They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists. Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organized colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers,” “soldiers,” or other specialized groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens.”
Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking indigenous ants are Antarctica and a few remote or inhospitable islands. Ants thrive in most ecosystems and may form 15–25% of the terrestrial animal biomass. Their success in so many environments has been attributed to their social organization and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves.
The name “bed bug” derives from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially near or inside beds and bedding or other sleeping areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed.
A number of adverse health effects may result from bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. They are not known to transmit any pathogens as disease vectors. Certain signs and symptoms suggest the presence of bed bugs; finding the insects confirms the diagnosis.
Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. At a point in the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have increased in prevalence since 1995, likely due to pesticide resistance and governmental bans on effective pesticides.
The most common of all domestic flies, accounting for about 91% of all flies in human habitations, and indeed one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world.
Their thorax is gray or sometimes even black, with four longitudinal dark lines on the back. The whole body is covered with hair-like projections. The females are slightly larger than the males, and have a much larger space between their red compound eyes. The mass of pupae can range from about 8 to 20 mg under different conditions.
Like other Diptera (meaning “two-winged”), houseflies have only one pair of wings; the hind pair is reduced to small halteres that aid in flight stability.
Mice / rodents
A small rodent characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail and a high breeding rate. The American white-footed mouse, as well as other common species of mouse-like rodents around the world, also sometimes live in houses.
Mice can at times be vermin, damaging and eating crops, causing structural damage, and spreading diseases through their parasites and feces. In North America, breathing dust that has come in contact with mouse excrement has been linked to hantavirus, which may lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).
Primarily nocturnal animals, mice compensate for their poor eyesight with a keen sense of hearing, and rely especially on their sense of smell to locate food and avoid predators.
Wasps / flying stingers
A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. This means that wasps are paraphyletic with respect to bees and ants, and that all three groups are descended from a common ancestor.
The most commonly known wasps such as yellow jackets and hornets are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial, living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. Eusociality is favored by the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera, as it makes sisters exceptionally closely related to each other. However, the majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently. Many of the solitary wasps are parasitoidal, meaning that they raise their young by laying eggs on or in the larvae of other insects. The wasp larvae eat the host larvae, eventually killing them. Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control of species such as whitefly in tomatoes and other crops.
The American cockroach, also colloquially known as the waterbug, but not a true waterbug since it is not aquatic, or misidentified as the palmetto bug is the largest species of common cockroach, and often considered a pest.
American cockroach adults grow to an average length of around 4 cm (1.6 in) and about 7 mm (0.28 in) tall. They are reddish brown and have a yellowish margin on the body region behind the head. Immature cockroaches resemble adults except they are wingless.
The cockroach is divided in three sections; the body is flattened and broadly oval, with a shield-like pronotum covering its head. A pronotum is a plate-like structure that covers all or part of the dorsal surface of the thorax of certain insects. They also have chewing mouth parts, long, segmented antennae, and leathery fore wings with delicate hind wings. The third section of the cockroach is the abdomen.
There are roughly 39 different species of spiders that inhabit Missouri alone. Spiders are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other orders of organisms.
Anatomically, spiders differ from other arthropods in that the usual body segments are fused into two tagmata, the cephalothorax and abdomen, and joined by a small, cylindrical pedicel. Unlike insects, spiders do not have antennae. In all except the most primitive group, the Mesothelae, spiders have the most centralized nervous systems of all arthropods, as all their ganglia are fused into one mass in the cephalothorax. Unlike most arthropods, spiders have no extensor muscles in their limbs and instead extend them by hydraulic pressure.
Termites were once classified in a separate order from cockroaches, but recent phylogenetic studies indicate that they evolved from close ancestors of cockroaches during the Jurassic, or Triassic.
Like ants and some bees and wasps, which are in a separate order, Hymenoptera, termites divide labor among castes that consist of sterile male and female “workers” and “soldiers.” All termite colonies have fertile males called “kings” and one or more fertile females called “queens.” Termites mostly feed on dead plant material and cellulose, generally in the form of wood, leaf litter, soil, or animal dung.
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Parasitiformes. Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are vectors of a number of diseases that affect both humans and other animals.
Despite their poor reputation among human communities, ticks may play an ecological role by ailing infirm animals and preventing overgrazing of plant resources.
Ticks, like mites, have bodies which are divided into two primary sections: the anterior capitulum (or gnathosoma), which contains the head and mouthparts; and the posterior idiosoma which contains the legs, digestive tract, and reproductive organs.