All Creatures Great and Small

Pigeons, powderpost beetles, roly polys, scales insects, scorpions, silverfish, snails and slugs, spiders, spider mites, springtails, squash bugs & sun spiders.


(Aves – Columbidae)

There are some diseases that can be transmitted by pigeons, but no more so than any other bird, including such popular pets as parakeets, canaries, etc.

When they live on our buildings and deface it, we can remove the birds by excluding them from the area, but we don’t need to kill them. The best way to remove pigeons from a building is to trap them and relocate them in an area where they can live and breed without disturbing anyone. When you trap pigeons, you have to pre-bait the area first with whole kernel corn and then set the trap with the corn in it. You will have to check the traps at least once a day. Once you have removed the pigeons, you need to enclose any open areas on the roof such as air conditioning units, with screening to prevent other pigeons from moving in. Before you enclose these areas, you should inspect for nests and remove any that you find and spray the area with a non-toxic product like Greenbug to kill any mites in the area.  Otherwise the mites may move into your home and bite your family. You can also have spikes, wires or repellant gels placed on certain areas of the roof, depending on the design. Normally this is done by a professional pest control company, but you can do it yourself if you like.


(Bostrichinae; Lyctinae – Lyctus spp.)

Powder post beetles almost always infest hardwoods.  They frequently infest lumber, woodwork, furniture, tool handles, gun stocks and similar items.  They produce very fine, powder-like frass when they damage wood.  Frass from other beetles is not nearly as fine as these beetles produce.  They are second only to termites in destructive capability.  The best way to control them is to seal any exit holes you see so they can’t reinfest the wood.  This is particularly important in finished wood.  If the wood is unfinished, you can spray or paint on a sodium borate to prevent the beetles from infesting the wood.  Two good sodium borates are BoraCare and TimBor.



Sowbugs (Porcellionidae) & Pillbugs (Armadillidiidae)

Sowbugs and pillbugs, which are also called roly polys and woodlice, are crustaceans, not insects.  They require a lot of moisture where they live.  Sowbugs (Porcellio laevis) & Pillbugs (Armadillium vulgare) are actually beneficial as they are excellent decomposers.  Pillbugs can roll up into a ball when threatened. Sowbugs cannot roll up into a ball.

They aren’t major pests, but will damage bean sprouts.  They can be kept away from plants by putting DE on the ground around the base of the plants.   You can keep them out of your house by installing door sweeps if your doors don’t close tightly.




Female scale insects are oval in shape and usually convex, but some species are flat.  They have a hard cuticle that is either smooth or covered with a wax-like material.  Most scale insects feed on plants and some are serious pests of crops.  They are not a  major pest in home gardens, but there is one species that is very common on houseplants.  The brown soft scale (Coccus hesperidum) is found in houseplants all over the world.  It is found on some outside plants in tropical and subtropical areas. If will feed on a variety of flowering plants and ornamental foliage but is particularly fond of ferns.

Because of their scale-like body wall, they can be difficult to treat.  If you have plants that are heavily infested, it would be best to discard them.  You can remove them individually from plants by swabbing them with a mixture of alcohol and water or dish soap and water.



Only one species of scorpion in this country is dangerously venomous.  It is the bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) and it is found mostly in Arizona but also southwestern New Mexico. It has killed a few people in Arizona, but not in the last 40 years.  All the other scorpions in the country can sting and the sting is painful but they are not dangerous.

Scorpions have basically the same habits as centipedes and are also usually found in areas of high moisture such as loose bark, in rotting logs, under stones, boards, railroad ties, trash, piles of leaves and grass clippings and similar areas.  They are active at night and hide during the day. They occasionally invade structures.  Exclusion to keep them out of structures is most important, and this begins with ensuring that no tree or shrub branches are touching the structure. The branches can be pruned away to eliminate this common pathway. You also can carefully examine the entire exterior, including up to the eaves as scorpions and other pests may crawl up rough surfaces, and you want to permanently fill in any openings found and ensure all vent screens are in place and in good condition. In the yard you can eliminate many potential harborage sites for scorpions such as rocks, boards, and other objects resting on the soil. Scorpions will also hide under bark on trees, so these can be can be dusted with food grade diatomaceous earth where loose bark is found.




Silverfish are small insects, up to  ¾  inch long and silvery in color.  They are covered in scales, which will be hard to see with the naked eye, and they have three appendages protruding from their abdomen.

They feed on fungus, sugar and starch products such as flour, glue and paste.  They can feed on some synthetic fabrics and cellulose which includes paper, books, photographs and cardboard boxes.  They will also feed on dead insects.  Silverfish are attracted to moisture so you want to make sure you fix any plumbing leaks as soon as possible.  They are frequently found in crawl spaces under a home if it is damp there. You have to make sure no moisture is available for these insects and try to keep items such as paper, books, and food products as far from the floor as possible.

You can trap them by putting some flour in a small glass jar and wrapping it with duct tape so they can climb up the sides.  They will get in the jar but will not be able to get out.  Niban Bait is a good commercial bait for controlling silverfish.  Use the fine grade Niban for silverfish.


SNAILS (Helicidae) & SLUGS (Limacidae)

Snails and slugs are terrestrial mollusks. Snails have shells while slugs do not.  There are a great many species, but only a few are pests in gardens. They will feed on a wide variety of plants and are most active at night or after rains. They often leave large, jagged holes in the leaves of plants they are feeding on.

The best method of control is to put DE under and around all plants you want to protect as they will not crawl over it.  You can also trap them with small pans of beer in the yard.  The good news is the beer will also attract and kill any cockroaches in the yard.  Never use a commercial snail bait that contains methaldehyde as this is very dangerous to dogs.




Although most spiders possess venom glands, most are too small to break the skin with their fangs and have no desire to do so.  All spiders will bite in self defense if they are handled carelessly, such as being squeezed. Most bites occur when people roll over in bed on one and get bitten or when they put on their clothes and a spider inside the clothing bites when it is pressed against the skin. I am not saying all spiders are harmless. Black widows are certainly capable of producing a serious bite and any such bite by this spider should be considered a major medical emergency. The brown recluse is also dangerously venomous. Sac spiders and wolf spiders can give serious, though not fatal bites, particularly if you are allergic to any of the components of the venom.  Jumping spiders are interesting to watch but are not dangerous although a large one can bite if mishandled. Most of the small hunting spiders, such as ground spiders are incapable of hurting anyone.

To control spiders around your home, here are a few suggestions.  Control the lighting at night that attracts their food, which is flying insects.  Keep trash and rubbish out of your yard. If you have firewood, stack it somewhere where there is a lot of sunlight and cover it with black plastic.  It will get so hot under there that spiders and other insects / arachnids won’t go in the wood.

Seal any cracks or crevices around the house that would let hunting spiders inside.  If your doors do not close tightly, install door sweeps on them.  If you find webbing around your home, sweep it down often or hose it down.  The spiders will get tired of having their webs destroyed and move someplace else.

Make sure your bed isn’t touching the wall. This will make it hard for spiders to get into bed with you.  Don’t leave clothing on the floor.  If you do, completely shake it out before putting it on.  If you have a stray spider you need to kill, use a natural product like Greenbug for Indoors.




Spider mites are very common pests on a variety of plants.  They suck the sap out of their host plants.  These mites also spin protective webbing on the plants surfaces.  Spruce spider mites (Oligonychus ununguis) are considered one of the most destructive species as it will attack a large number of conifer trees, including spruce, arborvitae, pine, hemlock, juniper and Douglas fir. There are many other species of spider mites as well.

When you have to control spider mites in your garden you can crush 3 oz. of garlic cloves and mix with 1 oz. of mineral oil.  Let this mixture stand overnight, then strain. Mix 1 teaspoon of fish oil and one tablespoon of castile soap with a quart of water.  Slowly combine the garlic mix with the fish oil mix.  Then mix two tablespoons of this mixture with a pint of water in a sprayer.

One homemade “miticide” recipe calls for mixing 1 gallon of water, 1/2 gallon of buttermilk and 1 cup of flour. Spray this all over a plant. This mixture suffocates all the mites.




Springtails are very small, wingless insects  Some are brown or gray, while other are brightly colored.  They have a structure (furcula) on their underside that enables them to jump when suddenly straightened out.

Springtails are probably the most abundant non-social insect on the planet.  There are approximately 650 species in the United States alone and they are found in both the Arctic and Antarctic.They can be very common in damp, organic soil where they feed on fungus.  Large numbers in any area will show that the soil is healthy. They rarely cause any damage to plants, but will occasionally feed on young shoots.

Contrary to what some people believe, springtails are not capable of infesting human beings.  This is a myth that is often found on the internet.

You can control them by mixing DE with the soil they are in.  In houseplants it would be a good idea to dry the soil out to eliminate any mold or fungi that they may be feeding on.  If you have them in your home, you can spray them with a mixture of soap, water and alcohol. Mix a sprayer with equal amounts of water and alcohol and add a couple of tablespoons of dish soap.



(Coreidae – Anasa tristis)

Squash bugs feed on squash, cucumbers and pumpkins and can be a pest.  It is a good idea to put small, flat boards in the garden where these bugs live.  They will hide out under the boards in the daytime, allowing you to find them and dispose of them.  This also works for cutworms as they hide during the day.  I also recommend misting all the squash or other plants and then dusting them with DE to discourage the bugs.




Sun spiders are also called camel spiders and wind scorpions.  They are not dangerous, but they can bite you if you pick them up.  Sun spiders are nocturnal and feed on a lot of different insects.  Occasionally they will come in a home and scare the homeowner.  The best method of control is to prevent them from coming in.  Make sure your home is pest-proofed and you should never see these interesting arachnids inside.




About askthebugman

I have been in the pest management industry for over 40 years. In that time I have used almost every pesticide available to control so-called “pests”. With this experience, I have learned over the years that the pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. As a result, it has become a passion for me to improve the quality of life for humans and the planet, by assisting people to not only become more educated and aware of their environment – but also by learning to manage their home and business with a sustainable and healthier approach to tending to unwanted infestations of bugs. Please enjoy my blog posts, check out my publications, utilize my services, or simply stay in touch if you have a bug question…


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