œPlease help me! I found these little round, black bugs crawling all over my kitchen. What are they? I get that kind of question at least fifty times a week and those people are serious. They really are in need of answers and they are not thinking of anything other than how to get rid of the bugs as quickly as possible.
Naturally, most people run to the store and buy a can of some type of pesticide. Their choice is usually based upon a picture on the can or the word œProfessional, with no regard to the contents or what the label says the product is meant to control. So, very often the results are less than satisfactory. Some bugs are killed, but the problem returns full force the next day.
Here's the problem. If you don't know what kind of insect you have you won't know how to treat the problem. Therefore, pest ID is the answer. Ants, for example, can nest outdoors and travel to and from their nest searching for food. Treating inside will have little effect on the ant colony, so the ants keep coming. Other ants may nest under the slab of a house. Treating the foundation may not hit the mark if the ants are getting into the house via a crack in the slab. Those ants never come close to where the pesticides have been applied. However, if you have taken the time to learn exactly what type ants are invading, you can easily discover where they like to nest and what they like to eat. That will quickly lead you to the steps you must take to exclude the ants and put out the right type of ant baits to lure the unwanted guests to their final supper.
Getting a pest identified requires nothing more than collecting a few of the insects in a jar with a tight lid. Don't put the insect in an envelope or wrap it in a tissue. They inevitably get squashed and you end up taking a smashed bug to someone who is unable to identify it. If you don't have a jar a sealable baggie is acceptable.
So, who is going to identify a pest? Well, you can take the specimen to any local pest control company for a free ID, but expect to hear a sales pitch. They are giving you a free service and the least you can do is listen patiently. You may learn something. In fact, you may learn that you don't have the tools to do the job, and end up working with the pest control professional.
If you are determined to do the job yourself and want to avoid pest control professionals at all costs, you can take your bug to the local county extension agent. Every county has one. It's one of the best free programs our government has to offer and the agents are very knowledgeable. Often times they are graduate entomologists and they will be able to provide in depth advice about how to best treat for your pest problem.
If you live near a university with a biology or entomology department you can call them to ask if there is someone on staff who can identify your bug. Most of these university departments are happy to help and, once again, the service is free.
Pest control requires pest ID, first and foremost every time.