• Chelle Hartzer

It's All Fun and Games (AKA: What will you medal in?)

It’s winter Olympics season! I have to admit, I haven’t really paid much attention to it. I do appreciate there are some amazing athletes with some pretty incredible skills. Which brings to mind some of our pest species. Talk about being incredible in their own special way! So in honor of the Olympics, I give you the Pest Olympics:


Gold medals:

  • For longest swim – the Norway rat. It’s no surprise that Norway rats are good swimmers. What may be surprising is just how far a Norway rat can successfully swim. A New Zealand research project radio-tagged and released rats on an uninhabited island to track their behaviors. Unfortunately, they lost one. It was found over 400m (about ¼ of a mile) away on another island!

  • For eating almost anything – the cigarette beetle. One anonymous quote said that these hardy little beetles “can eat anything but cast iron”. That may be a slight exaggeration, but not by much. As the name suggests, they do feed on tobacco which is not the healthiest of food sources. They feed on spices like cayenne powder and are (in)famous for feeding on rodenticides!

  • For longest lifespan – the termite. Specifically, the termite queen: her lifespan can be more than 20 years. She may also get the gold medal for egg laying since in that span she will lay thousands of eggs each day. This is one of the reasons termites are difficult to control. You may eliminate some workers and even some parts of the colony, but if you don’t reach the queen, the colony will just start right back up again the very next day.

  • For biggest family – Argentine ants. Many ants have a single queen and a single nest. Some ants will have multiple queens and the nest is a bit more spread out. Argentine ants have been found to have multiple queen colonies that span hundreds of miles. A California colony is estimated to be covering 560 miles, while colonies in Europe may be spread over 3,000 miles!

Silver medals:

  • For the most noise – crickets. Yeah, crickets are definitely not the noisiest insects out there (the gold goes to cicadas), but they get the silver for being the most annoying. Anyone who has ever had a cricket in their house knows they manage to find just the right corner to start “singing”. It reverberates off the walls and they are always hard to find…despite making such a racket!

  • For cold hardiness – warehouse beetle (Dermestids). Sure, there are plenty of insects that can survive freezing temperatures, but warehouse beetles get the medal for our pest species. The common species can survive 20 days at -19oC (that’s -2oF).

  • Fastest development - fruit flies. It takes just ten days for a fruit fly egg to develop into an adult. They get a silver medal because that ties with the development time of phorid flies. This is always dependent on temperature, moisture, and food sources. It’s always a challenge dealing with these flies because after cleaning and treating, if there is just a little bit left, you will have a new generation popping up in less than two weeks.

Bronze medals:

  • Best egg production – Indian meal moths. These moths don’t lay the most eggs of any insect, in fact, they only lay about 400 eggs in the few days they are adults. However, they get a medal because 99% of those eggs are viable. In other words, 99% will successfully hatch into larvae. That is huge for insects; most will have around 80% or even less viability.

  • Most misidentified pest – bed bugs. For all of you about to yell at me: “I ABSOLUTELY know how to identify bed bugs!!!”, you are right. Professionals do know how to ID bed bugs. However, the general public is actually pretty bad at it. A recent study showed that only 20% of leisure and business travelers could pick a bed bug out of a lineup of five insects.

There are plenty of other insects that could join this list, comment below with your “medaling” pest or argue with me on my picks! While these may seem fun and a bit irreverent, these are all serious pests that have evolved to be incredibly good at what they do. If you need help dealing with these or any other pest problem, contact us here!



Lagniappe – gold medal for the deadliest animal in the world





360 PFCS – your urban pest control consultants.

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