Visit Critter Control's Eco-Wise™ Pest Management site, www.ecowisepestcontrol.com for more information about insect and other non-vertebrate pest control solutions. Description Insects are wildly diverse in their appearances, purposes, and reasons they're classified as pests. Some are simply nuisances and annoy people by gathering in large numbers, while others are considered problematic because they instill fear. Many insects carry diseases and contaminate stores of human food. Others consume and tunnel in wood causing costly structural damage. Biting and stinging insects, as the title would imply, are pests because they inflict painful bites or stings. While this category is far-reaching, the most common species of biting and stinging pests include harvester and imported fire ants, mosquitoes, brown recluse and common house spiders, bed bugs, and fleas. In addition to biting and stinging, many of these insects spread deadly diseases. Appearance Given the diversity of biting and stinging insects, it's challenging to make any overarching statements about their appearances. Ants have six legs, segmented bodies, antennae, and are reddish-black to black in color. Mosquitoes are tiny and delicate looking. They have two wings and long, slender proboscis, or mouthparts used for penetrating skin and feeding on blood. Spiders have eight legs, uniquely arranged eyes, identifying patterns on their backs, and range in color from black and brown to tan and yellow. Bed bugs are tiny, flat, and appear reddish. Finally, fleas are microscopic, reddish-brown, and have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Habitats Several biting and stinging insects, such as common house spiders, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and fleas, are cosmopolitan in distribution and thrive wherever there's human activity. Harvester ants, imported fire ants, and brown recluse spiders typically need moisture and relatively warm climates to survive and are prominent in the southern United States. Species of ants build tunnel systems underground in yards and parks, as well as in rotten logs, the walls of buildings, and under sidewalks. Mosquitoes must live around sources of standing water. Spiders construct intricate webs in secluded corners of basements and attics. Outside, they may live under rocks, logs, woodpiles, and collections of debris. Bed bugs nest in mattress seams, headboards, and other secluded areas situated close to sleeping humans. Fleas live much of their lives in the fur of their hosts. Entry Are biting and stinging known to enter homes or yards? All biting and stinging insects infiltrate yards and homes. Ant tunnels are often constructed in lawns and individuals from colonies will move inside homes and heated structures at the onset of cold weather. Mosquitoes feed off people and animals and therefore hang around yards, farms, and any places where blood meals are regularly present. Spiders, like ants, often infest homes to survive cold winter weather. Bed bugs, like mosquitoes, need to be around humans in order to regularly feed. Similarly, fleas orient themselves around available blood meals, hanging around cracks and crevices close to the ground waiting to latch onto pets. Damage Do biting and stinging insects harm people or property? Ants and bed bugs leave behind irritating itchy red spots where they bite people. Imported fire ants actually inject venom into their victims, which causes an unpleasant burning sensation. Mosquito bites also cause itchy red spots to appear on victims' skin and hold the additional threat of disease transmission, as many species carry West Nile virus. Though spiders are not aggressive, they bite people when they feel threatened or trapped. Common house spiders leave behind red marks when they bite; however, all symptoms tend to dissipate in a few hours. Brown recluse spiders are much more dangerous, as their venom can destroy skin tissue and incite severe allergic reactions. Fleas do not typically target humans and more commonly congregate on household pets, like dogs and cats. Severe reactions to flea bites cause symptoms such as intense itchiness, hair loss, reddening skin, and secondary infections. Control and Safety Any number of modifications can be made to homes and yards in order to decrease the possibility of encountering biting and stinging insects. Clean up liquids and solid food spills immediately. Keep indoor and outdoor trash bins tightly sealed. Replace broken and ripped window and door screens. Look for and seal any cracks in building foundations. Trim ornamental shrubs and tree branches to ensure they don't touch or hang over homes. Eliminate areas of standing water and excess moisture. Store firewood off the ground and away from homes. Bathe pets regularly. Employing any or all of these methods will make homes less favorable to insect pests. Trapping and Removal The variety of biting and stinging insect pests makes over-the-counter removal solutions ineffective. Critter Control technicians have extensive knowledge of the behavior of several insect species and the necessary tools to eradicate biting and stinging insects from homes. At the first sign of infestation, property owners should contact our trained professionals. We can help you get rid of stinging insect problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837. Critter Control of Greater Springfield Service Area Springfield, Battlefield, Nixa, Ozark, Branson, Joplin, Republic, Strafford, Rogersville, Sparta This franchise is independently licensed and operated by Millerbaugh Services, LLC, dba Critter Control of Greater Springfield.