Pest Identification

Provided by Diam Pest Control in Des Moines, IA


Bald Faced Hornet

Bald-faced hornets are about 25 mm long and have a black and white body with white on their face. This social insect makes large, gray nests that eventually contain hundreds of insects. A new nest is started each spring by a single fertilized queen. Nests may be located above the ground in a protected location or in underground holes. Hornets are very aggressive if their nest is threatened or disturbed and multiple stinging can occur.

Signs of an Infestation

Bald-faced hornets and their nests are clearly visible. They build paper nests at least three or more feet off the ground, typically found in trees, shrubs, on the overhangs of your house, sheds, and other structures. There will also be worker bald-faced hornets flying around the nest and nearby area if there is an infestation. 

Getting Rid of Bald-Faced Hornets

You should avoid contact with these insects to prevent getting stung. You should seal up any tiny openings in and around your house to prevent bald-faced hornets from entering and seeking shelter. Do not attempt to remove the nest on your own as bald-faced hornets are aggressive and this can aggrevate the colony and cause the hornets to sting. Contact a licensed pest control professional about proper nest removal.


Bed Bugs

The adult bed bug is 3/16” long, oval, flat and rusty red or mahogany in color. The bed bug is flat and thin when unfed but becomes more elongated, plump, and red when it is full of blood. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices during the day, preferring to rest on wood and paper surfaces instead of stone and plaster. It leaves these harborage areas at night to feed on its host which include humans, birds, dogs, and family pets. The blood meal requires three to ten minutes and usually goes unnoticed by the victim. After feeding, the bite site may become inflamed and itch severely.

How to Find Bed Bugs

In the case of a bed bug infestation, it is best to find them early, before the infestation spreads. Treating a small infestation is far less costly and easier than treating the same infestation after it has grown and becomes more widespread.

However, small infestations are also much tougher to find and identify. Other insects, such as carpet beetles, are sometimes mistaken for bed bugs. If you misidentify a bed bug infestation, it gives the bugs more time to spread to other areas of the house.

Ways of Identifying Bed Bugs

Bites on the skin are a poor indicator of a bed bug infestation. Bed bug bites can look like bites from other insects (such as mosquitoes or chiggers), rashes (such as eczema or fungal infections), or even hives. Some people do not react to bed bug bites at all.

A better way to identify a bed bug infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs.

When you are changing the bed, or when you are traveling, here’s some signs to look for:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.
  • Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.
  • Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
  • Live bed bugs.

Boxelder Bug

Adult boxelder bugs are black with red markings. Nymphs have bright red abdomens. They feed on the seeds of the female boxelder tree and leave them during late slimmer and early fall to seek overwintering sites near building windows or the foundation. Boxelder bugs commonly congregate on the sides of buildings where the sun warms them during the day and early evening. These insects do not sting or bite but become annoying when they invade buildings or homes during warm days in the fall, winter or spring. They are excellent flyers.

Where to Find Boxelder Bugs

During the summer months, Boxelder Bugs are perfectly happy outdoors busily eating sap from the seeds of boxelder, maple and ash trees. They are not much of a problem at this point as they have no desire to be indoors. However, once fall arrives they begin to prepare for winter. You will notice them collecting on the sunny side of structures. This is usually the South and West sides. They are drawn to these surfaces because of the heat. Once cooler weather arrives, they penetrate any exterior cracks they can find to hibernate inside the walls. Quite often they go undetected all winter. However, on warm winter days, and especially when spring arrives, they start to come out of hibernation. They begin to exit the structure as they are not able to survive indoors. Unfortunately, some of them go the wrong direction and end up inside of the structure. This is when they become a problem.

Eliminating Boxelder Bugs

Timing is critical in getting rid of boxelder bugs. In the winter and early spring, when they are hibernating inside your walls, they are not always accessible to us. If we can’t get to them, we can’t eliminate them. Therefore, treating for boxelder bugs in the winter or spring does not always yield the best results. However, if we cannot gain access to them in the spring, there is a solution. In the following fall season, when they gather on the outside walls, we can power spray the exterior of the structure. This will eliminate most of them before they get in. This is very effective if it is done at the right time. Around September or October, pay close attention to the outside of the structure. When they show up, please give us a call and make an appointment. This seems to happen at a different time each year so, you will have to watch for them to show up. If you have an existing service agreement with us, in most cases, there will be no additional charge for your service. You have a two to three week window of opportunity to have this done. As they move into the walls, the results will decrease.


Carpenter Ant

These are among the larger (6-12 mm) ants in the United States. Most are black, but some are various shades of brown or red and black. They usually have an evenly rounded thorax when viewed from the side with a circle of tiny hairs on the tip of their abdomen. There is only a single node in the thin-waisted petiole region.

Where to Find Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are social insects that usually nest in the center of rotting trees or water damaged areas within wooden structures. They are commonly found both indoors and outdoors–homes with moisture issues caused by leaks are the prime targets for carpenter ants. These ants feed on many foods. They do not feed on wood. The colonies are sometimes located by sawdust-like debris dropped near their excavation. Homeowners typically see worker ants and swamers (winged ants) when an infestation is happening.



Carpenter Bee

Carpenter Bees are becoming more common in central Iowa. They are a large fuzzy bee with yellow and black markings (some are all black). They look similar to a bumblebee. Despite their similar appearance, their nesting habits are quite different. Carpenter Bees tunnel into wood to lay their eggs. Bare, unpainted or weathered softwoods are preferred especially redwood, cedar, cypress, and pine. Painted or pressure-treated wood is much less susceptible to attack. Common nesting sites include barn rafters, eaves, window trim, fascia boards, siding, wooden shingles, decks and outdoor furniture. Male Carpenter Bees seem quite aggressive, often hovering in front of people who are around the nests. However, the males are quite harmless since they lack stingers. Female carpenter bees can sting but seldom will unless they are mishandled.

Where to Find Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees are attracted to unfinished or weathered wood and they excavate tunnels to use as nests. Common locations that carpenter bees are attracted to are decks, siding, fascia boards and porches. They use their nests in the winter and reemerge in the spring. 



Adult fleas are very small, flattened from side to side, reddish brown in color, wingless and have strongly developed legs. Their hind pair of legs are especially adapted for jumping. They have sucking mouthparts used to siphon out the blood of animals. Larvae are worm-like, legless and tan. They feed on organic debris, dried blood and excrement from adult fleas. Fleas usually bite humans where clothing fits tightly against the body. Adult fleas can live for several weeks without a blood meal. Fleas can transmit several diseases including bubonic plague and tularemia. They are also the carriers of a tapeworm which, in the adult stage, is found in dogs and men.

Where Fleas Come From

When found indoors, fleas are usually associated with pet dogs or cats. They attach to the animal when it’s outside and then infest its fur and indoor spaces from there. Adult fleas depend on a blood meal from a host to survive–they can survive for several weeks without a blood meal though.

Sign of Fleas

  • Pets scratching
  • Swollen, itchy bites on pets or people
  • Flea dirt (the adult flea feces)
  • You will be able to see adult fleas jumping around when you look closely

Treatment of Fleas

Always contact a professional for assistance. Most of the time, using over-the-counter products for flea treatment will not resolve the root cause of the infestation. A pest control professional will exterminate the fleas while you should contact your veterinarian for advice, vacuum your entire home, frequently wash bedding (for yourself and pets), and schedule a follow up inspection.


Indianmeal Moth

The basal half of the front wings of the Indian Meal Moth are light colored with the distal portion reddish-brown to copper. The hind wings lack distinctive markings and are more or less uniformly gray. The wingspan ranges from 1/2″ to 3/4″.

Where Do Indian Meal Moths Come From?

Indian Meal Moth infestations begin with foods that contain the pest’s eggs. The pests may infect pantry foods during production, in a store, or at home. Indian Meal Moths can be found in a wide range of climates and live in stored food products, such as grains, flour, seeds, pet food, nuts, and more. Seeing adult Indian Meal Moths and larvae are common signs of an infestation.

Severity of Indian Meal Moths

While Indian Meal Moths do not carry diseases or parasites, they encourage the growth of mold, leave behind webbing and feces in pantry goods, and they can be very difficult to remove, therefore calling in a professional is necessary. You must get rid of any food that is infested, thoroughly clean shelves, cabinets and pantry and seal any holes or cracks in walls, cabinets or the ceiling.




Millipedes are hard, dark-brown or black, worm-like creatures with two pairs of short legs attached to each body segment. They characteristically curl up when disturbed. Millipedes seek the same habitat as do sowbugs and exhibit similar behavior.

How Do You Get Millipedes?

Millipedes usually dwell in dark, damp areas outdoor spaces, but will migrate indoors typically in the late fall in preparation for winter. Inside, millipedes typically gather on porches and patios and find entry through basement doors and windows, crawlspace vents, doors with missing weather stripping, and garage doors.

Severity of Millipedes

Millipedes do not bite or sting or cause damage to structures or furniture. Detecting an infestation can be difficult, therefore you may have an infestation before you realize it or start to notice them. A professional will be able to design a solution for treating the pests and preventing them from getting inside in the future.



Sowbugs resemble miniature armadillos. Their oval small bodies are segmented; many-legged, and bear two antennae. Because they feed on decaying organic material, they need a very moist habitat to survive. They frequent high-moisture areas such as under trash, rocks, boards, or just beneath the soil surface. They avoid light when possible. During the day they hide under rocks, boards, mulches, or other similar materials that lie flat on the ground. They typically get into homes through ground-level doors and windows. When sowbugs crawl indoors, they usually die quickly because of lack of food and moisture.

Severity of Sowbugs

Sowbugs don’t bite, spread disease or damage property, but are a nuisance if they make their way into your home. You can help keep sowbugs at bay by keeping compost piles, decaying vegetaion and wood piles away from your house and making sure windows and exterior doors are caulked and sealed well. If your home is damp and you notice sowbugs around, you can try running a dehumidifier to reduce some of the humidity.


Subterranean Termite

Being in nearly every state, they are the most common pests injuring structural timber and are the most common type of termite. The winged forms are about 13 mm long and the wingless workers and soldiers are 6 mm long. Termites develop from eggs laid by primary or secondary reproductive. The nymphs proceed through several molts during which the 4 different castes formed are called workers, soldiers primary (winged) reproductive and secondary (wingless) reproductive. Subterranean termite colonies are usually located in the soil from which workers build mud tubes to the wood upon which they must eat for food.

How Did You Get Subterranean Termites?

Subterranean termites live in the soil beneath and around homes and often enter through wood that touches the ground or by constructing “mud tubes” from the ground to the wood. Mud tubes look like long tunnels made of wood and soil, which the termites construct to protect them from drying out as they travel. Cracks in concrete walls and foundations made of hollow blocks can also be points of entry. Other common warning signs of a subterranean termite infestation are the presence of winged swarmers (termites dark-brown to black in color, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and two pairs of wings), mud tubes, damaged wood, uneven or bubbling paint, and small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills also indicate that swarmers have entered and infested the home. 

Severity of Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termite nests can grow quickly and can contain hundreds to thousands of termites. These pests can infest a home for years before they’re detected, so it’s important to pay attention to any warning signs and have them looked at by a professional. A professional pest control company will be able to assess the situation, determine the degree of infestation and develop a treatment plan for your home.


Yellow Jacket

Yellow Jackets have yellow bodies surrounded by black stripes and are 12-18 mm long. This social insect makes large, gray nests that eventually contain hundreds of insects. A new nest is started each spring by a single fertilized queen. Nests may be located above the ground in a protected location or in underground holes. Yellow jackets are very aggressive if their nest is threatened or disturbed and multiple stinging can occur.

How Did I Get Yellow Jackets?

Yellow jackets usually enter yards because they smell food or other attractants–meats and sweets often attract these pests to yards and outdoor dining areas. Open waste containers are also attractive to yellow jackets. The queen will pick either an underground or aerial site to build her nest. Common places for nests include bushes, trees, and overhangs on homes.

Treatment of Yellow Jackets

Yellow jackets are very territorial and if their nest is approached, they will become very aggressive. They can sting multiple times and those allergic to their venom could have a severe reaction. You should contact a pest control professional if you encouter a nest around your home.