Birds (pigeons, gulls, etc.)

These are endothermic vertebrate animals that lay eggs and are distinguished by the presence of a beak and feathers. In the position of the upper limbs they carry wings which in the vast majority of cases gives them the ability of flight.

Some bird species have adapted to live close to humans taking advantage of urban, semi-urban, as well as agricultural environments. They are usually popular with people, however, under certain conditions they can be harmful and require attention. Along with birds, bats are examined as well although these are mammals. Ιn certain countries, including Greece, bats are protected by law due to their decline in numbers. Their disturbance is not allowed and their removal can only happen under special circumstances with permission granted by the relevant authorities.

Dangers to public health

Birds, directly or indirectly, are responsible for transmitting many microbes that cause the onset of serious diseases in humans (more than 60) some of which are potentially fatal.

This is done by:

  • Human contact with bird body, plumage, droppings, as well as water, food and surfaces contaminated by them.
  • Inhalation of fecal dust containing amongst others, fungal spores and bacteria.
  • Arthropods: mosquitoes, acari (ticks, acari that cause allergies, etc.), bedbugs, etc.

In relation to the above, humans can contract: histoplasmosis, psittacosis, candidiasis, encephalitis, salmonellosis, gastroenteritis (from E.coli bacteria), viral diseases, rabies (bats), etc. The aforementioned diseases are merely a small example of a far more extensive list.

Food Damage

Food damage from birds is usually limited to the primary production stage. Birds will frequently attack arboricultures, granaries, vineyards and generally where crops are produced on open-field cultivations. The result of this activity is often the reduction of the amount of harvested product.

Structural and property damage

There are two main methods by which birds cause damage:

  • Initially mentioned, is the corrosive effect of their droppings on surfaces of concrete, rocks, metals, paint, etc. Therefore, deteriorations are observed in building facades, statues, vehicles, etc
  • Subsequently mentioned, is the case of the blockages caused by their nesting but also by the accumulation of their droppings. Birds tend to get established on surfaces which protrude from buildings such as sills, gutters, air conditioning units etc. as these tend to replicate their natural habitat. Especially in the case of air conditioning, the establishment of nests and the accumulation of droppings pose a fire hazard.

Birds also cause major trouble for flight safety, especially when located in large flocks on or near airport runways.

Risk to reputation

Whilst birds are almost everywhere, it is the mess and droppings derived from them which can damage the reputation of any business.

Signs of bird activity (ex.: excretions, organic residues) may cause problems with customers and/or losing them, who subsequently are very likely to communicate information and cause a further decline in clientele.

The presence of birds often creates problems, not only in relation to customers but also with the employees.


The public health legislation relating to the problems caused by the presence of birds, covering health inspections must always be adhered to. In cases of offence the imposition of sanctions is provided. In extreme cases, the suspension of the operating permit is enforced and business owners can be prosecuted.


In most countries including Greece, birds are protected and treatments that can hurt or kill them are prohibited. In compliance with the relative legislation regarding their control, Defon’s treatments are limited to repellency according to the company’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system. This refers to the prevention of their establishment and/or their repellency, predominately with physical (mechanical) and chemical methods. These methods can be used individually or in combination. For additional information see Defon’s environmentally friendly IPM methodology section.

The transmission of pathogenic microbes by birds into areas they were previously established often requires disinfection to be carried out after repellency. More details on the subject are listed in the Disinfection section.

by the kind permission of National Pest Management Association

Africanized 'Killer' Bees

Apis mellifera scutellata


Color: Golden-yellow with darker bands of brown.

Legs: 6

Shape: Oval; bee shape

Size: 1/2

Antennae: True

Africanized "killer" bees looks so much like a regular honeybee that the only way to tell the two apart is by measuring their bodies. Africanized bees have different wing measurements than honeybees.


These bees defend their colony and attack when threatened.


Africanized bees have small colonies, so they can build nests in unique places. They have been known to live in tires, crates, boxes, and empty cars.


Their venom is no more dangerous than regular honeybees-they just tend to attack in greater numbers, which causes more danger to humans.


Because of the aggressive nature of these pests and the enormity of their nests, a pest control professional or beekeeper must address an infestation. If you are chased by Africanized honeybees, run in a zig zag pattern and seek shelter in a house or car.

(by the kind permission of Bayer)

Booklice Psocids


Order: Psocoptera ("winged like Psocus" with ability to grind to pieces)

Characteristics: Soft-bodied insects, rarely exceeding 6mm in length. Typical forms have two pairs of membranous wings, but there is an evolutionary tendency to loss of wings in many species. Antennae long and threadlike, with 12-50 segments; compound eyes, poorly developed; biting mouth parts; tarsi 2 or 3 segmented, each bearing two claws; incomplete metamorphosis with egg and nymphal stages.

Species Characteristics

  • Liposcelis bostrychophilus (bostrychophila)

    Adults about 1mm long; colour, light brown; broad, flat hind femur; no wing rudiments; abdomen flattened.

  • Liposcelis entomophilus

    Colour, yellowish brown, with conspicuous dark reddish bands across abdomen.

  • Death Watch (Trogium pulsatorium)

    Adults very active, about 1.5-2.0mm long; pale yellow or white in colour; well developed eyes; wing flaps present; rows of dark spots on front margins of some abdominal segments.

  • Lepinotus patruelis

    Adults about 2mm long; colour, dark brown or black; wing flaps present

Areas where found

Most booklice species are found in natural habitats such as animal nests, tree trunk crevices, under bark (hence the alternative name of barklice) and on leaves. However, those species that have achieved pest status are widely distributed and often found in warehouses, food manufacturing premises, granaries and museums as well as domestic and retail premises. Here they will infest materials of plant and animal origin including stored food, plaster, leather, woodwork and even books.

Many species are cosmopolitan and their countries of origin are unknown. Difference species exhibit different temperature requirements. Thus Lepinotus patruelis is frequently encountered in cool situations e.g. warehouses, whilst Liposcelis bostrychophilus, which is though to have originated from Africa, prefers warmer situations. In heated buildings continuously brooded species (e.g. Liposcelis spp.) will continue to breed throughout the year. Other species (e.g.Trogium spp.) produce only one generation per year and may overwinter as nymphs.

Importance as a pest

Psocids rarely cause damage directly by feeding and are virtually harmless in small numbers. Large infestations, however, may cause significant damage to delicate materials such as books and furs. Signs of spoilage of dried meat have included holes and tunnels in which the insects hide plus a covering of white powdery material and salt crystals.

The major problem posed by psocids is the nuisance which they cause. The insects will contaminate raw or processed foods. They may contribute to a gradual heating of grain stored in bulk with an eventual impairment of its properties and reduction in its value. Contaminated products must be identified and destroyed, which is time-consuming and wasteful. Eggs may be downgraded because of spotting caused by the crushed bodies of dark booklice, e.g. Lepinotusspp. Finished products may be infested in retail premises or in the home, with a consequent loss of goodwill. Pallets, dunnage and packaging may be infested and act as a source of infestation of stored products.

Among the wide variety of commodities and materials which may be infested by psocids are the following: bagged nuts, bat guano, chocolate, fish meal, milk powder, museum specimens and books, oil seeds, processed cereals, pollen, salami, skin scales, Springbok biltong, stored cereal grains, sugar beet seeds, yeast and even damp plaster.

Although harmless to man, booklice are often confused with true lice and therefore regarded with alarm. As well as infesting foodstuffs in the home they may be encountered swarming over furnishings and walls, including newly plastered surfaces which are still damp. Clearly, materials of both animal and vegetable origin may be attacked but the insects show an undeniable preference for micro-organisms, including bacteria, yeasts, moulds and algae, and populations will develop more successfully in damp conditions where these thrive. This close association with micro-organisms results in these becoming entangled in their bodies and in this way the insects are instrumental in disseminating the organisms which cause spoilage.


The females of some species of booklouse may reproduce without fertilisation, the males being suppressed, dwarf or entirely lacking. During her life each female produces some 200 eggs. They are usually laid separately at a rate of 1-3 per day and, being sticky, become covered with fragments of food or rubbish or adhere to the substrate. The eggs of some outdoor species are however laid in batches and covered with a silken web. The smooth, pearl-coloured eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks. The emerging nymph closely resembles the adult and will pass through 3-8 moults depending on species (four in the case of L. bostrychophilus) to reach maturity in about 15 days. With each successive moult the nymph becomes progressively more like the adult as eyes, antennae and wings (if present) begin to develop.

Ambient conditions and the quality of the diet profoundly influence the speed of psocid development. The life-cycle is usually completed in one month, the adults surviving for up to 6 months. The insects are only moderately well adapted to the environments they inhabit. Their small size and flattened bodies mean that they can readily hide in cracks and crevices. They do, however, possess a relatively thin cuticle which, coupled with a large surface/volume ratio, means that they are not well adapted to survive adverse conditions and, in particular, low relative humidities.

  • Hygiene/management

    Because of the opportunities for re-infestation, booklice are difficult to control with insecticides. The most effective method of control is to ensure that premises are thoroughly aired and dry, thereby deterring the development of moulds and denying the insects their food source.

    Commodities should be stacked neatly above the floor level using pallets, away from walls and should not touch the ceiling. A gap between stacks will allow for ventilation, regular inspection, cleaning and, if necessary, treatment with insecticides. Badly infested commodities should be destroyed.

    Infested pallets can be identified by 'knocking out', i.e. dropping a pallet held end on about 75mm (3") above a sheet of white paper.

  • Insecticidal control

    Booklice are susceptible to a wide variety of insecticides. The problem lies in ensuring contact between the pests and the toxicant in order to bring infestations under control.

(by the kind permission of Bayer)

Bed Bugs


Order: Hemiptera ("half-winged" true bugs)

Characteristics: Two pairs of wings normally present; mouth parts piercing and sucking, forming a beak, or rostrum , normally held under the body. Metamorphosis usually incomplete, with egg and nymphal stages.

Family: Cimicidae

Species Characteristics and host/habitat: Flat, oval insects, with very short, functionless forewings; hindwings absent; rostrum lies in a ventral groove; tarsi 3-segmented; exclusively bloodsucking.

  • Common Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)

    Adults, 5mm long; reddish-brown in colour, becoming purple after feeding; well-developed antennae; prominent, simple eyes; feet clawed so can climb rough but not smooth surfaces; ratio of head width (including eyes) to length of third antennal segment usually greater that 1.7.
    Host/habitat: The principle host is man, though other warm-blooded animals can be parasitised. Found in human habitations throughout the world.

  • Other blood-feeding bugs

    Blood-feeding bugs, very similar in appearance to the Common Bed Bug, can often be found infesting birds' nests and bat roosts. In certain circumstances, these bugs may invade houses and attack humans. They include

    Pigeon Bug (Cimex columbarius)

    Very similar in size and appearance to the Common Bed Bug; can be distinguished by the ratio of head width to length of third antennal segment, which is less than 1.6 in most specimens.
    Host/habitat: Principle hosts are birds; mainly found in starlings' nests, pigeon lofts and poultry houses, but can attack man.

    Martin Bug (Oeciacus hirundinis)

    Similar in appearance to the Common Bed Bug, but smaller and more hairy. Can be further distinguished by the following characteristics: when viewed from above, the front margin of the prothorax is far less concave than in the other species; the head width is also more than twice the length of the third antennal segment.
    Host/habitat: Principle hosts are birds; often found in martins' nests, but can attack man.

Areas where found

As bed bugs cannot fly, the must either crawl or be passively transported in clothing, or more probably in luggage, furniture, books and other objects used as harbourages. Their ability to withstand many months without feeding increases their chances of surviving such transportation and the insects' very wide distribution throughout the world demonstrates their success.

Household's, hotel's etc. can be invaded by bed bugs, but it is likely that infestations will only become established in premises with low standards of hygiene. Bed bugs are often associated with poor, crowded and unhygienic conditions.

Most bed bug infestations are to be found in domestic premises, usually in the bedrooms. Both juveniles and adults live similar lives, hiding away in cracks and crevices for most of the time and coming out at night, usually just before dawn, to feed on the blood of their sleeping hosts. Their hiding-places will be close to where their hosts sleep; in the bed frame or the mattress, in furniture, behind the skirting, behind the wallpaper - anywhere that affords a dark harbourage during the daylight hours for these nocturnal creatures.

The insect infestations occur particularly in areas of high population density including hotels, hostels and holiday camps.

In temperate climates bed bugs reach their peak numbers towards early autumn. At this time all stages in the lifecycle will be present. With the onset of colder weather their activity decreases, egg-laying ceases and development of the juvenile forms slows down.

Bed bugs overwinter mainly as adults, since the eggs and nymphs are more susceptible to low temperatures and die out with the onset of winter, unless in adequately heated premises.

The bird-feeding bugs, such as the Martin Bug, will be found in the nests of their hosts and follow a similar lifestyle to the Common Bed Bug. The occasional problems of these species attacking humans are likely to stem from abandoned nests built near to or inside houses. Nests in lofts or under eaves would be a likely source if such an infestation were suspected.

Importance as a pest

Bed bugs are not regarded as disease carriers, but their blood feeding can cause severe irritation in some people, resulting in loss of sleep, lack of energy and listlessness, particularly in children. Iron deficiency in infants has resulted from excessive feeding by bed bugs. The bite often gives rise to a hard, whitish swelling which distinguishes it from the flea bite which leaves a dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. Different individuals react differently to bites, some gaining immunity.

Probably more important, however, is the distaste with which these insects are regarded. Bed bug excrement gives a characteristic speckled appearance to their harbourages, whilst their 'stink glands' confer a distinctive and unpleasant almond-like smell on infested rooms. In addition, the very thought of being preyed upon by such creature is quite sufficient to make most people take immediate action to control them. The bed bug may even help to reduce living standards by driving away householders with reasonable standards of hygiene, leaving behind only those who are less concerned with such matters.

It is interesting to note that many factors are helping to sustain existing bed bug populations: modern building techniques, which allow easy access between adjoining properties; the increased use of central heating, which allows continued feeding and proliferation during winter; the movement of furniture in the second-hand market, which aids their distribution; all these serve to maintain population levels.


Bed bug eggs, which are slightly curved, measuring 0.8-1.3mm long by 0.4-0.6mm broad, are cemented to the surfaces of the harbourages, often in large numbers. Unhatched eggs are an opaque, pearly white colour, whilst hatched eggs, which remain in position long after hatching, are opalescent and translucent. While temperature and the availability of food have a profound effect on egg production, under optimal conditions egg-laying is almost continuous, at a rate of about three per day. The number of eggs laid by a female in the course of her adult life has been variously quoted as between 150 and 345.

The first-stage nymphs which hatch from the eggs are just over 1mm long and, like all the nymphal stages, appear very similar to the adults, except in size and colour.

Early instars tend to be more amber than the darker brown of the adult. Each nymph requires one full blood meal before moulting to the next stage. Though there are variations in size, due mainly to the effects of feeding, which may increase the bug's weight by up to 6 times, the approximate lengths of each of the five nymphal stages are: stage I 1.3mm, II 2.0mm, III 3.0mm, IV 3.7mm and V 5.0mm. The rudimentary wings appear in the last moult.

The speed of development from egg to adult and the duration of adult life vary according to temperature and availability of food. With frequent feeding, at normal room temperatures (ca. 18-20oC) adults can live for 9-18 months, with egg incubation taking 10-20 days and the complete cycle 9-18 weeks. Under these conditions nymphs feed at about 10-day intervals and the adults weekly. If necessary, both can survive long periods without food. Under cool conditions (13oC) starved adults could survive for as long as one year.

In unheated rooms where the temperature drops below 13oC in the winter, egg laying, moulting and feeding stops and the population declines as eggs and young nymphs die. Under such conditions there is only one generation per year. Where temperatures do not fall so dramatically, breeding may continue throughout the year and two generations can be attained.


In all infestations, particularly those newly established in well-kept houses, an attempt should be made to determine the souce of infestation, so that proper measures can be taken.

A thorough inspection of infested premises should also seek to uncover the extent of the infestation, since the measures necessary for control will depend on whether the infestation is established and widely distributed throughout the premises, or recently introduced and likely to be more localised.

Control measures used must be thorough and be directed at all the harbourages. In circumstances where the infestation has originated from birds' nests, it will be necessary to treat the nests and advisable to birdproof the building.

  • Hygiene/management

    High standards of hygiene and house-keeping are unlikely to provide an adequate method of control, but will reveal the presence of bed bugs at an early stage, making control easier. Bed bugs can only proliferate if they are tolerated. If they are suspected, a close inspection of the bed, the mattress around the seams, the back of the headboard, etc., should reveal their presence. The use of a pyrethroid-based aerosol sprayed lightly around these areas may help, as the insects will be driven out of their hiding places. The finding of eggs or egg cases and the blackish spots of bug excrement will also indicate their presence. Infested bedding (e.g. sheets) and clothing should be laundered or burnt and the fabric of infested rooms thoroughly cleaned. Particular attention should be paid to removing dust, fluff and debris from insect harbourages e.g. cracks, crevices, seams of fabrics, buttons on mattresses etc.

  • Insecticidal control

    To eradicate the infestation it will be necessary to treat the premises thoroughly with suitable insecticides, including the beds, other furniture and harbourages in the fabric of infested rooms. A professional pest control organisation should be used, as the detection and thorough treatment of all bed bug hiding places is a job which requires experience.

(by the kind permission of National Pest Management Association)

Argentine Ants

Linepithema humile


Color: Dark brown to black; shiny

Legs: 6

Shape: Segmented; oval

Size: 1/16-1/4

Antennae: True

Argentine ant colonies can grow to monumental size. Their colony borders sometimes cover entire habitats. Argentine ant queens also assist with foraging for food. The ant gives off a musty odor when crushed. Worker argentine ants are about one sixteenth of an inch long. Queen argentine ants are one eighth of an inch to one quarter of an inch long.


Argentine ants deposit trails continuously, instead of just from nest to food source. This habit ensures they do not waste time visiting the same area for food. They prefer to eat sweets but they will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats.


Argentine ant colonies are located in wet environments near a food source.


Argentine ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food.


Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as Argentine ants are attracted to moisture. Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home. Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home. Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.