Common Summer Pests in the Pacific Northwest

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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 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!

What Are Swarming Termites?

What swarming termites look like in Seattle WA | United Pest Solutions

With warm spring weather comes flowers, sunny days… and swarming termites. Though many people assume termite swarmers are just flying ants, these pests could actually be a warning sign of an infestation that you shouldn’t ignore.

Termite swarmers, also known as alates, are winged termites that are responsible for the colony’s reproduction. Alates come out as the weather warms up to mate and establish new colonies, which is why it’s important to watch out for signs of them on your property.

Are Swarming Termites Dangerous?

Though it can be alarming to come across a termite swarmer, these pests are generally not aggressive or dangerous to human health. That said, swarmers could be an indicator that there’s an infestation nearby, which may put your safety at risk.

Since termites chew through key wooden components in homes and buildings, they could weaken the structural integrity of your house. So, while swarmers themselves may not be particularly harmful, a termite infestation can be dangerous to you and your family.

How to Tell Swarming Termites and Flying Ants Apart

Termite swarmers and flying ants look very similar, which causes many people to mistake the two. To determine whether you are dealing with relatively harmless ants or if you are potentially facing a destructive termite infestation, it’s useful to know how to distinguish the two. These key differences can help you tell swarming termites and flying ants apart:

  • Wing size: Termites have two sets of wings that are roughly the same size. Though flying ants also have two sets of wings, the bottom ones are much smaller.
  • Antennae shape: Termites have straight antennae, while ants have bent elbow-shaped antennae.
  • Body size: Flying ants have a narrower body and thin waist, while termites have a thicker body shape with a wider waist.

What to Do If You Notice Swarming Termites

Swarming termites are often one of the first signs of an infestation, which is why it’s important to be vigilant if you spot these pests on your property. Here are some steps you can take if you find swarmers near your home:

  • Try to contain the termite swarmers: Collect multiple samples in a jar so a professional termite exterminator can identify exactly which species you are dealing with. Swarming termites, generally speaking, are harmless to your home, but can be a big nuisance, especially indoors. Vacuuming is one of the more effective ways to remove these from indoor environments.
  • Fix potential entry points to your home: Correct any situation where wood siding is touching the ground or tree roots are pressing through or under the foundation.
  • Call a termite exterminator as soon as possible: Termite infestations are no joke – it’s even estimated that these pests are responsible for $5 billion in damages every single year. Since they are able to cause so much destruction so quickly, it’s important to call an experienced termite exterminator to address the problem as soon as possible. If you need termite control services, United Pest Solutions is here for you – give us a call today to speak with one of our experts.

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!

Top Tips for Avoiding Ticks

Top tips for avoiding ticks in the Seattle WA area - United Pest Solutions

Top tips for avoiding ticks in the Seattle WA area - United Pest SolutionsThough many people assume ticks are only a problem during the summer months, they can be active year-round. Avoiding ticks is important no matter the season, and taking special precautions could keep you and your pets safe from the damage these pests can cause.

Why are Ticks So Dangerous?

Ticks are parasitic insects that feed on warm-blooded animals. Unlike other parasitic insects that leave shortly after biting, ticks will attach themselves to their host and feed for up to 10 days after its initial bite. Not only does this make for an unnerving and potentially painful experience, but it also leaves you vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases and infections. Here are just a few of the problems ticks can cause:

Best Ways to Avoid Ticks

Remaining cautious year-round is a good way to keep yourself and your pets safe from the damage that ticks can cause. Though these insects are small and hard to spot, there are some tricks you can use to avoid them. Here are our top tips for avoiding ticks:

  • Avoid grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Ticks tend to live in grassy or wooded areas. Walking directly through thick vegetation can increase your risk of encountering a tick. Should you travel through a forest, try to stick to the center of the trail to avoid brushing up against a tick.
  • Before coming inside, check your pets, clothing, and gear. Carefully inspecting everything before coming indoors can help you eliminate any ticks that jumped onto your belongings. When checking your pet, be sure to look in difficult-to-reach areas such as between the toes and inside the ears.
  • Shower and check for ticks shortly after being outdoors. Showering right after coming indoors can help you wash away unattached ticks, and it gives you the opportunity to thoroughly check yourself. When performing a tick check, be sure to check everywhere – including the backs of your legs, your hair, and around your ears.
  • Consider using an EPA-registered insect repellent. Insect repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be effective against ticks. As with any chemical product, carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take extra precautions around pets or animals.

These tips are a great starting point for protecting yourself and your pets from ticks. However, if you have any questions or concerns about ticks and other common pests, the experts at United Pest Solutions can help! Our professionals have extensive experience with all sorts of pests in the Pacific Northwest, and we take pride in keeping households throughout the greater Seattle WA area safe from the damage that these creatures can cause. Give us a call today to get started!

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!