Why Are Wasps More Aggressive in the Fall?

Wasp on an orange autumn leaf

Wasps are notorious for their aggressive behavior and painful stings. Since these pests are capable of stinging multiple times in a row without dying, they can be deadly – especially to young children or those with an allergy. While wasps are dangerous year-round, they become particularly active and hostile when winter is approaching. But, why are wasps more aggressive in the fall?

Limited Food Sources

From fruit and nectar to barbecue leftovers, wasps have easy access to all sorts of food sources throughout the spring and summer. However, as fall sets it, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to find anything to eat. Not only does this prompt the wasps to search through your trash and other high-traffic areas for food, but it also causes them to become more aggressive. To deter wasps from invading your space in search of food, be sure to:

  • Pick up fallen fruit
  • Store pet food bowls inside
  • Avoid leaving leftovers out
  • Use lidded trash bins

Higher Populations

Queen wasps begin laying eggs in the spring when the weather begins to warm up, and they continue to reproduce all throughout the summer. That means the colony’s population is at its highest once fall comes around. Paired with the limited access to food, this peak in population increases competition and hostility in wasps during this time of year.

Protecting the Queen

Wasp colonies are very protective of their queens all year long. If even one wasp detects a threat, they will release special pheromones that alert the entire colony of a nearby danger. This can lead to deadly swarms, which become even more harmful in the fall because of the increased populations and higher level of aggression.

Searching for Warmth

Though most wasps will die once temperatures drop, queens typically seek out a warm and protected area where they can survive the winter. That makes your home the perfect place for a wasp to wait out the cold season. For this reason, it’s important to keep an eye out for wasps in spaces such as:

  • Attics
  • Sheds
  • Wall voids
  • Eaves
  • Porches

Get Professional Wasp Extermination Services

If you notice the signs of a wasp infestation, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible. An experienced wasp exterminator will have the tools and expertise needed to safely remove these pests while preventing more wasps from invading your space in the future. At United Pest Solutions, we strive to provide you with exceptional service so you can rest assured that your home and family are protected from wasps this fall. If you need quality wasp extermination services, contact us today!

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Bowl of fruit

Nothing’s worse than reaching for a piece of fruit, just to realize it’s covered in dozens of tiny flies. Fruit flies are one of the most common household pests in the United States and infestations can spread incredibly quickly. Though it can be frustrating to deal with these tiny pests, there are some simple techniques you can use to treat an outbreak. Here are a few steps you can follow to get rid of fruit flies:

Eliminate Water Sources

Like most pests, fruit flies need water to survive. Removing any sources of water is a great way to prevent fruit flies from settling into your home. Check for moisture issues caused by problems like leaky plumbing or a dripping faucet, and avoid leaving cups of water out in the open.

Store Food in Airtight Containers

Fruit flies feed on a variety of foods, from ripe produce to juice to leftovers. To keep fruit flies away from your snacks while also preventing them from feeding and breeding, be sure to store your food in airtight containers. If you like to keep fruit or vegetables out on the counter, protect them with mesh covers.

Sweep Up Food Crumbs

It doesn’t take much to feed a tiny fruit fly. Even small crumbs on the counter or floor could be enough to sustain an infestation. Regularly wiping down your countertops and sweeping or vacuuming your floors will cut off their food supply. 

Clean Away Food Residue

Fruit flies are attracted to food residue as much as they are to crumbs and leftovers. Try to routinely wipe down your chairs, tables, garbage bins, and other areas that may come into contact with food. If you have a garbage disposal, you may also want to regularly clean it or flush it with water.

Dispose of Trash in Lidded Bins

Many pests feed on trash, and fruit flies are no different. Disposing of trash in tightly lidded bins – both indoors and outdoors – is a great way to keep fruit flies and other pests from feeding on your food waste.

Contact a Professional

A fruit fly infestation can be frustrating and difficult to control. If you have tried these steps and still aren’t seeing results, it may be time to contact a pest control expert who can identify and treat the root cause of the problem. At United Pest Solutions, it’s our goal to provide you with reliable solutions that will keep your home pest-free long-term. With over 60 years of experience serving the greater Seattle WA area, our skilled team is prepared to help you get rid of fruit flies for good. To get great pest control services, contact our team today!

Why Do Termites Eat Wood?

Termite on a piece of wood

Termites are infamous for their destructive tendencies. By chewing through wooden structures, they’re capable of causing serious damage – experts even estimate that these pests cost home and business owners around $5 billion each year in repairs. But why do termites eat wood, and how can such a small pest cause so much damage to such a strong material?

Termites Use Wood for Fuel and Shelter

Termites are detritivores, which means they primarily feed on dead or decaying organic matter. These pests rely on one substance in particular for energy – cellulose, which is mainly found in plant cells. Wood is an excellent source of cellulose, making it a great fuel source for termites.

Wood also offers another advantage for termites. While chewing through wood, these pests are able to make tunnel systems that also act as shelter. Some species will even plug holes in the wood with their frass, or droppings, to seal in moisture and block predators from entering.

How Do Termites Eat Wood?

Wood is a very tough material that not many organisms can chew through, let alone digest. However, termites are built for the job. They have special mouthparts and incredibly strong mandibles that are able to break wood apart into bite-sized pieces that the termites can easily consume.

Termites also have special enzymes and microbes in their gut that allows them to properly digest the wood. Protozoa are the microorganisms that are mainly responsible for the digestion of wood, as they help turn the cellulose into simple sugars that termites can process into energy.

How Quickly Do Termites Eat Wood?

With how durable wood is, many people assume that it would take termites years and years to consume a considerable amount of it. However, colonies can grow incredibly large and termites never stop working – even to sleep. For this reason, termites are able to consume wood at an alarming rate.

Though the species will largely determine just how quickly a colony can consume wood, most dampwood or drywood termites can consume enough to cause structural damage within one year of infestation. Subterranean termites are even more aggressive, with the average-size mature colony able to eat through a few feet of a 2’x4’ within the same time period.

Get Professional Termite Control Services

With how quickly termites can consume wood, it’s important to seek help immediately if you notice the signs of an infestation on your property. For reliable termite control services in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, you can count on the experts at United Pest Solutions! Our team has been implementing long-term termite control solutions for home and business owners for over 60 years. To get started, get your free estimate today!

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!

Top Tips for Preventing Termites

Image of a termite in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions termite extermination

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!

Are Carpet Beetles Dangerous?

What a carpet beetle looks like in the Seattle WA area - United Pest Solutions

What a carpet beetle looks like in the Seattle WA area - United Pest SolutionsCarpet beetles are a very common pest in the Pacific Northwest, and they’re known for sneaking indoors – especially once the weather gets cold. Though these insects are not known to bite or spread serious diseases, they aren’t totally harmless. Carpet beetles can actually lead to a number of health issues, including:

  • Digestive issues. The small hairs of carpet beetle larvae can get on food and cause irritation throughout the digestive tract.
  • Respiratory problems. Carpet beetles can be particularly dangerous for individuals who suffer from allergies or asthma. Over time they may shed tiny particles or hairs, which can lower indoor air quality and cause respiratory issues.
  • Eye irritation. Tiny airborne fibers or hairs from carpet beetle larvae can cause eye irritation, though this is usually only a problem during serious or long-term exposure.

Are Carpet Beetles Destructive?

In addition to being a health hazard, carpet beetles can be very destructive to your home and personal belongings. Since these beetles are omnivores, they will eat almost anything they find. While foraging around, carpet beetles can damage all sorts of household items, such as:

  • Carpets
  • Blankets
  • Leather
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Bedding
  • Food

How to Prevent Carpet Beetles

A carpet beetle infestation can be damaging to your home and health, but thankfully there are some steps you can take to prevent these pests from getting indoors in the first place. Here are some ways to keep carpet beetles out of your home:

  • Keep your yard clean and tidy.
  • Avoid bringing pollinated plants indoors.
  • Declutter your home and vacuum regularly.
  • Store food in airtight containers.

A carpet beetle infestation can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to deal with it alone! If you are struggling with carpet beetles in your home, call United Pest Solutions to get professional help! Our pest control specialists can help you find long-term solutions that treat the root cause of the infestation, so you can enjoy a pest-free and stress-free home. Just give us a call today to get started!

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Top signs of a termite infestation to look out for in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

Top signs of a termite infestation to look out for in Seattle WA - United Pest SolutionsTermites are notorious for causing significant damage – experts even estimate that these pests are responsible for about $5 billion in repairs each year! That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye out for signs of an infestation. Though many homeowners assume that termites are only a summer problem, these pests actually remain active all winter long, so you’ll want to watch out for them year-round. Here are the top signs of a termite infestation to look for:

  • Mud “tubes” in or around your home. Most termites will build small mud tunnels extending from their nest. These tubes allow termites to travel freely without risk of drying out or being spotted by predators. If you spot these in or near your home, it’s important to contact a pest control expert before these pests can cause more damage.
  • Damage to the floor, ceiling, or walls. Termites primarily feed on the cellulose found in wood, though they can also eat a number of other objects that cross their path. If your floors, ceiling, or walls have noticeable but unexplained damage, it could be a sign of termites.
  • Cracking or bubbling paint or plaster. As termites feed on walls or support beams, the paint or plaster may bubble up. The bubbling may look like minor water damage, but if it is caused by termites, then it could be a dangerous sign that termites are causing significant destruction in your home.
  • Electricity is frequently short-circuiting. Electrical fittings give off heat, which often attracts termites – especially in winter when the weather is cold. This may cause termites to chew around your electrical components, which may cause short-circuits. To check for this problem, look along your electrical fittings for soil, mud, or other signs of termites.
  • Spotting live or dead termites. Live or dead termites in or around your home is a surefire sign that these pests are invading your home. If you find termites in your home, call an expert to get rid of these pests as quickly as possible.

Reliable Termite Control in Seattle WA

A termite infestation is no joke. Not only are these pests incredibly damaging, but they can also be very challenging to remove – especially since they are experts at hiding in hard-to-reach areas. To keep your home safe from termites, call the termite control experts at United Pest Solutions today! Our technicians have nearly 60 years of experience serving homeowners throughout Seattle WA, and we are dedicated to providing you with fast, friendly, and reliable service. To get rid of termites quickly, call us today!

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!

How to Prevent Bed Bugs When Traveling

How to avoid bed bugs while traveling in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions

How to avoid bed bugs while traveling in Seattle WA - United Pest SolutionsThis time of year, many of us are packing our bags and getting ready to travel for the holidays. The last thing you want to deal with is a surprise visit from a horde of bed bugs! These tricky pests can be more than just bothersome; in addition to leaving behind itchy bite marks, bed bugs can trigger serious allergic reactions and may cause anxiety or insomnia in victims.

Bed bug infestations can also be very challenging to get rid of, which is why it’s so important to avoid picking these pests up in the first place. Unfortunately, travel is the number one way that these insects spread from place to place. Knowing how to avoid bed bugs while traveling is a crucial step in keeping yourself safe from these pests. Here are our top tips for preventing bed bugs while on vacation:

Carefully Inspect Hotels and Guest Rooms

Though bed bugs can travel through clothing or luggage, you’re most likely to pick these pests up by unknowingly staying in an infested hotel or guest room. That’s why it’s so important to carefully inspect your room for signs of bed bugs before getting too cozy. Here are some of the main signs of bed bugs to look out for:

  • A strong and musty or pungent odor
  • Dark or rusty spots on bedding or walls or bloodstains on bedding
  • Fecal spots, which look like small black ink spots from a Sharpie pen
  • Pale white eggshells, which are difficult to see against light surfaces
  • Shed skins, which look like a bug but will shift or float away when disturbed

Use a Mattress Protector or Encasement

Mattress protectors and encasements are water-resistant sheets that can be placed on top of or zipped around a mattress. They are intended to shield you from all sorts of contaminants, including bed bugs. After inspecting your room for bed bugs, you can use a mattress protector or encasement for an extra layer of defense.

Seal Your Clothes in Plastic Bags

Bed bugs often travel by hiding in the folds of our clothing. So, if you leave your clothes out near an infested area, some insects could crawl into your luggage and spread to your home that way. Keeping your clothes sealed in plastic bags, even while inside your suitcase, is a great way to keep these pests from attaching to your belongings.

Vacuum Your Luggage Upon Returning

Vacuuming your luggage immediately upon returning from a trip can help you eliminate any stray insects that may have wandered into your bags. This step is particularly important if you carried your luggage through an airport, which jumbles your belongings with that of hundreds of other people.

Immediately Wash and Dry Clothes on High Heat

High temperatures can kill adult bed bugs and their eggs. Just 20 minutes of 118°F heat is enough to wipe out any existing insects. So, washing and drying your clothes on high heat is a quick and easy way to eliminate stray pests and stop an infestation before it has a chance to begin.

Store Your Suitcases in Plastic Bags

After you’ve vacuumed your suitcases, it may be valuable to wrap them in plastic bags before storing them. That way, if you missed any insects or eggs while vacuuming, they will suffocate and not be able to spread into the rest of your home.

Experienced Bed Bug Exterminators

While these steps are great ways to prevent bed bug infestations, these pests are incredibly tricky. Even a few bugs could lead to a full-blown invasion, which could be very challenging to get rid of. Thankfully, if you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation, you’re not alone. The experts at United Pest Solutions are prepared to help you quickly and safely remove these pests so you can rest easily. Just give us a call to get started!

 

How to Spot Rodent Entry Holes

Rodent entry hole in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions
Rodent entry hole in Seattle WA - United Pest Solutions
A mouse hole in a wall.

Though rodents are small creatures, they can wreak havoc on your home and health. From chewing up your walls to spreading diseases, they are not critters you want crawling around your house. However, as winter sets in and temperatures drop, rodents are trying extra hard to get indoors – after all, they don’t like the cold either!

Sealing off rodent entry holes is the first step in preventing an infestation. While this task may seem simple enough, rodents are great at sneaking through even the tiniest of openings. Did you know that a mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime? Rats only need a tiny bit more space – an opening the size of a quarter is usually large enough for them to fit through.

Knowing how to identify rodent entry holes is crucial in keeping these pests outside. To help you out, we’ve put together a small guide on how to find and seal rodent entry holes around your home.

What Do Rodent Entry Holes Look Like?

Rodent entry holes usually just look like small cracks or gaps. If the opening is heavily trafficked by pests, there will be signs of greasy-looking marks, gnawing, or fur. It’s important to be able to identify any openings to your home, as they could all be used as entryways by rodents and other pests. Here are some of the most common places that rodents enter homes:

  • Cracks in foundations
  • Holes or gaps around pipes
  • Gaps near windows or doors
  • Broken seals along garage doors
  • Loose shingles on your roof
  • Holes or gaps around gutters
  • Broken window or door screens

How to Seal Rodent Entry Holes

There are a few different ways that you can go about sealing off rodent entry holes, and the method you use will largely depend on what kind of opening you are fixing. Here are a few ways you can seal off rodent entry holes:

  • Caulk for small cracks and gaps: A bit of caulk usually does the trick for very small openings, such as cracks in your foundation or small gaps near windows.
  • Sheet metal for larger holes: If you have a larger hole that can’t be covered by some caulk, you could either perform a full repair, or use some sheet metal and screws to block off the opening.
  • Repairs around your home: Broken screens, loose shingles, gaps around your gutters, and other similar issues are usually best remedied by full-blown repairs. Makeshift coverings could be beneficial in the short term, but to keep pests out for good, we recommend investing the time and effort into formally repairing your home.

Professional Rodent Protection

Meticulously searching for rodent holes and carefully performing repairs are hugely important steps in keeping these pests out of your home. However, these tasks are tedious and can take a lot of time out of your day. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all alone!

The rodent control experts at United Pest Solutions have years of experience in identifying and sealing off entry holes, and they are prepared to help you protect your home. If you are facing a rodent problem or are worried about entry holes around your house, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today to get professional rodent control and protection!