in wooded areas, make sure to wear tick repellent. It's also important to place pets on a year-round tick control program under the guidance of your veterinarian.

Fleas

a flea in pet hair in delray beach florida

Adult fleas are tiny pests and are often mistaken for flecks of dirt. The flea’s hard body is wingless and dark, reddish-brown in color. Their bodies and legs are covered in spines to help stop them from falling off of their host, and they use their powerful hind legs to jump impressive vertical heights of 6 to 8 inches. Fleas are ectoparasites and while their preferred hosts are animals, if given the opportunity or in the case of a large infestation, they will also feed on people.

Fleas are commonly associated with pet owners, but can become a problem inside of any home. Fleas are introduced into yards by wild animals, especially rodents, after which they will hide out in shady, moist areas until a new host passes by; if this new host is you or your pet, then these pests will most likely be introduced into your home. Fleas are also commonly introduced into homes on rodents or other wildlife that are nesting inside, as well as on used items like upholstered furniture or rugs that have been infested with their eggs or larvae. Fleas are prolific breeders and are very difficult to eliminate and control.

Fortunately, if you're dealing with a flea infestation, there are some ways that you can reduce their populations and restrict their access into your home. Avoid purchasing used furniture or rugs. With the guidance of a veterinarian, place all pets on a year-round flea control program. Frequently groom pets, regularly vacuum the areas where your pets spend most of their time, and routinely wash pet bedding. Reduce hiding spots for fleas by keeping your lawn cut short and pruning overgrown shrubs or bushes. Remove bird feeders from your property that could attract rodents and other wild animals.

German Cockroaches

a german cockroach crawling inside a home in plantation florida

The German cockroach is a very common species of cockroach that is found invading homes and businesses, especially restaurants. The German cockroach has a flat, oval-shaped body and is light brown or tan. These cockroaches have two distinctive black stripes running horizontally down behind their head. They have wings, but rarely use them. Adults grow between 1/2 and 5/8" in length.

German cockroaches nest in warm, humid areas close to food and water sources. They are scavengers and feed on a wide variety of food including wax, grease, trash, meat, and other food scraps. Some common indoor nesting sites for these roaches include behind appliances, in drawers, and underneath cabinets in kitchens, laundry rooms, and in pantry areas. German cockroaches are considered dangerous pests as they are known to carry a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, human pathogens, and parasites on their legs and body that can make people sick; their feces and shed skins are also known to trigger allergies and severe asthma attacks, especially in children and the elderly.

To deter German cockroaches from making their way onto your property, reduce moisture levels in your home by repairing leaky pipes and fixtures, use dehumidifiers, and make sure all crawlspaces are properly ventilated. Seal gaps in your home’s foundation, exterior walls, and around utilities and make sure window and door screens are intact to eliminate potential entry points. Keep lids on trash cans and compost bins. Inside of your home, keep all food in the refrigerator or in containers with air-tight lids. It is also important to regularly vacuum your floors and wipe down counters and tables.

Ghost Ants

two ghost ants outside of a home in boynton beach florida

Ghost ants are tiny in size, growing to about 1/16”. Their unique color patterns make them difficult to spot and is where they get their spooky name. The ghost ant’s head and thorax are dark in color, while the abdomen and legs are very light or almost translucent in color. These ants are closely related to the odorous house ant, and also give off a rotten coconut-like odor when crushed.

These ants often invade homes, where they can become a huge nuisance for people. Their small size allows them to easily find their way inside through small cracks and openings in the exterior of a home, and they are often introduced inside on houseplants. Once inside, they are often found on sinks, as well as the counters and floors of kitchens and bathrooms foraging for food. Their indoor nests are found in a variety of places, including in wall voids, between and behind cabinets, and in potted plants. Ghost ants are particularly difficult to control because they are known to build multiple indoor and outdoor nests; outside, they tend to nest in the ground next to logs, large stone, or woodpiles.

To keep these tiny ants out of your home, it's important to seal any openings that they could use to gain access to your home by caulking cracks in your foundation, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, and making sure your screens are intact. Ghost ants are attracted to any available food source. Minimize their access to food by keeping tight-fitting lids on all trash cans and compost bins, keeping outdoor eating areas clean, storing all food items in the fridge or in air-tight containers, and regularly wiping down counters and vacuuming your floors. It's also helpful to maintain a barrier between the foundation and any mulch or soil. Place garden areas and woodpiles a distance away from your home, remove any leaf litter or other debris in your yard, and trim back overgrown vegetation away from your home’s exterior. Ghost ants often enter homes by trailing along branches of trees and shrubs in direct contact with the home.

Pharaoh Ants

a pharaoh ant on food in a kitchen in fort lauderdale florida

Pharaoh ants are amber or yellowish in color, while their abdomens are dark brown or black in color. Adults are small and only grow to about 1/16” in length. Pharaoh ants are difficult to control because they live together in large colonies that can bud and form multiple colonies in many indoor and outdoor locations.

Pharaoh ants are a dangerous species of ant as they have the potential to carry and transmit many dangerous pathogens to people including salmonella and streptococcus. Pharaoh ants are notorious for invading hospitals where they contaminate equipment, patient wounds, and IV bags. These ants have the potential to become a big problem inside of hospitals, nursing homes, and food processing facilities as well as homes. When nesting inside of a home, they contaminate food and surfaces with the bacteria they carry on their bodies.

There are several methods for preventing pharaoh ants from invading your home. Like with any ant species, it's important to seal off as many entry points into your home as possible. Caulk cracks in the foundation, place weather stripping around windows and doors, fill in spaces found around wires and other utilities entering into your home, and make sure screens are completely intact. To further prevent them from getting inside, trim trees, bushes, and other landscaping away from the exterior of your home that they could use to gain easy access inside. Another way to deter these ants from invading your home and property in the first place is to reduce their food sources by keeping tight-fitting lids on trash cans and compost bins, and maintaining outdoor eating areas. Inside, quickly clean up any crumbs and spills, store food inside of plastic or glass containers with tight-fitting lids or in the refrigerator, and routinely move and clean out the areas behind large appliances.

A significant preventative measure to take with pharaoh ants is to reduce the moisture levels both in and around your home. Eliminate sources of standing water outside and use a dehumidifier inside to prevent moisture build-up. Pharaoh ants commonly found invading wall voids, the areas behind baseboards, and between floorboards.

Pyramid Ants

a pyramid ant walking in sand outside of a home in pompano beach florida

The pyramid ant is named for and often identified by a pyramid-like structure that projects off the top of the thorax. These ants are brown to reddish-black in color, and grow to between 1/16th and 1/8th of an inch and live together in small to medium-sized colonies containing up to a few thousand members.

Pyramid ants are aggressive predators that feed on both live or dead insects. Though they are not typically aggressive towards people, they may bite if they feel threatened. Pyramid ants mainly nest outside in dry, open, sunny areas; lawns, golf courses, parks, fields, and sandy bare areas are common outdoor nesting spots. If living on your property, pyramid ants may find their way inside your home while foraging for sweet foods, but they rarely nest inside.

When it comes to dealing with pyramid ants on your property, consider implementing the following prevention tips for your property. Firstly, seal as many entry points into your home as possible by caulking cracks in the foundation, placing weather stripping around windows and doors, and repairing or replacing any torn window and door screens. This will help prevent these ants from entering your home while foraging for food. Taking steps to remove any available food sources on your property such as unsealed trash cans and compost bins, food scraps in outdoor cooking or eating areas, or even other insects like aphids or fire ants can also be helpful for deterring pyramid ants from your property.

White-Footed Ants

a white footed ant crawling on a leaf outside of a home in coral springs florida

White-footed ants are a small species of ant, adults grow to about 1/8 of an inch in length. Their body is black to brownish-black in color while their legs, which also gave them their name, are yellowish-white in color. These ants can also be identified by their very large colonies. White-footed ants are a common pest in both rural and urban areas and are the most active during rainy seasons.

White-footed ants are not a destructive or dangerous species, they are nuisance pests that can invade homes in very large numbers and be difficult to eliminate. These ants prefer to nest near sources of moisture and food and are highly attracted to sugary foods and honeydew - a substance produced by aphids and other garden pests. Outside, white-footed ants nest under rocks, behind loose bark, in decaying trees, and under landscaping ties. Inside, they may nest behind walls voids, in attics, under roof tiles, and under bathroom or kitchen sinks.

To prevent white-footed ants from invading your home, caulk cracks in your foundation, place weather stripping around windows and doors, and make sure your screens are completely intact in order to seal as many potential entry points as possible. Inspect potted plants before bringing them inside, as you may accidentally carry these pests inside. It's also important to minimize their access to food by keeping tight-fitting lids on all trash cans and compost bins, keeping outdoor eating areas cleaned up, and quickly cleaning up any food or drink spills in your kitchen. It is also a good idea to place garden areas away from your home as white-footed ants feed on aphids and other garden pests. Lastly, taking nest location into account is ideal in the prevention of white-footed ants. Once you've located the nest, remove any possible harborage sites such as rocks, wood, or concrete objects that they could nest under.

Keeping pests out of your home can be a difficult task, but with our comprehensive home pest control plans we can protect your home from a wide variety of common pest invaders found here in Florida. If you find yourself dealing with pests in your home or on your property, the pest control experts here at GOTBUGSIKILL are standing by and ready to help solve your pest problems! For more information on our pest control services or to schedule your free inspection, reach out to us at GOTBUGSIKILL today!

 

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