If you’ve ever wondered how a particular pest has discovered your home, then this blog post is for you!
Many customers as us how insects find their home. To answer this question, we must first address the complexity of insects. For such tiny creatures, they are remarkably complex, particularly when it comes to sensing their environment. Described below are some common insect sensory structures:
Antennae. Insect antennae come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. They are adapted to an insect’s lifestyle and needs. Beetle antennae are short and robust, preventing any damage during burrowing. Moth antennae are long and plumose, or feather-like, which are lightweight enough so as not to interfere with flight but with enough sensory hairs to help the insect sense its environment while flying. Antennae enable insects to detect a variety of conditions including, but not limited to, air movement, odors, and humidity. Insect olfaction, or the perception of odors, is extremely advanced in many insects. For example, blow flies can detect the presence of a dead animal within minutes. It’s no wonder flies always seem to find your food when dining outside! Have you ever found ants swarming a tiny crumb in the bottom of your pantry and wondered how they even found it? Well, here’s your answer!
Compound eyes. Insects have two large compound eyes on the head. Each eye contains many facets. Movies, comics, and other pop culture materials would lead you to believe that insects see hundreds of tiny pictures of the same thing with these facets, but this is untrue. These facets work together to create a single, cohesive picture for insects. Compound eyes are capable of detecting color and even ultraviolet radiation. Not even humans can see in the ultraviolet range!
Ocelli. Ocelli, or simple eyes, are something you might not even be aware insects possess. These very simplistic eyes cannot detect color but help the insect see changes in light. The best way to describe it is to imagine yourself sitting in a well-lit room with your eyes closed. If you wave your hand in front of your face, you can still detect the motion even though your eyes are closed (try it!). The ocelli enable the insect to detect similar changes in light intensity. This may not seem like a very useful sense, but it’s extremely useful in low light situations and predator avoidance. If it seems like you can never sneak up on an insect to smack it with a fly swatter, remember that they are well adapted to detect your presence!
Setae. Setae are sensory hairs on insects. If you were to look at insects under a microscope, you would probably be surprised at how hairy many of them are. At the base of each seta is a nerve. When the seta moves, the nerve is excited, sending a signal to the brain.
Taste receptors. Insects may have taste receptors on the mouthparts as well as on their . . . wait for it . . . feet! That’s right– some insects actually taste with their feet. Some female insects even have taste receptors on their ovipositor, or egg-laying structure. This enables her to taste the substrate to determine if it is nutritious enough for her developing young. The sense of taste in insects is primarily used for resource suitability determination. We eat for enjoyment, but insects ensure they are receiving the proper nutrients for egg development, energy for flight, etc.
Cerci. These paired appendages are found at the posterior of most insects. Like antennae, cerci come in a wide variety of forms. You know the “pinching” structures on earwigs? They’re cerci (albeit very atypical ones)!
The next time you find an insect in your home, don’t be surprised! These guys are incredibly good at sensing their environment and seeking out what they want or need. If insects have found their way into your home, call Innovative Pest Solutions today for an inspection.