The 6 Most Common Bugs and Pests in Southern California

Southern California is one of the best places to live in the US. The beaches, amusement parks, entertainment venues, and job opportunities are just a few benefits of living in this sunny West Coast state. There is one thing that disrupts the fun of living in Southern California and that is household pests. Bugs like ants, termites, and roaches are attracted to the year-round warm climate and dry heat of communities like Orange County and the Inland Empire

There are some bugs that are more common than others in Southern California. If you are a homeowner or commercial property owner, it’s important to know about the common critters found in properties so you can prevent a pest infestation. We’ve done the research for you, and we’re here to share the 6 most common bugs found in Southern California homes.

cockroach in california home

1. Termites

Termites are nasty house bugs in California that can cause a whole lot of damage when left untreated. Unfortunately, we have our fair share of them in Southern California. Here are 3 common types of termites to watch out for:

  • Dry-wood termites: known to thrive in hard, dry wood found inside homes. They are usually a cream or light brown color with an oval-shaped waist, 6 short legs, and wings.
  • Dampwood termites: build homes in damp, decaying wood and don’t typically nest in the soil. Wood that is water-damaged or resting directly on the ground is a perfect spot for these termites to camp out.
  • Subterranean termites: cause the most damage compared to other termites. Subterranean termites build tunnels to reach their food and feast on wood 24 hours a day by using their jaws to bite off small pieces of wood. 

2. Spiders

Ever hear something scuttle across your floor and fear it’s a spider trying to make your home its new favorite destination? We don’t blame you for being scared of these creepy crawlers. In some parts of Southern California, spiders seem to run rampant and live not only in the dark hidden corners of your garage, but also in trees, bushes, and anywhere else they can find. Below are a few common types of spiders found in Southern California:

  • Brown Recluse: usually located under woodpiles, tree bark, or hiding in crawl spaces, under furniture, and in dark secluded areas. They are about 9 millimeters in length with a brown coloring and long, slim legs. 
  • Black Widow: shiny, plump, and black in color with a red hourglass shape on their abdomens. These spiders prefer dark, dry spaces and are usually spotted in barns, boxes, rodent holes, basements, or inside shoes and under blankets. 
  • California Trapdoor Spiders: shiny, hairless black spiders with a rusty brown abdomen. They burrow 7 to 8 inches into the ground to create a home or trap and cover the opening with their silk webbing. 
  • Yellow Sac Spiders: light yellow colored spiders with dark legs, and stripes across their bodies. The Yellow Sac Spider gets their name from the small sacs they hide in during the day. The sacs are made in 10 to 15 minutes and typically hang in the corners of a room.
  • Long-Legged Sac Spiders: most active at night, with pale cream legs and a darker head. One interesting fact about these spiders is that females can lay 30 eggs in one brood. 

3. Cockroaches

Perhaps a more disgusting common insect than spiders are the cockroaches found in your bathroom or under your kitchen table. These bugs are known to carry diseases, multiply quickly, and be almost impossible to kill. Here are the 6 main types of cockroaches you may come across in Southern California:

  • American: the most common form of cockroaches in the US. These pests are attracted to moist, dark areas and love to crawl in bathtubs, floor drains, pipes, and sewers. 
  • German: commonly associated with restaurants, hotels, nursing homes, or in spaces where food is prepared. These cockroaches are a lighter tan color and their droppings are identified as small, “pepper-like” material on counters. 
  • Oriental: black cockroaches with shiny reddish-brown coloring attracted to moist, warm places. Oriental cockroaches are distinguishable for their musty odor and egg cases (brown color and 8 to 10 mm in length).
  • Smokybrown: live in warm spaces with high humidity and often found in greenhouses, gardens, and plant nurseries. These pests can reach up to 38 mm long with strong wings and a shiny, mahogany coloring. 
  • Turkestan: usually live outdoors, but can be attracted to lights in homes or businesses. Turkestan cockroaches are recognized for their brownish-red coloring and rounded wings. 
  • Brownbanded: Although these pests only grow to about half an inch, they eat anything whether it’s book bindings or food left on countertops. Their name comes from the tan stripes located on their red-brown bodies. 

4. Rodents

With a variety of rodents present in the area, you are likely to come across one or many in your home or yard at any given time. There are the typical mice and rats or there are less common rodents such as raccoons and skunks. Below are a few popular rodents found in California homes

  • House Mice: breed rapidly and adapt to a variety of conditions. House droppings gnaw marks, burrows, or damaged goods are a few signs of a mice infestation. 
  • Voles: small, stocky rodents that tunnel through yards. Voles have rounded ears, small eyes, short tails, and thick brown-gray hair. 
  • Norway or Brown Rat: average around 16 inches in length (including the tail), with gray or brown fur coating their body. Rats love to feast on all types of human food or can even prey on lizards or the occasional fish. 

5. Ants

While some other parts of the country freeze enough in the wintertime that ants aren’t a problem, in our mild climate that is not the case. In Southern California, ants can be found outside or inside of your home during any season. Here are 4 common ants you’ll find:

  • Carpenter Ants: black or red and black and usually range in size from ⅜ to ½ inch long. Typically, these ants are found in moist areas such as behind bathroom tiles, attic beams, or foam insulation.
  • Thief Ants: pale yellowish coloring and 1.5-2.2 mm in size. Thief ants love to feed on protein and greasy foods such as nuts, cheese, peanut butter, or sweets. 
  • Pharaoh Ants: light yellow or red with black markings on the abdomen and are only about 1/16th of an inch. Pharaoh ants are persistent and usually enter bathrooms and kitchens or along window sills and baseboards. 
  • Argentine Ants: are very destructive and can nest almost anywhere. These brown ants feed on sweets, honeydew, and oily household foods.  

6. Stinging Insects

Stinging insects are some of the most dangerous Southern Californian bugs to deal with given these insects’ propensity for attacking at the first signs of danger. Wasps, hornets, and some other stinging insects can be eradicated on sight. Preventive’s team takes care in moving beehives when present, so as not to kill honey bees. The following are the common stinging insects you’ll encounter in Southern California:

  • Bumblebees: the “social butterfly” of the bee family in North America because of their tendency to live in colonies, have divisions of labor, and consist of overlapping generations. If bumblebees feel threatened they will sting, and their venom can cause swelling, pain, itching, and redness.
  • Wasps: smooth hairless bodies with black and yellow stripes and about ⅓ to 1 inch in size. Wasps usually feed on other insects and build nests in attics, overhangs, trees, and more. 
  • Hornets: larger in size compared to wasps, more aggressive, and extremely painful sting. Hornets are known to be especially protective over their nests and will not hesitate to sting if they feel threatened. 
  • Yellow Jackets: feed on flower nectar, fruit, and soda if an open can is close by. Yellow Jackets look similar to hornets but can sting multiple times if they perceive their nest or colony is in danger. 
  • Fire Ants: red ants that bite and sting which can cause a burning sensation, itching, swelling, and more. These aggressive ants are easily disturbed by people and are found in trees, structures, or under objects in a yard. 

We Will Get Rid of These Southern California Bugs For You

With the help of a pest control specialist, you can easily manage any pests you find at your home or business. With one of Preventive’s pest control plans, these 6 popular pests don’t have to be a bother to you. 

For guidance with your pest problems, contact us to take the first steps toward making your residence or business pest-free.