Biting Insects Commonly Found in New Jersey
Biting insects can be a serious problem for New Jersey residents and business owners, especially bed bugs and spiders. Not only do some of these insects feed on human blood, but some carry disease and several can cause swollen bites that can be quite itchy. Our pest control services for biting insects are designed to rapidly get your pest problem under control and then to keep your home, business or environment pest-free for the long term.
We invite you to find out more about these common New Jersey biting and then encourage you to visit our Seasonal Home Protection Plan page to find out how your home, office and property can be biting insect-free year round.
Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius). Virtually annihilated in the U.S. in the 1950s, bed bugs have returned to America with a vengeance and are now common in all 50 states. These flat-bodied, reddish-brown, apple seed-sized insects hide in small cracks and crevices near beds, coming out at night to feed on the blood of their sleeping human victims. While considered a nuisance pest because they do not spread disease, bed bugs take a heavy emotional toll on their victims, and their intensely itchy bites can provoke allergic reactions.
People carry these adept hitchhikers into buildings in their luggage or on their clothing. Most prevalent in major urban areas, bed bugs are prolific breeders and infestations can spread rapidly through multi-unit buildings such as hotels, apartments, hospitals, college dormitories, office buildings, school classrooms, retail centers and nursing homes. Exposure and evolution have made modern bed bugs impervious to home and garden insecticides. Successful bed bug extermination can only be accomplished with a combination of professional pest control products and techniques. Please visit our bed bug information section for more detailed information on the growing New Jersey problem with bed bugs.
Flea (Siphonaptera). Adult fleas live on wildlife and house pets, feeding on their blood. Just 1/6 inch long, fleas are reddish-brown with a very flat profile that allows them to slip between dense animal hairs. Fleas are distinguished by their powerful trailing hind legs and unique jumping ability. These insects can jump 8 inches vertically and 16 inches horizontally. Fleas can lay 50 eggs a day, laying them loosely in the coats of their animal hosts. As the animal moves, eggs roll off onto pet bedding, carpeting and furniture, spreading infestations. Infested squirrels, raccoons, opossums, skunks and rodents frequently spread fleas to pets when eggs drop onto lawns during scavenging.
When eggs hatch, tiny, hairy, white worm-like larvae will be seen infesting pet bedding. In summer months when flea populations expand rapidly, fleas can progress from egg to adult in just two weeks. While fleas do not live on humans, they will bite people. Fleas found in New Jersey are not known to transmit deadly diseases, but flea bites can transmit bubonic plague, typhus and tapeworms and can trigger severe allergic reactions. If your pet spends time outdoors, you should consult your veterinarian about flea protection.
Mosquito (Culex sp.). Most active at dawn and dusk, mosquitoes are a perennial summer pest in northern New Jersey. From 1/4 to 1/2 inch long with a narrow, pale brown body, 3 pairs of long, thin legs and delicate oval wings, mosquitoes have piercing and sucking mouthparts used to feed on plant juices and the blood of mammals, including humans. While both males and females feed on plants, only the female mosquito feeds on blood which she requires for egg production.
Sheltering in overgrown vegetation or clutter, mosquitoes spend their entire life near their breeding site, although a female will travel more than a mile for a blood meal when she is ready to lay her eggs. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water found in ponds, birdbaths, drainage ditches, clogged gutters, storm drains, pet dishes, children's wading pools and rain barrels. Mosquitoes spend their larval and pupal stages in the water, emerging as adults. In favorable conditions, mosquitoes can progress from egg to adult in less than two weeks. Known vectors for dangerous viruses and parasites, mosquitoes spread West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and canine heartworm.
Spider (Araneae). While early arachnids appeared on the planet about 386 million years ago, the descendants of modern, 8-legged, silk-weaving spiders didn't develop until the Triassic period 200 million years ago. Most spider species common to northern New Jersey are harmless, beneficial predators that feed on insects and other spiders. We will typically treat for spiders by cleaning out the webs, using some pest control dusts, and liquid residuals.
The two most common New Jersey spiders are both benign: the small, brown or gray, web-spinning house spider and the large, dark brown, hairy wolf spider, an outdoor species that occasionally wanders into garages. The only dangerous spiders found in New Jersey are the venomous black widow and the non-native brown recluse spider. Caution should also be exercised in the presence of sac spiders, an outdoor species that frequently moves indoors and can inflict nasty bites.
Black Widow Spider (Lactrodectus mactan). This venomous spider has a glossy black, 3/8-inch diameter spherical body with a distinctive red hourglass-shaped design on its back. Black widow spiders have an extremely painful bite. Their potent venom contains a neurotoxin can be dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, including young children and the elderly. Black widow spiders hunt for insects in dark, secluded places, catching their prey in asymmetrical webs spun close to ground level. Black widows hide in protected places such as under eaves and inside storage boxes, electrical boxes, stacked firewood and dark corners in garages and storage sheds.
Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles recluse). While not native to New Jersey, the brown recluse spider is sometimes transported into the state. Extremely poisonous, the vicious, cytotoxic bite of this spider can cause open, necrotic wounds that fail to heal. The bite of a brown recluse spider requires prompt medical attention and can be deadly to children and older adults with weak immune systems. Identified by a distinctive fiddle-shaped mark on its back, the brown recluse spider is light to dark brown with a 5/8-inch long, oval body. A nocturnal hunter that feeds on insects; during the day the brown recluse spider rests in a silken nest constructed in dark, undisturbed places such as closets, storage boxes, behind furniture and outdoors in woodpiles. This spider will also crawl into shoes and hide on clothing, biting when disturbed.
Daddy-Long-Legs (Pholcus phalangioides). The common name for the Long-Bodied Cellar Spider, this harmless, insect-eater gets its name from its exceedingly long, thin legs. Often found in dark, damp basements, crawl spaces, garages and sheds, Daddy-Long-Legs are frequently observed resting on walls or hanging upside down from under their tangled, irregular webs.
Sac Spider (Clubionidae). An outdoor spider that frequently invades and takes up residence in New Jersey homes, particularly in the fall, sac spiders may be whitish or pale yellow, green or tan. Their bodies are about 1/4 inch long with two front legs that are noticeably longer than the other pairs. As they run, sac spiders wave their two front legs in front of them. Sac spiders are named for the papery-white, silk "sacs" they construct both as daytime resting places and to house their eggs. These tubular sacs are most often noticed at the junctions of walls and ceilings but may also be found behind pictures, along window moldings, between the slats of window blinds and in drapery folds.
Like other spiders, most sac spiders only bite when provoked or trapped. However, people are more likely to inadvertently run afoul of these nocturnal hunters as they turn over in their sleep or walk across a dark room. The bites of most sac spiders are about as painful as a bee sting and raise an itchy, red welt. However, the yellow sac spider has a more venomous, cytotoxic bite that causes tissue at the bite site to die, forming an open necrotic wound that requires medical attention. An extremely aggressive spider, this pale yellow spider frequently attacks humans. Victims may experience fever, malaise, cramps and nausea for several days after being bitten.
Tick (Lxodoidea). Members of the arachnid family like spiders and mites, ticks are most active from June through early fall. Living in tall grasses or wooded areas, ticks attach to animals that walk through their habitat, humans being accidental hosts. Ticks are transported into homes on pets or clothing. About 1/8 inch long, dark red to light brown, oval-shaped and flat-bodied, these external parasites feed on the blood of mammals and birds. Female ticks require a blood meal to produce eggs. Burrowing their mouthparts into the skin of their victim, ticks can quadruple in size as they gorge on their victim's blood.
Known vectors for disease, ticks transmit dangerous bacterial infections including often-debilitating Lyme disease and potentially fatal Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Frequently misdiagnosed as flu, these infections can have lead to life-long disability and even death if not treated in their early stages. The most prevalent tick species in northern New Jersey are the black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick, the primary transmitter of Lyme disease; the American dog tick, a carrier of Rocky Mountain spotted fever; and the brown dog tick, a transplanted indoor-only species.