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Simple Ways to Stop Ant Trails & Infestations

Simple Ways to Stop Ant Trails & Infestations

Ant infestations are the worst. Unfortunately, here in the Pacific Northwest they’re a regular part of life. In addition to being gross and inconvenient, they can be hard to truly get rid of.

At EcoCare Pest Solutions, we have tons of experience purging Ants from Portland homes once and for all. In this month’s post, we’ll go over…

  • Why Ant infestations develop
  • Home hotspots for Ant infestations
  • How to get rid of Ant infestations

Why do Ant infestations develop?

Depending on the type of Ant that has taken up residence in your home, your infestation could be caused by a variety of factors. For most households though, the cause comes down to 1 of 2 factors (or in many cases both):

  • Food source: Ants are always looking for food. Once they find a supply, they won’t leave until the supply is gone. Pet food, sugary food, and rogue crumbs are common targets for Ants.
  • Ant nest: Once an Ant nest has been established, your home will be a target until it’s eliminated. Ants love wet and rotting wood, so if your home has recently experienced water damage or is currently experiencing a leak, it’s particularly vulnerable.

Where are common hotspots for Ant infestations?

Did you know that the Ants you see are only 1-5% of the Ant population in your home?

While Ants can be found anywhere in the home, there are a couple places that are particularly vulnerable. These include:

  • Kitchens: Given an Ant’s drive for food, it should be no surprise that kitchens are the largest hotspot for Ant infestations in the home. This is especially true if food is left out, dishes pile up, or food is not well stored.
  • Bathrooms: Bathrooms are a hotspot of Ant behavior. Leaked water and moisture build up from showers providing an ideal home for Ants.
  • Walls and insulation: Ants (particularly Carpenter Ants) are quite commonly found inside walls and insulation. This can be particularly damaging since they may not make themselves immediately visible.
  • Rotted window frames: A particularly common way for Ants to get into your home, Ants often congregate around rotted windows. This provides both a place for nests to develop and a way for them to access the home in the first place.

5 Simple ways to stop Ant infestations

Keep danger areas clean

Given that most Ant infestations start with a food source and develop unchecked from there, the simplest way to stop Ants is to prevent the infestation from developing in the first place.

Ant colonies work by having “scout Ants” head out in search of food. Once they find sustenance, more Ants will follow to bring back food to the colony.

We recommend making sure all of the hotspots listed above are cleaned. Some other cleaning and storage tips to prevent Ant infestations include:

  • Cleaning up grease spills as soon as they happen
  • Thoroughly rinsing soda and juice containers before recycling
  • Not leaving any food in open air storage containers like bowls
  • Making sure any sugary foods are stored in tight containers and the containers are wiped clean after use
  • Be careful with pet food — bowls should be cleaned regularly and food should not be left out for long periods of time. Make sure to store in something other than an open bag, too!
  • Cleaning water build up in sinks or next to pipes immediately
  • Cleaning and scrubbing bathroom thoroughly
  • Making sure shampoo and soap containers in showers and bathtubs are sealed
  • Make sure any water or food spills in your bedroom are cleaned promptly. This is a particular issue in children’s bedrooms.

Find potential entry points and seal

Locating and sealing entry points will help stop the flow of Ants into your home. While it may seem like an impossible task given how small Ants are, the spots you should try to find are actually quite easy to locate and will go a long way. These spots include:

  • Torn window or door screens
  • Large openings under doors
  • Rotted windows
  • Cracks in your foundation

By sealing up these areas, you will help stop the flow of Ants and prevent a worsening of any infestation. Even if you don’t notice any Ants right now, looking and attempting to discover any entry points now may stop an infestation from developing.

Remove rotted wood

Ants love rotting wood. While even Carpenter Ants can make their way through solid, dry wood, they prefer and will tunnel through wet or water damaged wood.

If there are any areas that’ve been water damaged in your home, remove and repair the area immediately with new material. Even if it’s dry now, the wood has still been weakened if it’s suffered water damage, giving Ants an excellent opportunity to tunnel into your home and build a nest. This is particularly important in your bathroom, where water damage is common underneath flooring and behind cabinets and showers.

Eliminate Ant trails

It’s what every homeowner fears — getting home from a long day at work to see a trail of Ants in the kitchen. When you see this, act fast! Wipe up all of the Ants and dispose of them.

Clean the trail with a mixture of 1 parts vinegar to 3 parts water. This will stop the flow of Ants into your home from wherever they are traveling from, likely the outdoors. Unfortunately, while this will be an effective way of disorienting new Ants from getting to the nest, the Ants already in your home will not be leaving without further action.

Eliminate Ant nests

Eliminating an Ant colony nest is crucial to solving an Ant infestation. Any other solution will not truly rid your home of Ants. Unfortunately, in order to exterminate a nest you need to find it and come up with a safe way to destroy them.

While at times they can be easy to find, Ant nests are often found deep in walls, under floors, or even outside the home. This detective work often requires tasks that can be damaging to your home’s structure if not completed correctly.

And even if you do find the nest, making sure you destroy it with the proper extermination technique is extremely important. Sprays can be ineffective if not used correctly and bait solutions will not truly destroy the nest.

Updated: 9/8/2022

 

Hire an experienced Ant exterminator to locate and safely kill Ants

EcoCare Pest Solutions knows Ant extermination techniques and how to eliminate them safely from Portland and Vancouver homes. We’ve been doing it for over 18 years!

Learn how we can help you remove Ants from your home safely!

How to identify a bug by stains, spots, trails, and more!

The best way to know if your home is infested with insects or rodents is an inspection from an experienced exterminator. However, there are some warning signs you can be on the lookout for. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the 7 most common pests in the Portland and Vancouver area, as well as how to spot them!

1. Ants

Who in the Portland area hasn’t walked into their kitchen and seen a line of tiny black ants marching towards an almost invisible speck of food on the counter? Here in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll likely start to notice signs of ant infestations during the springtime. Ants become more active after the colder winter months.

However, ants aren’t just a pest! Moisture Ants and Carpenter Ants can do damage to your home’s wood structure or to trees on your property. Here’s what to look for:

  • Moisture Ants – About ⅛” long and are yellowish-brown in color. If you see them in your home (particularly in the bathroom), they may be a sign of rotting wood caused by leaking pipes or built-up moisture. Outdoors, look for moisture ants in dead or decaying trees or stumps. If needed, have the tree inspected and removed.
  • Carpenter Ants – Carpenter Ants are bigger than other ants and build hollowed out nests in the wood of trees and buildings. Look for sawdust-like shavings and small openings in any exposed wood on the outside of your home. If your home has moisture problems, it’s more likely to attract Carpenter Ants.
  • Soil Ants – One of the most common Portland pests, you’ll often find these small black ants searching out food in your home. Spilled juice, bits of pet food, even tiny crumbs can attract these unwanted pests!

2. Spiders

Spiders are an important part of the ecosystem, eating a variety of insects that you might not want in your home! Unfortunately, however, spiders do bite humans on occasion. Depending on the species, the bites can be itchy and painful and can even become seriously infected.

Spiders are commonly found in:

  • Wood piles
  • Dark nooks and crannies
  • Crevices around windows and door frames
  • High places that aren’t cleaned often
  • Crawl spaces and attics

Be extra careful when cleaning in these areas as most spider bites occur when spiders are startled or provoked by a human.

3. Rats & Mice

There are several species of rodents found in the Pacific Northwest. Mice are generally smaller (with a body around 3” in length) while Rats might be twice that size. Rodents reproduce quickly, so it’s important to catch an infestation in its early stages. Be on the lookout for:

  • Droppings – Even a single small House Mouse can produce over 50 droppings per day.
  • Damaged Food Containers – Rodents can easily chew through cardboard food boxes. Rats can even chew through plastic!
  • Unusual Sounds – Especially at night (when rodents are most active), you might hear rustling within your walls or along floorboards.
  • Dark Marks on WallsNorway Rats, the largest rats in our area, will leave dark marks on walls where they rub their oily fur.
  • Changes in Your Pets – Pets (especially cats) may get very interested in an otherwise unremarkable area in your home if they hear, see, or smell rodents.

4. Bed Bugs

Bed Bug infestations can be very stressful. Everyone’s heard the horror stories! In addition, Bed Bug bites can be painful and itchy! Here’s what to look for:

  • Travel Safely – Inspect hotel rooms for signs of Bed Bugs. Also check the Bed Bug registry online before making reservations.
  • Check Your Mattress – Look for reddish-black spots along the edges, seams, and underside of your mattress. These are a very common sign of Bed Bug infestations.
  • Common Bite Pattern – About 80% of people are allergic to Bed Bug bites. Bed Bug bites swell up and look blotchy and red. Another telltale sign is 3 or 4 bites in a straight line.
  • Think Before Buying Used Furniture – Besides traveling, one of the most common ways Bed Bugs enter the home is through used furniture purchases. So carefully inspect anything before you bring it into your home!
  • Look For Tiny Blood Spots – If you suspect a Bed Bug infestation in your home, switch to white sheets on your bed. In the morning, look for tiny red dots. These are small drops of blood from Bed Bug bites.

5. Moths

Moth infestations can ruin food and damage your favorite sweaters! In the Portland area, there are several common species of Moths. However, contrary to popular belief, adult moths aren’t a danger to your clothes or pantry! Instead, it’s the larval (juvenile) moths that are the troublemakers.

That said, if you’re seeing lots of adult moths in your home, it’s likely that they’re laying eggs which will turn into potentially-damaging larvae. Adult moths are attracted to light, so inside your home, you’re likely to see them flying near lamps, overhead lights, and TV screens.

If moth larvae are present, you’ll likely see these signs:

  • Silk threads and webbing
  • Larval casings
  • Damage to wool

6. Wasps, Yellowjackets & Hornets

For the most part, Wasps and Hornets are considered beneficial insects because they usually feed on other insects. However, when they nest near (or inside) a home, they need to be removed. People who are allergic to their stings can suffer life-threatening allergic reactions if stung. Even if you’re not allergic, stings can be very painful!

The most obvious signs of Wasps and Hornets are their papery, egg-shaped nests. Look for nests in trees near your home, tucked into the eaves of your home, or anywhere else that’s protected from the elements. Yellowjackets on the other hand, usually build nests underground or in a confined space. These can be much harder to spot! Keep an eye out for Yellowjackets swarming around the ground.

7. Termites

In the Pacific Northwest, we have both Dampwood Termites and Subterranean Termites.

Dampwood Termites (as their name implies) prefer to eat wood that’s wet and has a consistent source of moisture. Most often, this means Dampwood Termites will be found in logs, stumps, and dead trees. Unfortunately, they can also burrow into homes where exterior wood touches the ground or where wood is dampened by leaky pipes. Subterranean Termites, on the other hand, usually live underground and burrow into the wood from underground nests which can be up to 30 feet below the surface.

Termites can cause serious damage to your home or any other wooden structure. Be on the lookout for:

  • Termite Swarms – Winged Termites swarm in the air on dry days during the spring.
  • “Layered” Wood – As Termites eat away at wood it will take on a “layered” appearance.
  • Tunnels – If you see wood with tunnels bored into it, that’s a sign of a Termite infestation.
  • Feeding Tubes – Subterranean Termites may use feeding tubes made of mud to reach wood that’s above ground level. If you see these, DO NOT disturb them as it can cause the colony to move and become harder to eliminate.

Sleep Easy With Year-Round Pest Protection

At EcoCare Pest Solutions we’ve developed a year-round pest protection service called Eco-Shield Pest Insurance. With Eco-Shield Pest Insurance, you won’t have to spend your time wondering and worrying about potential pest and insect infestations. Instead, we’ll make regular visits to your home to seek out and eliminate 39 different types of pests.

You won’t be bothered by any covered pest again, or we’ll correct the problem at no additional cost! Compared to individual service calls, Eco-Shield can save you hundreds of dollars every year- not to mention the added peace of mind knowing that your home is safe from insects and rodents.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

8 Uncommon Signs You Have a Pest Problem

8 Uncommon Signs You Have a Pest Problem

In some cases, there are obvious signs of a pest problem. For example, if you see a mouse scurrying across the floor or termites crawling all over the wooden beams in your basement, it’s pretty clear there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. But sometimes it isn’t so obvious.

You may hear odd noises in the middle of the night or notice unexplained damage to your baseboards. Or maybe there’s an odd smell in your pantry that you can’t identify. If you have a pest problem in your home, it’s important to find out what’s going on before the issue gets worse.

Here are 8 uncommon signs which could indicate a pest problem that you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Droppings

Small droppings are one of the telltale signs you’re dealing with unwanted pests in your home. But sometimes these droppings aren’t as obvious as you might think. Depending on the type of infestation and the age of the droppings, you might mistake them for clumps of dirt. They can also break apart over time and turn into smaller granules, making them much harder to identify.

2. Grease and dirt buildup

Many pests, including mice, rats, and certain insects tend to follow familiar routes when traveling through an enclosed area. This will often leave behind a sticky or greasy residue. For example, rats often scurry along walls, which can leave behind dark grease marks.

Cockroaches also have been observed to leave behind brown marks on walls and other surfaces, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. When you’re dealing with an infestation, you’ll often see excess dirt or grime building up, especially in smaller corners or narrow spaces that are easy for the pests to hide in.

3. Unusual smells or noises

Pests may give off certain detectable smells, which experts can often identify. But if you’ve never dealt with a pest problem before, you may not know what to sniff for. Mice tend to leave behind a musty smell reminiscent of urine, while rats are known to smell like ammonia. Cockroaches often give off an oily scent, and experts say bed bugs sometimes smell sweet or musty. If you smell something strange in your basement, crawl space, kitchen, or other area of your home, don’t ignore it.

Small, strange noises can also indicate the presence of pests, especially in the middle of the night when the house is quiet. Sounds of scratching, gnawing, squeaking, or scurrying all indicate you may have a problem with mice or rats. Large bugs can also sometimes be audible if other noises are eliminated, and generally sound like a faint buzz or white noise.

4. Damaged fabrics and furniture

If you notice fabrics developing unexplained holes or tears, it could very well be pests wreaking havoc. Many small pests are attracted to soft surfaces and will leave noticeable damage in rugs, couches, clothing, and more. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for damaged wood on your walls, floors, and furniture. They may have marks or loose shavings that can be explained by termites, carpenter ants, and other pests.

5. Signs of nesting

Mice, rats, and other rodents are known to make nests out of whatever is available to them, and if you look carefully, you may be able to find evidence of these nests. Search the small, hidden nooks and crannies in your home with a flashlight. Common nesting areas for rats and mice include:

  • Behind kitchen or laundry appliances
  • Inside drawers and cabinets
  • In sheds and barns
  • Behind sofas and other large furniture items
  • Other dark, small, and hidden areas

6. Woodpeckers on your property

While it’s usually nice to see birds flying around your yard, if you start to see an increase in the number of woodpeckers hanging around, it could be a sign of an infestation. Woodpeckers prey on insects, meaning that if your home is a hotspot for six-legged creatures, hungry birds will start to hang around for easy access.

7. Gnaw marks

While holes in the wall are a more well-known sign of pests, many homeowners don’t look for evidence of pests chewing or gnawing. Rats will gnaw on just about anything available to them, so keep an eye out for chewed-up baseboards, electrical wires, upholstery, window sills, old newspapers or magazines, cardboard boxes, or even drywall. Raccoons, squirrels, and other larger pests are also known to chew through wood and other materials.

8. Tracks in carpeting or outdoor areas

Although some pests are light enough that they leave very little evidence, others may leave behind grease marks, foot tracks, a trail of droppings, or small pieces of food. If you notice tracks or a trail of fragments or grease, it’s important not to clean it up until you’ve followed the trail to see where pests may be entering and exiting the area.

Do you have a pest problem? EcoCare is here to help!

Dealing with a pest infestation can be frustrating, especially if you’re not sure exactly what type of pest you’re dealing with, or how extensive the problem might be. At EcoCare, we identify and eliminate pest infestations with an effective, eco-friendly approach that doesn’t require traditional toxic materials, keeping the people and pets in your home safe.

Our team of licensed professionals can help you rid your home of pests and prevent future infestations. Contact us to ask any questions you have and set up a free inspection today!

Are All Ants the Same?

Are All Ants the Same?

Ants can be a frustrating nuisance in your home, costing you money, causing damage, or just plain being annoying while you’re trying to eat, watch TV, or get your work done.

And while it can be easy to lump all ants under the “annoying” and “pest” category, it’s also important to remember that all Ants are not the same — they have different needs, behaviors, and attributes, and should be controlled in their own specific way.

In today’s blog post, we’ll review the three most common types of Ants found in the Portland metro area, some of their common characteristics, and what you can do to keep them out of your home. Let’s get started!

Soil Ants

When we say Soil Ants, we are referring generally to a number of different species of ground nesting Ants. Although the name “Soil” implies they would be found outside, if you spot an ant cruising around your kitchen, it’s most likely a soil ant. Soil Ants come from large colonies, sometimes up to 200,000 ants or more!

Characteristics

Soil Ants are no more than ¼ of an inch long and are dark brown or black in color. 

They are good for an outdoor ecosystem, as they help to aerate soil when they dig their tunnels, and enrich soil by breaking down organic matter as they move through it. That being said, Soil Ants will go where the food is, and unfortunately, they will eat just about anything that provides nutritional value, including: 

  • Any sugars or carbohydrates
  • Syrups 
  • Dry pet food 
  • Dried meat or other proteins
  • Fruit 
  • Fats and oils during the spring and summer season
  • Other insects

Soil Ants are food scavengers, which is usually why they end up in your kitchen. They don’t cause structural damage to a home, but they will likely cost you money when you have to throw out your ant-infested food. 

Warning signs

A few signs you may have a soil ant infestation include: 

  • Visibly seeing Ants exploring your counters, cabinets, pantries, etc. — unlike Moisture Ants and Carpenter Ants, Soil Ants don’t work as much behind the scenes
  • Noticing pathways around your house or kitchen — Soil Ants leave a scent trail to communicate to other worker ants where to find food 
  • Nests outside your home — these look like piles of dirt  

Prevention

Since Soil Ants enter your home on a quest for food, the easiest way to prevent them is to keep all food in storage containers and to regularly clean your kitchen to keep surfaces clear of any spills, crumbs, or scraps that a Soil Ant would find appetizing. 

How to get rid of them

If you can identify where they are coming in, seal off their entry points so Soil Ants have a harder time getting in. From there, take steps to identify the source of the problem: the colony. This, or simply calling EcoCare Pest Control, is your best option for treating bad Soil Ant infestations.

Moisture Ants

Unsurprisingly, Moisture Ants get their name because of their penchant for high moisture areas. They tend to build their nests in moist, rotting wood, but unlike Carpenter Ants, they do not usually cause much structural damage. You can look for them in high moisture areas of the home, like in crawl spaces, near leaking pipes, or behind tub wall tiles. Outside, you’ll find Moisture Ants inhabiting damp soil or rotting wood. 

Characteristics

Unlike soil ants, Moisture Ants are a yellowish, yellowish-brown, or a dark brown color. They are found all over the country, but are especially common here in the Pacific Northwest. Moisture Ants measure no more than ⅛ of an inch long, and can also be identified by a notch on their back, best seen from a side view. 

Moisture Ants feed on insect honeydew and unlike Carpenter Ants, they actually digest wood when they tunnel into it. 

Warning signs

Due to their proximity to moist environments both inside and outside, you can sometimes spot a Moisture Ant infestation when there are colonies built around the foundation of the house.  

Prevention

To keep moisture ants away from your home, simply eliminate the environments they like best: moist wood or humid soil. Keep woodpiles and tree branches away from your house. Also make sure to regularly inspect your bathroom, under your sinks, and your crawlspace for moisture issues. 

How to get rid of them

To get rid of Moisture Ants, you need to eliminate the environment they are being drawn to. This usually means identifying the moisture source, and then fixing any leaks or replacing rotting wood inside your home. Once those steps are complete, it’s a good idea to call in a pest control professional to ensure the infestation is properly treated.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are considered pests in our homes, but did you know they are actually very important to the ecosystem of our local forests? It’s a common misconception that Carpenter Ants eat wood — in fact, they actually chew tunnels into wood to form a nest. This is great for forest decomposition, but very bad when it concerns your home. 

Let’s review more about how to recognize Carpenter Ants and signs of an infestation.  

Characteristics

Carpenter Ants are the biggest ants you’re likely to see in the Portland/Vancouver area. They range in size from about 1/8 of an inch to nearly a full inch long! They have black bodies, black or reddish legs, and a small bump between their thorax and their abdomen. 

During mating season, Carpenter Ants also have two pairs of wings, one large and one small. This is a sign of a mature colony and indicates that the colony is about to reproduce and start more colonies. 

Carpenter Ants aren’t really interested in eating human food. Instead, they feed on other insects, plant and fruit juices, and insect honeydew. 

Warning signs

The tricky thing about recognizing a Carpenter Ant infestation is that they hardly leave any signs. Unfortunately, this usually means a costly repair by the time you identify you have a problem. 

An infestation is typically an indication of some kind of moisture problem in your home. Carpenter Ants prefer tunneling through moist wood, which means they typically target windowsills, roof eaves, and decks. 

A few signs of a Carpenter Ant infestation include: 

  • Unexplained sawdust – especially near window sills, baseboards or door frames. This sawdust, also called “frass”, is what the ants spit out while they are tunneling and indicates there is a nest nearby. 
  • Wings – if you notice winged ants in your house, or observe discarded insect wings, you probably have Carpenter Ants. 
  • Structural damage – typically recognized through bending, warping or buckling. 

Prevention

Carpenter Ants love chewing into rotten or very soft wood. With that in mind, one of the best ways to prevent a Carpenter Ant infestation is to regularly inspect your home for signs of cracks or rotten wood and to keep things like wood piles and tree branches away from your home.

How to get rid of them

Due to the nature of the damage caused by Carpenter Ants — that is, structural damage — it’s important to call a pest control professional as soon as you suspect an infestation. This is the only way to ensure the infestation is completely taken care of.

Spot the differences

Here’s a quick breakdown of the similarities and differences outlined above:

 

Type Appearance Warning signs Prevention Control
Soil Ants
Black or brown, no more than ¼ inch Visibly seeing them in your kitchen or around food Keep food stored in airtight containers and your kitchen clean Keep your kitchen clean, seal off entry points, locate their colony
Moisture Ants
Yellowish brown or light brown, no more than ⅛ inch Colonies built near the foundation of your home Keep commonly moist areas like bathrooms and crawl spaces dry. Remove wood piles and tree branches close to your house. Manage moist environments and replace rotting wood as soon as you find it in your home.
Carpenter Ants
Black bodies, from ⅛ inch to nearly 1 inch long Sawdust near windowsill, baseboards, or winged ants in your home Watch for signs of rotting or moisture in your home, and keep woodpiles and tree branches trimmed away from your house Call a pest control professional

Need help? Contact EcoCare today

There are many things you can do to prevent and try to control pests, but the best and easiest way to handle them is to work with the professionals! EcoCare can help. 

We take an eco-friendly approach, using non-toxic treatments that are 100% safe for humans and pets. You don’t even have to leave your home! Not only does our team of licensed and insured professionals target and eliminate pest infestations, they also help to prevent future infestation too.

If you are seeing signs of an ant infestation in your home, or would like to take steps to prevent one from happening, contact us today to schedule your inspection! 

What Bugs Aren’t Worth Worrying About

What Bugs Aren’t Worth Worrying About

Scientists have identified around 925,000 species of insects in the world. That’s a lot of bugs! 

While there are lots of harmful bugs out there (even here in the Portland and Vancouver area), there are some you don’t need to worry about, either.

Read on to learn what bugs you can leave alone here in the Pacific Northwest without worrying about any danger to your property, family, or self.

What bugs SHOULD you worry about?

Before we get into what bugs you DO NOT need to worry about, it’s important to remember that there are lots of little pesky insects out there that need to be controlled for you and your property’s safety. 

Some insects that need to be controlled to keep you and your family safe include:

If you see these troublesome insects, get in touch with EcoCare Pest Control. Our insect extermination solution is 100% safe for people and most pets. We’ll target and eliminate your insect infestation and prevent future infestations from popping up. 

Contact us online for advice and a firm price for getting rid of your insect infestation.

Ladybugs

While they can potentially cause harm if they make their way into your home, for the most part Ladybugs are a positive presence in your outdoor space. Why is this? It’s because they themselves act as a natural pest exterminator! 

Ladybugs actually eat many pests that are harmful, such as Fruit Flies, Mites, Thrips, and other harmful plant damaging insects like Aphids. Some Ladybugs may consume up to 5,000 Aphids in their life.

Further — Ladybugs won’t damage your home, your pets, or your family. In the meantime, they are an active member of the ecosystem and remove pests bad for the flora and fauna around your home. Now that’s what I call a symbiotic relationship. 

Just watch out. Mexican Bean Beetles and the Squash Beetle can cause some minor harm to your plants, so make sure to identify insects to make sure they are in fact Ladybugs.

Honey Bees 

While still possessing the ability to cause some mild harm, Honey Bees are one of the most valuable members of the animal kingdom. These super insects pollinate flowers and crops. This is done by collecting nectar and pollen, which is then turned into delicious, sweet, and nutritious honey. This actually makes them the only insect that produces food eaten by humans! 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wary of Honey Bees, and it certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about their similar (yet very different) relatives, Wasps, Yellowjackets, and Hornets. While Bees eat nectar and pollen, Hornets and Wasps are carnivores and have a different place in the ecosystem. Importantly, Hornets and Wasps are a lot more aggressive and more likely to injure you and your family.

Luckily, there is an easy way to differentiate. If the Bee-like insect you see is furry, breathe easy, as all Honey Bees appear furry. If not, it’s likely an aggressive Hornet or Wasp that needs to be dealt with.

Earwigs 

Let’s face it, Earwigs look scary. Their gigantic pincers look like they could do some serious damage. Fortunately, despite their scary appearance Earwigs are not poisonous, do not sting, and cause no harm to humans or pets.

In fact, Earwigs are a great member of your neighborhood ecosystem by eating dead bugs and gobbling up dead and decomposing plant matter. This actually helps your garden and the other plant life on your property thrive.

Praying Mantis 

Despite their size (a Praying Mantis can grow up to 6 inches long!) they are not to be feared! These bugs cannot hurt you and are a form of pest control themselves. So much so that many gardeners actually buy Praying Mantises to release into their gardens. There is such high demand that many gardening stores keep the bugs stocked up during the gardening season!  

Why are they such good pest controls themselves? These buggers munch on everything from flies, to Beetles, to Moths.  Fun fact — the Praying Mantis is the only insect able to rotate its head 180 degrees, making it a flexible little predator.

Butterflies

Given their beauty and natural wonder, we probably don’t need to do too much convincing for you to leave Butterflies alone — but just to be sure: Butterflies cannot do you any harm.

Butterflies, in addition to being beautiful creatures, pollinate flowers, eat other insects, and are a valuable member of the ecosystem. They’ll actually promote the health of your garden and any other plants on your property. Plus, many are endangered and have regulations protecting them.

If you see a gathering of Butterflies on your property — enjoy. If anything, you’ve been blessed with a natural wonder that will bring both health and beauty.

Green Lacewings

These delicate insects, sometimes called Stink Flies, are a valuable bug neighbor. While adult Green Lacewings eat pollen and actually don’t eat bugs, their offspring are aphid munchers!  

These Green Lacewing larva eat aphids and other critters, such as Spider Mites, Thrips, and many more small insects. Much like Praying Mantis, you can actually buy Green Lacewing eggs at gardening stores to help you naturally control pests in your garden.

Just don’t touch these bugs! While they’ll do no harm, they do release a mildly unsettling odor when threatened. The mild smell of the Green Lacewing is nothing compared to the good they’ll do for your home’s ecosystem.

Dragonflies

One of the most misunderstood bugs in the animal kingdom, Dragonflies are one of your home ecosystem’s most beneficial insects.

Dragonflies are straight-up insect killers. In fact, Dragonflies are known for their love of small, flying sects such as Mosquitos — the bane of a relaxing summer evening barbeque. While you may have confidence in your fly swatting ability, Dragonflies will do a much better job of controlling the Mosquito population. They’re not called Mosquito Hawks for nothing! 

Further, Dragonflies won’t do you much harm. While Dragonflies can bite, it is extremely rare. Even when provoked, they are much more likely to fly away than attack. If you do get bitten — there is never a reason to fret. Bites from Dragonflies will not cause any lasting harm.

Do you have questions whether an insect poses a threat to you and your family? Let’s talk.

Learn more about how we can help protect your home from insects by contacting us online today.

Common Causes of Insect & Wildlife Infestations in Portland Homes

Common Causes of Insect & Wildlife Infestations in Portland Homes

Pests don’t want to be pests, it’s just their nature. They’re simple creatures looking for food, warmth, and safety. Unfortunately, your home is a prime target, offering everything these pests are looking for.

But how do they get into your home? Let’s find out!

Structural issues

Proper home maintenance can help reduce the likelihood of a pest infestation in your home stemming from issues involving:

Roofs

Leaks, loose or broken shingles, damaged insulation, and other areas in need of repair are a common cause of both insect and wildlife infestations. Damaged roofs are an easy access point for opportunistic critters. Plus, most people don’t spend much time on their roofs or in their attics, so it’s easier for an infestation to go unnoticed and take hold.

Gutters

When we’re not getting much rain, your home’s gutters can be a nesting spot for many types of bugs. During the wetter times of the year, leaky and clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to water damage on your home’s roofs, eaves, siding, and even the foundation. Water-damaged spots are softer and might make it easier for bugs and pests to get inside your home. Standing or pooled water also attracts bugs and pests.

Basements

Basements have lots of nooks and crannies for pests to hide. Plus, they offer easy access from your yard. Like your roof, they’re often not inspected and maintained as well as they should be. Cracks in your home’s foundation caused by tree roots, water damage, or other issues are among the most common ways pests get into your home. 

Vegetation

Whether for nesting or as a source for food, pests and animals are attracted to trees, bushes, shrubs, gardens, and other plant life. When vegetation is too close to the home, or when a tree branch touches or hangs over your home, it increases the risk of pests finding their way onto and into your house.

Pruning and trimming vegetation, as well as inspecting plants for signs of pests, are good ways to reduce your risk of infestation. In some cases, diseased, decaying, dead, or damaged trees and plants may have to be removed as they are particularly likely to attract pests.

Gaps and holes

Rodents like Mice and Rats can squeeze through even very tiny spaces. An adult rat only needs ½” of space to fit through and mice, being smaller, need even less! Sealing holes, gaps, and cracks, particularly around your roof, crawl space, doors, windows, and foundation can help eliminate this common source of rodent infestations.

Firewood

If your house is the city of Troy, then firewood (or anything you store outside and bring inside) is the Trojan Horse! Ants, Spiders, and other pests love to nest in firewood piles and can hitch a ride and get inside your home when you bring wood in from outdoors. Additionally, a firewood pile placed against your home as protection from the elements can also attract bugs and hide signs of infestation on your home itself. Think about it: How often do you look behind your woodpile?

Pets

Indoor/outdoor cats are well-known for causing flea infestations. But even a dog on a walk can bring bugs in from outdoors. Keeping your pet clean and brushed is a good way to keep an eye out for bugs. But also watch for itching and scratching or other common signs of insect infestation if you have a pet.

Travel

The most common source of Bedbug infestations in single-family homes is widely believed to be travel. You’ll find Bedbugs in airports, buses, and especially hotel rooms. It’s easy enough for them to get into your luggage and clothing, hitching a ride back home, and causing a frustrating and itchy infestation.

When traveling:

  • Avoid storing luggage or clothing on the floor of a hotel room
  • Check the seams and edges of the mattress for signs of Bedbugs
  • Look for red/brown dots on bedsheets, a common sign of Bedbug activity
  • Be aware that Bedbug bites are usually itchy and frequently come in groups of 3, often in a straight line

If you’re returning home from an area known for Bedbugs, inspect, wash, and dry your clothes when you get home. You can also spray shoes and luggage with alcohol, just to be extra safe!

Seasonal changes

As winter days get colder and shorter, we see more infestations of Rats, Mice, and Ants as these creatures look for food and warmth. During the summer, Fleas and Hornets tend to be more common as they’re more active during warmer weather.

The best way to combat seasonal pests and the recurrence of pest infestations is with our Pest Insurance program. You’ll get 4 seasonal inspections and eco-friendly treatments to prevent and eliminate nearly 40 common Portland-area pests.

How can you stop pests from infesting your home?

Preventing pest infestations in your Portland area home is challenging. It’s a constant battle that requires regular home maintenance and preventive measures. Here at EcoCare, we offer pest inspections, and eco-friendly pest control services that are effective and safe for people and most pets. We work throughout the Portland and Vancouver metro areas.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help protect your home from pests, let’s talk! Contact us online today.