We can all agree that bugs belong outsidebut they somehow always make their way into an indoor crack or crevice you werent expecting. And when they do, spotting one in your home is well, not fun, no matter how big or small the critter is. The good news is: Most common house bugs wont harm you. In fact, theyre likely more afraid of you than you are of them. Still, its nice to know what they are and what their intentions could be during their stay in your humble abode.
You may notice more insects lurking about during a major season change, after a heavy rain sets in, or if you have food lying aroundand even though most of bugs shouldnt concern you, you dont necessarily want to cuddle up with them at night. (Bed bugs, though? Those, you should definitely be concerned about.)
So, we turned to several entomologists and pest control experts to help us round up a list of creepy crawlers you can find living inor passing throughyour home. From invasive species like stink bugs to weird-looking wolf spiders to brightly-colored beetles, here are the most common house bugs to know, how to identify them, and whether or not you should worry if you spot one. Just remember that we share this Earth with all kinds of creatures, and they just happen to be the (mostly harmless) ones that give us the heebie jeebies. They cant help it!
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What it looks like: Youre probably very familiar with this one. Ladybugs are tiny, oval, winged beetles that are usually between 1 to 10 millimeters (mm) in length, depending on the species. They are typically bright red with black spots.
Where youll find it: You can find them in your home in autumn between September through November, when the temperatures drop and they seek a warm spot for winter. They like to gather together within crevices, like cracks around windows and door frames, soffits, attics, wall voids, and the area behind fascia boards and exterior siding.
Can it harm you? These beetles are believed to trigger allergies, ranging from eye irritation to asthma, potentially because they emit a stinky, yellow secretion when they feel theyre in danger. Lady bird beetles also can bite (it feels like a pinch), but they are not poisonous and are rarely harmful.
What it looks like: This invasive bug is large, as it can grow up to 2 centimeters long. When you look at its abdomen from the top, just around where its wings are, youll see a marbled pattern on its back, which is shield-shaped, says Michael J. Raupp, Ph.D., professor of entomology at The University of Maryland and creator of Bug of the Week. A brown marmorated stink bug also has distinct white bands on its antennae and legs, which distinguishes it from other native species that are also brown in color.
Where youll find it: Youll spot these in your home from September through October to find a protective spot as its gets colder. Theyll enter homes via windows, door cracks, vents, siding, shutters, loose sidingyou name it. Unfortunately, they congregate in masses, so getting rid of stink bugs can be annoying.
Can it harm you? Besides the pungent odor they give off, stink bugs do not bite humans or pets, but they can do a number on your garden.
What it looks like: Wolf spiders are hunting spidersand can be pretty big, up to an inch and a half long, Marc Potzler, a board-certified entomologist and technical services manager with Ehrlich Pest Control recently told Prevention.com. They are usually black, gray, or brown, and have a hairy appearance.
Where youll find them: After mating in the fall, female wolf spiders look for protected areas to produce their egg cocoons. Youll find them under and between boards, stones, firewood, and siding, most commonly in basements, sheds, or garages where other insects are, says Potzler.
Can it harm you? Wolf spiders can bite, but only if they feel threatened. They would prefer to hide than bite, according to Howard Russell, M.S., an entomologist at Michigan State University.
What it looks like: These are spindly spiders with long thin legs. The body of the cellar spider is usually 1/4- 5/16-inch-long, with legs extending another 2 inches.
Where youll find it: Youll always find them in a corner with a cobweb, says Raupp. Their namesake matches their stomping grounds, including basements, attics, or other protected places. Cellar spiders are known for their webbing, continuously adding to them.
Can it harm you? Cellar spiders are not venomous and not known to bite.
What it looks like: These crickets are light brown, tan, and dark brown with a humped back. They have very long antennae, and their bodies grow between 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long.
Where youll find it: Youll find them in the basement or dark mancave, says Raupp, as they prefer dark, moist places.
Can it harm you? No. Camel crickets do not bite and are not known to be harmful to humans and pets.
What it looks like: When you think of a stereotypical cricket, these are the ones. Adult field crickets are black and brown in color and are between 1/2 to 1 inch long. They have six legs, long antennae, and antennae-like appendages at the end of their abdomens called cerci. They also have hind wings.
Where youll find it: They enter buildings through open doors and windows and through cracks in foundations. Youll likely be able to locate them through their signature chirping.
Can it harm you? No. Field crickets do not bite or carry diseases. However, once indoors, crickets may damage clothing, drapes, or wall coveringsthanks to stains from feces or by their feeding.
What they look like: These black ants are tiny. They grow between 1/16 to 1/8 inch long. When theyre crushed, they release a bad (somewhat sweet) odor, often described as rotten coconut or banana.
Where youll find them: Odorous house ants feed on pretty much anything, but are drawn to sweet things. So, youll often find them near water and food sources, like garbage cans and kitchen sinks or counters. They also nest indoors near sources of warmth, commonly in wall voids near pipes or heaters.
Can they harm you? Nope, just keep an eye on your groceries.
What it looks like: Carpenter ants are one of the largest ant species in North America. Wingless types grow between to inch, while those with wings can grow up to 1 inch. They are shiny, usually black or dark brown, and known for their narrow waists. They also have mandibles (jaw-like appendages) used for chomping.
Where youll find it: They often damage homes and other wooden structures, so they can be found in moist or decayed wood caused by exposure to water leaks, condensation, or poor air circulation.
Can it harm you? Unfortunately, yes. Carpenter ants can bite, and theyve been known to break skin when they do, which can be painful. While they dont use venom, they do inject an irritant called formic acid into the area, which may cause an allergic reaction. The bites usually dont require medical attention but should be cleaned well to avoid any issues.
What it looks like: These bugs are shaped a bit like a stink bug and grow up to 3/4 inch long. They are a reddish-brown color, and usually have a bright yellow or orange underside with black patches.
Where youll find it: Western conifer seed bugs tend to congregate in the fall as they seek shelter for the winter. They can be found around baseboards, window and door moldings, openings for electrical outlets and fixtures, openings for heating or cooling vents, and other similar pathways.
Can it harm you? They do not bite or sting, but can gather in annoyingly large numbers within the home.
What it looks like: While they look similar to your standard house fly, cluster flies are often larger, about inch long. They are dull-gray and black and have golden-yellow hairs on their bodies, which give them a golden sheen and bristly texture.
Where youll find it: Cluster flies head indoors to outlast the winter. Youll likely find them in attics, under siding, and around windows and crevices on the outside of buildings. They also congregate between walls and work their way out through openings in window frames and electrical fixtures.
Can it harm you? Cluster flies arent venomous and do not bite, dont lay eggs in food like house flies, and arent associated with transmitting diseases.
What it looks like: This creepy crawler get its name from its silvery scales and three, tail-like appendages that protrude from its abdomen. Its antennae is as long as its body and can grow up to 12 mm in length.
Where youll find it: Silverfish are known to feed on foods high in starches and destroy books, papers, wallpaper, and more. They are found in high-humidity environments, but are able to survive a wide range of temperatures. They usually hang out indoors in concealed, temperature-controlled areas such as bathrooms, attics, and basements.
Can it harm you? Silverfish do not bite, do not have venom, and are not poisonous if ingested. They are gross, though.
What they look like: An adult bed bug can be anywhere from - -inch in size. They are often compared to the size of an apple seed, says Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., a board-certified entomologist with Western Exterminator. Bed bugs can range in color from a mahogany-red to light brown, depending on when they last fed, Troyano says.
Where youll find them: In general, youll find them around people. Blood is their only food source, says Glen Ramsey, a board-certified entomologist and senior technical services manager at Orkin. Bed bugs are normally nocturnal, and theyll come out of hiding from places like a mattress to feed on sleeping or quietly resting people. They can travel from place to place with ease, including items such as luggage, purses, and other personal belongings, Ramsey says.
Can they harm you? Yes. While bed bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases to humans, their bites may cause symptoms such as itching, red welts, or swelling the day after being bitten, Ramsey says. However, many bites can leave no mark and go completely unnoticed.
What it looks like: There are different types of cockroaches, but the most common are the American, German, oriental, and brown-banded cockroaches, Ramsey says. Cockroaches can measure over two inches length, with tropical species tending to be larger than those found in other climates, Ramsey says. They have six legs, two antennae, and some even have wings. However, most winged cockroaches are not particularly adept at flying, Ramsey says.
Where youll find it: You can find cockroaches in a lot of places in your home, Troyano says. They could pop up in the bathroomthey love to snack on soap residuedark places in your kitchen like cupboards and cabinets, laundry rooms, basements, and drains, she says.
Can it harm you? Unless you have a serious infestation, cockroaches wont bite you. While cockroaches dont give people diseases through bites, they can transmit foodborne illnesses from one place to another. They can also trigger asthma because of a protein in their saliva, droppings, and on their body, Troyano says.
What they look like: Fruit flies look like light brown flies, says Russell. Theyre usually very smallabout 1/8 of an inch. There are two main types of fruit flies: the common red-eyed fruit fly and the dark-eyed fruit fly, Ramsey says.
Where youll find them: Fruit flies like to hang out around fruit and produce, especially when its ripe, rotting, or decayed, and theyre also attracted to fermented items like beer, liquor, and wine, Ramsey says. Fruit flies also may breed and develop in drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, and mop buckets, he adds.
Can they harm you? In general, Russell says that fruit flies are just a nuisance. But they have the potential to contaminate your food with bacteria and other pathogens, Ramsey says, which is why its so important to store produce in air-tight containers or refrigerators and inspect any fruits or vegetables brought into your home. Also, establish a schedule to regularly clean drain lines, garbage disposals, and any location where food waste accumulates, he says.
What it looks like: Centipedes have long, segmented, generally flattened bodies with one pair of legs per body segment, Russell says. They also have a pair of venomous fangs they use to take out their prey. Centipedes range from 4 to 152 millimeters in size and usually are brown or a reddish orange color.
Where youll find it: House centipedes live in damp, undisturbed places, such as cellars, closets, bathrooms, and attics, Troyano says.
Can it harm you? Some types of centipedes will bite but do not pose a serious threat, Troyano says. Still, a bite can still lead to some swelling and a little pain in the area.
Additional reporting by Korin Miller
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15 Common House Bugs to Know - What Insects Live in Houses? - Prevention