Why Are Pests Attracted to Light?

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If you leave your porch light on at night, then you probably know what it’s like to discover dozens of insects fluttering around the bulb within a matter of hours. But, why exactly are so many pests attracted to light? While there isn’t one set scientific explanation, there are a few theories as to why insects are drawn to sources of artificial light:

Natural Attraction to Light, or Phototaxis

Phototaxis is a reflexive reaction to light, which causes an organism to instinctively move either toward or away from the light source; attraction toward the light is known as positive phototaxis, and repulsion is called negative phototaxis. These are hard-wired behaviors that impact all sorts of organisms, from single cells to larger creatures. That’s why many people believe phototaxis is the reason some insects, such as fruit flies and moths, are instinctively attracted to light.

Easier Flight and Navigation

Another popular theory is that insects rely upon sources of light to navigate in the dark. This theory is rooted in the idea that insects use natural light from the sun or the moon to navigate. Thus, if they encounter a fixed source of light, they become confused and mistakenly use the bulb as their navigational landmark.

Increased Sense of Safety

Many people also believe that insects follow light as a “beacon” of safety. The idea here is that insects use natural sources of light – such as the sun or the moon – to move upward and away from potential predators. Since most natural light sources are positioned high in the sky, they would lead insects away from the ground and out of harm’s way.

Tips For Keeping Pests Away From Your Porch Light

A giant swarm of insects swirling around your porch light can be unsightly and stressful, especially if you have to deal with it on a nightly basis. While it can be challenging to completely avoid pests outdoors, there are a few ways you can prevent pests from swarming near your porch light:

  • Turn off any unnecessary lights and consider installing a screen
  • Try using an orange or yellow-colored LED lightbulb
  • Light citronella or geraniol candles if you plan to remain outdoors

If you have tried everything and are still struggling with insects swarming your porch at night, it may be time to call a professional. For quality pest control services in the Seattle metropolitan area, you can count on the experts at United Pest Solutions! We have over 60 years of experience providing homeowners with affordable services and long-lasting results, so you can enjoy a pest-free porch in no time. Contact us today to get started!

IPM for Allergy-Friendly Pest Control

Using Integrated Pest Management for allergy-friendly pest control in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

Some pests can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, which is why pest control is an important part of keeping your indoor air clean and safe for the whole family. However, some pest control techniques – particularly ones that rely on the heavy use of harsh chemicals – can also negatively impact your air quality. That’s why here at United Pest Solutions, we use Integrated Pest Management (also known as IPM) techniques for an environmentally responsible and allergy-friendly approach to pest control.

What Is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated Pest Management is a pest control technique that addresses the root cause of the pest problem to get rid of infestations quickly and effectively while also preventing future outbreaks. IPM uses five main steps:

  1. Inspection: A thorough inspection of your property will allow the exterminators to find pests while also identifying any areas of the home that could be leading to your pest problem. Routine inspections are also an important part of IPM, even if you are not actively noticing pests; having a professional regularly examine your home can prevent infestations from beginning in the first place.
  2. Identification: If the exterminator notices any signs of pests in or near your home, they will identify which pest you are dealing with to create a plan that is tailored to the habits of the specific critter you’re dealing with. Proper identification will help the professional remove the pests quickly and effectively without harming other organisms.
  3. Establishing thresholds: Different pests come with different sets of issues. Termites can cause serious financial problems by damaging your home; bed bugs and rodents can lead to health issues; ants can contaminate food sources and become a major nuisance. Establishing your threshold allows pest control professionals to create a plan with the right size, scope, and intensity for your goals.
  4. Two or more control methods: The right treatment plan generally involves multiple methods to eliminate pests while preventing more from getting inside. From removing leaf litter and sealing cracks in your home to placing traps or strategically using pest control products, there are a lot of different techniques that can come together to create a solution that is right for your needs.
  5. Evaluate for success: IPM doesn’t stop when the pests are gone. Instead, it’s an ongoing process that keeps your home pest-free and protected from future infestations. By treating the root cause of the problem and performing regular preventative inspections, IPM is able to keep your space safe long-term without relying on the heavy use of pesticides every time an outbreak occurs.

Is IPM Allergy-Friendly?

If you or your family suffers from allergies or asthma, IPM could be a good pest control solution for you. Not only does IPM only use pesticides as a last resort, but our professionals also create personalized plans based on the needs of your household. So, if you are concerned about allergy or asthma attacks, our experts can create a treatment plan that focuses on other methods of prevention or elimination to keep your home pest-free, safely. If you have any questions about how IPM works or if you need allergy-friendly pest control, contact one of our professionals today!

Are Tick Bites Dangerous?

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With spring in full swing and warm weather rolling in, it’s almost camping season! Though this time of year can be filled with endless outdoor fun, it also puts you and your furry friends at risk of tick bites. A tick bite may not seem like a big deal, especially if you are able to safely remove the pest on your own. However, these small pests can cause a number of serious complications, such as:

  • Tick-borne diseases: Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of their host. By jumping from host to host, they can spread serious diseases between people. Common but serious diseases caused by ticks include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and tularemia.
  • Allergic reaction: Though most people will only experience a mildly irritating red or itchy spot after a tick bite, some people may have bigger reactions. From hives and blisters to shortness of breath, a tick bite could trigger a serious allergic reaction in some.
  • Infection: Ticks feed by breaking through and burrowing into their host’s skin, where they may remain for up to 10 days. This kind of open wound can leave the body vulnerable to infections that may require medical attention. Improper tick removal could also leave the head behind, which could lead to issues during the healing process.
  • Pet health issues: Most pet owners understand how challenging it can be to keep your furry friend tick-free, especially if they frequently go outdoors. However, ticks are not just itchy and uncomfortable for your pets; these pests can also cause health issues such as anemia, Lyme disease, and canine ehrlichiosis.

Tips for Avoiding Ticks

Avoiding ticks may seem like an impossible task, especially given how small these tiny pests are. Thankfully, though, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid tick bites this spring and summer. To keep yourself and your pets safe, follow these tips for avoiding ticks:

  • Avoid grassy, brushy, or wooded areas.
  • Check your pets, clothing, and gear before coming inside.
  • Shower and change clothes after being outdoors.
  • Consider using an EPA-registered insect repellent.

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!

How to Spot a Bed Bug Infestation

Identifying a bed bug infestation in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

Identifying a bed bug infestation in Seattle WA - United Pest SolutionsBed bug infestations can be very challenging to get rid of, especially if they have the chance to spread throughout your home. Spotting an infestation early can help you get rid of these pests quickly. However, since bed bugs are so small and good at hiding, it’s important to know where to look for these insects in your home so you can spot an infestation early on.

Common Places Where Bed Bugs Hide

The best place to search for bed bugs is where a person spends the most time sleeping, like the bed, or sometimes the sofa or recliner. Look for sheltered or protected areas with lots of nooks and crannies that bed bugs could be using as hiding places. Here are some of the most common hiding places for bed bugs at or near the areas described above:

  • Windowsills, including drapery
  • Baseboards
  • Piping or seams of mattresses
  • The bottom of box springs
  • Headboards and bed frame
  • Electrical outlets
  • Pet beds or kennels
  • Furniture like nightstands or dressers

Signs of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are tiny insects, measuring from very tiny to about the size of an apple seed. Because of their small size, you’ll want to look for several signs of an infestation rather than just relying on finding live bed bugs. The biggest signs of an infestation to look out for include:

  • Shed skins. As bed bugs grow through the different stages of their lifecycle, they shed pale amber-colored skins. If you are experiencing an infestation, you will likely spot these skins in nooks and crannies that are near food sources.
  • Fecal matter. After bed bugs consume a meal, they may leave behind some fecal matter. Their feces are small and usually look like small, black dots about the size of a pen tip, and they are generally located near their host.
  • Bloodstains. To help feed on blood, bed bugs will insert an anticoagulant into the skin of their host. This can cause the host to bleed a little, which may cause smears or spots of blood on your bed, sofa, or other feeding areas.
  • Eggs or shells. Bed bug eggs are only about 1 mm in length, so they can be difficult to spot. However, these small and whitish eggs may be located near prime feeding areas, and they are a telltale sign of an infestation.
  • Strong odor. Heavy bed bug infestations often come with a distinctive odor, which has been described as smelling like coriander, moldy shoes, or musty clothes. If you notice a similar scent and can’t find the source, it could be bed bugs.
  • Live insects. Bed bugs usually don’t come out until after you’re asleep. However, if you do happen to see live insects, then you are definitely dealing with an infestation and should call a professional as soon as possible.

What to Do If You Have Bed Bugs

A bed bug infestation is a nightmare for a lot of homeowners, especially because of how difficult these pests are to eradicate. However, you don’t have to deal with it alone. If you notice the signs of bed bugs in your home, call a professional bed bug exterminator to help you eradicate these pests as quickly as possible.

At United Pest Solutions, we are proud to offer bed bug extermination services with personalized treatments that address the root cause of the infestation. We have served the greater Seattle WA metropolitan area for almost 60 years, and we are prepared to help you get rid of these pests once and for all. Call us today to get started!

Top Tips for Preventing Termites

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Image of a termite in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions termite exterminationEven though termites are active year-round, these pests emerge every spring and fall looking for new structures to infest. Though termites are tiny insects, they are capable of causing serious damage and can even compromise your home’s structural integrity. Fortunately, you may be able to prevent these pests with a little bit of preparation. Here are some steps you should follow to prevent a termite infestation in your home:

Fix Moisture Problems

Termites need moisture to survive, so they generally only infest damp areas with easy access to water. Subterranean termites in particular are notorious for infesting homes with moisture issues, as this species is very sensitive to dehydration. To prevent termites, repair anything in your home that may be causing moisture problems such as leaky plumbing, a defective roof, or overflowing gutters.

Seal Any Holes or Cracks

Like most pests, termites will search for easy openings into your home. To keep termites and other pests out, you should go around your home and carefully search for any cracks or gaps that could lead indoors. Look at areas such as your foundation, along windows or doors, and near electrical or plumbing fixtures. Caulk can seal most openings, but larger ones may need a full repair.

Store Firewood Away From Your Home

Termites are wood-infesting pests, so they are often accidentally transported in firewood. If you store your firewood right next to your home, these pests won’t have to travel far to get indoors. To prevent an infestation, store your firewood on a raised structure that is at least 20 feet away from your home and only take firewood inside when you plan to use it immediately.

Consider an Alternative to Mulch

Many homeowners use mulch to insulate their flowerbeds and boost their curb appeal. However, mulch retains moisture exceptionally well, which may attract termites to the area. This can become a big problem if you use mulch directly next to your home’s foundation. In areas that are close to the home, consider using a landscaping alternative to mulch such as stone.

What to Do If You Have Termites

Though termites are small, they can cause serious (and expensive) damage to your home. By chewing through important support beams, they could weaken the structural integrity of your house and lead to hazardous conditions for you and your family. Additionally, termites are able to hide in walls, which makes them very difficult to detect and eradicate.

If you notice the signs of a termite infestation on your property, it’s important to contact a professional exterminator right away. At United Pest Solutions, we offer termite inspection, control, and removal services to help keep your home protected. We have proudly served the greater Seattle WA area for nearly 60 years, and we are committed to providing you with friendly and reliable service that you can trust. Call us today to get a free estimate!

Why Do I Still Have Flies in Winter?

What a cluster fly in winter looks like in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

What a cluster fly in winter looks like in Seattle WA - United Pest SolutionsMany people are surprised when they find flies buzzing around their homes in the middle of winter. Though flies may seem more like a summer pest, there are many species that will overwinter by hiding indoors. Cluster flies are one of the most common overwintering species, and homeowners throughout the Pacific Northwest often find these pests indoors as soon as temperatures drop.

How Do Cluster Flies Survive in the Winter?

Cluster flies begin preparing for winter by clustering as adults in warm and protected areas, such as wall voids or attics. Most homes are warm all year-round so on many occasions they “wake up” and fly around inside the house instead of escaping outside. This is because they “forget” how they got inside in the first place.

If there is a silver lining, it is good to know that these flies are the “cleanest” and most “sanitary” of all flies. They lay their eggs in the soil, and when they hatch the larvae crawl inside earthworms, then leave the earthworm as adults. They do not feed on any trash or any of the nasty things associated with all other flies. However, they can be a HUGE nuisance once inside.

How Can I Get Rid of Flies?

Flies are a nuisance no matter the time of year, which is why it’s useful to know how to get rid of infestations. Fly prevention doesn’t have to be difficult, either! Here are our top tips for getting rid of flies in winter:

  • Seal any cracks or gaps. If you have lots of cracks or gaps leading into your home, it will be easy for pests to get inside – and not just flies! Use caulk to seal off any openings around your house, especially around your foundation, windows, or utilities. BUT, in the case of Cluster Flies, wait until late Spring or early Summer. Otherwise, you may accidentally trap all the flies inside and temporarily have a worse issue.
  • Repair any broken screens. If you’re in the habit of leaving your windows open, be sure they’re all protected with a screen. Also remember to check the screens for any holes or tears that pests could crawl through.
  • Use sticky flypaper. Sticky fly paper is exactly what it sounds like – a sticky ribbon of paper designed to trap flying insects. Flypaper often has a sweet scent to draw pests in, and you can treat an infestation by placing some in rooms where you keep finding flies.
  • Make a fly repellent. Flies are sensitive to certain scents, which you can use to make a natural fly repellent. Some great fly-repelling essential oils include lavender, mint, and lemon. Mix a few drops of these with water in a spray bottle and spritz around your home, especially along entry points.

Get Effective Pest Control Today

If you are struggling with a fly infestation and can’t seem to find a solution, don’t worry! The experts at United Pest Solutions are prepared to provide services or recommendations to get rid of these pests. Our skilled technicians have been proudly serving the Seattle WA area for nearly 60 years, and we are dedicated to providing you with excellent service and effective solutions.

Rather than dealing with obnoxious buzzing for months on end, give us a call today!

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!

Treat Your Christmas Tree for Pests

People loading up Christmas tree into car. United Pest Solutions in Seattle WA talks about how to treat your Christmas tree for pests.

Freshly-cut Christmas trees are beautiful, they make our homes smell nice, and they get us in the holiday spirit! Unfortunately, when we bring a live Christmas tree into our homes, it may also come with some uninvited guests in the form of pests. Many types of pests make their homes in Christmas trees including aphids, spiders, and mites. While these pests are typically harmless to humans, their presence could be unnerving. So we’ve compiled a few steps you can take to treat your Christmas tree before you bring it into your home.

Which Types of Insects Live in Christmas Trees?

Entomologists say there could be more than 20,000 insects in a single tree including:

  • Spiders and mites: Commonly found on Fraser-fir, Douglas-fir, White pine, and Spruce trees. These pests may leave small red stains on your Christmas ornaments or floor.
  • Aphids: Usually found on White-fir, Fraser-fir, Balsam-fire, Spruce, Evergreen, and Pine trees. They are typically found on lower boughs of the tree.
  • Bark Beetles: These beetles are about the size of a grain of rice and are red, brown or black in color. They are commonly found on White-fir, Juniper, Coulter pine, Jeffrey pine, and Monterey pine trees.
  • Adelgids: Resembles dusting snow; common in fir trees, Scotch pine, and White pine.

The types of pests that live in Christmas trees varies depending on where you live and the species of tree you have chosen. It’s also important to keep in mind that many of these pests are harmless and will die off once inside your home because your home is not a suitable environment for them.

Pest-Proofing Your Christmas Tree

While most Christmas tree lots take preventive measures to help remove pests, below are some additional steps you can take to help prevent bringing bugs into your home.

  • Inspect your tree: Look for nests, eggs, and signs of insects on the tree’s trunk and branches. You may want to use a flashlight for this step. If you notice any eggs or nests on branches, prune them.
  • Shake your Christmas tree: Layout a light-colored cloth and give your tree a good shake over it. This will not only help remove any bugs but it will also remove dry, loose needles from your tree. Then vacuum up the debris.
  • Keep your tree in the garage for a few days: This will allow any eggs living in your tree to warm up and hatch in the garage and not in your home.
  • Keep your vacuum handy: Your vacuum is not only effective in picking up fallen pine needles, it is also great at helping prevent insects from spreading. If you see aphids or other insects on or near your tree you can simply suck them up with your vacuum.
  • Do not use aerosol pesticide sprays: Aerosol sprays are not needed and are flammable! Insects require humidity to live, and most will desiccate and die within a matter of days.

If your Christmas tree does have a large amount of insects in it, most tree lots will allow you to exchange it for another. If you have any questions about Christmas tree pests or other pests native to the Pacific Northwest, feel free to contact us at United Pest Solutions!

Why is Professional Pest Control Important?

United Pest Solutions in Seattle WA talks about the importance of hiring a professional for pest control.

Let’s face it, no one wants pests in their homes. And while do-it-yourself-pest-control sounds like a quick and cheap solution, these methods lack proven effectiveness and may actually bring more pests into your home. So, why is professional pest control so important?

Why DIY Pest Control Doesn’t Work

Many DIY pest control treatments appear to take care of your problem, but only hit the tip of the iceberg. Most homemade solutions and store bought products are only capable of getting rid of pests on the surface. And most pest infestations are hidden. So when a person tries a DIY pest control method and its results don’t last, they’ll try another and another, wasting time and money. This is why it’s important to contact a professional right away. Pest control technicians are knowledgeable about pests in your area. They’ll find the source and properly remove the pests.

The Problem with Store Bought Pest Products

Pest control products sold in stores won’t take care of your pest infestation in the long run, they only eliminate what you see on the surface. Only commercial-grade products will work effectively and they are only to be applied by a licensed professional. However, part of today’s pest control practice includes using sustainable methods. In fact, many technicians will work with homeowners to implement what’s called Integrated Pest Management (IPM). This is a strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests and their damage. With IPM, you seal cracks in your home and trim tree branches to help prevent pests from entering.

Keep Your Home Safe and Healthy

Why is professional pest control important? Three words, your family’s health.  Many pests including rodents and cockroaches are carriers of diseases. Pests such as the Indian meal moth and confused flour beetles will make a meal out of your favorite pantry foods, while contaminating them at the same time.  A licensed pest control technician will inspect your home, diagnose the problem, and safely treat the problem, keeping your family, pets, and perishables safe.

Hiring a Professional Leads to Stress-Free Living

A pest-free home is a happy home. Rather than wasting time and money on failing DIY pest control methods, contact a pest control company at the first sign of a pest infestation. Working with a licensed pest control company like United Pest Solutions will provide you with year-round pest control solutions at an affordable rate. We protect your home from rodents, bed bugs, spiders, ants, and more. We’ll also help you with your defense methods like capping your chimney and locating any vulnerable spots.