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Insects in your home


See also Insects that suck your blood (e.g. head lice, fleas)

Insects that contaminate food

Periplaneta americana (American cockroach)

General scavenger. Breeds in damp places (e.g. under sink).

Musca domestica (Housefly)


Lucilia cuprina (Sheep blowfly)

Breeds in dung and refuse. 

Insects that eat dry, stored food

Stegobium paniceum (Drugstore beetle)

Infestations often found in pantry cupboards infesting dry food stuffs that have been left neglected. Despite being in the same family as the furniture beetle, it does not bore into wood.

Sitophilus oryzae (Rice weevil)

Pest of stored grain, including rice and maize (2.3 - 4.5 mm).

Insects that eat textiles (clothes, woollen carpets)

Anthrenus verbasci (Carpet beetle)

The larvae are nicknamed 'woolly bears' because of their plump appearance and long hairs; they feed on dried animal substances, especially wool and skins.. Adults feed on pollen on flowers.

Moths (Lepidoptera)

A number of moth species attack  textiles including the Common clothes moth Tineola bisselliella (Tineidae), Case-bearing clothes moth Tinea pellionella (Tineidae), Tapestry moth Trichophaga tapetzella, and Brown house moth Hoffmannophila pseudospretella (Oecophoridae) 


Insects that damage books and paper

Ctenolepisma longicaudata

Zygentoma (fishmoths)

Damages books.




Insects that damage furniture and timber

Anobium punctatum (Common furniture beetle)

Makes tiny round hole in the furniture.



Lepisiota incisa

A species indigenous to Africa but its exact origins remain obscure. It has become very common in leafy suburbs and is able to exclude Argentine ant.


Linepithema humile (Argentine ant)

Introduced to southern Africa from Argentina, probably around about 1900.


Pheidole megacephala (Brown house ant)

Reddish coloured ants with major and minor workers. Common in parts of the Eastern Cape (Grahamstown, Port Alfred, northwards), KwaZulu-Natal and in Pretoria but not Johannesburg.


Technomyrmex pallipes

If you find ants in electronic equipment such as DVD players, burglar alarm sensors or computer hardware, they are probably this species. They nest where there is warmth and equipment that is kept permanently on is the ideal place. These ants are probably indigenous but have become increasingly common in homes.

Text and images by Hamish G. Robertson

Insects in your home

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