Month: January 2022

Barking up the right tree for the eyed elater, Alaus oculatus

 

Guess which one is a maniacal predator ravaging prey in the stygian world beneath the bark of fallen trees.

 

As we settle into the coldest weeks of the winter, the search for insects outdoors becomes a little trickier than in summertime. Many insects here in the DMV have migrated to warmer lands or hunkered down in hibernal refuges to survive winter’s chill. One reliable place to find fascinating insects any season of the year is beneath the bark of fallen trees. So, on a 24-degree morning last week I combed the banks of the Patuxent River in search of recently downed oak trees, those in an early stage of decomposition with bark still clinging to underlying wood. Beneath the bark, nutrient rich tissues are home to myriad wood decaying fungi and scores of insects that consume not only decomposing wood but luxuriant fungal hyphae and fruiting bodies. In this realm of decomposers, voracious predators prowl in search of the tender flesh of other insects.

A mating pair of eyed elaters greet a predator or camera with four spooky eyes.

The first two oaks I encountered yielded a few tiny fly larvae but nothing more. Under the bark of a third fallen oak, an almost fully-grown larva of the eyed elater rested in a state of winter torpor. These fierce predators hunt other insects such as the larvae of flies, caterpillars, and other beetles living in the dark voids beneath bark. Powerful jaws of the eyed elater larva capture and dismember prey. After consuming a full complement of victims and completing its juvenile development, the larva transforms into the magnificent eyed elater, also known as the eyed click beetle.  One look at this big beauty (up to 1 ½ inches long) provides instant understanding of how “eyed” became part of its name. As you stare at the beetle, two large and impressive eyes stare back at you. But these are not true eyes. The real compound eyes are rather small and located on the head of the click beetle near the base of the antennae. The markings on the back of the beetle are false eyespots like those we have seen on other guests of Bug of the Week, like the Polyphemus moth, swallowtail butterfly larva, and owl butterfly. The beetle’s strange and ghostly eyespots are thought to startle or confuse predators such as birds or other reptiles that might want to make a meal of a large, tasty beetle.

Beneath the bark of recently fallen trees thrives a rich ecosystem of fungi, insects, and microbial decomposers of wood. Larvae of the eyed elater are ferocious invertebrate predators high in the food web of these hidden realms. Bringing a chilly eyed elater larva indoors for a brief warm-up allows one to see the powerful jaws of this awesome predator.

The peg on the underside of the click beetle is part of the remarkable system which propels the beetle into the air with an audible click.

That explains the business about the “eyed”, but what about the “click”? To understand the click, you must be lucky enough to find and capture a click beetle. When grasped by a geeky entomologist, the eyed click beetle produces an unnerving snap of its body. When placed on its back on the ground, this snap propels the beetle into the air. The acceleration of this flip can exceed 2,000 meters per second squared and shoot the beetle several inches into the air. How do they do this? Click beetles have a remarkable peg latch on the under-surface of their body between the front and middle legs. The beetle flexes its body creating tension that, when released, causes the front end of the beetle to snap backward, propelling the insect into the air with an audible click. The beetle often lands right side up, but if it doesn’t, the click-and-flip process may be repeated until the beetle finally rights itself. Although the full reason for the beetle flipping-out is not fully known, we can speculate that this forceful snapping and flipping might help the beetle escape the grasp of a tormenting predator or nosy entomologist.

Listen for the audible ‘click’ as the eyed elater flexes up and down. With a powerful snap of its body, the eyed elater jumps several inches, often righting itself. An unsuspecting vertebrate predator or bug geek might have an unnerving surprise when encountering this lively insect.

One last etymological note regarding this interesting beetle has to do with the name “elater”, coined from the ancient Greek word for “that which drives away”, a fitting name for this clever beetle. Smaller, less dramatic click beetles are frequent visitors to our porch lamps in spring and summer. Click beetles are great fun to capture and most entertaining, but please put them back unharmed where you found them when you are done.

Acknowledgements

This remarkable video by Dr. Adrian Smith of the North Carolina State University provided great insight into the mechanics of propulsion used by click beetles. Watch his amazing video at this link: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+does+the+click+beetle+flip+up&oq=&aqs=chrome.2.69i59i450l8.697805522j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_HdLxYYrqCYCqptQP7OaeiAg15  

The bible for identifying insect larvae and nymphs, “Immature Insects” by Frederick W. Stehr, was used to identify the larva of the eyed elater.

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From the Bug of the Week Mailbag: Non-native mantids, the European mantis, Mantis religiosa, and Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis, enjoying North American cuisine

 

A small black spot often with a white center, on the inside of each front leg, provides a quick clue used to separate the European mantis from other species found in our region. Image credit: Bjorn Larson

 

While digging through the Bug of the Week mailbag last week, I ran across an interesting photograph sent from Portland, Oregon a few weeks before Christmas. The critter in question was clearly a praying mantis taking a stroll across a driveway. The question, of course, dealt with the identity of this handsome rascal. Fortunately, the image revealed the mantis in full stride with forelegs extended, thereby revealing the characteristic black and white bullseye on the inside of the foreleg near the joint of leg and body. This marking is diagnostic for the imported European praying mantis, Mantis religiosa.

European mantises vary in color with shades of green, brown, and sometimes bluish-green like this very pregnant beauty collected in Massachusetts.

First discovered in the US in 1899 in New York State, Mantis religiosa may have arrived as a stowaway on a shipment of nursery stock from Europe. In addition to its invaded range in North America, Mantis religiosa resides in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. On the east coast, some hoped that this remarkable predator might take a toll on dastardly gypsy moths which arrived in New England in the 1860’s. Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case as large hairy gypsy moth caterpillars were not on the menu for this European gourmand. However, hundreds of European mantises were imported and released in British Columbia during 1937 and 1938 to help curb grasshoppers that regularly decimated agricultural crops. In addition to expanding its range in the eastern US and parts of British Columbia, it can be found in Washington, Oregon, and California.  

Mantis religiosa is not the only non-native mantis to join a cadre of more than a dozen members of the mantis family in North America. Perhaps the most well-known non-native mantis here in the US is the Chinese praying mantis, Tenodera sinensis. To learn more about this one, we travel back in time more than a century to October 16, 1897 when Mr. Joseph Hindermyer discovered a large insect “resting on the upper part of his tomato vines” in Mt. Airy, a suburb of Philadelphia. Fortunately, Hindermyer’s neighbor, Philip Laurent, was a member of The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and Philip recognized this extraordinary mantis to be different from others found in the area. He later discovered it was an exotic species known from China and Japan. How it arrived in Mt. Airy remains forever shrouded in mystery, but Laurent noted that a large nursery, Meehan and Sons, in nearby Germantown had procured many plants from China and Japan. Could it be that this marvelous predator arrived as a stowaway, perhaps as an embryo in an egg case on a Japanese maple?

This brown egg case, or ootheca, deposited by the lovely blue-green European mantis featured above contains scores of eggs that will survive the winter and hatch next spring.

 Fast forward a century to the mid-1990’s. The brown marmorated stink bug arrives in the US less than 60 miles from Mt. Airy in Allentown, PA. In the mid-Atlantic, we all remember what home invasions by stink bugs were like in the decade that followed. The dramatic decline of stink bugs in many eastern states over the last several years is in part related to the fact that several of our indigenous predators, parasitoids, and pathogens are now using brown marmorated stink bugs as a source of food. Prompted by this notion, I decided that it was time to have a reunion between these two historical acquaintances from the east – the Chinese praying mantis and the Asian brown marmorated stink bug. Like many reunions, meeting old acquaintances can be fraught with joy and despair. In the case of the Chinese mantis, the reunion with the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was gastronomic joy. She consumed a dozen stink bugs in quick succession before nibbling only half of unlucky stink bug number thirteen. As for the stink bugs, well, let’s just say their reunion was filled with short-lived despair. You see, the hungry Chinese mantis mercifully devoured the stink bug’s head first. The reunion between the Chinese mantis and the Asian stink bug evoke Hannibal Lecter’s famous quote, “I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner.” 

The reunion between two old acquaintances from Asia, the Chinese mantis and the brown marmorated stink bug, was a happy one for the mantis but not so much for the stink bug. My favorite part of this video appears at the end as the fastidious mantis tidies up after her meal. And yes, this is several times life speed.

Stink bugs are not the only Asian delicacy on the menu for our non-native mantises. A recent report from Penn State revealed praying mantises to be among the top predators of the newest landscape invader, the nefarious Spotted lanternfly. In light of the unending influx of invasive pests to the US, we are fortunate that some of our exotic predators will welcome the arrival of their historical dinner guests.  

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks Bjorn Larson for spotting the European mantis and providing the inspiration for this episode. The fascinating articles “Recent range expansion of the Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa Linnaeus (Mantodea: Mantidae), in British Columbia” by Robert Cannings, and “Chickens, praying mantises appear to be top predators on spotted lanternfly, study says” by Marcus Schneck provided keen insights for this story.

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From the Bug of the Week Mailbag: Daddy-longlegs, the most venomous of all spiders? Opilionids and Pholcid spiders

 

One look at this arthropod and it’s easy to see why they are called daddy-longlegs.

 

A recent message to Bug of the Week described a pleasant adventure of nature enthusiasts with spider-like creatures known as daddy-longlegs. These interesting arthropods are at the heart of the urban legend proclaiming daddy-long legs as the most venomous of all spiders. A corollary of the legend is that although daddy-longlegs are venomous, their fangs are too tiny to pierce human skin. Like many urban legends this one persists, but fortunately it is baseless. Here’s why.

Pholcid spiders, like this cellar spider, are also known as daddy-longlegs.

With remarkably long legs, some crane flies are also called daddy-longlegs.

Let’s start with nomenclature. First of all, daddy-longlegs is a moniker applied to at least three different kinds of arthropods. According to spider expert Dr. Rick Vetter, daddy-longlegs refers to long-legged spiders in the family Pholcidae, an entirely different arachnid called an opilionid (a.k.a. harvestmen), and a primitive fly called a crane fly. We met pholicids rocking out in corners of a room in a previous episode. Crane flies are sometimes misidentified as giant mosquitoes and have appeared in Bug of the Week as well. But let’s talk about harvestmen, opilionids. The business of harvestmen being dangerously venomous is incorrect on two accounts. First and foremost is the fact that they lack venom glands. No venom glands, no venom. Their arachnid relatives, spiders, including pholcid spiders, subdue prey with potent venom delivered via fangs. Harvestmen lack fangs so the business of tiny fangs is also out the window. Harvestmen feed primarily on decaying vegetation or animals, but they may also be opportunistic predators. I have seen them snacking on hapless cicadas that failed to successfully shed their nymphal skin. Harvestmen are often seen in moist woodlands on vegetation, stumps, or leaf-litter where they search for food and mates. Harvestmen are easily distinguished from their spider relatives. Instead of the two easily seen body regions (cephalothorax and abdomen) characteristic of spiders, the distinction between body segments is indistinct and harvestmen appear to have a single pill-shaped body. If you want to get close enough to look them in the eye, harvestmen have at most two eyes whereas spiders may have as many as eight.

Despite their lack of fangs and venom, opilionids possess clever tricks to help them avoid being eaten by ground dwelling predators. Specialized glands along the margin of the harvestmen release noxious quinones that are mixed with fluids regurgitated from the digestive tract on the harvestmen.  The harvestmen smear the stinky concoction along its margins, forming a chemically deterrent barrier around its perimeter. This chemical defense has been shown to deter ants, spiders, and frogs and to make nosy bug geeks wish they hadn’t messed around with an opilionid.      

Watch as an opilionid munches on what appears to be the carcass of a small fly or bee. A pair of appendages called pedipalps are used to manipulate its food. On the surface of a small rock near a riverbank a handsome opilionid dines on the shriveled body of a stonefly, aquatic insect jerky.

To learn more about daddy-long legs and the venom-myth please visit the following UC Riverside website: https://spiders.ucr.edu/daddy-long-legs

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks Larry and his son for sharing their interesting observations of harvestmen and providing the inspiration for this episode. “Chemical defense of an opilionid (Acanthopachylus aculeatus)” by Thomas Eisner, Carmen Rossini, Andrés González, and Maria Eisner, and “Chemical defense in harvestmen (arachnida, opiliones): do benzoquinone secretions deter invertebrate and vertebrate predators?” by Glauco Machado, Patricia C Carrera, Armando M Pomini, and Anita J Marsaioli were used as references for this episode.

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From the Bug of the Week Mailbag: Winter storm, limbs down, power out, blame the cicadas?

 

Can heavy snow and cicada damage from last summer bring down limbs and damage transmission lines?

 

The first week of January 2022, Mother Nature delivered a one-two punch to tens of millions of people in the eastern half of the US as bone-chilling temperatures and heavy snow blanketed the region. Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were left powerless, sometimes for days, when trees toppled and branches broke, obliterating power lines and transmission cables below. During the aftermath of the storm, an interesting query cropped up in the media-sphere. Did rampant egg-laying by Brood X periodical cicadas last summer weaken tree branches that resulted in widespread power losses as limbs broke and tumbled onto power lines?

With abdomen pulsing, a female cicada inserts eggs into egg-nests sliced into twigs of a dogwood tree. If these small branches snap off in winter storms, are they heavy enough to bring down power lines? 

Small branches favored by cicadas for egg-laying are the ones that normally break-off and litter the ground beneath trees.

Well, a cabal of cicada experts met last week to review the science behind the situation. In the first comprehensive review of periodical cicada biology, published in 1907, cicada expert C. L. Marlatt noted that “The part of the plant selected for a receptacle for the eggs is almost invariably the twigs of the previous year’s growth.”  A later study by entomologists Fred Miller and Webster Crowley on more than 100 common shade trees reveled that periodical cicadas laid eggs in twigs ranging in size from ~4 mm to 11 mm (~ ⅛ to ½ inch) in diameter. Have a look at some of the images that accompany this narrative and you will see that the branches which turned brown or snapped and fell beneath trees as a result of cicada egg-laying, are small diameter twigs at most a few feet long. Even with a load of heavy snow it is highly unlikely that these small twigs would be heavy enough to break a transmission line.

Did periodical cicadas cause some injury to unprotected trees growing in orchards, shade tree nurseries, and landscapes? Surely cicadas cause some damage, but are they responsible for the widespread power outages associated with last week’s storms? Nah, this one belongs to Mother Nature having a bit of fun with our urban infrastructure.    

These flagging branches on a sweet gum tree are the ones that eventually fell from trees as a result of cicada damage last summer.

 

This branch with cicada damage survived the snowstorm unscathed. Had it broken where the cicada damage was nearest to the trunk, the broken branch would have been about two feet long.

Acknowledgements

Bug of the Week thanks utility companies in the DMV for providing the inspiration for this episode. We also thank Dan, Chris, and Paula for weighing in on the potential of cicada damage to down large limbs during snow storms. Two great references, “The Periodical Cicada” by C. L. Marlatt and “Effects of periodical cicada injury on woody plants” by Fredric Miller and Webster Crowley, were used to prepare this episode.

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From the Bug of the Week mailbag, termites or ants? Eastern subterranean termites, Reticulitermes flavipes, or Citronella ants, Lasius sp.

 

Ant or termite? Here’s how to tell. Elbowed antennae, a narrow waist, and forewings and hind wings that differ in size with a few strong veins are the hallmarks of ants, like these citronella ants that swarm each December at my home.

 

Let’s start the New Year with some unfinished business from the old. A few weeks ago, a short video appeared in the Bug of the Week email inbox from a concerned friend assailed by a horde of suspicious looking insects swarming near the front of his home. Dark amber in color, hyaline wings, vast numbers of insects scrambled near the house and took flight. Sights like this strike fear in the hearts of wooden-framed home owners across much of our country. Could this be an infestation of the “invisible destroyers”, eastern subterranean termites? In the natural world, eastern subterranean termites live in underground nests and arise from the earth to forage on fallen trees. Remarkable creatures are these, with the ability to perform a digestive magic trick unparalleled in the human world. They consume wood. To utilize nutrients tied up in a biopolymer hard enough to dull an axe blade, most termites rely on symbiotic bacteria in their gut to digest the rugged plant material called cellulose. Some primitive species of termites enlist unicellular organisms called protozoa to accomplish this feat. Termites have an unusual and rather crude way of passing these vital microbes from one termite to the next. They employ a process known as proctodeal trophallaxis. One termite excretes a droplet of microbe-packed fluid from its anus. This packet of goodies is consumed by another termite waiting at the rear end. Yum! In addition to the transfer of vital symbionts from one termite to the next, trophallaxis is also a way of disseminating chemical messages called pheromones that regulate the development and behavior of termites within the colony. With the advent of domestic structures, termites have discovered a bountiful source of food provided by humankind. Termites colonize and establish residence within a home if conditions of moisture and temperatures suffice. They reach the structural wood of buildings by constructing tunnels of soil, wood, saliva, and excrement from an outdoor colony, which are built up the side of foundation walls until they reach the wood of a sill plate or floor joist. Then they enter the home. The appearance of swarming winged termites near a home may be the harbinger of problems down the road and the presence of swarming termites inside your home is a sure-fire indication of an infestation. Eastern subterranean termites are estimated to cause several billion dollars of loss annually associated with repairs, treatments, and prevention of infestations. Little wonder my friend was concerned.

Whoa, is this holiday visit a swarm of termites? Nope, citronella ants like these make an annual appearance at my home during December here in the DMV. Watch winged adults with narrow waists, forewings and hindwings that differ in size and shape, and elbowed antennae mill around before taking flight. A few wingless orange workers also stroll by. Termites like these infesting steps in my backyard usually swarm in spring. With thorax and abdomen broadly joined, forewings and hindwings similar in size and shape, and antennae resembling a string of beads, they are easy to distinguish from ants.  

Ah, but the holiday season is not the usual time of year eastern subterranean termites swarm throughout most of our land. Here in the DMV my home-grown termites make their flighted appearance in spring, as we saw in a previous episode. But what to my wondering eyes did appear two days before Christmas in this very year? Swarms of citronella ants. The appearance of winged citronella ants emerging from beneath my front sidewalk was a welcome surprise in this somewhat dismal season for observing insects and their kin in the DMV.  Ants often emerge from the earth and swarm to mate and found new colonies in warmer months in temperate regions. However, ants in the genus Lasius have been observed emerging from the earth in Maryland in late autumn and, at my home, in early winter. Lasius ants go by many colorful names including citronella ant, yellow ant, and lemon ant. The lemony scent we know as citronella owes to a compound found in many plants, including lemon, lemon grass, and several species of eucalyptus. Special glands near the jaws of Lasius ants produce aromatic lemon-scented citronellal. When threatened by an intruder, citronella ants send out an alarm by releasing citronellal. This pheromone brings nest mates running to assist in the defense of the colony. In addition to the well-known insect repellency of citronella, citronella ants have one more chemical trick up their sleeve, or should we say, in their rear end. Glands near the tip of the abdomen produce irritating formic acid. Formic acid contacting the eyes or face of an attacking predator serves as a powerful deterrent. This type of chemical warfare is an important strategy used by many species of ants. Fortunately, Lasius ants are not wood destroyers like their cousins the carpenter ants. In addition to hunting soft-bodied prey, Lasius are herders. Yes, that’s right, they actually shepherd root-feeding aphids, moving them from the roots of one plant to another to optimize the production of nutrient rich honeydew excreted by the aphids, upon which the ants feed.

Antennae of termites lack an elbow and look like a string of beads. Their abdomen and thorax are broadly joined, and forewings and hindwings are similar in size and shape, with few veins.

Now returning to the plight of my insect-plagued friend, a quick look at his video soon gave me to know he had nothing to dread. Termites can be readily differentiated from ants by examining these features: shape of the antennae, width of the waist (in bug-speak, where the thorax joins the abdomen), and, for winged adults, the size and shape of the wings. Termites have simple antennae that look like a string of many beads. Ants have jointed antennae with a prominent elbow near the middle. Termites have a broad waist where thorax meets abdomen. Ants have a narrow, a.k.a. wasp-waist, where thorax meets abdomen. Termites have forewings and hindwings similar in size, shape, and texture with many fine small veins. Ants have large forewings, smaller hindwings, both with few prominent veins.

If you see swarms of insects emerging from the earth during this mild winter, fear not as these are likely citronella ants. Later in the year be on the lookout for termite swarms outside or inside the home. Using the information in this episode, we hope you will be able to tell these rascals from each other.

Acknowledgements

Inspiration for this episode came from my friend Mike who shared his video of citronella ants. We also mourn the passing of our friend and colleague E. O. Wilson, whose love of insects and the natural world inspired entomologists, biologists, conservationists, and naturalists around the world for more than six decades. As a youngster, Ed Wilson studied citronella ants in Rock Creek Park here in the DMV. The study of ants became his life-long passion and ants served as a model for our understanding of insect and human societies. We also thank my friend and colleague Dr. Barbara Thorne who studied termites under her life-long mentor and friend E. O. Wilson. Dr. Nancy Breisch, one of Dr. Thorne’s students, assisted in creating this episode.

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What Are These Small Flies in My Home?

Identify Tiny Flying Bugs That are Often Found in Homes

The humidity and rich soil of the Northeast United States is welcoming to a wide range of flora and fauna — or plants and animals — including insects.

Insects such as small flies can easily enter a house or building unnoticed. Once inside, these seemingly harmless bugs can quickly grow into a troublesome infestation if allowed to multiply.

And it’s not just one type of tiny fly that tends to infiltrate the inside of a residence. The household pests that are most commonly found in New England homes include:

  • Fungus Gnats: The tiny, mosquito-like flying bugs are attracted to moist soil. Buildings containing a lot of indoor plants may encounter swarms of fungus gnats.
  • Fruit Flies: As the name implies, fruit flies gravitate towards rotten fruits, food waste, and residues.
  • Drain Flies: Typically found breeding within a floor or sink drain, drain flies resemble miniature moths and thrive off of biosolids — the sludge that can build up on the sides of drain pipes.

While none of the small insects above are directly harmful to humans or animals, each one can transmit bacteria such as E. coli that can cause eye, skin, and diarrheal infections.

Having hordes of these tiny flying bugs swarming throughout a home or office can be a nightmare for any property owner. But as an indoor infestation of the disease-transmitting pests can occur at any time of year, vigilance is key.

For homeowners, learning how to identify the small flying bugs and understanding what attracts them to a house can be helpful in protecting a property from an infestation.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats tend to infest the damp soil of potted plants in order to feed on the underlying roots or fungal growths.

The tiny flying bugs can easily be identified by the vein patterns on the wings and long legs.

Oftentimes, fungus gnats are brought indoors by way of an infected houseplant.

tiny brown fungus gnats stuck to yellow flypaper attached to potted green houseplant

Identifying Fungus Gnats & Its Reproductive Cycle

closeup of a black fungus gnat with transparent wings and long, brown legs

The swarming bugs enjoy warm, moist climates. Spaces with indoor gardens or an abundance of houseplants and use heat lamps to stimulate growth can be paradises for fungus gnats to thrive.

A heat lamp can cause the area it illuminates to reach up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit while overwatered plants offer a bed of wet soil — both create perfect conditions for fungus gnats to repopulate.

Even more troublesome is how the insects congregate in large groups. Although swarming is a mating and survival strategy, it can also be an unsightly habit that makes fungus gnats easily visible.

The lifespan of a fungus gnat is only one month — just long enough to mate, reproduce, and in the case of female fungus gnats, lay eggs. A single female fungus gnat can lay up to 300 eggs in her lifetime.

These eggs are nestled on the surface of damp soil or can be found in the cracks of dry soil. The translucency and miniscule size of the ovular eggs make them difficult to spot until it’s too late.

In a mere three or four weeks, an indoor area can become infested with the tiny flying insects.

Upon reaching adulthood within 30 days, fungus gnats waste no time in forming sizeable swarms around light sources and windows.

Fruit Flies

Because of the farms and orchards scattered throughout the Northeastern region, fruit flies are a prevalent problem, particularly when the tiny flying bugs start invading the kitchen of a residential structure.

Attracted to rotting organic matter such as ripened fruits and fermenting vegetables, fruit fly populations can increase during the late summer and into early fall.

As an indoor household pest however, fruit flies are a year-round issue.

The tiny flies can typically be spotted near bowls of fruit, uncorked wine bottles, disposals, compost piles, and trash cans.

tiny brown fruit flies crawling over yellow banana peel and other food waste

Basically, anywhere there is decaying food or residue is an ideal breeding ground for fruit flies.

Identifying Fruit Flies & Its Breeding Habits

closeup of two, red-eyed fruit flies with brown bodies and black wings

Fruit flies essentially look similar to house flies, albeit much smaller in size. Coloring can range from black and brown to red.

Aside from decomposing organic materials, fruit flies can also survive in sludge-filled drain pipes and sewage lines. And even though fruit flies only live for a few weeks, the numbers of the pest remain high.

This is due to the fact that fruit flies can persist in variable conditions — from temperatures that are as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The average temperature for most homes is approximately between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit — a livable climate for fruit flies.

These insects are avid reproducers — one female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs during her lifespan. So, if homeowners start to see the tiny flies flitting about the home or office, they should be alarmed.

Drain Flies

Flies of any kind are unpleasant. But when the bugs come flying out of a drain, it makes the pests even eerier —a reality that those dealing with a drain fly infestation know all too well.

Also referred to as moth flies for their close resemblance, drain flies favor rooms with drains — kitchens, bathrooms, and basements being most popular.

But appliances that produce condensation such as air conditioners or objects containing stagnant water like pools or water bowls for pets are just as enticing.

Drain flies lay and store eggs in condensed, moist spaces where sludge or gelatinous slime forms. The bacteria, algae, and fungi that grow within these biosolids give drain flies nutrients.

white and gray fuzzy drain fly crawling over clear glass shower pane

Identifying Drain Fly Behavior & Mating Practices

overhead closeup of fuzzy, white and brown drain fly

Drain flies have a distinctive look — unlike fruit flies and gnats, the bugs possess thick, fuzzy bodies and antennae that set them apart from other kinds of flies that are commonly found in a home.

An adult drain fly only lives for an average of two weeks and makes the most of that time by reproducing at a break-neck pace. Full-grown female drain flies can lay anywhere between 30 to 100 eggs while alive.

Remove Household Pests with Catseye

Regardless of the type of household pest plaguing your indoor space, the seasoned professionals at Catseye Pest Control are prepared to design failsafe solutions and prevent reinfestation.

Through Catseye’s Fly Control and Removal program, household pests are targeted at every stage of development — eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult flies or gnats and all breeding sites are destroyed.

Because of the meticulous care put into every removal project, those who choose Catseye can take back control of their property with confidence.

To learn more about how the team at Catseye delivers foolproof pest management services to any property or to schedule a free inspection, contact us today.

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