The majority of arthropod species that are categorized as urban pests are merely a nuisance to residents within homes, but some arthropod pests are considered medically significant. Medically significant urban pests in Massachusetts include disease-carrying mosquito species, certain tick species, filth flies, cockroaches, and some experts consider the yellow-sac spider to be a medically significant urban pest. This is because yellow-sac spiders are common indoor pests that inflict unprovoked and painful bites that have been known to develop into necrotic wounds in rare cases. In fact, entomologists and pest management professionals at Michigan State University state that yellow-sac spiders may be responsible for the majority of spider bites inflicted indoors. This spider species is also consistently found to be one of the top ten most commonly controlled spider pests within homes. Considering that more than half of all people living in the US have at least one dog, one cat, or both, it is important for residents to be familiar with the indoor arthropod pests of veterinary importance.

Biting midges are urban pests that belong to the Diptera order of insects, and they are well known for their occasional abundance in residential areas during the spring and summer, especially on properties located near small water bodies or mud where the pests breed. Biting midges are often referred to as “gnats,” and they inflict painful bites to both humans and animals, including dogs and horses. More specifically, these insect pests suck blood, which may lead to anemia in domestic animals. Black flies are also bloodsucking insect pests that bite both humans and dogs, and their tiny 1 to 6 mm body length allows them to fly into homes through window screens. Black flies breed in streams and are active during the day, and several black fly pest species are particularly abundant in the northeast. Surprisingly, large black fly swarms sometimes kill large animals like livestock due to blood loss, and these flies often hide in dog fur. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to repel black flies, but keeping dogs away from streams where black flies breed during the daytime hours is recommended. House flies, bot flies, blow flies, bottle flies, and flesh flies are all common indoor fly pests that can transmit a disease known as myiasis to dogs. Myiasis occurs when female flies lay eggs in open wounds, eventually resulting in the emergence of maggots. While myiasis is rare in humans within the US, it is not uncommon for dogs to fall victim to the disease.

Have you ever witnessed biting flies swarm around a domestic animal?