Arthropods are invertebrate organisms with segmented bodies that are contained within an exoskeleton, and fossil evidence shows that they are the most ancient terrestrial organisms. Arthropods account for 80 percent of all existing species on earth, and this group is made up of insects, arachnids, crustaceans, myriapods and others. Most arthropods that are considered pests of structures and agricultural crops are insect and arachnid species, but many arthropod pests are neither arachnids nor insects. Just about every arthropod pest encountered within homes are assumed to be either insects or arachnids, including those that are not. The most commonly encountered arthropod pests of homes that are neither insects nor arachnids include house centipedes, pill bugs, sow bugs, and springtails.
Lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and crayfish are well known to be crustaceans, and it is widely assumed that all crustacean species are marine organisms. However, sow bugs and pill bugs, also known as woodlice, are very common indoor crustacean pests that belong to the Isopod order. Pill bugs and sow bugs are very similar in appearance, as both possess a stale grey to black ovoid exoskeleton that largely encapsulates their appendages. These indoor pests are both between ¼ and ½ inch in length, and they are most often found in basements, crawl spaces, and in moist ground floor areas. Sealing cracks, crevices and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of homes, and installing door sweeps and mesh screen barriers on crawl space openings will prevent sow bug and pill bug invasions, but in rare cases, insecticides are necessary to eliminate infestations.
Springtails are hexapods that were once categorized as insects, and they are well known for invading homes in large numbers by squeezing through extremely narrow cracks and crevices on exterior walls. These bugs migrate indoors during bouts of dry weather, and their body length ranges from .25 to 6 mm, making them exceptionally small. Springtails are often mistaken for fleas due to their tiny size and habit of hopping into the air when disturbed. Although springtails can become a tremendous nuisance indoors, they will die quickly unless they secure exceptionally moist shelter. Centipedes and millipedes belong to the Myriapoda subphylum of arthropods, and they are probably the most frequently encountered arthropods within homes that are neither insects nor arachnids.
Have you ever encountered springtails within your home?