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What You Need To Know About Pests In San Diego County

When you have a pest problem, knowing the signs and calling professional assistance can save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid dangerous health hazards. Get to know everything we've learned about local pests in our many years of industry and area experience.


a red ant on the dirt

With over 10,000 ant species in the world, it’s no surprise that there’s a huge variety of sizes, looks, and behaviors. However, despite their diversity, all ant species on Earth do share a few things in common. Ants are all social insects, living in colonies controlled by one or more queens. The queen is responsible for populating the colony, laying all the eggs that will eventually become workers, drones (males), and future queens.

Workers comprise the majority of the ant colony and are always female. Workers are responsible for all the – you guessed it – work that has to happen in the colony. They find the food and bring it back to the nest. They take care of the larvae. They dig the tunnels. They even seek out potential new nesting sites. Meanwhile, drones’ sole purpose is to mate with the queen and fertilize the next generation.

Argentine, red, and odorous house ants are three separate species, but they all have three body parts (head, thorax, and abdomen), they all live in the same basic social structure, and they all seek similar foods. Both Argentine and red ants prefer sweets over anything else, but they’ll also eat fats and proteins. Odorous house ants prefer the sweet honeydew secreted by aphids and will often cultivate them, meaning they may bring these harmful bugs to your property if they take up residence there.

If ants find their way into your home, they can be really tough to get rid of. When worker ants find food, they leave a pheromone trail behind for other workers to follow. That’s why you frequently find straight lines of ants headed to and from accessible pieces of food. While you can disrupt ant pheromone trails by spraying them with a little white vinegar, if you don’t take care of the source of the problem (a.k.a. easy access to your home and its food supply), the ants will just keep coming back.

The best way to get rid of ants and keep them gone for good is to call Lockwood Pest Control but to be of extra help, we’ve put together the following tips:

  • Keep lids on garbage cans and food containers.
  • Don’t leave foods sitting out (cookie plates, fruit bowls, etc.).
  • Eliminate ant entryways into your home (busted screens, holes in siding, cracks in brick mortar, etc.).
  • Fix moisture issues like leaky plumbing, clogged gutters, and drains.


a german cockroach on a plant

While there are over 4,600 cockroach species in the world, the big three in our area are the German, Oriental, and American cockroaches. Each of these roaches has a distinct look, but they exhibit pretty similar behavior. Cockroaches aren’t picky eaters; they’ll go for just about anything they can find in our kitchens, garbage, and pantries. Not even your dirty dishes are safe!

American, German, and Oriental cockroaches might look a little different, but they all share a few things in common. First off, like any insect, they all have six legs, and the legs of all three varieties have long spines. All three of these roach species also have oval-shaped bodies with long wings that start at their heads and extend the entire lengths of their backs. All three roaches also have long antennas.

Roaches are ugly and gross to be sure, but they’re a lot more dangerous than they look because of the diseases they spread. Cockroaches hang out in the nastiest places you can think of, such as sewers, compost piles, landfills, dumpsters. When they invade your home, they bring all the pathogens they picked up in these heebie jeebie-inducing places with them. What’s even worse is that cockroaches have pathogens and parasites not just on their bodies but inside them as well. All in all, roaches are known or suspected to spread dozens of diseases, including salmonella, typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery.

Cockroaches also breed quickly, with just a few individuals ballooning into a major infestation in as little as a few weeks. What’s even worse is that cockroaches all over the world have developed and continue to increase their immunity to a wide variety of chemical insecticides. Lockwood Pest Control is the best way to protect yourself from a future infestation and eliminate an existing one.

To be of additional help, we’ve put together a few tips for things you can do at home:

  • Clean all dirty dishes immediately and never leave them sitting out – not even in the sink.
  • Cover trash tightly and store food in airtight containers to mask its smell.
  • Clear clutter so roaches don’t have anywhere to hide.
  • Inspect your home’s exterior and seal off all potential roach entry points.
  • Eliminate moisture problems that provide a consistent water source for roaches.


a gopher in the grass

There are around 35 species of gopher in the world, and all of them are native to North and Central America. Their proper name is the pocket gopher due to the pockets they have in their cheeks for storing and carrying food.

These rodents look a lot like big mice. They’re usually 6 inches to a little over a foot long, they’re gray or light brown, and they have long, curved front teeth. However, gophers tunnel through the ground like moles, preferring to live outside in subterranean nests. That means, unlike rats and mice, the rodents don’t have any reason to set up shop in your house, but they can be a nightmare in your yard.

Gophers love to dig holes, preferring loose, sandy soil that’s easy to excavate. They dig tunnels for many different purposes. They use shallow tunnels to forage and move through their nests, while deep tunnels are for food storage and nesting. They can dig upwards of 2,000 square feet of tunnels anywhere from a few inches to 6 feet in depth, creating tall mounds of dirt as they push it out of their holes.

Not only will gophers fill your yard full of holes, but they may also wreck your landscaping as well. Gophers are herbivores, and they eat just about any kind of plant they can get their paws on. They get their food by eating roots they find under the soil surface, covering short distances above ground to bring food back to their tunnels, and even grabbing a plant by the roots and yanking it down into the tunnel from above. Gophers can damage or destroy just about any plant on your property, from your flowers to your shrubs to your veggie garden.

Gophers can be stubborn pests in the sense that once they decide your yard is a good place to live, it’s next to impossible to change their minds. Lockwood Pest Control can help you get rid of these destructive pests, but there are also things you can do on your own to keep them away:

  • Protect your landscaping by burying metal gopher mesh around two to two and a half feet below the surface before you plant.
  • Grow veggies in raised beds to keep gophers from digging underneath them.
  • Plant gopher repelling plants like lavender, salvia, rosemary, and natal plum.
  • Use mulch or gravel around landscaping to make it harder for gophers to pull up plants.

Learn more about our gopher control services.


close up of a rat

One of the biggest problems in any urban area is rodents, specifically mice and rats. Because our garbage offers easy pickings and our houses provide climate-controlled shelter, rodents don’t have much motivation to remain in the wild.

Rats and mice are relatives and exhibit a lot of the same behaviors, but there are several ways to tell them apart. Rats are much bigger than mice, sometimes growing as large as the size of a football. They have small ears, more rounded snouts, and hairless tails. Meanwhile, mice have larger ears, pointier snouts, and furry tails. Mice are also always much smaller than rats, usually no bigger than 4 or 5 inches long, excluding the tail.

Keep in mind, you won’t normally see rats and mice infesting the same area. It’s almost always one or the other because rats tend to outcompete their smaller cousins and drive them away if they show up to a house infested with mice.

You might think a couple of rodents hanging around is no big deal, but these pests are actually quite dangerous to your health, spreading dozens of different diseases, many of which can be deadly (like bubonic plague and lymphocytic choriomeningitis). That means you’re going to want to get rid of them as soon as possible. This is easier said than done, unfortunately.

Once rats or mice establish themselves on your property, they can be extremely hard to get rid of. Both these rodents breed exponentially, meaning they have large litters that sexually mature at a rapid rate and go on to have their own pups, sometimes in as little as four to eight weeks after birth. That means if you get one breeding pair in your house, it won’t be long before you have dozens or hundreds, so it’s vital to avoid that first pair.

If you wind up with rodents, it’s just about impossible to eliminate all of them. Sticky traps, poisons, and snap traps only kill a few individuals, just making room for more pups to grow up and take their place. Lockwood Pest Control can help you take care of your rodent problem, but we’ve also included some tips to help you avoid getting an infestation in the first place:

  • Keep tight lids on all trash bins.
  • Store food in the fridge or in airtight, hard plastic containers.
  • Repair potential entry points like cracks and holes in your home’s exterior.
  • Clear clutter to eliminate rodent hiding places.


close up of wolf spider

Spiders are an important part of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and we have our fair share here in California. We can classify the spiders in our area into two basic categories: hunting spiders and web spiders. Wolf spiders and jumping spiders are hunting spiders, meaning they actively stalk their prey rather than weaving a trap for it. House, garden, orb, hobo, and daddy long leg spiders all build webs and wait for their prey to come to them (note: daddy long leg spiders or cellar spiders are not the same thing as harvestmen, otherwise known as daddy long legs, which are not actually a spider). You might see hunting spiders scurrying across the floor as they stalk their prey, while you’re more likely to find web-weaving spiders hiding out in dark corners on your floor or near your ceiling.

Aside from the hobo spider, the spider species covered in this post aren’t dangerous. Their bites will likely cause nothing more than localized pain and swelling. Hobo spider bites, however, may cause muscle cramps, gastrointestinal disturbances, headache, or blistering at the site of the bite. Hobo spider bites are not considered life-threatening, and these symptoms should resolve on their own.

No spider species has much reason to enter human habitations. They don’t need us for shelter, and unlike with other bugs, we don’t have anything they want to eat. The only time you might wind up with spiders infesting your house in high numbers is if they’re hunting another infestation. Your house can be infested with all kinds of spider prey, including roaches, silverfish, flies, and other invertebrates. That means the best way to keep spiders out of your home is to avoid becoming infested with prey that attracts them.

Lockwood Pest Control can help you achieve this goal, but to be of further assistance, we’ve listed some things you can do on your own:

  • Seal foods in airtight containers to mask their smells from ants, roaches, etc.
  • Inspect your home and seal up cracks and holes in the exterior.
  • Install weather stripping in door sweeps and window frames.
  • Make sure all window and door screens are intact.

Widow Spiders

black widow spider in web

One of the most dangerous arachnid pests that can invade your home, the widow spider, can pose a serious threat to you and your family. While males and brown widows are not considered dangerous, female black widow spiders are one of only three spider species in the United States that pack a “medically significant” bite. This means the venom of the widow spider is potent enough to cause significant distress in humans. While you’re not likely to die from a widow spider bite, you might experience serious symptoms like nausea/vomiting, muscle spasms, headache, severe pain, difficulty breathing, or stupor.

Widow spiders spin loose, irregularly shaped webs to trap their prey. They tend to weave these webs in dark, hidden corners close to the ground. Black widows are very distinct looking: they are shiny, hairless, long-legged, solid black, and the females have a bright red hourglass-shaped marking on their underbellies. Brown widows are a little harder to identify. They can range from tan to dark brown, have long legs with alternating dark and light stripes, and females have an orange hourglass marking that’s larger on the bottom than the top.

Widow spiders don’t have much reason to invade your home unless it’s infested with another pest they hunt for food. Widows eat pretty much any insect they can catch in their webs, including but not limited to mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers. If you have an infestation of anything black or brown widows like to eat, they might follow it into your house.

The best way to deal with a widow infestation is to let Lockwood Pest Control handle these dangerous spiders. To be of further assistance, we’ve included some tips on avoiding widow infestation:

  • Sweep for webs on a regular basis.
  • Declutter to keep widow hiding spots to a minimum.
  • Eliminate infestations of widow prey.
  • Ensure window and door screens are intact.
  • Use weather stripping to fill gaps in window and door jambs.
  • Eliminate moisture problems that may attract insects to your home.

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