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Top 10 household pests in California

With California’s mild climate through much of the year, pests are a common problem for homeowners. From ants and cockroaches to termites and wasps, you’ve likely had an infestation at one point or another. The pest control experts at Western Exterminator are here to share all you need to know about bugs and insects in your California home.

Common California bugs


1. Ants

In California and all around the country, ants are considered to be one of the most common bugs found in homes by pest control companies. No matter whether you live in an apartment in the East Bay Area or own a home in the North Bay Area, you’ve likely dealt with an ant problem at some point.

How long can ants live?

Male ants usually live for only a few weeks and die soon after mating. Worker ants can live for several months, but the queens can live for decades under the right conditions.

How big can ants get?

0.75 to 52 millimeters

How much do ants weigh?

1 to 5 milligrams

How long have ants been on Earth?

92 million years

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill ants?

Common natural methods to get rid of ants include vinegar, citrus peel spray, baking soda with powdered sugar, and lemon juice.


2. Termites

Termites are one of the most destructive pests around. These pests are social insects living in cooperative groups dividing their work among specialized members. So, to the untrained eye, they can sometimes be hard to distinguish from ants. Many homeowners don’t even know they have a termite problem until damage has occurred.

How long can termites live?

Soldier termites can live up to 2 years, while queen termites can live for decades under ideal climate conditions.

How big can termites get?

Up to 1 inch long

How much do termites weigh?

1.5 to 2.5 milligrams

How long have termites been on Earth?

250 million years

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill termites?

Orange oil and diatomaceous earth are two common natural ways to deal with termites.


3. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are versatile little creatures. They can live a month without food, but only a week without water. Cockroaches thrive in all environments and live in the desert as well as the arctic. Unfortunately, roaches are one of the most common pest problems in California.

How long can cockroaches live?

1 year

How big can cockroaches gets?

50 centimeters

How much do cockroaches weigh?

30 grams

How long have cockroaches been on Earth?

300 million years

What natural ingredient can help prevent of kill cockroaches?

Baking soda and sugar, bay leaves, lemon peels, and lemon juice are common natural methods to get rid of roaches.


4. Rodents

Rodents are both highly beneficial mammals and significant pests. The Norway rat, roof rat, and house mouse are the most common household rodents in the Bay Area and nationwide. Not only are rodents a nuisance, but they can also be dangerous as well.

How long can rodents live?

2 years

How big can rodents get?

3 feet from nose to tail

How much do rodents weigh?

3 pounds

How long have rodents been on Earth?

160 million years

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill rodents?

Peppermint oil is a common natural way to repel rodents.


5. Earwigs

Despite the superstition, earwigs do not crawl into your ears at night. Earwigs are flat and brown-black in color, with pinchers, and prefer moist and cool hiding spots. As harmless as they may be, no homeowner likes to see these pests in their home.

How long can earwigs live?

1 year

How big can earwigs get?

16 millimeters

How much do earwigs weigh?

2 to 4 grams

How long have earwigs been on Earth?

208 million years


6. Millipedes

These brown nocturnal bugs live outdoors but make their way indoors whenever possible, keeping their ranking high as one of the most common bugs found in homes. Millipedes love to eat decaying wood. They do have a distinctive odor, so you may smell them before you can see them! And although the name implies they have 1,000 feet, they actually have closer to 100 feet.

How long can millipedes live?

1 to 10 years

How big can millipedes get?

1 to 2 inches

How much do millipedes weigh?

140 milligrams

How long have millipedes been on Earth?

24.6 million years


7. Silverfish

Silverfish live in warm, humid spaces and tend to stay put once they find a food source. They are commonly seen in bathtubs and other damp or moist areas in the home. Silverfish feed on starchy products like glue, cereal, and flour.

How long can silverfish live?

2 to 8 years

How big can silverfish get?

13 to 25 millimeters

How long have silverfish been on Earth?

Silverfish are one of the most ancient insects on earth, predating the dinosaurs by 100 million years. Meaning they’ve been crawling around for more than 400 million years.

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill silverfish?

Cedar shavings, citrus, and lavender are common natural ways to repel silverfish.


8. Paper wasps

There are approximately 15 species of paper wasps in the U.S. and Canada. They are referred to as paper wasps because they make their nests with paper-like materials. Their nests are found in and around homes’ eaves, behind shutters, inside outdoor lamps, and even in playground equipment. Stings from paper wasps are extremely painful and can cause allergic reactions.

How long can paper wasps live?

The life cycle of a wasp depends on the species, but generally, a paper wasp can live from 12 to 22 days, while a paper wasp queen can live up to a year.

How big can paper wasps get?

1.5 inches

How much do paper wasps weigh?

90 milligrams

How long have paper wasps been on Earth?

Estimated 65 million years


9. Fleas

Did you know there are different types of fleas, including the dog flea, cat flea, squirrel flea, and human flea? Fleas can cause irritation due to their bites that carry diseases. Identification of the type of flea is important in determining the control strategy.

How long can fleas live?

100 days

How big can fleas get?

1.5 to 3.3 millimeters

How much do fleas weigh?

0.45 to 1.08 milligrams

How long have fleas been on Earth?

Estimated 65 to 250 million years

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill fleas?

Apple cider vinegar


10. Bed bugs

1 out of 5 Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has experienced bed bugs at their home or even in a hotel room. In addition to causing psychological distress, bed bugs can leave behind bites that are itchy for you and your family.

How long can bed bugs live?

Depending on surrounding conditions, bed bugs can survive for about five months without a blood meal.

How big can bed bugs get?

0.5 centimeters

How long have bed bugs been on Earth?

3,500 years

What natural ingredient can help prevent or kill bed bugs?

Eucalyptus, peppermint, and diatomaceous earth are common natural methods to repel bed bugs.

Need to get rid of pests in your California home?

Pests are a fact of life in the North Bay and East Bay Area here in California. To keep you, your home, or your business safe from California bugs and insects, the experts at Western Exterminator can help. Contact our licensed pest control experts today to see how we can keep you pest-free.

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