Pennsylvania’s Top 5 Pests

Pests are everywhere! Some like House Mice and Termites are commonly known, while others are of the more exotic variety, and let's be honest, they're a little bit frightening. They come in all shapes and sizes with four legs, eight legs, wings, fur, and fangs. If we let our imaginations go wild, they become the creepy things that lurk in our nightmares, waiting to pounce upon the unsuspecting sleeper.

Most infestations are manageable and can be taken care of without the need to call a professional. But there are times when calling a professional is your only option. When you do, you'll want someone who has taken the time to become licensed and knowledgeable about the best methods to rid your space of unwanted "guests".

The most common pests inhabiting Pennsylvania's homes are those listed and described below. Surely you have met one or two of them.

#1 Blacklegged (deer) ticks

Young nymphs may be the size of a pinhead and can grow to one-eighth of an inch as an adult. They are known for feeding on deer during the winter and will bite humans primarily during the spring and summer when people spend more time outdoors. They can spread viruses such as Lyme disease which was first detected in 1976 in Lyme, Connecticut when an unusually large number of children suffering similar symptoms came down with an unidentified illness. Blacklegged ticks are usually found in the eastern United States especially in the Northeast. They frequent wooded areas and fields and are commonly found around homes and buildings in secluded or rural areas.

#2 House mice

House mice typically seek shelter and food within our homes, will eat almost anything and build nests in areas such as wall insulation and packing materials. They quickly reproduce and can bring fleas and mites into homes. A female house mouse can give birth to a half dozen babies every three weeks and can produce up to 35 young per year. House mice are not only a nuisance, but they can pose significant health and property threats. Any structural holes should be sealed, and homeowners should inspect for droppings or gnaw marks on a regular basis.

#3 German cockroaches

The German cockroach is a small species of cockroach, typically about 1.1 to 1.6 cm long. Its color varies from tan to almost black, and it has two dark, roughly parallel, streaks that run behind the head to the base of the wings. The most common cockroach species, German cockroaches will eat almost anything. They find their way into new structures by hiding in cardboard boxes, grocery bags, and secondhand appliances. A large German roach population will produce a foul odor. They prefer to live in warm, humid places such as kitchens and bathrooms. They have also been known to spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, seven human pathogens and six kinds of parasitic worms. Practicing good sanitation and eliminating excess moisture will help to prevent a German cockroach infestation.

#4 Termites

With hard, saw-toothed jaws, termites can and will inflict significant structural damage to properties over time. They can eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Termite infestations can mean possible financial ruin for a homeowner. Termites are active across the state, from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and from Philadelphia to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Generally, termites swarm on a warm day after a rainfall. Swarms may occur during the winter in heated buildings. An infestation of termites often remains undetected until it is too late and there has already been major structural damage. If you want to prevent termites, be sure to avoid water accumulation near building foundations and eliminate any wood contact with soil. For an in-depth look at the destructive power of these pests, check out NPMA’s Tiny Termite House.

#5 Flies

Horse flies and house flies tend to be the most annoying pests. Horse flies are approximately one inch long and feed on the blood of humans and animals. Female horseflies inflict a painful bite from their scissor-like mouthparts. A horsefly bite will usually become red, swollen and itchy. Although they rarely result in an allergic reaction, horsefly bites can become infected and require medical attention. Aside from being a buzzing nuisance, House flies are strongly suspected of transmitting at least 65 diseases to humans, including typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, poliomyelitis, yaws, anthrax, tularemia, leprosy, and tuberculosis. Flies regurgitate and excrete wherever they come to rest and thereby mechanically transmit disease organisms. The common housefly can live up to 28 days. Be wary of horse flies when near wooded areas or bodies of water and quickly dispose of any trash to avoid a house fly infestation, house flies frequent trash cans, decaying flesh, rotting food and manure.

Should you find it necessary to call on a professional, you'll want to be sure they are licensed by the State of Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recognizes the following classification of applicator licensing:

  • Commercial Applicator – Necessary if:
    • Pesticide application will take place on property not owned or rented by applicator or employer.
    • Restricted use pesticides are being applied to property owned by applicator or employer but not applied to crops.
    • Pesticides are applied to apartments of 4 or more units, golf courses.
  • Private Applicator – Necessary if an individual’s plans to purchase and apply restricted use pesticides for producing an agricultural commodity on land owned or rented by the individual or their employer.

Anyone seeking a license can start the process by visiting the Certified Training Institute's Pesticide Division. You'll find all the information necessary to obtain or maintain a Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License. The courses are offered online and available anytime 24/7 from any computer or even your smartphone!

Online Pesticide Professional Education
State-approved video courses are available 24/7



Is it Pesticide Poisoning or Heat Exhaustion?

Pesticide poisonings are often mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses, such as the flu, heat exhaustion, food poisoning, and asthma. When pesticide handlers become ill from working with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot environments, it is sometimes hard to tell whether the person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning. Anyone who works with or near pesticides should be aware of the symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

Pesticide applicators who work with organophosphate or carbamate insecticides in warm and hot conditions need to be especially aware of the difference between heat exhaustion and pesticide poisoning.
It is not always easy to tell if a person is suffering from heat exhaustion or pesticide poisoning.

The EPA has provided the following chart to help you compare symptoms.

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Dry Membranes
Dry Mouth
No Tears
No Spit Present
Fast Pulse (slow if person has fainted)
Dilated Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Fainting (prompt recovery)

Systems of Heat Exhaustion

Moist Membranes
Spit Present in Mouth
Slow Pulse
Nausea and Diarrhea
Possibly Small Pupils
Central Nervous System Depression
Loss of Coordination
Coma (can't awaken)

What should you do if you suspect a case of pesticide poisoning?

Time is critical with any pesticide poisoning! Get immediate help from a local hospital; physician; or poison control center (800-222-1222). If you believe you have been poisoned or injured by pesticides on an agricultural establishment covered under the Worker Protection Standards (WPS), your employer must:

  • Make transportation available from the job site to a medical care facility.
  • Provide information about the pesticide to which you may have been exposed.

If you suspect heat exhaustion, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place.
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
  • Monitor the person carefully.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the person's condition deteriorates, especially if he or she experiences:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater

In either case, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Call 911 if in doubt.

Employers, Protect Your Workers and Your Business! 
Make sure your employees are properly trained, current with their license and WPS compliant. Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicators must complete 6 credits of core training each certification cycle in addition to category specific requirements. See chart for details.

Renewal Deadline
Commercial Applicators - annually by 9/30
Public Certified Applicators - every 3 yrs by 9/30
Registered Technicians - annually by 2/28
Private Applicators - every 3 yrs by 3/31

Worker Protection Safety (WPS) Training
As of January 2, 2017, the EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires employers to provide protection to workers and handlers from potential pesticide exposure. Pesticide safety training is part of the requirement. If you do not train your workers properly you run the risk of employee injury and penalties which could cost you thousands of dollars. Certified Training Institute has partnered with Mississippi State University to bring the highest quality pesticide education to Pennsylvania as well as the entire nation. This training is designed to help you comply with the new regulations. Worker Protection Safety (WPS) training is available online  HERE  Training programs are available to help you train all your workers. Packages are available to train 1-25 workers. There's also an option to train an unlimited amount of workers.

Sign up today and begin your required training and stay in compliance with the new laws. Courses are available at –

Pennsylvania Online Pesticide Professional
Exam Prep, Continuing Education and WPS Training

Pennsylvania State-approved video courses are available 24/7



Are You Ready to Renew Your Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License?

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture “To maintain certification, applicators must attend update training programs in core and appropriate category-specific topics. Six core credits and up to ten category credits for each category in which the applicator is certified are required.  If the recertification credit requirements are not met by the specified date, the applicator's license will expire and that applicator will no longer be permitted to make pesticide applications until the license is reinstated.”

Renewal deadlines are as follows:

Commercial Applicators - annually by 9/30
Public Certified Applicators - every 3 years by 9/30
Registered Technicians - annually by 2/28
Private Applicators - every 3 years by 3/31

If your deadline is approaching, here’s what you need to know.

The number of credits you must take to meet your license requirements is dependent upon the number of categories are applied to your license. You’ll want to check your license carefully before you calculate your license renewal requirements from the list below.

Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator Continuing Education Requirements

Agronomic Crops (1) - 10 credits
Fruit & Nuts (2) - 10 credits
Vegetable Crops (3) - 10 credits
Agricultural Animals (4) - 6 credits
Forest Pest Control (5) - 8 credits
Ornamental Shade Trees (6) - 10 credits
Lawn & Turf (7) - 10 credits
Seed Treatment (8) - 4 credits
Aquatic Pest Control (9) - 4 credits
Right-of-Way Weeds (10) - 8 credits
Household & Health Related (11) - 10 credits
Wood Destroying Pests (12) - 10 credits
Structural Fumigation (13) - 6 credits
Public Health - Vertebrate Pests (15) - 8 credits
Regulatory Pest Control (17) - 10 credits
Demonstration & Research (18) - 10 credits
Wood Preservation (19) - 4 credits
Commodity and Space Fumigation (20) - 6 credits
Soil Fumigation (21) - 4 credits
Interior Plantscape (22) - 4 credits
Park or School Pest Control (23) - 10 credits
Swimming Pools (24) - 4 credits
Aerial Applicator (25) - 10 credits
Sewer Root Control (26) - 4 credits
Private Category (PC) - 6 credits

Next step: Find State-Approved Education

Once you’ve calculated your required continuing education, you’ll need to find a state-approved continuing education provider. Certified Training Institute is just the place to complete those credits!

They offer state-approved education for all categories.  All courses are online and accessible 24/7 from any internet capable device, including your phone! Take them at home, in the field, or even your truck!

Courses are offered individually or in money-saving bundles. Each one is specifically designed to meet Pennsylvania State requirements.  The choice is yours!

Take advantage of winter downtime and get started now!

Online Pesticide Professional Continuing Education
State-approved video courses are available 24/7