Many insects interact with people in the South Cook County area. Here are some common ones and some information about them. The South Cook County Mosquito Abatement District only treats for mosquitoes but we try to answer any questions about insects in our area.
- Yellow Jacket Yellowjacket, yellow-jacket and European wasp are names given to black and yellow wasps of the genus Vespula or Dolichovespula (some can be black-and-white, the most notable of these being the bald-faced hornet, Dolichovespula maculata; others may have red markings). They can be identified by their distinctive combination of black-and-yellow color, small size (slightly larger than a bee), entirely black antennae, and characteristic, rapid, side to side flight pattern prior to landing. They are often mistakenly called "bees." Yellowjacket is the name for these insects in North American English; elsewhere they are simply called "wasps" or "European wasps".
Like all other vespines, they live in colonies, and build paper nests. Workers are around 12–20 mm in length, depending on species, and feed on nectar, while collecting other foods (primarily arthropods) for their larvae. They can sting repeatedly, especially when trapped in clothing, because their stingers don't have barbs. They will sometimes sting with little provocation, and so can be major pests, though they sting primarily in order to defend their nest. In autumn, they switch from collecting arthropods and nectar to scavenging other food sources, which can increase their contact with people.
- Cockroaches Cockroaches (or simply "roaches") are insects of the Order Blattodea. The name of the order is derived from the Latin word for "cockroach," blatta. There are roughly 3,490 species in six families. Cockroaches exist worldwide, with the exception of the polar regions.
Among the most well-known species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 3 cm long, the German cockroach, Blatotella germanica, about 1½ cm long, the Asian cockroach, Blatotella asahinai, also about 1½ cm in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 2½ cm. Tropical cockroaches are often much bigger, and extinct cockroach relatives such as the Carboniferous Archimylacris and the Permian Apthoroblattina were several times as large as these. When infesting buildings, cockroaches are considered pests; out of the thousands of species, however, only a handful fall into this designation
- Boxelder Bugs The maple bug or boxelder bug Boisea trivittata (syn. Leptocoris trivittatus) is an insect found primarily on maple and ash trees. The adults are about 12½ mm long with a dark brown or black coloration, relieved by red wing veins and markings on the abdomen. Nymphs and immature bugs are bright red.
These insects feed on the softer plant tissues, including leaves, flowers, and new twigs. Unless the population is exceptionally large, the damage to plants is minimal. During years when their population soars, they can damage useful shade trees.
After summer, they can become household pests. The adult-stage insects seek wintering hibernation locations and find their way into buildings through crevices. They remain inactive inside the walls while the weather is cool. When the heating systems revive them, they begin to enter inhabited parts of the buildings. In the spring, the bugs leave their winter hibernation locations to lay eggs on maple or ash trees.
These insects can be killed with a dilute mixture of soap and water -- 2 tablespoons per gallon -- sprayed on them directly. They can also be kept out of the home, to a degree, by putting boric acid and/or diatomaceous earth in places they would gather to enter, as well as by using weather stripping and other means to seal the house better.
- Lady Bugs Coccinellidae is a family of beetles, known variously as ladybirds (Commonwealth English), ladybugs (North American English) or lady beetles (preferred by scientists). The word "lady" in the name is thought to allude to the Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic faith. Coccinellids are found worldwide, with over 5,000 species described, more than 450 native to North America alone. Coccinellids are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches), and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae.
A very large number of species are mostly or entirely black, gray, or brown, however, and may be difficult for non-entomologists to recognize as ladybugs (and, conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for ladybugs, such as tortoise beetles). As the family name suggests, they are usually quite round in shape.
They are considered useful insects as many species feed on aphids or scale insects, which are pests in gardens, agricultural fields, orchards, and similar places. Because they are useful, colourful, and harmless to humans, coccinellids are typically considered cute even by people who hate most insects, though a few species are pests in North America and Europe.
Some people consider seeing them or having them land on one's body to be a sign of good luck to come, and that killing them presages bad luck.
- Emerald Ash Borer The Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis or Agrilus marcopoli) is a shiny green beetle and an invasive species known for killing ash trees in the United States. Its natural range is eastern Russia, northern China, Japan, and Korea. It was accidentally imported to North America from China in the 1990s and has since destroyed more than six million ash trees in southeastern Michigan.
It was discovered in June 2002 in Canton, Michigan. It has since been found in a few other parts of the U.S. and Canada. Ohio and Ontario have seen emerald ash borer migration from Michigan while Maryland and Virginia received shipments of contaminated trees from a Michigan nursery. The emerald ash borer was confirmed in Indiana in April 2004. It has also been detected in the North and Northwest Chicago suburbs.