Missouri has hundreds of different bug species that call the state home, although there are a few you’re more likely to see roaming around the house.
- Ants and termites
- Bed bugs, fleas, and ticks
- Scorpions and spiders
- Boxelder bugs
- Clover mites
Within these general categories are species specific to the area. In this post we dive in to explore the most common house bugs in Missouri, how to identify them, and if you should worry about them in your home.
Common House Bugs in Missouri
1. Ants and Termites
While there are plenty of ants roaming around (more than you probably want to know), we’ll focus on the five most common in Missouri.
- The Odorous House Ant (Tapinoma sessile) is a tiny brown insect that grows between 1/16 and ⅛ inches long. They release a rotten coconut smell when you crush them (hence the name) and relocate every few months, often venturing indoors to escape the Missouri rain.
- Pavement Ants (Tetramorium caespitum) usually hide out in the cracks of pavement, although you can find them in and under different types of masonry. Unfortunately, the dark brown/black ants aren’t picky, and they commonly venture inside when they smell sweet fruit or protein-rich foods.
- The Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) is the largest of ant species, growing around 6 to 10 mm long. They’re usually black, red, or dark brown, and they prefer to make their homes in water-damaged or rotting wood.
- Carpenter ants are usually confused with termites, but they don’t eat the wood and make much smoother galleries. While carpenter ants can do a lot of damage, they don’t have a stinging bite (although they will pinch you when threatened).
- Acrobat Ants (Crematogaster spp.) are incredibly flexible, tiny ants (about 5.4 mm long) that will sting and emit a smell similar to the Odorous House Ant when they’re disturbed. You will usually find them around damaged wood inside abandoned nests of other insects, behind siding, or under rocks.
You can usually tackle an ant issue on your own if you follow the proper steps and use bait traps, then contact killer, then seal them out of your home. More persistent infestations or issues that need a prompt response should be addressed by a professional pest control service.
You usually won’t see the termites first, and any sign of them in your home is a clear indicator that there is an infestation. In most cases, you’ll notice damage to your home or dirt tubes running up the side of the house.
Contact a termite control specialist immediately. They will identify the type of termite you’re dealing with, assess the damage, and come up with a plan to eradicate the colony without worsening the damage to the home.
Cockroaches are hardy creatures that have managed to infiltrate nearly every state.
In Missouri, you’re likely to see:
- American Cockroaches (Periplaneta americana): the largest you will come across
- German Cockroaches (Periplaneta americana): the most common species found in Missouri homes; breed very quickly, and will eat whatever they can find (including glue, soap, and toothpaste)
- Brown Banded Cockroaches (Supella longipalpa): identified by the two light brown bands on their dark brown bodies; prefer dry, warm areas and often hide in high cabinets
- Oriental Cockroaches (Blatta orientalis): also known as “water bugs” and commonly found crawling out of drains; prefer damp spaces in the home
Regardless of which species of cockroach you’re dealing with, you want to get them out of the home as quickly as possible. Cockroaches can carry E. Coli bacteria and other harmful germs, making them a major health hazard.
Cockroaches are largely resistant to over-the-counter pesticides, and a licensed pest controller is your best shot at getting rid of them for good.
3. Bed Bugs, Fleas, and Ticks
The common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius) has a soft body that resembles the size and shape of an apple seed. They range from light tan to red in color depending on how recently they’ve eaten, but they can survive months without eating.
You may see them along the edges of your box springs or mattresses, but the itching bites are what often come first. These usually appear overnight in sets of three, forming a small triangle.
Bed bugs are incredibly resistant to pesticide treatment, and you should schedule an inspection and professional heat or fumigation treatment as soon as you notice them.
Fleas are more likely to go after your pets than they are you, and you can often find them crawling through the fur of your companion. They have tiny red brown bodies with overpowered back legs, and will usually jump ship once they’re spotted.
They’re easier to handle than bedbugs, but you need to treat your living space and your pet at the same time. It’s best to keep your pets on a preventative to keep out these occasional invaders.
While the American Dog Tick (Cimex lectularius) is the most common one you will find in Missouri, there are plenty others to come across. They’re small and flat like bedbugs, but have 8 legs and don’t wait until you’re asleep to bite.
Inspect yourself and your pets for these tiny piggybackers often, and make sure you keep up on preventatives and vaccinations.
While all the beetle varieties seem to run together after a while, there are a few that stand out in Missouri.
The Black Ground Beetle (Pterostichus melanarius) is a shiny black creature with a long flattish body. Like their name states, they’re usually found on the ground underneath stones, slabs, or wood piles. They may venture inside if the weather becomes less accommodating.
On the other end of the color spectrum is the Japanese Beetle (Popillia japonica). As adults, they have a metallic green body and coppery wing covers. They usually pop up in the early summer, but you’ll notice them most in late summer months.
If you have a garden you will want to get rid of them as soon as possible. The Japanese Beetle is notorious for damaging crops, flowering plants, and shrubs, spending most of the warm summer days chowing down.
Ladybugs (Coccinellidae) are an easily identified insect we often forget is a beetle. Their bright red coloring is often a pleasant sight, and they do a great job of controlling smaller pest populations.
When there aren’t any aphids to munch on, ladybugs are known to venture inside to overwinter. This is a nuisance for some, although others don’t mind the insects setting up in the attic or other secluded areas.
5. Scorpions and Spiders
While anything with 8 legs might send you running, there’s a distinct difference between the venomous and (mostly) harmless varieties of arachnids you find in Missouri.
Scorpions are some of the more menacing, although you’re unlikely to see them during the day. They’re quickly identified by their long stinging tell and pincers, but only if you find them crawling out in the open.
Scorpions aren’t happy to venture inside, but they will if the outside weather is particularly hot or dry. They usually stick to humid areas like cabinets and crawl spaces.
The Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans) is another easy-to-spot arachnid that has a black body and a red hourglass stamped on their abdomen. While their venomous bites are not fun to experience, they prefer to live in secluded areas like boxes you’ve forgotten you have.
Black Widows spin irregularly shaped webs close to the ground and hang out by these to quickly pounce on their prey.
The Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is another hermit arachnid. They’re mostly nocturnal, preferring to eat cockroaches and crickets, but will bite if they feel threatened. The bite doesn’t usually hurt until later, but you’ll feel intense pain and may need medical treatment.
Missouri spiders aren’t all venom, though. The Common House Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is what you’re most likely to come across, and it’s fairly harmless. Their large brown leggy bodies may seem menacing, but they mostly stick to building large webs all through your garage, barn, shed, or windows, particularly where you have light to draw in flying bugs.
6. Boxelder Bugs
It’s pretty easy to identify Boxelder Bugs (Boisea trivittata). They have black winged bodies with red stripes down their back and solid red underneath their wings. The younger Boxelder bugs won’t have wings yet, but they’re often a brighter red color.
While they’re pretty much harmless, the sight of them can be shocking. Luckily, they usually stick to maple, elm, and box elder trees, only venturing inside when the weather is less accommodating.
7. Field Crickets and Camel Crickets
Field Crickets (Gryllinae) are probably what you think of when you picture cricket. They’re usually black, but can be yellowish brown. They prefer living outside, but that won’t stop them from irritating you as they chirp outside your window all night long.
Camel Crickets (Ceuthopilus spp.) are much more silent, although their humpback appearance and the massive pair of legs they have make for a much more menacing appearance. Despite this, their only defense mechanism is to spring up to scare off their attackers.
Camel Crickets are likely to overwinter inside in low-traffic areas like basements or even attics. Otherwise, they prefer to spend time in cool, moist areas, and they’re unlikely to tear up crops or plants like Field Crickets.
8. Clover Mites
Another arachnid to watch out for is the Clover Mite (Bryobia praetiosa). These guys are a reddish brown color and usually show up in spring and summer when the weather best accommodates their breeding habits.
A female lays as many as 70 eggs that will reach maturity in 30 days, allowing populations to reach large numbers in a short period of time. You can find them in cracks in the concrete, wood, walls, and other cramped spaces.
They will feast on plans until the weather cools off before either dying off in the cold or darting into the warmth of your homes and outbuildings.
This list of the most common household pests is nowhere near conclusive, but it serves as a great starting point for anyone spotting bugs around their Missouri home. Even if you’re not bothered by them, you should identify any bugs you see to make sure they don’t pose a greater threat to your health or home.
It’s best to tackle any bugs in the home before they grow to a large number and infest your home. Make sure you choose the most effective method for getting rid of them and follow up with preventative treatments and repairs to your home. Recruit professional help when needed.
Still not sure what type of bug you’re seeing? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you out.