This site is all about integrated pest control; that is, using knowledge to understand the living habits, biology, and breeding of different kinds of pests and then using this knowledge to eliminate them as problems, using the least toxic means possible. A vital part of your knowledge about certain insect pests means understanding the life cycle that they go through.

Understanding the life cycle of insects will help you in a few ways:

1. You will know at what stage a certain insect pest is going to inflict damage to your property.

2. You will know when a certain type of insect pest is the most vulnerable to means of control.

3. You will understand what you are looking at when you discover a pest problem.

Keep in mind that not all insects are pests at all stages of their lives. We’ll talk about that in the next section.

Common insect life cycles

There are two basic types of insect life cycles:

* Complete metamorphosis occurs when an insect goes through four developmental stages. Eggs are laid and hatch into larvae. The larvae go into a suspended state when they are known as pupae, and the metamorphosed pupae are adults, who lay eggs. This cycle is pretty well known due to the butterfly, and it’s the one that 90% of insects go through in their lives.

* Incomplete metamorphosis occurs when only three stages of metamorphoses are undergone; egg and adult are there, but in between there is only one stage known as nymph. Dragon flies are examples of insects which go through this life cycle, as well as common pest species cockroaches and silverfish.

When is a pest a pest?

Obviously an insect is most vulnerable as an egg, when it has no means of flight or fight. In order to get at the eggs, though, you first have to find the nest, and that is not always so easy; the easiest way to find the nest is to follow an adult, but most adults die or scuttle away after laying.

At any rate, eggs are not a threat to your home or yard, so spending a lot of time looking for and destroying them won’t usually help a pest problem. Instead, you will have to determine whether certain insects are pests at the adult or the larval stage (pupae are suspended so they won’t be a problem. Actually this is also one of the very vulnerable stages, a good time to get rid of moths!).

Different insects are pests at different stages. Ants are pests as adults, as are flies, yellow jackets, and termites. Lice are pests at all stages though only the adults will bite; other pests that are pesty at adult and larval stages include mealie moths and moths which feed on fruit trees. Larval pests include clothes moths and clothes beetles.

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