Common Pests Cape Town

Common Pests Cape Town

There are numerous pests found in Cape Town and the Western Cape. We have found that a few are more of a nuisance in our homes or business than others. Knowing detail regarding your pest infestation in Cape Town will help ensure that our team is able to provide you with the best pest control treatment plan.

Common Cockroach Pests Cape Town

Household or Business, you are sure to come across one or more of these pests in Cape Town. We list the most common cockroaches you are likely to come across in Cape Town and surrounding areas below. To find out how we can help you manage or prevent the unpleasantness of a cockroach infestation, click here.

German Cockroaches (Blattella Germanica)

German Cockroach infestations are the most commonly found control challenge in both household and business environments in Cape Town areas. Their reproduction cycle is the shortest and reproduce the most hatchlings from all the different cockroach species found in Cape Town.

Physical Attributes of a German Cockroach:
German Cockroach Appearance:

Adult German cockroaches are approximately 3cm long. Males are brown to dark brown with two black stripes on their Pronotum (the area behind the head) with a tapering abdomen. Female cockroaches are darker in colour and more rounded.

German cockroach hatchlings also known as nymphs are often not recognised as cockroaches due to the difference in appearance. They develop also known as molting for several hours and appear to be ivory in colour before turning dark. Many mistake this as being Albino cockroaches. In the first stages nymphs are very dark. As they develop into adult cockroaches a pale tan stripe appears down the centre running from front to back. This changes into two stripes on the adult cockroaches Pronotum with the wings being tan or  brown in colour.

German Cockroach Life Cycle

After mating, the adult female German cockroach produces an egg case (Ootheca) which contains between 30 up to 40 nymphs (hatchlings). The female carries this egg case for three weeks, dropping it one day prior to hatching. They choose to drop the Ootheca in dark, warm. moist environments. One adult female can lay up to eight Ootheca in its lifetime.  In favourable conditions the Ootheca can remain dormant (temporarily inactive) for lengthy periods.

Brown-banded Cockroaches (Supella Longipalpa)

Brown-banded cockroaches are not as widespread or commonly found in Cape Town as German cockroaches, however in favourable conditions their infestation levels can surpass that of the German cockroach.

Physical Attributes of a Brown-banded cockroach
Brown-banded cockroach Appearance

brown-banded-cockroach-pest-control-cape-town

Adult male Brown-banded cockroaches are approximately 2.5 cm in length, with the female slightly longer at about 3cm long. The female Brown-banded cockroaches wings are reddish brown to dark brown in colour. Her wings are slightly shorter than her broad, round abdomen. The male Brown-banded cockroach has longer, dark brown wings with light brown tips and a tapering abdomen. Both sexes have a light band behind the pronotum (the area behind the head) at the base of their wings and another partial to full band about a third of the way back from the pronotum. Unlike with the German cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach’s pronotum never shows two stripes, it is dark brown with two light coloured sides.  Brown-banded cockroach nymphs (hatchlings) are dark in colour and their side bands are more pronounced than the adult markings behind the pronotum.

Brown-banded Cockroach Life Cycle

With the Brown-banded cockroach, the adult female forms an egg case (Ootheca), carrying it for less than two days before attaching it to an object in the harborage site. The ootheca is small, oval shaped and tan or brown in colour. Each ootheca can house about 13 to 18 nymphs (hatchlings). A female adult brown-banded cockroach can lay up to 14 egg cases in her lifetime. The ootheca can hatch from 50 to 95 days depending on the temperature.

The molting (development) rate of the brown-banded cockroaches speeds up during warmer temperatures. The can molt between six to eight times before they reach maturity and can live up to six months.

American Cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)

The American Cockroach is found worldwide including Cape Town. This extended distribution is aided by this species’ ability to thrive aboard ships. They are also often called ‘waterbug'(palmetto bug).

Physical Attributes of an American cockroach
American cockroach Appearance

The adult American Cockroach is approximately 5cm in length. The wings of the male is slightly longer than its abdomen, however the female’s wings do not extend past their abdomen. These cockroaches are reddish brown in colour with its pronotum ringed by a light almost yellow colour.

Life Cycle of the American cockroach

After mating the American cockroach drops her egg case (Ootheca) a day after it was formed. The ootheca are less than 1cm in length. The females produce more ootheca in Summer. One ootheca can house about 14 eggs. During warm month one adult American cockroach female can produce 12 to 24 egg cases and each case can hatch in 30 to 50 days.

When American cockroach nymphs hatch they are grey in colour and their colour changes to a reddish brown after the first molting. These nymphs can mature within 6 to 12 months depending on the temperature and they molt up to 13 times.

Oriental Cockroach (Blatta Orientalis)

The Oriental Cockroach is often called the Waterbug or even the Black beetle. This cockroach species does not fly.

Physical Attributes of an Oriental Cockroach
Oriental cockroach Appearance

Adult Oriental cockroaches are dark brown almost shiny black in colour and between 2.5 – 4 cm long. The female cockroaches are approximately 0.5 cm longer than the male Oriental cockroach. She also does not develop wings unlike other domestic cockroaches. The males wings are short and broad and only covers about 75% of its abdomen.

Life Cycle of the Oriental cockroach

The adult female Oriental cockroach lays about 8 Ootheca (egg pouches). They differ from the indoor cockroaches as they only produce one generation per year in cool winter temperatures. The ootheca is carried for just over 24 hours before it is dropped and left to hatch. They hatch in about 2 months.

The Nymphs molt around seven to ten times. The initial  colour is a pale tan, however the other molten stages colours are reddish to dark brown. The older Oriental cockroach nymphs look very similar to those of the American cockroach.

Common Rodent Pests Cape Town

Like many urban environments, Cape Town struggles with various rodent pests, most common problems in Northern Suburbs, Southern Suburbs and most other areas in Cape Town are your House Mouse, Field Mouse, Norway Rat and Roof Rat. These critters are known to cause havoc and spread disease. Here below we have listed some information to help you identify the type of rodent problem you are struggling with. Because rodents reproduce at such an alarming rate, it is always best to have a professional pest control officer assess and implement a treatment plan at the first sign of any rat or mouse activity. To find out about our Professional Rodent Management plans click here.

House Mouse (Mus musculus)

Physical Attributes of a House Mouse
House Mouse Appearance

The adult House mouse is about 7.5 – 10 cm in length, with a tail length of 5 – 10 cm and weighing approximately 40 – 45 g in total. They vary in colour from light to dark brown and most species have a light coloured belly.

Life Cycle of the House Mouse

After copulation, the female House mouse has a gestation period of 19 – 21 days, birthing a litter of 3 – 14 young . One female House mouse can have between 5 – 10 litters per year. You can see how quickly this can add up if left unchecked.

Yellow-necked field mouse (Apodemus flavicollis)

Physical Attributes of a Yellow-necked field mouse
Yellow-necked field mouse Appearance

Yellow-necked field mouse, also known as the Field mouse has a distinguishable yellow band of fur around the neck area. The Field mouse is about 8.9- 13 cm long with its tail similar in length and weighs between 23 and 43 g on average. The upper-parts is brownish grey with the lower parts white in colour.

Life Cycle of the Yellow-necked field mouse

After copulation, the female Field mouse has a gestation period of 25 / 26 days, birthing a litter of 2 – 11 young . One female Field mouse can have around 3 litters per year.

Norway Rat (Rattus Norvegicus)

Physical Attributes of a Norway Rat
Norway Rat Appearance

Commonly known as the Brown Rat, House Rat. The Norway rat is sturdy in shape, around 15 – 28 cm in length, with its tail slightly shorter than its body length (10.5 – 24 cm long) and weighs on average around 454 g and is brownish or reddish gray in colour with a whitish gray belly and a short hairless tail. Norway Rat has big eyes with a pointed snout.

Life Cycle of the Norway Rat

After copulation, the female Norway rat has a gestation period of only 21 days, birthing a litter of 7 – 14 young . One female Norway rat can have between 4 – 6 litters per year.

Roof Rat (Rattus rattus)

Physical Attributes of a Roof Rat
Roof Rat Appearance

Commonly known as the Roof rat, Black rat or Ship rat. The Roof rat smaller than the Norway rat and slender in shape, typically 12 – 18 cm long, with its tail similar or slightly longer in length, weighing between 75 and 230 g. There are various colour variations from black to brown with a greyish or whitish belly. The Roof rat has small eyes with a slanted, blunt snout.

Life Cycle of the Roof Rat

After copulation, the female Norway rat has a gestation period of 21 – 23 days, birthing a litter of 5 – 8 young. One female Norway rat can have between 4 – 6 litters per year.

Common Mole Pests Cape Town

Contrary to popular belief moles are not part of the rodent species and are in fact called insectivores. We list the two most common mole species that cause havoc in Cape Town, however there are quite a few different mole species found in the Western Cape. Go ahead and visit our Mole Control Cape Town page to see how we can help you with your mole problem!

Cape Golden Mole (Chrysochloris asiatica)

The Cape Golden Mole is native to South Africa and found commonly in Cape Town and the Western Cape. They are also called the ‘Running Mole’ or ‘Runner Mole’ and are the main moles causing problems in gardens, especially on lawns as they burrow tunnels underneath the surface of the ground pushing up soil that causes unsightly mounds.

Physical Attributes of a Cape Golden Mole
Cape Golden Mole Appearance

The Cape Golden Mole gets its name from their iridescent (shining or sparkling) fur. Their fur colour ranges from a light grey to black or yellowish tan to dark brown. The adult Runner Mole is about 11 cm long, weighing up to 50 g on average.

Life Cycle of the Cape Golden Mole

The adult female Cape Golden Mole normally has 1 litter per year of 1-3 young. The young take less than a year to reach adulthood and can then begin their own reproduction cycle. They breed throughout the year.

Cape Dune Mole-rat (Bathyergus suillus)

Physical Attributes of a Cape Dune Mole-rat
Cape Dune Mole-rat Appearance

The Cape dune mole-rat is about 27 – 35 cm in body length with a short tail. The males weighing generally under to 2 kg and the females less than 1 kg on average. Their fur colour is a varied sandy brown ranges.

Life Cycle of the Cape Dune Mole-rat (Bathyergus suillus)

After copulation, the adult female Cape dune mole-rat’s gestation period is around 2 months, they normally birth a litter of 3-6 young on average.The young are weaned around 1 month of age and they reach adulthood in less than a year.

Common Bird Pests Cape Town

In Cape Town we have found a few common birds that have become pests or nuisance birds to humans. These birds cause significant damage to vehicles as well as household and commercial properties, their droppings are toxic to humans and they carry more problematic parasite pests like bird mites, ticks and fleas etc. Together with this, these birds also carry disease that can be spread to humans. We list our most common bird pest culprits in Cape Town below. If you are currently struggling with the unpleasantness of a bird infestation you can see how we can help you to safeguard your home or business here.

Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica)

The Feral Pigeon has been considered a nuisance and an invasive species. They are able to produce such large amounts of excrement that not only tarnish domestic and commercial properties but these droppings are also extremely toxic when inhaled.

Physical Attributes of a Feral Pigeon

Feral Pigeon Appearance

The Feral Pigeon varies in colour from white, to grey and brown but most commonly they are grey with iridescent feathers around the neck area. They average on 32 cm and weighs around 400 g.

Life Cycle of the Feral Pigeon

The Feral Pigeon can breed throughout the year but most commonly in Spring and Summer. Eight to twelve days after mating the adult female Feral Pigeon lays 1 to 3 white eggs. The eggs hatch after 18 days and the chicks fledge (leave the nest) in 25 – 32 days or up to 45 days in midwinter.

What classifies the Feral Pigeon as a pest or nuisance

The feral pigeon is seen as a pest or nuisance bird because their droppings can deface vehicles or buildings. They eat stored foods or grains and their droppings can contaminate the rest. Their droppings are also toxic when inhaled and it is very corrosive. Their droppings can spread disease like the often fatal fungal respiratory disease Histoplasmosis and others like Candidiasis.

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

The common starling is an invasive species in South Africa and was introduced in 1987 by Cecil Rhodes. This species is very common in the Western Cape. They compete with indigenous bird species for food resources.

Physical Attributes of a Common Starling
Common Starling Appearance

The common starling has similar appearances for both sexes. The adult common starling is about 21 cm – 22 cm long, dark in colour with light speckles in winter and their plumage changes to a shiny purple-black and greenish-black in summer. They have short tails and their wings are triangular in shape when in flight.

Life Cycle of the Common Starling

The adult female common starling lays about 4 – 6 eggs. Both male and female starling incubate the eggs for around 12 days when the chicks hatch. The chicks fledge (leave the nest) after about 3 weeks. They mainly raise one brood per year.

What classifies the Common Starling as a pest or nuisance

The common starling causes damage by feeding on fruits like grapes, peaches, strawberries, eating planted seeds, damaging golf turf or other lawns by searching for grubs etc. Starlings found near airports contribute to additional aircraft safety hazards. They roost at incredibly high numbers at any given site and this can lead to astronomical amounts of hazardous droppings which not only leads to the tarnishing of vehicles and buildings because it is so corrosive but also spreads some serious health concerns. Their droppings can spread disease like the often fatal fungal respiratory disease Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis and more.

Kelp Gull / Cape Gull (Larus dominicanus) generally referred to as the Seagull

The gulls or seagulls are seabirds and they are documented to have been around for more than 30 million years. The seagull is also one of the few uniquely adapted animals that can drink seawater. An older name for the gulls are Mews.

Physical Attributes of a Seagull
Seagull Appearance

The seagull is typically a medium to large bird, sizes ranging up to approximately 70 cm and weighing up to 2 kg. The plumage of a seagull is often mostly white with dark or black wingtips. There are species of gulls that are grey or completely white in colour.

Life Cycle of the Seagull

The adult female seagull generally breeds once a year and lays 1 to 3 dark brown or olive green eggs that incubate between 22 to 26 days. The father plays a big role in brooding and feeding the chicks for 1 to 2 weeks until they are ready to fledge.

What classifies the Seagull as a pest or nuisance bird

Seagulls are seen as a pest or nuisance bird because they are noisy and produce large quantities of toxic and corrosive droppings that can cause damages to vehicles and both residential and commercial buildings. These birds often steal food from other birds, animals and people making them especially troublesome in urban areas close to the beach and extremely hazardous in areas close to airports. They prefer to roost and nest in high buildings or other structures. Due to the size and weight of a seagull they can cause significant damage to household and commercial structures.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 

The House Sparrow comes from Eurasia and North Africa and they prefer human modified habitats.

Physical Attributes of the House Sparrow
The House Sparrow Appearance

The house sparrow is about 16 cm long on average and their plumage is mainly different shades of brown with grey and black areas. The male house sparrow can be distinguished by the black bib, white cheeks, chestnut brown mantle around a grey crown. The female and young birds are more pale brown and grey.

Life Cycle of the House Sparrow

The house sparrow is monogamous and typically mates for life. The adult female sparrow has on average three broods a year with between 4 to 7 eggs per brood. The eggs are incubated for 2 weeks and the chicks fledge after another 2 weeks or more.

What classifies the House Sparrow as a pest or nuisance bird

Sparrows can cause significant damage as they often feed in large numbers over a small area. They cause damage to crops by pecking on fruits, seedlings, flowers, vegetables, maturing fruits etc. They consume and contaminate feed for livestock. They contribute to the transmission of various disease to humans such as Chlamydiosis, Coccidiosis, Erysipeloid, Newcastle’s, Parathypoid, Pullorum, Salmonellosis, Transmissible Gastroenteritis, Tuberculosis, various encephalitis viruses, Vibriosis, and Yersinosis. These house sparrows also carry and transfer pests like bed bugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks to areas they frequent. Their nests are highly flammable and can become a fire hazard. Together with the droppings the feathers of the house sparrow can cause hazardous, unsanitary and toxic areas for humans and pets.

Cape Sparrow (Passer melanurus)

The Cape Sparrow is more commonly known as the Mossie and mostly endemic to South Africa. The cape sparrow is one of the main brood parasite (raising another birds young) hosts of the dideric cuckoo in South Africa.

Physical Attributes of a Cape sparrow
Cape Sparrow Appearance

The cape sparrow is a medium sized sparrow around 15 cm on average and just under 30 g. Their plumage is mainly darker shades of brown, grey and chestnut with distinctive large pale heads in both sexes. The males plumage is brighter than that of the female.

Life Cycle of the Cape Sparrow

The Cape Sparrow is mostly a monogamous bird but can sometimes be polygamous. They often have multiple broods per year. The adult female cape sparrow lays 2 – 6 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for about 12 – 14 days. After hatching the chicks are brooded for around 5 days when they are ready to fledge. The chicks are then continued to be fed by both parents for two weeks up to two months after they fledge.

What classifies the Cape Sparrow as a pest or nuisance bird

 The Cape Sparrow also causes damage to crops by pecking on fruits, seedlings, flowers, vegetables, maturing fruits etc. They consume and contaminate feed for livestock. They contribute to the transmission of various disease to humans such as Chlamydiosis, Coccidiosis, Erysipeloid, Newcastle’s, Parathypoid, Pullorum, Salmonellosis, Transmissible Gastroenteritis, Tuberculosis, various encephalitis viruses, Vibriosis, and Yersinosis. These house sparrows also carry and transfer pests like bed bugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths, fleas, lice, mites, and ticks to areas they frequent. Their nests are highly flammable and can become a fire hazard. Together with the droppings the feathers of the house sparrow can cause hazardous, unsanitary and toxic areas for humans and pets.

Common Ant Pests Cape Town

Of all the commonly found pests, most prevalent pests would be ants. They thrive on all land areas across the globe, with the exception of polar regions. In South Africa there are more than 400 species and sub-species of ants. There is fortunately only a few commonly found ants in households and businesses around Cape Town and the Western Cape. We list the ant species we often deal with below. Please visit our Ant Control Cape Town page to find out how we can help you if you are struggling with or suspect an an ant infestation in your home or business today.

Pavement Ant (Tetramorium caespitum)

Like the name indicates the pavement ant is commonly recognised by the mounds pushed up along and in between cracks and crevices of paved areas. The pavement ant nests indoors and outdoors and are especially common during summer months.

Physical Attributes of a Pavement Ant

ants-on-hand

Pavement Ant Appearance

The pavement ant workers are on average 3mm long and vary in colour from dark brown to black with a stinger. They have two nodes or segments, with parallel lines on the head and thorax. The parallel lines gives the head and thorax a dull appearance to the rest of the body.

Life Cycle of the Pavement Ant

Pavement ant colonies are usually very big with one functioning queen. After mating the queens lays the eggs in soil. About 2 months after hatching and the ants are fully developed they help to look after the queen in the colony as worker ants. 

What classifies Pavement Ant as a pest or nuisance  

Pavement ants invades household and business structures to forage for food. A typical colony can range up to 10,000 in size. Although they don’t cause significant property damage. The presence of ants on any property household or business can result in a tarnished reputation.

Black Carpenter Ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus

The Carpenter ant species can be found both inside and outside household and business structures. The Carpenter ant works in wood or wooden structures but they don’t digest it.

Physical Attributes of a Black Carpenter Ant

carpenter-ants-ant-control-cape-town

Black Carpenter Ant Appearance

The black carpenter ants profile is larger than most ant species measuring between 0.6 cm to 1.3 cm for the general worker ant. Commonly they are a dull black in colour with yellow or white hairs on the abdomen. The carpenter ant also has a smooth even profile.

Life Cycle of the Carpenter Ant

The carpenter ant undergoes a complete metamorphosis from egg to adulthood. Winged males mate with eligible females. The males die after mating. The females lays about 20 eggs each, the eggs hatch after 3 – 4 weeks. After hatching the first larval brood are fed by the queen. After 3 weeks the larvae pupate and the adult ants emerge after another 3 weeks.

What classifies the Carpenter Ant as a pest or nuisance 

The carpenter ant colonies can reach up to 10,000 in size, the queen ant produces eggs quickly and this can lead to a small colony exploding into a larger one fast. The carpenter ant can cause a lot of damage to wooden structures in buildings, telephone poles, sheds, or even inside walls of houses or wooden floors. This species of ant also bites and sprays formic acid as a defensive method. The best way to deal with these type of pests is by contacting a trusted professional pest control operator.

Pharaoh Ant (Monomorium pharaonis)

The Pharaoh ant is polyganous (consisting of many queens in one colony). This species of ant is commonly found indoors in houses, buildings such as hospitals, office buildings, laboratories, food preparation areas etc.

Physical Attributes of a Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh Ant Appearance

The Pharaoh ant is a small species of ant that only measures around 2mm in size. They are yellow to light brown in colour and almost transparent. The pharaoh ant workers have a non-functional stinger.

Life Cycle of the Pharaoh Ant

The pharaoh ants life cycle starts from egg, to larvae, pre-pupae, pupae to sexual mature ant and this takes about 38 to 45 days.

What classifies the Pharaoh Ant as a pest or nuisance

The pharaoh ant has been found in IV drips in hospitals, wounds and even mouths of sleeping patients. They invade buildings in huge numbers and can be difficult to eliminate without professional help.

Fire Ant (Solenopsis)

There are more than 200 species of fire ants. In South Africa and Cape Town areas the Cape fire ant and Tropical fire ant are most commonly found.

Physical Attributes of the Fire Ant

Fire Ant Appearance

The mature fire ant has three sections, head, thorax and abdomen. The worker ants vary in size from 1.6 – 1.7 mm for the Cape fire ante to 2 – 6 mm for the Tropical fire ant.Their colour vary from a dull yellow to dark brown or reddish brown. These ants sting and bite.

Life Cycle of the Fire Ant

The fire ant life cycle resembles that of most ant species. Winged males and females mate in flight and males die after mating. Once mated the female fire ant breaks off her wings and finds a spot where she can lay her eggs and start her own colony where she then becomes queen. She lays around 25 eggs. Eggs hatch in 4 -7 days, larvae, pupae until they become a mature fire ant. It takes 1 – 2 months for the ants to become small worker ants called minims.

What classifies the Fire Ant as a pest or nuisance

Fire ants are venomous and their stings are quite painful. They attack in big numbers and their sting can cause severe allergic reactions in some people that can cause hospitalisation and even death if not treated correctly. Symptoms include severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, slurred speach and the bumps can scar if it becomes infected.  

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