Common Pests found in Sydney

Have you seen these nasties in or around your home?

White Footed Black Ant – (Technomyrmex difficilis)

White-footed ants infest both urban and suburban habitats, spreading to other areas through the transportation of infested landscaping materials and plants.

White-footed ants are moderately small, measuring 2.7 mm in length. They are black or brown in color with pale, yellowish feet and one-segmented waists. They have 12-segmented antennae with no club.

White-footed ants do not sting or bite, nor have they been reported to cause structural damage. However, because each colony of white-footed ants contains between 8,000 and 3 million individuals, they can become a nuisance. They can infest indoor areas in search of food and are found in bathrooms, kitchens and along the exteriors of homes. White-footed ants often invade food containers to feed their colonies. Additionally, they feed on plant secretions and honeydew produced by aphids, scales and mealybugs; white-footed ants protect these species.

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Coastal Brown Ant – (Pheidole megacephala)

The Coastal Brown Ant is an introduced species that is common in coastal urban areas. It usually nests in the ground with nest entrances in the open or under rocks and logs or between pavers. Piles of loose soil are thrown up around nest entrances. It can also nest indoors, in crevices in brickwork, wall cavities, behind skirtings and architraves.

Cat Flea – (Ctenocephalides felis)

Fleas are the insects forming the order Siphonaptera. They are wingless, with mouth parts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood. Fleas are external parasites, living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals and birds.

Once the flea reaches adulthood, its primary goal is to find blood and then to reproduce. Adult fleas only have about a week to find food once they emerge, but after that they can survive two years to three years between meals. Flea populations are evenly distributed, with about 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults. Their total life span can be as short as one year, but may be several years in ideal conditions. Female fleas can lay 5000 or more eggs over their life, allowing for phenomenal growth rates.

When doing flea treatments it is very important to coincide treatment of pets and property at the same time.


 Bed Bugs – (Cimex lectularius)

Adult bed bugs are light brown to reddish-brown, flattened, oval-shaped and have no hind wings. Most species feed on humans only when other prey are unavailable. A bed bug pierces the skin of its host with what is called a stylet fascicle. Fertilized females with enough food will lay three to four eggs each day continually until the end of their life spans (about nine months under warm conditions), possibly generating as many as 500 eggs in this time.


German Cockroach - (Blattella germanica)

A small species of cockroach, measuring about 1.3 cm to 1.6 cm long; however, they are known to get bigger. It can be tan through brown to almost black, and has two dark parallel streaks running from the head to the base of the wings. Although it has wings, it is unable to sustain flight. The German cockroach is the number 1 roach in the World, and can be found throughout many human settlements. These insects are particularly associated with restaurants, food processing facilities, hotels, and nursing homes.

The German cockroach is omnivorous and a scavenger. They particularly like starch, sugary foods, grease and meats. In certain situations where there is a shortage of foodstuffs, they may eat household items such as soap, glue and toothpaste or they may even turn cannibalistic, often chewing on the wings and legs of each other.


Redback Spider - (Latrodectus hasselti)

The female is easily recognisable by her black body with a prominent red stripe on the upper side (i.e. the back) of her abdomen. Females have a body length of about a centimetre while the male is smaller, being only 3 to 4 millimetres long.

Redbacks are considered one of the most dangerous spiders in Australia. The Redback spider has a neurotoxic venom which is toxic to humans with bites causing severe pain. There is an antivenom for Redback bites which is commercially available.


American Cockroach – (Periplaneta americana)

The largest species of common cockroach, American cockroach adults grow to an average length of around 4 centimetres and about 7 millimetres tall.They are reddish brown and have a yellowish margin on the body region behind the head. Immature cockroaches resemble adults except that they are wingless. The insect can travel quickly, often darting out of sight when someone enters a room, and can fit into small cracks and under doors despite its fairly large size. It is considered one of the fastest running insects.

Females produce an egg case called an ootheca which protrudes from the tip of the abdomen. Egg cases are about 0.9 centimetres long, brown, and purse shaped. Immature cockroaches emerge from egg cases in 6 to 8 weeks and require 6 to 12 months to mature. Adult cockroaches can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.


Termites – (Coptotermes acinaciformis)

Termites are a group of eusocial insects that, until recently, were classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera (see taxonomy), but are now accepted as the epifamily Termitoidae, of the cockroach order Blattodea. While termites are commonly known, especially in Australia, as “white ants,” they are only distantly related to the ants.

10 percent of the estimated 4,000 species (about 2,600 taxonomically known) are economically significant as pests that can cause serious structural damage to buildings, crops or plantation forests.


Brown Rat (Norway Rat, Common Rat)

The brown rat, also known as the Norway Rat or Common Rat, is found world wide. The rat is brown to grey in colour and can grow up to 25cm in length.
The brown rat can breed throughout the year if conditions are suitable, with a female producing up to five litters a year.

Brown rats are most commonly found in roof voids, wall cavities and sub floors, most commonly found in houses from late April through the winter seeking warmth.


Paper Wasps

Paper wasps are 0.7 to 1.0 inch (1.8 to 2.5 cm) long wasps that gather fibers from dead wood and plant stems, which they mix with saliva, and use to construct water-resistant nests made of gray or brown papery material.

In Sydney the queen’s start the nest in October and by late summer the colony is at maximum population. Their nests are most often found on the Northern sunny side of properties, usually under eaves or guttering.

Paper wasps can be very aggressive when people get too close to their nests and can give you a painful sting.


Sydney Funnel-web Spider - (Atrax robustus)

The Sydney funnel-web spider is an Australian funnel-web spider usually found within a 100 km (62 mi) radius of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Sydney funnel-webs are medium to large in size, with body length ranging from 1 to 5 cm. They are glossy and darkly coloured, ranging from blue-black, to black, to brown or dark-plum coloured. The carapace covering the cephalothorax is almost hairless and appears smooth and glossy. Another characteristic are finger-like spinnerets at the end of their abdomen. The shorter-lived males are smaller than females but longer legged. Funnel-web spider venom contains a compound known as atracotoxin, an ion channel inhibitor which makes their venom highly toxic for humans.


Silverfish - (Lepisma saccharina)

A small, wingless insect in the order Thysanura. It’s common name derives from the animal’s silvery light grey and blue colour, combined with the fish-like appearance of its movements. In urban areas, they can be found in basements, bathrooms, garages, closets, and attics.

Silverfish consume matter that contains polysaccharides, such as starches and dextrin in adhesives. These include glue, book bindings, plaster, some paints, paper, photos, sugar, coffee, hair, carpet, clothing and dandruff. Silverfish can also cause damage to tapestries. Other substances that may be eaten include cotton, linen, silk, synthetic fibres and dead insects or even its own exuvia (moulted exoskeleton). During famine, a silverfish may even attack leatherware and synthetic fabrics. Silverfish can live for a year or more without eating.


Common Clothes Moth - (Tineola bisselliella)

The caterpillars of this moth are considered a serious pest, as they can derive nourishment from clothing – in particular wool, but many other natural fibers – and also, like most related species, from stored produce. This moth prefers moist conditions, although low humidity will merely slow development. Webbing Clothes Moths are small moths whose adults grow to between 1 and 2 cm in length.

Their eggs are tiny, most being under 1 mm long and barely visible. A female will lay several hundred during her lifetime; egg placement is carefully chosen in locations where they will have the best chance for survival.

The range of recorded foodstuffs includes cotton, linen, silk and wool fabrics as well as furs; furthermore they have been found on shed feathers and hair, bran, semolina and flour (possibly preferring wheat flour), biscuits, casein, and insect specimens in museums.


Sugar Ant - (Camponotus consobrinus)

Known as the banded sugar ant—is a relatively large ant, identifiable by their orange-brown bodies, black head and mandibles. The sugar ants’ name comes from their liking for sugar, but they are attracted to other savory food.

Sugar ants are one of the largest groups of ants in Australia and the US and species vary in shape, size and color. Worker ants vary from 5 to 15 millimetres, depending on location and species. Their bodies are of a brownish-orange color, and have relatively large black heads, with protruding mandibles. Depending on caste, Sugar ants vary in sizes. A soldier ant is easily noticed by its fairly large body and mandibles compared to workers.

White Tailed Spider - (Lampona cylindrata)

White-tailed spiders are medium-sized spiders native to southern and eastern Australia, and so named because of the whitish tips at the end of their abdomens. White-tailed spiders are vagrant hunters who seek out prey rather than spinning a web to capture it. Their preferred prey is other spiders and they are equipped with venom for hunting. They are known to bite humans and effects may include local pain, a red mark, local swelling and itchiness; rarely nausea, vomiting, malaise or headache may occur.

The two common species of white-tailed spiders are Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina. They are similar in appearance; L. cylindrata is slightly larger with females being up to 18 mm long while males are up to 12 mm in body length. The legs span approximately 28 mm in diameter. The two species are not easily distinguished from one another without microscopic examination. They are slender spiders having dark reddish to grey, cigar-shaped body and dark orange-brown banded legs. The grey abdomen has two pairs of faint white spots and a distinct white spot at the tip just above the spinnerets.


Indian Meal Moth - (Plodia interpunctella)

Adults are 8–10 mm in length with 16–20 mm wingspans. The outer half of their forewings are bronze, copper, or dark gray in color, while the upper half are yellowish-gray, with a dark band at the intersection between the two. The moth larvae are off-white with brown heads. When these larvae mature, they are usually about 12 mm long.

The entire life cycle of this species may take 30 to 300 days. Female moths lay between 60 and 400 eggs on a food surface, which are ordinarily smaller than 0.5 mm and not sticky. The eggs hatch in 2 to 14 days. The larval stage lasts from 2 to 41 weeks, depending on the temperature.

The Indianmeal Moth larvae can infest a wide range of dry foodstuffs of vegetable origin, such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice, spices or dried fruits and nuts. More unusual recorded foods include chocolate and cocoa beans, coffee substitute, cookies, flour, dried mangelwurzel, and even the toxic seeds of Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium). The food they infest will often seem to be webbed together.

After larvae or moths have been found, it is important to throw out all food sources that are not in very tightly sealed containers. The moths are able to get into surprisingly tight spots, including sealed bags and Tupperware containers. Last instar larvae are able to travel significant distances before they pupate. When seeking the source of an infestation, the search thus cannot be limited to the immediate area where pupae are discovered.

Tick -  (Ixodidae)

Both ixodid and argasid ticks undergo three primary stages of development: larval, nymphal, and adult. Ixodid ticks require three hosts, and their life cycle takes at least one year to complete. Up to 3,000 eggs are laid on the ground by an adult female tick. When larvae emerge, they feed primarily on small mammals and birds. After feeding, they detach from their host and molt to nymphs on the ground, which then feed on larger hosts and molt to adults. Female adults attach to larger hosts, feed, and lay eggs, while males feed very little and occupy larger hosts primarily for mating.

Ticks satisfy all of their nutritional requirements on a diet of blood, a practice known as hematophagy. They extract the blood by cutting a hole in the host’s epidermis, into which they insert their hypostome, likely keeping the blood from clotting by excreting an anticoagulant.