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The Ultimate Guide To Ants

the ultimate guide to ants

Nothing can sink your heart like the sight of an ant in your home. Where there is one ant, there are more ants. In fact, there are probably thousands of more ants. What’s a homeowner to do?

Don’t panic! The first step to handling an ant problem is to learn as much as you can. Ants may be fascinating creatures, but they are certainly not welcome in your home. Learn how to identify the ant species you’re dealing with and how to remove them from your home for good.

Why Do Ants Invade Houses

You may be wondering why ants are invading your home in the first place. The answer is actually quite simple. Like all animals, ants are constantly in search of food, water, and shelter. Your home is an excellent source for all of these needs.

Food is most likely the driving attraction of an ant invasion. Ants need food to survive and to feed their young. Many homes have food particles lying around that are perfect for ants like sugar, starches, and meat. Between improper food storage and inconsistent cleaning, there are several opportunities for ants to reach food in your home.

Other types of ants may be seeking shelter. Certain species look for wood to hollow out as a place to create their nest. These situations are more serious and may result in structural damage to the home.

 

Common Types Of Household Ants

Ants are not all the same. Different species of ants have different behaviors, habits, and habitats. Knowing exactly what you’re dealing with helps to determine which pest removal approach will be the most effective.

 

Soil Ants

Soil ant is a general term for a number of species of ground nesting ants. They live in large colonies of up to 200,000 ants and several hundred queens.

Characteristics of soil ants include:

  • No more than ¼” long
  • Dark brown to black in color
  • Lifespan of six weeks to one year (queens can live up to two years)

If you notice an ant problem in your kitchen, it’s likely you’re dealing with soil ants. They are known to enter buildings to scavenge for food.

Soil ants will eat just about anything of nutritional value, such as:

  • Dry pet food
  • Dried meats
  • Sugar
  • Syrups
  • Fruit
  • Flower nectar
  • Other insects

Learn more about soil ants

 

Moisture Ants

Moisture ants get their name from their tendency to use high moisture areas to create their nests. They are also known as yellow ants or cornfield ants due to their yellowish color. Moisture ants live in colonies with several thousands ants, but only one queen.

Characteristics of moisture ants include:

  • No more than ⅛” long
  • Range in color from yellowish brown to dark brown
  • Feed on sweets, nectars, and proteins

Fortunately for homeowners, moisture ants only infest wood that is already decaying. They do not cause structural damage like carpenter ants.

You may find moisture ants in these areas:

  • Behind tub wall tiles
  • Inside a wall with a leaking pipe
  • In damp areas like crawl spaces

Learn more about moisture ants

Carpenter Ants

Of all the ant species we’ve listed, carpenter ants can do the most damage to your home. A typical mature colony is home to between 10,000 and 20,000 carpenter ants or up to 100,000 for large colonies over a larger area.

Characteristics of carpenter ants include:

  • A range of ⅛” to ½” in size
  • Reproductive females can be as large as 1” and have two pairs of wings
  • Black bodies and black or sometimes reddish legs
  • Feed on insect honeydew, plant and fruit juices, and other insects

Carpenter ants make their nests by hollowing out galleries in pieces of wood. In forests, these ants serve an important function to help break down fallen trees. In houses, however, these ants can create extensive and costly structural damage.

In homes, nests are usually found:

  • In wood
  • In insulations
  • In wall voids

Keep in mind that carpenter ants will travel up to 300 feet from the nest to forage for food.
Beware of colonies close to your home in rotting fence posts, stumps, old firewood, dead trees, or under stones or logs.

Learn more about carpenter ants

 

How To Get Rid Of Ants

For moisture ants or especially carpenter ants, you should contact a licensed pest control operator to eliminate the problem before serious damage occurs (or worsens). For soil ants, there are steps you can take to try to tackle the problem yourself. Here are a few good starting points:

Clean

As mentioned, most ants are looking for food. A good strategy is to make food hard to find. Use air-tight storage containers and clean your kitchen regularly. All it takes is a couple crumbs to attract ants.

Seal Entrances

See if you can follow the ants to their place of entrance into your home. Seal off these points — there are probably multiple — so that any remaining or future ants will be blocked.

Find the Source

If you can find the ants colony, you’re in business. Destroying the colony itself is your best shot at completely eliminating the problem.

Prevention

Of course, the best way to stop an ant invasion is to prevent it in the first place. Work with a pest control professional to create and execute a plan that is unique to your needs and maintains a perimeter barrier around your home.

These methods are a good place to start. However, if your ant problem is serious or persistent, you should consider bringing in professionals.

 

Need Professional Help?

There are a lot of methods you can try to get rid of ants in your home. However, the only true, long-lasting solution is professional pest control. EcoCare Pest Solutions can help.

At EcoCare Pest Solutions, we understand that certain areas of your home are more sensitive than others. Your kitchen — the place you eat and store food — is the last area you’d want harsh chemicals sprayed by an exterminator. That’s why we have a different approach.

We only use eco-friendly pest control products that are safe for people and pets. You don’t even have to leave your home during treatment! If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help eliminate your ant problem once and for all, contact us today to schedule an inspection.

Bed Bugs And Travel: What You Should Know

Imagine waking up in your hotel room on the first day of vacation covered in red, itchy welts. This will be the reality for many travelers this year who encounter bed bugs.

Bed bugs are tiny parasites that love to feed on humans. They can be found all over the world, in developing countries as well as countries like the United States.

As their name suggests, most bed bugs can be found within a few feet of a bed, which makes hotels especially vulnerable. Since they primarily feed on humans, bed bugs like to inhabit hostels, motels, and hotels where they can get a steady supply of food.

Bed bugs aren’t just a concern for travelers either. If these pests become attached to your clothing or luggage, you could have a serious problem at home too. It’s important to know how to spot bed bugs and what to do if they are present.

What Do Bed Bugs Look Like?

Bed bugs are tiny parasites that feed on humans. They can also attack other mammals including household pets. Bed bugs hide during the day and come out to feed at night. Sleeping humans are the primary target.

Photo courtesy of the EPA

Normally, bed bugs appear to be:

  • Oval- or almond-shaped
  • Flat
  • Reddish-Brown
  • Somewhat translucent
  • Wingless
  • About 3/16” long

After a meal, bed bugs can appear to be:

  • Cigar-shaped
  • Purplish red
  • Larger in size

How Are Bed Bugs Harmful?

Bed bugs have been found to be infected with some 25 different disease organisms. However, although bed bugs have been suspect in the transmission of many diseases or disease organisms in humans, in most cases conclusive evidence is lacking. In addition, they are quite irritating, inconvenient, difficult to find, and even more difficult to get rid of. For travelers, they can really ruin a good vacation.

Bed bugs are responsible for:

  • Itchy bites
  • Allergic reactions
  • Possible infections
  • Infestations

For travelers especially, it’s important to make sure that your clothing and personal belongings are not carrying bed bugs. Carefully inspect every crack, crevice, seam, and fold of material before you leave for your next location. The last thing you want to bring is bed bugs into your own home after a poor travel experience.

How Do You Check For Bed Bugs?

When you’re traveling, you’re going to be staying in new and unfamiliar places. The first thing you should do when you enter your hotel room is check for bed bugs. In fact, keep your luggage away from the bed and off the floor until you’re able to inspect the room.

Here are common signs of bedbugs to watch for:

  • Rusty or reddish-brown blood stains
  • Small brown ovals or spots
  • Unpleasant musty odor

First, check the mattress, box spring, headboard, and any corners or crevices around the bed. Most bed bugs are found within a few feet of a bed. However, you should also check:

  • Luggage racks
  • Furniture around the bed (nightstands, dressers, etc.)
  • Upholstered furniture (chairs, sofas, etc.)
  • Curtains
  • Carpet
  • Closets and drawers

You don’t really need any special tools to detect bed bugs. However, you may find a flashlight, magnifying glass, and scrap of white paper can help. There are a handful of commercial products that can help detect and trap bed bugs, but a thorough visual inspection is the most common way for travelers to check.

If you do find signs of bed bugs, don’t doubt yourself! It’s better to be safe than sorry. You can ask for a different room far away from the infested one, but there’s no guarantee you won’t find pests there too. The best choice is probably to check into a different hotel.

How Do You Treat Bed Bug Bites?

Most travelers don’t think about bed bugs until it’s too late. There’s nothing like waking up in your hotel room covered in red, itchy welts. The experience of the bite itself is mostly painless, but the aftermath is itchy and miserable as an allergic reaction to the saliva injected by the bug as it feeds.

Bed bugs typically feed on exposed skin, which often includes your arms and shoulders during the night. Bites can occur in any number of patterns including zig zigs, small clusters, or straight lines. You may experience burning, itching, and even a rash.

Most bed bug bites can be treated by washing with soap and water. This helps to prevent infection and reduce itchiness. If the itchiness is severe, you can apply a topical corticosteroid cream. Be careful not to scratch too much! Excessive scratching can lead to bleeding and possible infection.

If you experience blisters, oozing, or pus, be sure to see a doctor. These symptoms can be a sign of infection or a severe allergic reaction that needs medical attention.

Did You Bring Bed Bugs Home With You?

Bed bugs can take a bite out of your vacation, but they can be an even bigger problem if they follow you home. Bed bugs can cling to clothing and other materials like luggage to travel from place to place, including your own home.

Did you unknowingly bring home an extra souvenir from your recent travels? The only way to be sure is with a thorough inspection by a trained and licensed pest control operator. EcoCare Pest Solutions can help.

We only use eco-friendly pest control products that are safe for people and pets. You don’t even have to leave your home during treatment! If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help eliminate bed bugs and other pests from your home, contact us today to schedule an inspection.

How To Create a Year-Round Home Pest Control Plan

Every home is vulnerable to pests like insects and rodents. Even newly constructed homes aren’t pest-proof. And of course, older homes tend to have more issues when it comes to keeping out unwanted critters.

Insects and rodents aren’t just creepy crawlies. Some can cause structural damage to your home, contribute to health problems and allergies, and damage food, clothing, and other valuable possessions.

Despite what many people think, home pest control isn’t a one-time project. Keeping pests away requires regular, preventive maintenance. Today, let’s look at how you can create a year-round home pest control plan. We’ll also talk about the common pests to be on the lookout for if you live in the Portland or Vancouver area.

Common Local Pests & The Problems They Cause

Norway Rats & Roof Rats

norway-rat-homepage

The Norway Rat and the Roof Rat are the two most common rodents in the Portland and Vancouver area. Rats eat a lot and produce a lot of waste. Their droppings and urine can stain and damage furniture, clothes, and even wood floors. A more serious concern, however, is the fact that these rats can carry Typhus, Salmonella, and Jaundice, which can be passed along to humans.

Rats are sneaky and nocturnal, meaning you might not see them until it’s too late. Rats and mice can chew through wood, walls, any type of plastic and even concrete to make nests and find food.

The key to controlling and eliminating rat infestations is frequent inspections of the exterior of your home. Even the largest rats can squeeze through an opening about the size of a penny! And mice can fit through a hole as small as a dime. So it’s important to seal even the smallest holes near the roof, eaves, doors, and foundation– as well as areas around pipes and electrical wiring.

Small Black Ants

soil-ant

These small black ants are the bane of many homeowners’ existence. They’re tiny and can get into a home through the smallest space. They’re voracious and will seek out the tiniest pieces of food or bits of sugar. And they’re tough to get rid of.

To fight ants, treat the inside of your home as a deterrent. Then create a perimeter around your house that the ants won’t want to cross.

Even then, regular treatments are needed to keep these little pests at bay. Today’s products break down within 90 days or less so regular reapplication every 3 months maintains that constant barrier against reentry and a recurring infestation.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter-ant

When carpenter ants live in the forest, they’re great for the environment. They chew up and break down old and fallen trees, allowing new trees to take their place. But when carpenter ants get into your home, they can cause serious structural damage.

Carpenter ants prefer moist wood, so waterproofing your home can be a good preventive measure. If there is an infestation, it must be eliminated to prevent further damage.

Spiders

house-spider

For the most part, the spiders in our area aren’t particularly poisonous and they can actually help keep other pests at bay! But some spider bites really hurt and can be serious if not treated properly.

The use of eco-friendly pest control products can eliminate spiders inside your home and can also create an effective perimeter barrier along the exterior of your home.

Your Year-Round Home Pest Control

Spring & Early Summer

spring-pest-control

When making a year-round home pest control plan, one of the keys is to stop pests from entering your home in the first place. The best time to do this is in the spring or early summer when many rodents and insects are becoming active after colder weather.

During this time of year, you’ll want to:

  • Inspect the exterior of your home for signs of infestations and areas that need attention
  • Keep an eye out for signs of pest activity inside your home to catch infestations early
  • Have a licensed pest-control professional treat the foundation, roofline, and areas around doors and windows

Mid Summer

summer-pest-control

In our area, the hottest summer months have high levels of insect and rodent activity. Pests are actively searching out and collecting food to get them through the winter. They’ll also be looking for places to nest or start a colony that are protected from the elements.

During this time of year, you’ll want to:

  • Continue treating the exterior of your home to prevent pests from entering your house
  • Inspect your yard, patio, play structures and other outdoor furniture for signs of insect life

Fall

fall-pest-control

As the weather cools during the end of summer and early fall months, some pests will become more active– especially young rodents. Wasps and ants can multiply quickly during the summer, leading to huge colonies that need attention during the fall.

Here’s what to do during autumn:

  • Keep a sharp eye out for insect and rodent life inside your home.
  • Continue treating the exterior of your home to reinforce the perimeter barrier you created earlier in the year
  • Watch for spiders and ants which will start to show up in larger numbers
  • When you take your sweaters and winter clothes out of storage, look for moth damage

Winter

winter-pest-control

During the coldest winter months, pests will be looking to take shelter inside of your home. Rats and mice will stay active all winter, while wasps and other bugs will stay dormant until the spring.

Because insects tend to be less active during the winter, it’s especially important to:

  • Thoroughly clean any outdoor furniture or yard toys before storing them in your attic or garage
  • Watch for signs of rodent activity, including urine and droppings
  • Treat the interior of your home to prevent against insect activity once the weather starts to warm up again

Your Home Can Be Pest Free. Worry Free. All Year Long.

Creating (and sticking to) a year-round home pest control plan might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A little work each season will go a long way towards keeping your home insect- and rodent-free.

At EcoCare Pest Solutions, we can help. Our Eco-Shield program is designed to include seasonal treatments and provide year-round home pest control against the most common pests in the area. We’ll come as often as needed to take care of any pests that might show up.

We only use eco-friendly pest control products that are safe for people and pets. You won’t even have to leave your home while we work! If you’re interested in learning more about how our year-round pest control program can protect your home and your family, contact us today.

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