Common Summer Pests in the Pacific Northwest

Image of a wasp on a flower - common summertime pests - United Pest Solutions in Seattle WA

Few things are better than sitting outside on a warm summer’s day… that is, unless you’re having to battle pests the whole time! It can be difficult to relax if you need to defend yourself from bugs every few minutes, which is why it’s useful to know what pests to expect in the summer and how you can avoid them. Here are the most common summer pests in the Pacific Northwest and what you can do to keep them away:

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are infamous for their annoying buzzing and itchy, irritating bites. Though these pests are one of the most common in the world, they are also one of the most dangerous. Since they are blood-sucking parasites, they are capable of spreading serious diseases to their hosts – despite only feeding for a few seconds or minutes. While it may feel impossible to completely avoid mosquitoes, there are a few preventative measures you can take to avoid infestations or bites:

  • Remove sources of standing water from your property
  • Wear thick and long-sleeved clothing when possible
  • Consider wearing an EPA-certified insect repellent

Bees, Wasps, & Hornets

Stinging insects are one of the most feared summertime pests, and understandably so. Stings can be quite painful and for some people could even be deadly. Especially for individuals with allergies or vulnerable small children, it’s important to avoid these pests as much as possible. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to stay safe from bees, wasps, and hornets:

  • Properly dispose of trash and food scraps in lidded bins
  • Avoid leaving out pet food or other possible food sources
  • ALWAYS contact a wasp specialist if you encounter an infestation

Ants

A pile of ants can be unsightly – especially if they start moving toward your home or kitchen. Since these pests are most active in warm weather, it’s useful to know how to keep ants at bay no matter the season. Here are some ways you can keep ants out of your home this summer:

  • Regularly clean your floors and countertops
  • Avoid leaving food out and store trash in lidded bins
  • Seal any cracks or openings that lead into your home

Bed Bugs

Since bed bugs are active year-round and primarily infest indoor spaces, many people are surprised to discover that their populations surge in the summertime. Bed bug infestations are more likely to occur during the warmer months for two main reasons: first, the heat encourages the insects to feed and breed. And second, humans do a lot more traveling over the summer. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can take to avoid bed bugs even while traveling:

  • Carefully inspect hotel or guest rooms before staying the night
  • Vacuum your luggage and wash your laundry upon returning home
  • Cover your luggage as you travel or use a hard-backed suitcase

Your Local Pest Control Experts

While there are several steps you can take to keep yourself safe from the common summertime pests here in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes infestations are inevitable. If you are dealing with pests in your home or property, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at United Pest Solutions! We have proudly served the Seattle metropolitan area since 1960, and it’s our goal to provide you with effective, affordable, and long-term solutions that you can rely on. Contact us today if you need help getting rid of your summer pests!

Why Do I Get Ants When it Rains?

Image of ants during a rainstorm in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

After a heavy downpour, many homeowners will discover new ants in or around their house. While it may seem strange to suddenly discover ants after a storm, it’s pretty common for these pests to appear after rainfall.

Since ants are generally able to sense a storm before it hits, they will usually work to protect their nest by plugging entry holes and digging deep tunnels. However, very heavy rains can still wash away a whole colony, so many ants will still seek shelter elsewhere. Our homes provide great protection for these pests, which is why so many people get ants when it rains.

Ways to Prevent Ants When It Rains

Ant infestations can be difficult to get rid of once they take hold. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to prevent ants from getting into your home in the first place. Here are some tips for keeping ants out during a rainstorm:

  • Trim back your landscaping: If water begins pooling on the ground, many ants will climb up tall plants to avoid drowning or being washed away. So, any tall plants up against your home could lead ants right indoors. Trimming back your landscaping is one of the most effective ways to make it more difficult for these pests to sneak inside.
  • Seal off openings to your home: Another effective way to keep ants out is to physically block them from entering your home. To do so, try sealing off any cracks or gaps with caulk and repair your door or window screens. Be sure to check for gaps along doors, windows, and your home’s foundation.
  • Check pipes and electrical for gaps: Electrical wiring, utility boxes, and plumbing often have small cracks that pests can crawl through. Sealing these off with caulk can add an extra layer of protection against ants.

What to Do If You Get Ants After a Storm

Ants are tricky insects that can squeeze through even the tiniest of openings, so it’s possible that you may still encounter them even after taking preventative measures. If you notice ants in your home after a storm, try these tips to get rid of them quickly:

  • Remove food and water sources: Ants are more likely to remain in an area if it has easy access to food and water. To make it more difficult for them to settle in, be sure to store your food in airtight containers. Also use lidded trash bins, and fix any plumbing leaks or moisture issues that they could be using for water.
  • Get rid of pheromone trails: Ants use pheromones to communicate with one another, and they often leave behind pheromone trails to alert their colony of nearby food. Washing away these trails with soapy water or vinegar can disrupt their communication and make it more challenging for a colony to establish itself.
  • Call a professional ant exterminator: An ant infestation can be difficult to get rid of, and sometimes it seems like these pests will stick around no matter what you try. If you are struggling with an ant infestation, the experts at United Pest Solutions are here to help! Our experienced ant exterminators can help identify and treat the root cause of your infestation, so you can enjoy an ant-free home in no time. Just give us a call to get your free estimate!

6 Tips for Keeping Ants Away This Summer

Woman stacking clear food containers. United Pest Solutions offers 6 tips for preventing ants.

Woman stacking clear food containers. United Pest Solutions offers 6 tips for preventing ants.Ants are everywhere in the Seattle area. While you may not think they’re a problem, the truth is they can contaminate your food and affect your home’s structural integrity. To help keep these tiny pests outside where they belong, follow these tips from United Pest Solutions.

Indoor Ant Prevention Tips

Store Food Properly

This may come as no surprise, but ants are attracted to food. Store your food in airtight containers and avoid leaving pet dishes out all day.

Clean Up

Ants feed on crumbs, trash, and pantry products and will likely invade your home if they sense food in your pantry or garbage can. In addition to storing food properly, also make sure to clean up spills immediately. This will help disrupt any pheromone trails they’ve left behind.

Reduce Moisture

Many pests are attracted to water, including ants. Repair any water leaks or drips in your home.

Outdoor Ant Prevention Tips

Seal Entrances

Ants can easily fit through the smallest of cracks in your home. It is helpful to seal these gaps with caulk. Pay particular attention to windows, doors, and around pipes that lead into your home.

Remove Debris

Stones, leaves, and other yard debris make great nesting grounds so clear yard debris to help deter ants from your property. If possible, cut back trees touching the house or roofline as this acts as a superhighway for ants. Also, ants love dense low-lying vegetation or ground cover. Work to either eliminate those areas if practical or attempt to keep those areas at least 3 feet away from the house if possible. Basically, the less vegetation near the house the better.

Relocate Firewood

Firewood, especially moist and damaged firewood is a huge ant attractant. If you keep firewood on your property, move it away from your home and on a raised structure.

Experts in Ant Control

In some cases, the only way to completely treat and prevent an ant infestation is to work with a qualified pest professional who can locate and remove the nests, like United Pest Solutions. We’ve been offering safe and effective pest control solutions in the greater Seattle WA area since 1960. Contact us today to learn how we can help you have a pest-free home.

 

Common Spring Pests in the Pacific Northwest

Yellow jacks on a sandwich. United Pest Solutions, serving Seattle WA talks about the common spring pests in the Pacific Northwest.

Yellow jacks on a sandwich. United Pest Solutions, serving Seattle WA talks about the common spring pests in the Pacific Northwest. Ah spring, a time for warmer weather, sunshine, blooming-plants…and pests! When the cold weather subsides, we often get caught up in the excitement of the season change that we forget about pests being abundant this time of year.

Many pests emerge in spring looking for places to nest and food to eat–which can lead them into your home. To help prevent your spring from being ruined by a pest infestation, here are some common pests to lookout for and what you can do to stop them in their tracks.

Ants

The two most common ant species in the Pacific Northwest are odorous house ants and carpenter ants.

Odorous house ants, commonly referred to as sugar ants, are a nuisance more than anything. They’ll send scouts into your home in search of food, and when they find it, they’ll signal the others to come on over.

Carpenter ants are wood-destroying pests that cause a lot of property damage every year. These ants are smaller than most ant species and they favor damp or rotting wood. When they find favorable wood, they’ll excavate through it to build their nests. Because they’re most active at night and are hidden, carpenter ants are difficult to locate.

There are several steps you can take to deter ants, including:

  • Trimming back shrubs away from your home
  • Keeping all surfaces clean
  • Sealing holes and gaps
  • Ensure windows and doors are sealed

Spiders

Most spiders are harmless and don’t have enough venom to cause severe harm, but there are a couple that are considered dangerous in the Seattle area–the black widow spider and the yellow sac spider. However, the most common spiders you may encounter are the giant house spider, domestic house spider, jumping spider, and the funnel web spider.

Many people often forget that spiders are beneficial to our environment as they help control other pests such as flies, moths, and earwigs.

Here are some tips to help protect your home from spiders.

  • Remove clutter
  • Trim vegetation
  • Fill gaps around the home
  • Ensure windows and doors are snug fitting
  • Remove other insects, which spiders feed on

Stinging Insects

Yellowjackets and honey bees are the most common stinging insects during spring. Honey bees are considered beneficial as they pollinate growing plants and trees. Yellowjackets, on-the-other-hand, are very aggressive and territorial. If they’re provoked or feel threatened, they may sting multiple times.

Here are some tips to help keep yellowjackets away from your property.

  • Remove standing water
  • Cover trash cans properly
  • Cover any holes in the ground
  • Keep doors and windows shut
  • Inspect decks, under eaves, and other wood structures as some wasps build their nests using wood fiber

Spring Pest Control in Seattle WA

Now that you know more about the common spring pests in the Pacific Northwest, you are one step closer to preventing an infestation. If you’ve tried the suggestions above or want professional help, turn to United Pest Solutions. We’ve served the greater Seattle area since 1960.

Pest-Proof Your Home for Winter in 6 Steps

Rodent outside next to snow. United Pest Solutions talks about how homeowners in Seattle WA can pest-proof their home for winter in 6 steps.

Rodent outside next to snow. United Pest Solutions talks about how homeowners in Seattle WA can pest-proof their home for winter in 6 steps.Winter is coming and just like us, some pests will want to move indoors where it’s warm. The most common winter invaders are spiders, rats, mice, and cockroaches. Having an infestation by these pests can be damaging to both your health and your home if not properly treated. Rats and mice are destructive. They can also contaminate food and bring ticks, fleas, and lice into your home. Cockroaches carry harmful diseases including Salmonella, and spiders can bite if they feel threatened — which can result in a serious reaction for some people. This is why it’s important to make sure these pests can’t gain access into your home. Read more to learn how to pest-proof your home for winter in 6 easy steps.

6 Steps to Pest-Proof Your Home for Winter

1.Inspect

Walk around the interior and exterior of your home looking for signs of rodents. Inspect wires, walls, and your home’s insulation for gnaw marks.

2. Seal Cracks and Holes

While inspecting your home you’ll also want to be on the lookout for any cracks in your foundation and gaps in windows and doors where pests can easily fit through. You can use caulking to seal small cracks and weather stripping for windows and doors. If you have a chimney or air vents that need covering, use mesh screens to help keep them out.

3. Trim Tree Branches and Shrubs

Keep your trees and shrubs well-trimmed away from your home. Roof rats are highly-skilled climbers and will scale across branches to gain access to your roof and into your home.

4. Store Your Food in Airtight Containers

Left out food attracts rodents and cockroaches. So use airtight containers to store your food. Also, throw out the trash regularly.

5. Store Your Firewood High and Away From Your Home

If you keep firewood on your property, we recommend you store it at least 2 feet off the ground and at least 20 feet away from your home. Rats and mice are attracted to woodpiles and debris.

6. Keep Storage Boxes Off the Floor

Rodents and spiders like to live in areas that are undisturbed. So use sealed boxes and store them off the floor and on shelves to help prevent pests.

Whether you’ve tried these methods or believe you already have a pest infestation, it’s important to contact a professional like United Pest Solutions before it spreads. We’ll inspect your home, diagnose the problem, and eliminate your pest problem for good!

Sugar Ant Problem? 10 Natural Tips to Getting Rid of Sugar Ants

United Pest reveals 10 natural ways to deter sugar ants.

United Pest reveals 10 natural ways to deter sugar ants.

This time of year not only brings warmer days and sunshine, but this is also a time when you may see an increase in tiny black sugar ants which are also called odorous house ants because of the odor they release when crushed.

If you have kids or pets and don’t want to reach for the bug spray, we at United Pest Solutions has created a list featuring the 10 ways you can get rid of sugar ants naturally.

Homemade Cleaners

Sugar ants communicate with one another by leaving trails of pheromones. These trails can warn nestmates about danger, let them know where food is, and show them how to find their way back to their nest. You can remove these pheromone trails using a natural cleanser made with everyday household items. This includes:

  • Soap and water: These materials are not only easy to find, but this is also the easiest way to get rid of a constant ant trail.
  • Vinegar and water: Vinegar is known for being a natural cleanser and helping eliminate odors. Mix a 50/50 vinegar and water solution into a spray bottle and use it on ants to kill them immediately.

Essential Oils and Herbs to Deter Odorous Ants

These are easy non-toxic ways that have been found successful in ant infestations. However, the right concentration must be used, and these materials may need to be applied regularly.

Essential Oils: Citrus oils, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil can be made into a spray solution to deter ants. Use about 8 ounces of water mixed with 20 drops of oil and spray along window sills, and doorways. If you want an essential oil spray for kitchen surfaces specifically, mix about 7 drops of lemon oil and 15 drops of peppermint oil with water.

Coffee Grounds: Since coffee can stain surfaces, we recommend using it with caution; think doorways and window sills.

Cinnamon: Use this spice around doorways, window sills, and baseboards to deter ants.

Pepper: This is another spice that’s readily available that you can use to ward off ants.

Bay Leaves: There are different ways you can use bay leaves to deter sugar ants. You can place a leaf in your pantry, or grind it up and sprinkle it where they’re active.

Powders to Ward Off Odorous Ants

If you don’t have some of the materials above, or would rather use a powder substance. Here are several to choose from.

Borax: Found in the laundry-cleaning aisle, this product messes with an ants digestive system eventually resulting in death. Use caution when using this product. Borax may cause skin irritation, and could be harmful if swallowed, so keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a common product used when cooking. Sprinkle some on an ant trail. Ants can’t digest cornstarch, so after eating it, they’ll slowly die.

Diatomaceous Earth: This garden product is made from fossilized diatoms and kills any insect. Sprinkle a generous amount near doorways and baseboards.

Experts in Pest Control

Of course, the sure-fire way to getting rid of an ant infestation is by calling in the experts. United Pest Solutions’ licensed exterminators will get rid of your sugar ant infestation quickly and efficiently. So contact United Pest Solutions today for your pest control needs!

Do Sugar Ants Bite?

United Pest Solutions provides expert advice on "Do sugar ants bite?" in Seattle WA.

United Pest Solutions provides expert advice on "Do sugar ants bite?" in Seattle WA.Do you have trails of tiny black ants crawling through your kitchen? You’re not alone!

An extremely common species in the Pacific Northwest, odorous house ants are those tiny black creatures that invade every spring. Also known as sugar ants, these nuisance insects cause alarm across kitchens throughout Washington. But while they may seem harmless, do sugar ants bite?

There’s no need to worry about odorous house ants biting or causing pain in any way. However, no one wants ants in their home! Read more to find out how the experts deal with sugar ants.

What do sugar ants look like?

One of the tiniest species of ants, sugar ants are no bigger than ⅛ inch in length. They can be dark brown or black, and when they’re crushed, they emit a smell. Some people describe this as smelling like rotting coconuts, while others report smells of blue cheese or even piña coladas. This is why they’re called “odorous house ants”.

Odorous house ants utilize a complex system of pheromones, including the rotting coconut smell, to signal their nest mates toward food, away from danger, and back to the nest. This trail-making is central in the process of eliminating sugar ants. They can have multiple colonies, and these trails can connect a wider network of thousands of ants.

What do odorous house ants eat?

Odorous house ants are also known as sugar ants for a reason! These tiny nuisances are known for their proclivity toward sugar, but they’ll also eat a variety of proteins, fats, and carbs. Sugar ants are opportunity scavengers, and will feed on crumbs, garbage, the contents of unrinsed glasses, and just about anything else they can find.

Sugar Ant Prevention

Keeping your kitchen and living space clean of any food that might attract odorous house ants is the first and most crucial step toward preventing them. Remember: they’ll eat almost anything, but they’re especially attracted to sugar. Even if you leave a single dirty glass that held apple juice, these ants will be all over it in a matter of hours.

Storing your food properly, sealing garbage cans and areas, sweeping the floors frequently, and always keeping dishes clean can go a long way toward preventing ants, but it’s not the whole story. We also recommend sealing any potential ant entry points, including the caulking around doors and windows.

If you have a serious sugar ant infestation, you may want to consider having a professional ant exterminator inspect and treat your property. If ants are attracted to your home, you can bet that other pests will also be attracted to your home! Contact United Pest Solutions, your local source for expert pest control.

Overwintering Pests in the Pacific Northwest

Rat peeking out of hole. United Pest Solutions talks about what you can do to keep overwinter pests out of your home during the winter months.

Rat peeking out of hole. United Pest Solutions talks about what you can do to keep overwinter pests out of your home during the winter months.

It’s the middle of winter, and pests that don’t like the cold, seek shelter, food and water in your home, where it’s nice and warm.  When insects come inside for the winter, there is a term you may hear called  “overwintering.”   Learn what overwintering means, which pests overwinter in the Pacific Northwest, and ways you can prevent them from invading your home.

What Does Overwintering Mean?

Overwinter is a term used to describe organisms, whether plants or animals, that wait out winter. So in regards to pests, an overwintering pest is one that lives through the cold temperatures of winter. They typically find a warm, safe place and stay put until winter passes. Kind of like how a bear hibernates in the winter.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are larger than most ants here in the Pacific Northwest. They can be black, brown or red. Carpenter ant colonies will typically remain dormant in the winter. But if carpenter ants have found a place to stay warm, say your house or a shed, they may forgo hibernating.

Carpenter ants are one of the most structurally damaging in the Pacific Northwest. They’ll destroy sheds, furniture, and even structural beams. So if you have a carpenter ant infestation, it’s important you contact a pest control technician immediately. You can learn more about carpenter ants in our helpful Carpenter Ants information page.

Spiders

Spiders are cold-blooded. They can survive cold temperatures because their bodies adapt to keep them from freezing. Think antifreeze in a car. Many spiders will take shelter in sheds, leaf or rock piles, and in tree bark. They are not drawn to a warm home and typically don’t try to get inside of it for the winter. This is a myth. However, if you do see spiders in your home, it’s likely they were already there. You just didn’t see them before.

Spiders like areas that go undisturbed like cluttered areas in garages and basements or underneath furniture. So to prevent spiders from getting inside your home seal up any potential entry points and keep your home clutter-free. Our Spider information page goes more in-depth about which spider species are native to the Pacific Northwest.

Rodents

Our homes have everything rodents, like rats and mice, need to live comfortably through the winter; food and warm shelter. And because they can fit into such tiny spaces, they can easily infiltrate your home. Not only are these overwintering pests a nuisance but they also pose health hazards as they carry various bacteria and diseases like Salmonella. Rats and mice can also cause significant damage to your home. They will leave their droppings and urine throughout your home, get into your food, and even chew through electrical wires and wood. You can read more about the various types of rodents we have here in the Puget Sound area in our rodent informational page.

Once a rodent has infiltrated your home for the winter, they’re likely going to stay even when spring emerges. Rats and mice are intelligent so these pests are not easy to remove. That’s why it’s important to find a technician who’s highly-experienced in rodent control.

If you are experiencing a pest problem, contact United Pest Solutions. Our certified pest control technicians are trained to deal with a wide range of pests. We’ll ensure your home or business is well protected. We also offer an Enhanced All Seasons Plan, to keep your home pest-free all year round. So contact us today for all your pest control needs!