In Bakersfield, several insects commonly infest home-stored foods, such as grains, flour, nuts, spices, packaged herbs and dried fruit. If infestations are prolonged, foods may be seriously damaged and may need to be discarded. Many people will discard food products that are even lightly infested by insects. These insects typically pose little health hazard, although some species (notably carpet beetles), can produce irritation or allergic reactions.
Argentine ants are a common household pest, often entering structures in search of food or water (particularly during dry or hot weather), or to escape flooded nests during periods of heavy rainfall. When they invade a kitchen, it is not uncommon to see two or three queens foraging along with the workers. Eliminating a single queen does not stop the colony’s ability to breed.
The crazy ant is an agricultural and household pest in most tropical and subtropical areas, and is a pervasive indoor pest in temperate areas. It has the ability to successfully survive in highly disturbed and artificial areas, including ships at sea and it can live indoors with humans.
In the United States, the crazy ant has widespread population from Florida to South Carolina and west to Texas. It commonly is found in residences and warehouses over much of the eastern United States and in California and Arizona. Populations are also reported from Hawaii, Missouri and Virginia, as well as Buffalo (New York) and Boston (Massachusetts).
When killed by crushing, these ants give off an unpleasant order, hence the name. They are one of the more common household invaders. They are brown to dark brown in color and about 1/10 of an inch long. Odorous ants prefer sweets as their food source, as well as insects and the honeydew insects produce.
Odorous ants nest in the soil, typically near or under objects laying on the ground such as rocks, boards, firewood, the base of patios or mulching plastic. They might also nest inside the home in wall voids or under the floor. Their mating season is during June and July.
Technomyrmex albipes (White footed ant) is a species of ant first described from Indonesia in 1861, the white footed ant neither bites nor causes structural damage. Yet it is considered a nuisance due to their explosive population growth.
Although not native to North America, the insects were accidentally imported into Florida where they were first collected and identified in 1986. New information from Bolton indicates that the white-footed ant in Florida is Technomyrmex difficilis.
Tapinoma melanocephalum is a species of ant that goes by the common name ghost ant. They are recognized by their dark head and pale or translucent legs and gaster (abdomen). This coloring makes this tiny ant (1⁄16 of an inch) seem even smaller.
The ghost ant’s diet consists mainly of sweets but they will also feed on grease and occasionally living or dead insects. They exhibit a high need for moisture, and although colonies are usually established outside, they can readily “set up camp” inside domestic houses during dry conditions.
This is a widespread tropical species, found throughout the world. Its native range is unknown. The ghost ant is thought to be so named because the legs and abdomen of the insect look transparent, with only the head and thorax being dark brown in colour. Observed in infested buildings with the naked eye they are quite difficult to distinguish from pharaoh ants, being virtually of the same size.
A slim beetle 2.5-3.5 mm long, dark brown; neck shield has two deep longitudinal grooves and six sharply-pointed projections on each side. The slim whitish-yellow larvae are freely mobile and grow to a length of 3.5-4 mm.
Found in warehouses, silos, mills, and food processing plants; it infests grain and grain products. In granaries, it is usually found as a secondary pest together with other grain pests but is occasionally found alone as the primary pest.
Mealworms are among some of the largest insect pests of stored products. Their common names are derived from the color of the wireworm-like larvae. Both yellow and dark mealworms are in the genus Tenebrio, meaning “darkness,” owing to the nocturnal habits of the larvae. Believed to be of European descent, both insects are cosmopolitan, with the yellow mealworm more prevalent in the cooler northern states.
A slim, flat, 6-11 mm-long beetle, dark brown to black; ventral side, antennae and legs are red-brown. A particular feature is the waisting between wing covers and neck shield, whose outer front corners extend toward the head.
A serious pest in the tropics, found in mills, silos, and warehouses, on grain, mill products, and feeds. Irregular borings are found in kernels; germs are preferred.
The dirty-white larva, has a black head, behind this a black shield, two black hooks at the end of the body and long body hairs.
Besides grain and grain products it infests foodstuffs and animal feeds of all kinds; also spices and drugs. Badly infested flour has a sharp odor and turns brown; its baking properties are damaged.
An oval beetle 2-3 mm long, dark brown with smudgy yellowish-brown and reddish-brown transverse strips on the wing covers and covered with fine hairs.
The yellowish-brown, spindle-shaped larvae grow to a length of up to 5 mm. They have thick, reddish-brown hairs, with characteristic bunches of tail hairs growing out of the rear end. They have barbed arrow-hairs with which they adhere easily to sacks and transport containers and are thus widely disseminated. They can exist without feeding for up to 3 years.
The larvae is a very serious stored product pest but the beetle itself does no damage. It is found in warehouses, silos, mills, breweries, and malt plants. It attacks all types of grain, malt, cereal products, and pulses. Grain kernels are often hollowed out until only the husk remains.
A small flattened, oblong, reddish-brown beetle of 2 mm length, with elongate antennae about two-thirds as long as the body.
Prefers grain and grain products but damages also many foodstuffs and animal feeds.
This insect is not a primary pest of stored grain, and the adult is unable to survive in sound uninjured grain. It follows up the attack of more vigorous grain pests and infests grain and meal that are in poor condition.