The term "vermin" is used to refer to a wide scope of organisms, including rodents, cockroaches, termites, bed bugs, mosquitoes, ferrets, stoats, sables, rats, and occasionally foxes.
Historically, in the 16th and 17th century, the expression also became used as a derogatory term associated with groups of persons typically plagued by vermin, namely beggars and vagabonds, and more generally the poor.
Disease-carrying rodents and insects are the usual case, but the term is also applied to larger animals—especially small predators—typically because they consume resources which humans consider theirs, such as livestock and crops. Birds which eat cereal crops and fruit are an example. The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), is widely hated by farmers because of crop depredation. Pigeons, which have been widely introduced in urban environments, are also sometimes considered vermin. Some varieties of snakes and arachnids may also be referred to as vermin. Vermin is also used as a term for vile people, an enemy of a state or nation, or certain ethnic groups that are considered subhuman.
Varmint or varmit is an American-English colloquialism, a corruption of "vermin" particularly common to the American East and South-east within the nearby bordering states of the vast Appalachia region. The term describes species which raid farms from without, as opposed vermin (such as rats) that infest from within, thus referring mainly to predators such as feral dogs, foxes, weasels, and coyotes, sometimes even wolves or rarely bears, but also, to a lesser degree, herbivores and burrowing animals that directly damage crops and land.
Although "varmint/varmit" is not the prevalent usage in Standard Written English, it is a common descriptor for certain kinds of weapons and pest control situations in the Appalachian and nearby states and the American West and South-west which have adopted terms such as varmint rifle and varmint hunting.