The temperate climate of San Diego means that temperatures hover between 50 and 80 degrees for most of the year. It also means that many household pests thrive in San Diego year round, as temperatures never get too hot or too cold to kill pests or drive them away.
While most common pests are a problem in some San Diego households, some pests are always more problematic for homes than others. You can use this basic guide to determine whether or not you’ve reached infestation levels requiring a professional exterminator for common household pests in San Diego.
Termites: Termites often go undetected until serious structural damaged has already occurred, but it helps to know what the warning signs are. The biggest sign is piles of sawdust-like material called frassaround your home’s exterior walls caused by wood-eating termites. Formosan termites create frass and burrow into the ground, so look for their small, hollow tubes appearing just under the soil as well.
Ants: Several species of ants are a common household problem year round in San Diego. The Argentine ant is the most problematic because they hide their nests under the home in a vast network of multiple colonies and can come indoors through the tiniest spaces. The Argentine ant is looking for food to bring back to the nest, so he’s commonly found in the kitchen, but you’ll notice these ants all over the home on the ground floor when they’ve reached infestation levels.
Fire ants bite, chew through electrical wiring, and can even work together to overtake birds, rodents, and small domestic animals. When there are children and pets around, and even when there aren’t, fire ants aren’t welcome. Look for their classic ant hills around your property and have a professional stop them before they migrate closer to your home.
Cockroaches: Nobody likes a cockroach. These elusive invaders require a professional exterminator almost every time because they have a long life span, multiply quickly, and are nearly impossible to kill. Because they’ve been on the planet longer than most species, they’ve evolved through the worst conditions and built up a resistance to many common products. Just remember that when it comes to cockroaches, there’s never just one.
Rodents: Rodents carry a number of infectious diseases, destroy materials around your home, and cause costly damages by chewing through electrical wires. If you see rodents or rodent droppings around your home, you have a problem you can’t ignore. Rodents multiply very quickly. A single female can reproduce six to eight times a year and her own young can start reproducing when only a month old.
Wasps: Honeybees don’t sting, but wasps are an aggressive species that will attack humans to protect the nest or if otherwise provoked. One upside of a wasp infestation is that you can see them coming and going from their nests, which are often built on the protected undersides of soffits and eaves on homes. Knowing where the nest is makes wasps easier to exterminate and to avoid in the meantime.
Spiders: Most spiders that make their way inside the home are harmless and are just looking for a protected place to build a web and catch some food. Most spiders found around the home can be vacuumed up or relocated to the outdoors before they multiply. In fact, it’s difficult for spiders to multiply indoors because it’s hard for them to find a mate of the same species once they get trapped inside.
Poisonous spiders to look out for are the black widow and brown recluse (although a recluse is very rare in our area and many people mistake house spiders for recluses). A black widow can be identified by its shiny black body and red hourglass shape on its belly. A brown recluse is identified by a dark fiddle shape on the cephalothorax (the fiddle’s neck points backward toward the abdomen), three pairs of two eyes, and consistently colored legs and abdomen. Call an exterminator for professional help if you see either of these dangerous spiders inside your home.
Fleas and Ticks: Fleas and ticks are common pests in San Diego because they like warm weather. These two pests feed on blood and are usually carried into the house on pets and humans. Fleas can infest a home quickly and require fumigation to exterminate.
Ticks live for a long time and are difficult to kill, but they don’t usually multiply once inside the home and can be removed without an exterminator on a case-by-case basis. The best way to deal with both pests is to avoid bringing them inside in the first place by giving pets a monthly flea and tick treatment and checking your own body and clothing for ticks after time spent outdoors.
Photo Credit: Jill Meaux