California Insect Identification: How to Spot Most Common Bugs at Home

| Categories: Pest Control

Over 27,000 different insect species live in California, according to the University of California’s Environment and Natural Resources. While insects may all look different, they can be difficult to identify if you’re not familiar with their features.

This California Insect Identification Guide will teach you everything you need to know about correctly naming the most common insects that you can find at home, from their physical characteristics to their behavior. By knowing how to identify these critters, you’ll be able to understand their behavior better and assess whether or not they can cause any harm to your home or family.

11 Most Common Types of Insects in California and How to Spot Them

Every home probably has one or even more bugs. Here’s how you can identify the most common insects in California homes:

1. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that typically range in color from light tan to deep red. They can grow up to 7mm in length but are typically smaller than that. Bed bugs have flat bodies and are wingless, which makes them easy to distinguish from other bugs.

They are typically found in warm, humid environments such as hotels, motels, residential properties, and other places where people sleep. Bed bugs can be difficult to detect, as they often hide in seams and crevices during the daytime, not to mention they are too small for the naked eye.

While bed bugs themselves don’t typically carry diseases, they can cause a lot of discomfort and distress. They feed on the blood of humans and mammals. In extreme cases, bed bug bites can lead to a bacterial infection called cellulitis, manifested by itchy red bumps on your skin, which can be difficult to treat. Bed bug bites may also cause allergic reactions in some people. If you think you may have a bed bug infestation, contact a pest control professional immediately.

2. Bees

Bees, alongside wasps and hornets, are distinguished from other insects by their three body segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen. They also have two pairs of wings and a pair of antennae. The heads of bees are typically black or brown, while the thorax and abdomen are often covered in stripes of yellow, orange, or red. They also have hairy bodies, which can make them look quite imposing.

There are over 20,000 different species of bees worldwide — 1,600 are found in California. As pollinators, they all play a vital role in our ecosystem. Bees, however, can sting, which they use to defend themselves and their nests. Though bee stings deliver no serious complications, they can be quite painful. So if you see them, do not disturb them, or it’s best to call a bee control expert to have the hive extracted or moved to a bee sanctuary.

3. Silverfish

Silverfish are small, silvery-white wingless insects with tapered heads. They have two long antennae and three pairs of legs. Silverfish are nocturnal and feed on a variety of foods. They can be found in moist environments, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. 

While they are not known to cause any serious diseases, they can contaminate food with their feces and saliva, which can lead to allergic reactions in some people. Additionally, silverfish can be a nuisance because they eat a variety of foods, including starch, sugar, and protein, as well as household items like clothes, paper, and books.

4. Cockroaches

Several different species of cockroach can be found in California. They vary in size, from less than an inch to over 2 inches long. They are typically dark brown or black in color. Roaches have a flattened body, six legs, and two antennae. They also have a pair of wings, but these are usually not used for flying. They only fly when they feel threatened.

Like silverfish, roaches are nocturnal. They are also drawn to food and moisture and can often be found in kitchens and bathrooms. Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers and will eat anything they can find, including rotting food, feces, and even other insects.

They are also known for being very resilient creatures — they can survive for up to a week without food or water, and they are resistant to many kinds of pesticides. They are also well known for their rapid breeding habits; a single cockroach can produce up to 50 offspring in a year. Cockroaches can also spread disease, so it is important to get rid of them if you find them in your home.

5. Termites

Termites are small, soft-bodied insects that live in colonies, often mistaken for ants. They are differentiated by their straight waist, and they have straight antennae, as opposed to the elbowed antennae of ants. Termites are usually larger and have broader heads than ants. They also have wings, which ants lack.

Termites are not known to spread diseases harmful to humans, but they may cause allergic reactions to some people, whether through their saliva or droppings. It’s important to know that termites are one of the few insects that eat wood, which can lead to extensive damage to homes and other structures. On average, California homeowners pay $3,000 to repair termite-initiated damage.

Learn more about the different types of termites and which one is eating your house.

6. Crickets

Crickets are well known for their loud chirping at night, which is used to attract mates. They range in color from light brown to black and typically have a greenish hue. But, they can be easily identified by their long antennae, dropped abdomen, and long, thin hind legs. Crickets are generally about 1 inch long but can grow up to 2 inches long.

They love to eat leaves and can often be found in gardens or fields. Crickets usually only bite humans if they feel threatened, and even then their bites are not harmful. Nevertheless, having crickets around your house chirping loudly every night can be a cause of a disturbance to your family.

7. Earwigs

Earwigs are easily recognizable by their elongated body and a pair of pincers or forceps at the end of their abdomens. They range in color from brown to reddish-brown, and some have stripes or bands on their bodies. Earwigs typically measure 0.2-2 inches long but can grow up to 3 inches long.

Earwigs are nocturnal, and they typically reside in moist environments like gardens and basements. They’re also very good climbers, so they may be found scaling walls or ceilings. Earwigs are scavengers and will eat anything they can find, including other insects. They’re also known to damage crops and plants.

Because of their intimidating pincers, earwigs might look harmful to humans. However, they are not. Still, earwigs have to be removed from your home as they can eat any of your stored food.

8. Ticks

Ticks are small creatures that measure 3-7mm long. They have a hard, flat body that is covered in bristles, and they typically display a reddish-brown color. Ticks are among the most common types of biting insects found in California. You can find them in animals and even human hair.

Ticks are ectoparasites, which means that they live on the outside of their host’s body. They attach themselves to animals or people by embedding their mouthparts into the skin. Once attached, they will suck blood from their host until they are full. Ticks can be quite irritating and cause a great deal of discomfort due to itchiness, especially if they are not removed quickly.

In California, ticks can also be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, forests, and even urban areas. There are several different species of ticks in the state, some of which are known to carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), and ehrlichiosis. It is important to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect yourself from tick bites.

9. Wasps

Wasps are identifiable by their narrow waist and two pairs of wings. They can range in color from black to yellow, and some species have brightly colored stripes.

All wasps are predators — they feed on a variety of insects. They also scavenge for food and will eat anything that is available. Wasps are social creatures living in colonies that can contain anywhere from a few dozen to a few thousand individuals. They build nests out of mud, paper, or chewed-up wood. 

The behavior of wasps can vary depending on the species. Some species are known to be aggressive and will attack anything that they perceive as a threat. In some cases, they can cause serious injury or even death. Others are more passive and will only sting humans or animals if they are directly threatened. When you see wasps, it’s best to seek professional help to have them removed from your property.

10. Moths

Moths come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all moths have large wings. The wings of a moth can be either covered in scales or covered in hairs,  ranging in color from black to white, while some species have brightly colored markings.

Moths are nocturnal creatures, and they are most active at night. They are attracted to light, so you can usually find them swarming your lights at home. Moths are herbivores, and they feed on a variety of plants. Some moths are known to eat the leaves of trees, while others are known to eat flowers. That said, moths are generally harmless creatures.

However, there are a few species that can be harmful to humans. The most common type of moth-related injury is caused by the larvae, or caterpillars, of certain species. These caterpillars can release a toxic substance that causes irritation, skin rashes, and sometimes nausea or vomiting when they come into contact with human skin. When you see an eclipse of moths swarming your lights, don’t hesitate to call for professional help.

11. Fleas

Fleas are tiny parasites measuring 1-3mm, and therefore they can fit into the smallest of spaces and can be difficult to see with the naked eye. They have a hard body shell that protects them from being crushed, and they can jump up to 18 inches in height, so it’s so easy for them to find a new host.

Fleas are not picky eaters. They will feed on any blood that is available, commonly from cats, dogs, and even humans. Fleas can be a nuisance to both humans and animals, and they can cause a variety of health problems. They cause skin rashes, hair loss, and allergic reactions. They can also transmit various diseases to humans and animals, including plague and typhus. When you see fleas at home, get pest control help immediately.

Get Professional Help From a Pest Control Service in California

There are a few ways to get rid of these pests. However, the most effective way to eliminate these pests is by identifying and removing their food and water sources. For example, you can seal cracks and crevices in your home’s foundation, fix leaky pipes and taps, and store food in airtight containers. By taking these steps, you can make your home less hospitable to unwanted insects at home.

If you need pest control and prevention experts, Pro Pacific Pest Control is here to help you out. Learn more about Pro Pacific Pest Control, or directly call us at 800-901-1102 to schedule a free inspection and estimate for your pest control needs.

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