Homes, buildings, yards and landscapes can become infested and/or damaged by numerous different types of arthropod pests, such as flies, bed bugs, cockroaches, house centipedes, ants, termites, beetles, fleas and spiders. Most arthropod pests are not inherently “pests,” as all insect species are natural components of the particular ecosystems where they are native. However, many arthropod species can be a nuisance to humans, and some can be ecologically and economically damaging, while many others can pose a threat to public health. Arthropods that fall into any of these categories are considered “pests,” but several additional pest categories have been proposed, such as agricultural and stored food pests.

Most insect pest species fit more than one pest category. For example, insect species like the Argentine ant and the red-imported fire ant have each established an invasive habitat in the United States where they have displaced native and ecologically essential ant species, making these two insect species ecological pests. Red imported fire ants can also be an economically damaging nuisance pest within yards and crops, as well as a serious public health threat due to their venomous stings and aggressive nature. The Argentine ant has become one of the most problematic nuisance ant species in the US, and their habit of destroying electrical devices also makes them economically significant pests. Argentine ants have been documented as damaging and even destroying appliances, cell phones, utility boxes, computers and even air conditioners. These ant pest are most problematic in the south, but the northeast is also home to numerous invasive arthropod pest species.

Several invasive species of moth larvae (caterpillars) have inflicted extensive damage to rural, urban and residential trees, making these caterpillar pests both ecological, economic, and in many cases, medically significant pests. For instance, the tree-damaging Gypsy moth caterpillar’s exterior is outfitted with spines that cause venomous stings that sometimes lead to allergic reactions upon contact with human skin. When it comes to invasive household insect pests, the brown marmorated stink bug and the Asian lady beetle may be the two most significant nuisance species in the northeast. These two pests are native to Asia, and have spread rapidly to most areas of the country. While both of these invasive insect pests are almost always referred to as being a nuisance within homes, they have also been documented as secreting fluids that cause allergic reactions, making them minor medical threats as well. In fact, researchers claim that Asian lady beetle allergies are on the rise. It should also be mentioned that some insects are highly beneficial and even essential to maintaining human life on this planet, while also posing a serious public health threat. Both bees and wasps, which pollinate much of the world’s cultivated and natural forms of vegetation, are also responsible for causing at least 60 recorded human deaths per year in the USA alone.

Were you aware that Asian lady beetle-related allergy cases are becoming more common in the northeast?