We humans share the planet with a pretty large number of animals. Some of them are super adorable and let us put jackets on them or allow themselves to be instagrammed on a daily basis. Others are so majestic and beautiful we catch them and put them on display behind glass and bars. Still more of them can be turned into clothes and spicy, crispy sandwiches. But... then there are the ones that come onto our property without invitation, like they own the place. And for some reason when you call 9-11 the cops tell you to just kill the spider yourself.
Do you ever wonder what the most common un-invited animal in your home is? I do. These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night. I know this list can't be exhaustive because there really are so many animals that share our homes that we don't even see like bedbugs and lice... so I'm focusing on the big ones. And, heads-up, my list is focused on North America because that's the continent I live on. Vote up the animals that you have encountered on your property.
Ugh. Filthy book-eaters. You've probably come across these guys wherever you store things. Silverfish prefer to dwell in dark, damp areas such as basements, attics and bathrooms. They are especially attracted to paper and damp clothing. They are commonly found in stored boxes in garages and sheds.... places that tend to not be disturbed for periods of time.
Silverfish are wingless with long antennae off their heads and even have pokey stuff coming off their butts (why?!). They move in a wiggling motion that resembles the movement of a fish. This, along with with their silvery color, is what gives them their undeservedly pretty name. These gross ruiners-of-things typically live for two to eight years. They are fast, and can outrun most of their predators (including hunting spiders and even house centipedes).
If you live in the northern parts of North America you may not see these little invasives, but if you live in the South or any part of the world that is even a little bit warm - meet the Argentine ant.
This tiny little lady is originally from Argentina and is the success/devastation story of the insect world. They have spread to every continent except Antarctica. They have been so successful in their world domination partly because different nests - when they spread into each others' territories - seldom attacking or competing with each other, unlike most other ants. Thus, in most of their introduced range, they form supercolonies.
You will see them, when they come into your home (if they do at all), as teeny-tiny little black ants that congregate around water sources like your kitchen sink or your bathtub. Interestingly, you can sometimes see queens foraging alongside the workers. They will come inside when it gets particularly hot or dry outside -- or super rainy. When you do see the scouts, try to cut off their foraging trails to keep them from finding whatever treasure they are looking for. If a scout never makes it back to the colony, the rest of them might not end up marching into your home.
Barn Funnel Weaver Spider
(Domestic House Spider in Europe)
There are actually a number of spiders that get this general 'house spider' term applied to them. Most people are too busy screaming and making the 'kill it with fire' joke to suss out the difference. This particular pal is very common world-wide. It is believed that it was originally from Europe and imported here when the New World was colonized.
The coloring of this guy is typically dark orange to brown/beige/greige, with striped legs and two dull, black, longwise stripes on the body. They very rarely bite as they are non-agressive. They build a funnel web, usually in a corner and sit at the smaller back of the funnel, waiting for prey to disturb the cone which is when they rush out and grab their meal. The males tend to just roam around the house, moving quickly if they feel threatened. If you catch them and toss them outside because you are feeling non-murderous, they will very likely die anyway unless you live in a warm climate. They are good pest-killers, however, and if they build in a corner of your home that is mostly unused, it's not a bad idea to leave them to their work.
(Also called Mosquito Hawks)
You've seen these guys up on your ceilings during certain times of year, freaking your kids out because they are so huge and terrifying-looking. The common name “mosquito hawk” is sometimes given to these flies; however the name usually comes with the belief that these super-clumsy, long-legged insects are predators, perhaps preying on mosquitoes. Not true, not even at all. Crane flies are among the gentlest of insects. Most are nectar feeders, sipping sweet sugars from plants and possibly helping out a little with pollination in the process - this is why they have that long 'mosquito-esqe' proboscis. It's for nectar, not blood sucking. Other species live out their short lives relying on fat reserves built up during their larval stage, lacking mouth parts entirely.
Yep, short lifespans. They don't get long on this earth to bumble around your house banging into things, maybe a couple of days. If you want to be kind, trap them and send them outside so that they might spend their very-brief lives free of your harsh, unyielding walls.