Adult fleas are 2-3 mm in length and generally of a shiny brown appearance. They have a thin, laterally flattened body and large hind legs which allow them to jump onto passing hosts.
Biology, flea eggs are about 0.5mm long, oval, pearly-white in colour and laid indiscriminately in the fur or feathers of the host or in its nest or bedding. Four to eight eggs are laid after each blood meal and a single female may produce 800 - 1000 eggs during her lifetime, which may be as long as two years. The larvae thrive in dark, humid places such as animal bedding and carpet fluff, and feed on organic debris and adult flea excrement. Cats' bedding may support a flea population of 8000 immature and 2000 adult forms.
Where very high populations of fleas are present, a single application of insecticide may not be sufficient, as even a 99% kill rate can still leave sufficient survivors to form the basis of a new infestation. In such cases, additional treatments will need to be carried out until the infestation is eradicated.
All floors and upholstered furniture should be vacuumed to remove animal hairs, organic debris, flea eggs and pupae. Dispose of the vacuum bag in an outside bin. Any cats and dogs should be treated for fleas with an insecticide recommended for this purpose and pet bedding should be destroyed or washed. All floor areas should then be treated with a residual insecticide or a desiccant spray from skirting board to skirting board.
Bed bug adults are reddish-brown, oval, flattened insects from 4 to 5 mm long and 1.5 to 3 mm wide before feeding. Engorged adults tend to be swollen and dull red. The eggs are white, oval, about 1 mm long and covered in a sticky film which allows them to adhere to surfaces. A newly hatched nymph is almost colourless whereas engorged nymphs are reddish and swollen.
Biology, although humans are the preferred host, bed bugs feed on many warm-blooded animals. Bed bugs usually hide in cracks or mattresses during the day and emerge at night to feed. They inject saliva as they feed and allergic reaction to this substance often causes slightly delayed swelling, itching and burning. Under favourable conditions, each female lays 200 to 500 eggs and at temperatures above 21°C these hatch in 6 to 17 days. Adults often survive up to 2 months without food, but under certain circumstances can live a year or more without feeding.
The first step to dealing with bed bugs is to locate all of their hiding places. Furniture, fittings and even crevices in wallpaper must be inspected carefully, even to the point of dismantling beds etc for easier inspection and possible treatment. Applications are best done as a "crack and crevice" treatment to known or potential harbourages, as well as using a broad band residual insecticide through a coarse sprayer or as an Ultra Low Volume Insecticide for the rest of the room. Products containing insect growth regulators can also aid control.
Typical worker ants are 3-4mm long of a brown/black colour with elbowed antennae and biting mouthparts. The queen tends to be much larger at about 10mm.
Biology, garden Ants usually nest outdoors in lawns, flower beds, beneath paving flags and at the base of walls. Premises are usually invaded by worker ants foraging for food, especially sweet foods. During summer, winged females (Queens) and males leave the nest on one or two warm afternoons and take flight. During this flight, which may only last for 2- 3 hours, the ants mate. The formation of a new colony starts with a mated winged female digging into the earth to overwinter and start a new colony in the spring.
If possible, trace the trail of worker ants to the nest. If the nest can be exposed, and it is safe to do so, apply an insect powder labelled for that use. If it is not possible to trace the nest, use a residual insecticidal spray to treat outside the building. Special attention should be paid to likely entry points such as door frames, air bricks and waste pipes to create an insecticidal barrier. In addition, use of gels and liquid feeding baits can help with longer-term control.