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Insect pests have been annoying and even harmful to humans within and around dwellings for centuries. An insect species becomes a pest once it establishes a habitat in human settings for the purpose of gaining easier access to the resources it needs to survive. Insect pests like German cockroaches and bed bugs have become so reliant on humans that they are no longer able to survive outside of homes and buildings. The very few insect pests that have evolved to live solely indoors must have been the first insect species to make a leap into human habitats thousands of years ago. Although humans have a long history with insect pests, the pest control industry is surprisingly young, and the fact that insects are complicated organisms that cannot be controlled easily is still underappreciated by many people. Unsurprisingly, many modern homeowners continue to entertain false beliefs about insect pests, which is why programs that aim to educate the public on pest issues are becoming more common.

Given the economic costs associated with infestations of wood-boring insect pests, most homeowners are aware that termites are cryptic creatures that cannot be seen in or out of homes. With the exception of termites, however, many homeowners still operate under the assumption that insect pests must be visible within the homes that they infest. In reality, virtually all insect species that are known to be common indoor pests have adapted to remain out of human sight within homes, as being noticed by human inhabitants results in a quick, but usually brutal death. Insect pests like cockroaches, silverfish, bed bugs, earwigs, house crickets and many others have adapted to living within indoor spaces that are dark, cramped, and usually inaccessible to humans, such as wall voids, ceiling voids, attic spaces, and crawl spaces.

While humans are active within their home during the day and evening hours, insect pests remain well hidden, and they only venture into open living spaces to seek food sources during the late night and early morning hours when humans are fast asleep. Most insect pest species that are commonly referred to as “incidental invaders,” or “occasional pests” are not in the habit of hiding from humans within homes. This is because, unlike more common insect pests, incidental invaders prefer to remain outside at all times, and they enter homes either inadvertently or to seek refuge from extreme weather conditions. Large spiders, millipedes, sowbugs, ground beetles, and some garden insects like weevils are commonly encountered incidental invaders, and they are not able to reproduce or survive for long indoors.

Have you ever found millipedes within your home?