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In Massachusetts and most other northeastern states, ants, flies and cockroaches are the three most commonly reported insect house pests. Many residents of Massachusetts are well acquainted with fly pest issues both indoors and outdoors due to the abundance of fast-flying and bloodsucking fly species that inflict painful bites. Biting flies are generally outdoor pests, and they include horse flies, stable flies, and deer flies. Indoors, cluster flies are the most common fly pests in the northeast where they tend to swarm into attics during the fall in order to overwinter. Other indoor fly pests include common house flies and fruit flies, but these flies can normally be eliminated from homes by removing rotting organic material that serves as a food and breeding site.

When it comes to cockroaches, the German cockroach accounts for a majority of infestations due to its indoor habitat. American cockroaches are also common, but they are easily identifiable due to their relatively large 2 inch body length. Ants, on the other hand, are hard to identify because they are small even for insects, and several different species are known for being indoor pests. However, it is important for residents to properly identify the ant species infesting their home, as ant control treatments vary tremendously depending on the species.

Unlike termite swarmers (alates), ant bodies are not straight sided; instead, ants are clearly composed of a bulbous abdomen located at their rear end, and a thorax located behind their head. Depending on the species, ants have either one or two petiole nodes in between the thorax and abdomen. Although it often takes a magnifying glass to see whether an ant pest has one or two nodes, it is important for residents to determine whether the ants in their home are one-node or two-node ants, as doing so will narrow down the species of ant pest a resident is dealing with. In the northeast, the odorous house ant, the citronella ant, and red and black carpenter ant species have a single node, while pavement ants, Pharaoh ants and thief ants have two nodes. Once an ant pest is found to be either single or double noded, accurately identifying a species becomes much less difficult.

Have you ever determined whether an ant pest was single or double noded in an effort to identify a species?