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Cockroaches are primitive insects whose origin extends back at least 300 million years and are thought to have originated in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa. The advent of travel and international trade has brought about the spread of cockroaches to most countries in the world.
Although worldwide, there are over 3,000 species of cockroaches, only half a dozen have attained the status of pest species by adapting themselves to cohabit with man in his dwelling. The remaining non-pest species inhabit decaying plant material, dark damp areas such as caves, and beneath the bark of rotting trees.
The omnivorous appetite of cockroaches makes any unprotected foodstuffs susceptible to cockroach infestation and contamination. Their indiscriminate feeding sources in such areas as sewers, drains and garbage areas bring them in contact with disease organisms including salmonella and other organisms associated with dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures and are seldom seen in any quantity during daylight hours, however, in areas where there are heavy infestations, sightings of cockroaches may become more common. It is generally accepted that for every cockroach seen there are at least a further ten that are hidden away in out of sight harbourages. Common harbourage areas include cracks and crevices, dishwashers, electrical motors and switches, ovens and almost any warm, moist areas where food is available.
Tell tale signs indicating cockroach activity include the presence of egg cases, regurgitation marks, faecal pellets, odour and cast-off nymphal skins.
Infestation occurs when cockroaches are carried into premises on raw materials or packaging or gain entry to the premises through drain covers, ventilation openings and under doors.
Most common species have wings, but have a tendency to crawl rather than fly. When disturbed, cockroaches have the ability to scurry away with remarkable haste.

Life Cycle

Following mating, the female cockroaches enclose their eggs in purse-shaped egg cases which they deposit or glue onto a surface prior to the eggs hatching. The young cockroaches, or nymphs as they are referred to, emerge from the egg case and over a period of up to a year, go through 5-12 moults as they increase in size. They achieve adulthood after the final moult and are capable of breeding 2-3 weeks later. They are prolific breeders with the most common of the pest species, the German cockroach, being capable of producing 20,000 offspring within a twelve month period. Female cockroaches also have the ability to produce young without mating. This is referred to as parthenogenesis.

Cockroach Control

Successful cockroach control is based on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) starting with a thorough inspection of the entire premises to identify the species and to define the extent and source of infestation. Observations made during the inspection enable a program to be proposed which considers all possible facets of control procedures including proofing, trapping, sanitation, hygiene and the judicious use of preparations. Recent preparations developed for cockroach control are of low mammalian toxicity and do not persist in the environment. A new group of preparations called insect growth regulators are being presently used by the industry. These compounds prevent the immature stage of the insect from achieving adulthood and so prevent propagation of the species. The advantage of such formulations is that they are usually specific to a particular pest and have little effect against non-target species.


Sydney Funnel Web

It is a large (6-7 cm), black, aggressive, ugly looking spider with massive fangs. These are large and powerful enough to easily penetrate a fingernail. When disturbed it tends to rear up on its hind legs, a defensive posture that exposes the fangs. They don't jump. During a bite the spider firmly grips its victim and bites repeatedly; in most cases the experience is horrific. The venom is highly toxic. Before an effective antivenom was developed, significant bites usually resulted in severe symptoms and death was not uncommon.
The Sydney funnel web spider is mostly found near Sydney (from Newastle to Nowra and as far west as Lithgow but sightings have been reported as far north as Brisbane. Related species are found along the eastern coast of New South Wales.
The venom of the slightly smaller male spider is five times as toxic as the female. This is unfortunate, as male funnel webs tend to roam about, particularly after heavy rain in summer, and often wind up indoors.

Red Back

The adult female red back is about 2-3 cm long, quite black, with a distinctive red stripe on its abdomen. The male is much smaller and considered harmless. Neither are aggessive.
Red back venom contains neurotoxins, but works very slowly. Fatalities, even from untreated bites, are rare.
The bite is immediately painful; the pain may involve the whole limb. Sweating is common, starting only on the affected limb. Systemic envenomation usually results in headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, pyrexia, hypertension and in severe cases, paralysis. Untreated, the symptoms worsen over a 24 hour period and may take weeks or months to resolve.
The pressure and immobilisation technique is NOT recommended as local pain may become excruciating. It may be relieved by the application of ice packs.

White Tailed Spider

The white tailed spider has been found in Australia for many years. The spider is easily identified by its elongated shape (1-2.5cm body length), cylindrical lemon tip shaped abdomen and is velvety black with dirty white markings at the top of the abdomen and on the tip of the tail. The legs are glossy with a dark reddish tint. Male spiders have striped legs.

Where They Are Found

There are about a dozen Australian species in the genus. This common spider when found indoors, inhabits wardrobes, clothes left on the floor, bedclothes, bathrooms, laundries and behind curtains. It is normally nomadic, living in the garden under rocks, ground litter and other foliage and most active at night, living off small insects and spiders.
Their nomadic nature leads them into homes where they are most commonly found during Spring to late Autumn. White tailed spiders aren't web bound and catch their prey by predation. Being hunters, they are swift moving and scurry away when disturbed.

Do They Bite?

White tailed spiders only bite if provoked and are not normally aggressive to humans. The symptoms of the spider bite vary according to specific reactions, normally causing a localised burning, stinging feeling followed by a variable illness. Symptoms may include an itchy lump, swelling, blistering, ulceration, nausea or vomiting. Occasionally the bacteria on the fangs of the spider may cause infection or other specific allergic reactions.


The three major pest species of rodents are the Norway Rat, Roof Rat, and the House Mouse. These three rodents are known as commercial pests, which describes their ability to successfully cohabit with man. They are common in the main population centres in Australia and most countries throughout the world. Since early times, rodents have been responsible for the loss and contamination of feed from the crop stage through to the storage of processed food in both domestic and commercial premises. Rodents have been associated with the transmission of disease organisms, the most notable being the occurrence of Bubonic Plague in Europe, causing the loss of 25 million lives.
As climatic conditions become less favourable during the onset of winter months, rodents move indoors looking for both shelter and food, however, in commercial premises rodents can be a problem all year round.
Rodents construct their nests utilising soft materials, such as shredded paper or fabrics, close to areas where they scavenge for food and water. These nests are usually situated in wall cavities, roof voids or underfloor areas, and in the case of Norway Rats, in burrows in garbage tips, and other similar sites.
Rodents actively forage for food at night using the same routes of movement to and from the food sources. Their diet includes food material of both animal and plant origin and apart from mice, access to water is necessary. Mice can obtain water from foodstuffs providing the food is sufficiently moist.

Rodent Control

As with all pest management programs, an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is an integral part of successful rodent control. IPM involves consideration of all control procedures including attention to sanitation and hygiene, trapping, proofing of entry points, and the use of baiting procedures. All control procedures are preceded by a thorough inspection of the entire premises to identify the rodent and to define the extent of infestation. 


Ants belong to the family Formicidae, which forms part of the order Hymenoptera. This order of insects also includes bees and wasps.
Ants are ubiquitous. In fact around 15 000 species and subspecies of ants have been described world wide, with just over 1 300 known from Australia so far. Most Australians are familiar with ants be they:
  • bulldog or bull ants (Myrmecia sp.)
  • jack-jumper or jumper ants (Myrmecia pilosula species group)
  • green-headed or metallic pony ants (Rhytidoponera metallica)
  • meat ants (Iridomyrmex sp.)
  • sugar ants (Camponotus sp.)
  • green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina).
Ants are found in all Australian States and Territories and in all terrestrial habitats. While numerous species live in bushland and rainforests, fewer are found in suburban gardens and buildings.

Life History

Ants are social insects and form colonies. These vary in size (depending on species) from a dozen or so individuals to many thousands.

In a colony, there are three castes or social levels:

  • the wingless and usually sterile female workers
  • fertile females or queens
  • males.
The workers, all sterile females, are most commonly seen, as they forage for food. They are usually similar in appearance to the queen but smaller. Males are often wasp like in appearance.
Ants vary in length from about 1 to 30 mm and are typically black, brown, red, yellow or a combination of these colours.
Habits, behaviour and nest sites vary widely between species. Many are scavengers and have varied diets, while others are specialist seed-eaters or predators.
Winged males and queens are produced at certain times of the year and, when conditions are right, leave the nest on mating flights. After mating, the queen bites off her wings and establishes a new colony.  She will not come to the surface again but will stay underground and lay eggs. The male dies after mating.

Are They Pests?

Some ants, such as bulldog or bullants, are troublesome because they give painful stings. Unlike bees that can only sting once, ants can sting multiple times.
Others, such as meat ants and green tree ants, don't sting but bite and then spray formic acid into the wound.
Some ants are nuisance pests when they make mounds, disturb paving or invade buildings.
Some introduced species are both nuisance and environmental pests, including:
  • Argentine ant (Linepithema humile)
  • Red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
It is important to remember that native ant species play an important part in natural food webs.


Silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata) are wingless, primitive insects and can be easily identified by the three long appendages protruding from the rear of the abdomen. They have a fish-like appearance with the body tapering to the rear and are covered in scales, giving them a dull silvery colouration.
The female adult lays eggs either singly or in small batches, which usually hatch after a period of 2-8 weeks into nymphs which closely resemble the shape of the adult but are smaller in size. The nymphs undergo a series of moults over a period of 3-24 months, becoming sexually mature adults. They are one of the few insects to continue moulting after they have achieved adulthood and can go on to live for a period of up to 4 years.
Silverfish can move extremely quickly when disturbed and in general have a tendency to avoid light. They are usually found in dark undisturbed areas, however they often range throughout a building particularly in cupboards, stored paper and bookshelves, and behind wallpaper that has peeled away from the wall surface. Silverfish cannot climb smooth surfaces and so are often found trapped in glasses, baths and basins. Silverfish do not carry disease organisms harmful to man or domestic animals.
Control of silverfish is normally achieved by the storage of books, paper and linen fabrics in well lit and ventilated areas. Chemical control consists of the careful application of residual surface sprays and the judicious use of space sprays.

Carpet Beetles

The most common carpet beetles to be found attacking various fabrics of animal origin are the black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) and the variegated carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci).
As well as carpets, they can be found in woollen goods, fur, silk, upholstery and stuffed animals.
An infestation of carpet beetles usually occurs in undisturbed areas, such as below items of heavy furniture or perimeter areas of the carpet. It is possible for the carpet beetles to attack synthetic carpets, particularly if they are heavily soiled with organic food debris or urine. Many synthetic and woollen carpets are now treated with insecticides at the manufacturing stage rendering them resistant to carpet beetle attacks.
The adult female beetle lays her eggs in dark undisturbed areas. The eggs hatch into reddy-brown coloured larvae or grubs covered with tufted hairs. It is this larval stage that causes the damage to fabrics, rugs, underfelts and carpets. When they are fully fed the larvae change into an immobile pupal stage which, after several weeks, turn into adult beetles. The adult beetles usually fly to exterior areas where they are often attracted to white flowers. The adult beetles cause no further damage but often further infest dwellings by their presence in birds' nests or being introduced to the interior of dwellings on cut flowers.
Control of carpet beetle is usually achieved by attention to thorough vacuuming of the infested areas followed by the application of residual insecticide sprays.


European Wasps

European wasps, Vespula germanica, are accidental introductions to Australia from Europe and were first found in Tasmania in 1959 and on the mainland near Melbourne, Victoria, in 1977.
They are now found in Tasmania, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, south-eastern New South Wales, and the wetter parts of South Australia.
They can be serious pests. Wasps aggressively defend their nest, swarming out to attack if disturbed.
Their sting is painful and multiple stings, or a sting in the throat, can be dangerous. Unlike bees, they can sting multiple times.
European wasps are also an environmental pest. In large numbers, they are a threat to native insects and spiders. They may however, have some beneficial value as predator of other pest insects.
European wasps are social insects and form large colonies. The queen hibernates through winter and emerges in spring to establish a new nest.
Her first offspring are workers which take over nest chores. They build a 'paper' nest from saliva mixed with wood fibres which grows over summer to football size.
The nest is nearly always concealed, often underground or in a roof or wall cavity, and by the end of summer may house several thousand wasps.
Newly mated queens are produced in autumn and the nest usually dies out in winter.
Workers are 12-15 mm long (about honeybee size) and are bright yellow (not orange). They have black markings (including arrow-shaped marks down the middle of the abdomen and paired black spots on the sides), long and transparent wings, black antennae and mostly yellow legs.
Queens are similar but larger, growing to about 20 mm in length.
The wasps feed on sweet substances such as secretions from sucking insects and fermenting fruit. The grubs in the nest are fed on insects and spiders or bits of meat from carrion or pet food bowls.

European Wasps and People

Where wasps are abundant, people dining alfresco should be wary of them and avoid drinking from opened bottles and cans.
Destruction of nests should be done by someone qualified.
For multiple stings or a sting in the throat, seek urgent medical aid. Otherwise apply an ice pack or anaesthetic spray.

Common Paper Wasps

Common paper wasps are social insects, who build nests of grey papery material around the home often under eaves, pergolas or in vegetation.
Polistes humilis or common paper wasps are generally slender with long thin wings.
They are 10-15 millimetres long, tan in colour with darker bands and some yellow on the face.
Other species of paper wasps are larger or smaller and differently coloured.
Paper wasps make nests of grey papery wood fibre material.
The nests are cone-shaped, becoming round as more cells are added.
Nests are a maximum diameter of 10-12 centimetres, with numerous hexagonal cells underneath, some with white caps.
Nests are exposed and suspended by a short stalk under an overhang, often on a pergola, the eaves of a roof or in a shrub or tree.
Wasps cluster on the nest or forage in the garden and around buildings.
Paper wasps are found across mainland southern Australia.

Life History

Adult wasps feed on nectar and make 'paper' nests by mixing saliva and wood fibres.
Nests are a nursery where larvae are kept one to each cell.
The larvae are fed on chewed-up caterpillars caught by the adults.
The cells are then capped and the larvae pupate. Most paper wasps die in autumn or winter, while some hibernate to start new nests next season.

Pest Status and Management

Paper wasps have some beneficial value as predators of pest caterpillars, however they have a painful sting and will attack any person approaching or disturbing their nest.
Nests likely to be disturbed represent a hazard and should be avoided during the day.
Nests in high traffic areas such as doorways, pergolas or carports can be sprayed with a registered aerosol wasp insecticide.
In the event of a sting apply a cold pack.
Seek medical attention if the victim is known to be allergic or if symptoms become more severe.


These insects form an important part in the environment as, key pollinator's of many native plant species, producers of honey and wax. Like other insects there are many species of bees with the most commonly associated being the Honey Bee.
Bees are more of a problem during spring and summer, when they swarm seeking to establish a new hive and find shelter in or around your home. Hives can be inside a wall cavity accessed via an entry point, which could be a hole in the mortar of brick walls, in ventilation and under tiles on roofs, in chimneys etc. or in a garden tree or shed.
If there is a nest close by you may find you will have lots of bees hanging around, especially if you have a pool or water that has collected in small puddles. Bees collect water to take back to the hive as this helps control the hive temperature. Bees looking for water will come and go from your home where as a swarm of bees will hang round in a large group and usually settle in a cluster.
While bees are social insects there are some species, which will become aggressive and sting to protect their hive. Normally bees sting people when stepped on leant on or when being picked off clothing. The Honey Bee stings are barbed and stick in your skin when stung, tearing away from the bee, which in turn kills the bee.
If you come across a bee hive do not disturbed it, avoid walking within the bees flight path as this can aggravate them, as will fast and jerky movements near the hive. Bees along with wasps are best left to their own devices. If a hive in your home is a problem remember treating bees yourself can be dangerous and it is recommended you contact us to safely resolve the problem.


Fleas are light brown to mahogany in colour and roughly oval shaped. Their laterally flattened appearance enables them to quickly move through the host's hair. Measuring 2-8 mm in length, the adults are entirely covered with a series of bristles and combs that assists them in clinging to the host. The small head is equipped with sawing and sucking mouthparts, and two tiny simple eyes. To aid in the detection of a host, fleas possess two short antennae on the head that are sensitive to stimuli including heat, vibration, traces of carbon dioxide and change in air currents and shadows. The hind pair of legs that are well developed for jumping enable fleas to be propelled 10-30cms, either to make contact with a host or avoid a threatening situation.
Both female and male fleas rely on blood for their nutrition, but can survive for several months without it. When a flea blood feeds, it will crouch low to penetrate the host's tissue with a sawing motion of the mouthparts. A small amount of anti-coagulatant is injected with the saliva, to permit easy siphoning of the blood. Fleas will bite only accessible parts of the body and clustered bites on the lower limbs are diagnostic. Blood feeding maybe interrupted, and fleas will often probe several times before repletion which can increase their total body weight by 30%. Each female flea uses her blood to nourish developing eggs, and will deposit up to 4 eggs after each blood meal; most females will lay at least 100 eggs within a life cycle of several months. The eggs are oval, white to cream in colour and measure 0.5mm in length; they can hatch within 1 week, but this will be dependent on prevailing conditions as larvae are extremely sensitive to desiccation. When the maggot-like larvae emerge, they are sparsely covered in hair and have no legs but are capable of moving rapidly in search of food, which consists mainly of skin scales or undigested blood excreted by the adults. Within a 1-3 week period, the larvae will grow and undergo 4 moults prior to pupating in a silken cocoon which they spin. The adult fleas emerge from the pupal case in 1-2 weeks but can remain dormant in their cocoons for several months depending on the availability of food and conditions. Often the emergence of adults from the pupal stage is triggered by vibrations, which occasionally happens on entering an unoccupied home of previous pet owners.
Some fleas can attack a range of hosts, and their ability to transfer from one host to another allows for the possible transfer of pathogens including viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases. The main flea species that attack humans include the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis, the dog flea C. canis, and the human flea Pulex irritans. The latter two species are relatively rare. The common cat flea is found on both cats and dogs, and is the species usually identified in attacks on humans and usually responsible for flea plagues. Cat fleas are the intermediate host for the dog and cat tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) which is easily transmitted to humans. The only flea-borne disease that currently occur within Australia is murine typhus; this is transmitted from rats to humans by particular rat fleas, typically Xenopsylla cheopis, and although it has been widespread, it is uncommon.
The continual biting activity of fleas alone causes a great deal of irritation and distress to humans, especially during flea plagues. Reactions to the flea's saliva are often delayed, with the formation of a whealt surrounding each puncture site within 5-30 minutes of the bite, accompanied by intense itching. Within 12-24 hours each whealt may progress to a small lesion or vesicle. The onset of symptoms in sensitized individuals often develops much later, and the initial reaction may become apparent only after 12-24 hours. Fleas are the major cause of papular urticaria, particularly on the legs of children, and continual scratching may lead to secondary infections.