Household Insects


Small red ants:  Monomorium destructor; M. criniceps; M. gracillinum; M. indicum

Large black ants: Camponotus compressus

 Red odoriferous ants: Myrmecaria brunnea

 Safari ants: Dorylus labiatus

Ants eat and carry food material and create nuisance in the kitchen and house where they crawl in the eatables and other items of use. Some species also leave formic acid odour in the eatables. Because of excessively large number they manage to carry large about of food grains from kitchen to their nests.

Control. Ant pans should be used to protect eatables. Baiting with thallous sulphate and thallium sulphate or sodium arsenite kills ants. Nest should be located and fumigated with carbon bisulfide. Dusting of the floor and ant trails with 5% dust of chlordane, BHC, diazinon and lindane is an effective method to get rid of them.


Termites eat away any wood article, paper, plants and animal products. They destroy doors, windows, cupboards, almirahs etc.

Control. Pressure impregnation of creosote, coaltar, zinc chloride, mercuric chloride, sodium fluosilicate, dieldrin etc. helps to get rid of them. Wood can be immersed in the insecticide solution for 24 hours to make it termite resistant. Soil treatment with dieldrin or BHC before construction of house should be done to keep termites away from the buildings. Termite nests can be destroyed by pouring in them a mixture of dieldrin and kerosene.


Dinoderus ocellaris

Sinoxylon sudanicus (Bostrychidae)

Stegobium paniceum

Anobium punctatum

Heterobostrychus aequalis

Lycus africanus

They are also called powder-post beetles in India. Prothorax covers the deflexed head, antennae are clavate, generally 11-segmented and elytra completely cover the abdomen.

Damage. Both adults and grubs damage wood reducing it into powder. They cut galleries inside wood and make it week so that it breaks easily with slightest of pressure.

Control. Treatment of wood with copper sulphate or zinc chloride before making furniture prevents the damage. Infested wood can be dried at 80-90 degrees to kill all stages of the insects inside. Fumigation by inserting cotton swabs soaked in chloroform or methyl bromide into the galleries also kills the larvae and adults inside. Regular varnishing and polishing of furniture is a good preventive measure.


Ptinus tectus; P. hirtellus; Niptus hololeucus (family Ptinidae)

These beetles are 2-4 mm long and possess long legs and antennae; the 11-segmented antennae are placed closely in front of legs. Body is covered with short hairs. They feed on a variety of stored products.



Lepisma saccharina

Thermobia domestica (fire brat)

They are silvery grey dorso-ventrally flattened stream-lined creatures that are about one cm in length. Tip of abdomen possesses three long thread-like cerci. They are quick in movement and crawl on the walls and hide behind pictures.

Damage. Silver fish are commonly found on walls and feed on starch, cloths, fabric, book-binding, pictures etc., which produces holes in papers pictures and books. Dark and damp places are preferred and hence their population goes up during rainy season. Life cycle can take up to 2 years and longevity of adults is 1-3 years.

Control. Spraying carbamates such as carbaryl, baygon etc. kills them quickly. Dusting with 5% carbaryl is also effective. Baits can be prepared by mixing oatmeal and sodium fluoride, paris green or white arsenic and sugar. However, regular cleaning and ventilation for drying is an effective method to bring down their population.

CARPET BEETLES (family Dermestidae)

Dermestes lardarius; D. carnivorous; D. ater; D. maculatus; D. vulpinus;

Anthrena fasciatus; A. vorax (=flavipes); A. pimpinella; A. fasciatus are called spotted carpet beetles as they possess bands of different colour. Larvae are reddish-brown in colour, 6.0 mm long, hairy with long hairs on the posterior side.

Attagenus pellio; A. piceus, are called black carpet beetles. Larvae are hairy, golden-brown in colour and 1.0 cm long. They are small beetles with oval body densely covered with hairs, 2-5 mm long and with a small head having a median ocellus. Antennae are short and capitate. Tarsi are 5-segmented. Larvae are dark brownish to black and possess long brownish hairs and hence nick-named “Woolly bears”. Their cast skin is also hairy.

Damage. Both larvae and adults bite holes in clothes, carpets, woollens, padding of furniture, curtains, fur etc. They also attack museum specimens, stuffed animals, dried meat etc.

Control. Fumigation with paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene and spray of stainless insecticides such as perthane and methoxychlor or dusting the corners with dieldrin or BHC helps to eradicate them. Control measures are particularly important to be undertaken during summer and rainy months.


Tinea pachyspila; T. pellionella;

Trichophaga abruptella;

They are small moths of dull colour, having a wing span of one centimetre and frequently fly about in houses. Larva is 2 cm long, enclosed in a greyish silken case which it drags along while crawling on the walls, floors etc. Pupation also takes place inside the case, pupal period being about 10 days. Under warm and moist conditions the entire life cycle is completed in six weeks.

Damage. Larva attacks wool, hair, feather, fur, dead insects, dried animals, fish meal, milk powder, leather etc.

Control.Clothes and other fabrics should be thoroughly dried up and then dusted with insecticides. Fumigation with paradichlorobenzene, naphthalene or camphor and spray of insecticides, e.g. perthane, methoxychlor, malathion etc. effectively kills the larvae as well as adults.


Acheta (=Gryllus) domestica, more common in the field but also found in houses, is dark brown in colour. Both sexes are winged. Cerci are long and hind wings also pointed forming a tail-like structure.

Gryllodes sigillatus, dull and straw-coloured with brownish patches on body and legs and with a brown streak on the head. Female is wingless and male winged. Abdomen has cerci in both sexes and female has a long ovipositor in the middle.

Gryllotalpa Africana, the mole cricket has fore limbs modified for digging and hind legs adapted for jumping. It lives in burrows and feeds on the roots of plants. It comes out in the night and is sometimes attracted to lights.

Crickets are found in dark and damp places in kitchens, crevices and cracks in the houses. They are nocturnal and feed on a variety of food materials and damage clothing. They are omnivorous and hence damage almost any article of use in the houses. They also stain the articles and clothing with faecal matter. In the night they annoy by making noise. They breed in rainy season and autumn and lay eggs in damp cracks and crevices. Eggs hatch in 8-10 days. Nymphal period is about 6 weeks during which they undergo 8-9 moults.

Control. They can be controlled by spraying carbamates, Baygon, lindane, malathion, endosulfan etc. Maintenance of hygiene and dry conditions in homes keeps them away. They can be trapped in large numbers in a jar containing starchy sweet vinegar, mixed with insecticide, white arsenic or paris green.


Liposcellis transvalensis; L. divinatorius

They belong to order Psocoptera and prefer to live in dark, damp places in houses libraries and museums. They are tiny pale whitish insects, 1-2 mm long, soft bodied, without wings and cerci. Antennae are short filiform and hind femora are enlarged. They lay extraordinary egg that measures one-third of the body length. In the night they make ticking sound due to which they are also called “death watch”.

Damage. They are omnivorous and feed on fungi, stored products, book binding etc. They thrive on animal and vegetable debris, paste, fungi, glue, dry botanical and zoological specimens etc. They have been recorded to seriously damage tea packed and stored in damp godowns in Assam. They are particularly abundant in the old unused books, whose paper and binding they damage.

Control. They can be controlled by dusting the places with any insecticide. Fumigation with sulphur dioxide or HCN gas or ethyl acetate kills them quickly. Thorough cleaning and drying or heating of infested articles up to 60oC gives relief in mild infestations.