All Creatures Great and Small

Positive pest identification

The most important part of pest management is properly identifying the pest. In some cases an unknown bug in the house might be beneficial, so it is necessary to know what it is. How can any bug be beneficial in a house? A couple of years ago an exterminator identified some small black things in a house as carpenter ant poop. They then sprayed the whole house for carpenter ants. The poop kept returning to the same area, so they re-sprayed the house. Finally, the customer got tired of being infested with ant poop and she called me for advice. I inspected the “poop” and determined it was little mold beetles. These beetles feed on mold so I told her she had some mold someplace. She had a plumber come out and he found a leak in a pipe in a wall. The mold beetles told us about the mold. The exterminator thought they were ant poop. In another case in Albuquerque, an inspector for a pest company told a customer she had Johnson beetles eating the Johnson grass in her backyard. She didn’t believe him as she didn’t have any Johnson grass. I told her there was no such thing as Johnson beetles. What she had when I went to her home were a lot of false chinch bugs, which are often very common and not really a pest, but just a nuisance by their numbers. Then there was the fellow who told a potential customer they had fleas and he treated the house for them. He treated several times as it didn’t work. They called me and I went out there and the pests were springtails, which are harmless. Fortunately, this person was a lawyer and sued the pest company. There was also a case where a pest person identified moths in a closet as codling moths. I told the customer the only way he could have codling moths in the closet is if he had an apple tree growing in the closet. These stories are all true, so be careful.

If you want to manage the pest yourself as most people do, then you need to get it identified. If you can’t find someone who can help you identify it, I will be glad to help. First, try to take a good picture of it if possible and email it to me. My email is If a picture isn’t practical, and you already killed the specimen, then you can send it to me. Most specimens you can put in a vial packed with cotton, pack the vial in a small box or bubble envelope. Make sure to include your email address as well as some information on where the specimen was and what it was doing. I will identify the specimen, tell you what you need to know to manage it  without using toxic pesticides.


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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