You’ll find a lot of insects in Alabama, but do you know what they are? At Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc., insect identification is an important part of our business. Before one of our technicians put together a custom pest control plan, they have to know what they’re up against.
Below are a few ways our technicians and others in Alabama, identify insects, spiders, snakes and more.
WARNING: You should always take precaution when you’re near unknown insects and animals. Never approach an insect, spider or snake that could pose a threat.
Look at the Size, Shape and Markings
The most obvious way to identify an insect, snake or spider is by examining what it looks like. But in the world of entomology that isn’t always easy. Some animals, insects in particular, have evolved to look like other creatures in order to evade predators.
A perfect example of this is the viceroy butterfly, which looks strikingly similar to a monarch. However, the viceroy has a distinct black marking across the hindwings that monarchs lack. You’ve probably also heard the saying about coral snakes “red on black friend of Jack, red on yellow kills a fellow.” In addition to markings, the size and shape of an animal can play a role in identification.
If you have a camera handing snap a picture of the insect or animal in question. Groups like InsectIdentification.org have created photo repositories of virtually every insect in Alabama that can be used for comparisons.
Count the Legs, Wings and Antenna
Another quick indicator is the number of legs and wings an insect or spider has. For instance, all arachnids have eight legs. If you count eight you know it’s a spider. Most insects will only have six legs.
Some insects have wings while others are simply ground crawlers without the ability to fly. It’s one of the primary physical differences between termites and ants. The antenna can also reveal the species of an insect since some have multiple pairs while other bugs have none. There are also various types of antenna, varying in appearance from straight to knotted on the ends, among other differences.
Assess Insect Activity
When insects and animals are most active says a lot about their species. Some insects and animals are nocturnal, which means they’re most active at night. If this is the case it can help you narrow down the possibilities.
Many bugs are most active during the day, however, the time varies. Bees and butterflies are out when the temperature peaks. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, tend to come out at dawn and dusk when things have cooled off.
Examine Their Habitat
Where insects live and forage for food can be an indication of their species. Some bugs will only stay in a certain type of environment. There are also insects that choose a habitat because it’s a good place to hide and minimize contact with humans. They may be hiding temporarily under leaves or create a permanent living space in a tucked away spot.
Another clue for an insect or animal’s identity is their feeding habits. Are they carnivores or herbivores? Are they collecting pollen and nectar from plants or devouring leaves? Some species, like the leaf cutter ant, are actually named after their feeding habits. If insects are particularly active in their feeding during the late summer it’s an indication they’re stocking up to hibernate in the winter instead of dying off when it gets cold.
When in doubt it’s always a good idea to call a professional Alabama pest control company. The expert technicians at Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. have been identifying and controlling insects for more than 50 years. We even have our own certified entomologist on staff! Give us a call today to tell us what you’ve discovered about the insects on your proper