Occasional Invaders

“Occasional Invaders” is an exterminator term for insects and other small arthropods that usually live outside, but that occasionally make their way into our homes and become pests. The most common occasional invaders in Florida include: silverfishearwigspillbugssowbugscentipedesmillipedesboxelder bugs and crickets.  Most of these creatures are harmless, and whether or not you consider them worth controlling depends a lot on your personal tolerance for bugs.

The most important steps to effective control of occasional invaders are non-chemical; pesticides should only be used when necessary and will be much more effective if the following non-chemical steps have already been taken:

♦  Make sure that the ground around the perimeter of the home is properly graded and drained.
♦  Clean or repair any clogged or damaged rain gutters and downspouts.
♦  Use organic mulches such as wood chips sparingly, if at all.
♦  Adjust lawn sprinklers so they don’t spray water against the sides of the house.

There are countless insects and related arthropods in Florida that occasionally make their way into buildings and become pests. Most of these creatures are ill-suited to live inside, and often they will die on their own once they are inside the home. Unfortunately, that often means having to clean their dead bodies away every day; so many people opt for regular exterior treatments designed to keep these critters out of their homes in the first place. There are many other species of insects other than just the list here that occasionally become structural pests. So if something is bugging you, please feel free to contact us for prompt, professional assistance with all of your pest control needs.

Here are a few of Florida's more common occasional invaders.

Sowbug & Pillbug

Sowbugs, sometimes called "potato bugs" (Left), and pillbugs, sometimes called "roly-poly bugs" (Right), aren't really "bugs" at all. They're crustaceans who live under rocks, in organic mulch, and in other landscape areas rich in moist, decaying organic matter. They're completely harmless to humans, but occasionally become an annoyance when they migrate into our homes, where they unceremoniously die on the floor — often in large numbers.

If daily sweeping and vacuuming doesn't bother you (or if you don't mind your floor being littered with crunchy carcasses), then no treatment is needed. Otherwise, non-chemical habitat modification, supplemented with exterior insecticide application if needed, will help reduce the number of sowbugs and pillbugs that get into your home.

Centipede & Millipede

Centipedes (Left) and Millipedes (Right) aren't insects because insects, by definition, have six legs as adults. Nonetheless, both centipedes and millipedes occasionally become structural pests when they get into homes. Some species of centipedes can survive inside homes, and a few species are capable of stinging. Millipedes can't sting but can secrete a toxin that is irritating to the skin. Most millipede species, however, die shortly after they make their way inside a house. They often can be found lying dead, curled up in little circles on the floor.

Centipede and millipede control may consist of habitat modification, trapping, exclusion, and (when necessary) the use of insecticides.

Boxelder Bug

Boxelder bugs are named for their favorite food source: the seed pods of the boxelder tree. They usually become structural pests when they enter building through cracks and crevices to spend the winter. They can stain walls, draperies, and furnishings, and emit a foul odor when crushed.

Boxelder bug control may consist of removing boxelder trees close to the building, sealing exterior cracks and crevices, physically removing the bugs from the home's interior with a vacuum cleaner, and the use of insecticides on the home's exterior. To be effective, insecticide applications should be performed before the insects start entering the home to overwinter.


Earwigs are primarily nocturnal insects that are minor agricultural pests. They occasionally become structural pests when they enter homes and other buildings, where they spend most of their days loafing around in dark, damp nooks and crannies. Some people fear earwigs because of an old wives' tale that taught that earwigs laid their eggs in human brains by burrowing through the ear canal. But that's just an old wives' tale. Earwigs are harmless to humans.

Earwig control consists of habitat modification, correcting moisture problems and removing organic debris, sealing cracks and crevices, and the application of insecticides.


This insect gets its name from its silvery, metallic appearance and fish-like shape and movements. Silverfish have no wings but are able to run very fast. They tend to hide their presence from humans which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed as well.

Silverfish tend to feed on paper items, glue, clothing and food items, such as flour and rolled oats. Silverfish can live up to a year without food, but require a high humidity environment. They move fast and are typically nocturnal.

Silverfish control consists of habitat modification, consider a dehumidifier for your home, repair leaky pipes and drains and eliminate or repair any moldy or wet wood. Don’t keep old books and magazines in areas where silverfish are usually found like basements, attics, and garages. It’s also important to keep food items such as flour and sugar in tight containers.


There are many species of crickets, but the ones most commonly encountered by Florida pest control operators are mole crickets. Mole crickets are serious turf grass pests who damage lawns and gold courses by both their feeding activities and their tunneling. Occasionally, however, mole crickets get into homes, barns, sheds, and other buildings, where they spend their days sitting around in the dark. They commonly can be found in crawl spaces, utility tunnels and chases, garages, manholes, and other dark, secluded spaces.

Crickets have been associated with asthma, respiratory allergies, and rhino conjunctivitis. Control usually consists of exterior treatment with granular insecticide baits, sealing off crickets' access into buildings, trapping crickets who already have gotten in, and (if necessary), the use of insecticides inside the building. Regular, seasonal exterior treatments, however, usually prevent the need for exterior pesticide application.

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