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A Portland Homeowner’s Guide to Moles

A Portland Homeowner’s Guide to Moles

Is there a greater homeowner arch nemesis than the tunnel boring, yard ruining Mole? 

Getting rid of these annoying creatures often turns into a frustrating game of whack-a-mole — spending countless time and energy but never fully eradicating the problem. All the while, the damage to your property continues.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, armed with the right knowledge and tools, getting rid of Moles in your yard can be quite simple. You might even come to appreciate these ugly little critters… or at least feel a little less animosity toward them.

What are Moles?

There are 4 common types of Moles in Oregon and Washington:

  • Townsend Mole 
  • Coast Mole (Pacific Mole)
  • Broad-footed Mole
  • Shrew Mole

If you have a mole problem in Portland, you’re likely dealing with a Townsend Mole or Coast Mole. These adult Moles have a cylindrical-shaped body and dense, velvet gray or black fur. They range from 5-8 inches long and weigh about 2-3 ounces.

Their front feet are very wide and larger than their hind feet. They have long white claws that they use to dig and tunnel through dirt. Mole noses are pink and very pointed, while their ears and eyes are incredibly small, almost invisible to the eye. 

Speaking of invisible, Moles spend almost all of their time underground and chances are you will never actually see one! While spotting a Mole is tricky, the damage they cause is quite obvious. More on that soon.

Signs you might have a Mole problem

Moles eat up to 100% of their weight in worms, grubs, and insects every day. These critters are looking for food all day long, which means they’re constantly excavating dirt and creating tunnels. And here lies the issue with Moles for homeowners.

Mole tunnels are usually 2 inches wide and sit about a foot under the surface of the ground. This results in raised ridges running across your lawn, called “runways”. Plus, as Moles dig up soil, they push it up above ground and create what’s known as a Molehill. 

Molehills are circular, volcanic-shaped mounds of dirt that pile up around your yard. These dirt piles consist of soil from the deep down layers of the earth. Molehills can be up to a foot wide and range from 6 inches to 12 inches tall.

The difference between Moles and Gophers

Many people often get Moles and Gophers confused. Although they both burrow underground, they are quite unique to each other. Once you understand the difference, you’ll have no problem telling them apart.

Gophers are rodents (Moles are not considered a rodent). In appearance, Gophers look somewhat similar to a Squirrel or Mouse, with small eyes and ears, and short fine fur (usually brown or tan in color). They are larger than a Mole and have a flat head and stocky body. 

Another difference? Gophers are vegetarians while Moles are insectivores. Gophers love veggies and are known for destroying roots, bulbs, leaves, and other flora in your yard. While Gophers spend most of their time underground, they will emerge to gather food or drag entire plants back down into their tunnel.

Because Gophers leave their tunnels, they cause holes in the surface of your yard. A Gopher mound is about 1-2 feet in diameter and can be up to a foot high (much larger than a Molehill). And while Molehills are round with no entry point, Gopher mounds are shaped like a crescent or horse shoe with the tunnel hole clearly visible.

Another distinguishing feature of a Gopher mound is a corresponding hole will be off to one side and plugged with fluffy, fresh dirt.

Don’t forget about Voles!

There’s one more burrowing critter you need to know about — Voles. Voles are smaller than Gophers and Moles and look very similar to a field mouse or hamster. These little rodents have short, stocky bodies and small dark eyes. Like Gophers, Voles are herbivores.

The most noticeable difference between Moles and Voles are the burrows. While Moles leave Molehills, Voles leave no mounds behind at all.  Instead, Voles create above-ground runways to connect their burrows together. 

These snakelike lines are about 1-2 inches wide and usually found in grassy areas of your property. You’ll notice Vole droppings on the surface of these runways. 

In addition to the runways, other signs you’re dealing with a Vole problem are:

  • Partially eaten carrots, potatoes, or other root vegetables or flower bulbs
  • Chewed-up bark near the base of trees and shrubs
  • Young trees or shrubs leaning over and damaged

Moles can cause damage to your home

As we’ve discussed, the most common problem Moles cause is tearing up your yard. Depending on the number of Moles you’re dealing with, you may experience Molehills and runways all over your lawn. In the process, it’s common for Moles to disrupt shrubs, bushes, and flowers. Most people find it impossible to maintain landscaping when dealing with a Mole intrusion.

More than disrupting your yard, Moles can also cause damage to your foundation. This is surprising to many homeowners. Left to run wild, Mole tunnels may eventually encroach on the foundation of your home. The tunnels dug under and around your foundation can cause water to accumulate, eventually leading to cracks in your foundation. This is a very serious issue!

All said, since Moles are primarily insectivores, some homeowners find these unique creatures to be helpful in managing bugs. However, this is usually not ideal unless you have a plan for ensuring they don’t cause damage to your home. You’ll also need to be diligent about managing the disruption to your plants, lawn, and other landscaping in your yard.

Most of the time, taking steps to get rid of yard Moles is the best way forward.

How to get rid of Moles

Portland homeowners go to great lengths to get rid of moles and keep their yards looking great. But tackling this process on your own can be dangerous and is often ineffective. 

For one reason, no current over-the-counter repellents can reliably protect against Moles. DIY methods like mothballs, garlic, or gum placed in the tunnels also don’t produce reliable results. 

And tricks like placing broken glass, razor blades, or barbed wire in and around Mole tunnels usually prove more hazardous to you and your family than to the Moles. In fact, Moles are known for just circumventing foreign objects like these. 

So what can you do? 

You can certainly try one of the many Mole control methods to see if one of them works for your situation. Oregon State University Extension Service has a great PDF with information on how to control Moles that may be helpful. 

However, before you set a trap or toxic bait, make sure you understand the laws in your state and environmental implications. For example, in Washington, traditionally-used mole traps are no longer legal for use. 

The most effective way to control Moles is to work with a professional. Here at EcoCare Pest Control, we offer an advanced CO2 elimination procedure that’s much more efficient than traditional Mole trapping methods. We can even effectively take care of Voles!

As always, our methods are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and safe for your property and family. This process involves a series of visits to your home to ensure the problem is actually solved. It’s the best way to get rid of Moles in Portland, Vancouver, and throughout the PNW.

Let us know how we can help you!

If you have questions about Moles in Portland, contact us. We can help:

  • Answer common questions about Moles
  • Identify if you have a Mole, Vole, or Gopher problem
  • Get rid of Moles, Voles, Ground Squirrels, and other wildlife on your property

Our team has years of experience and is here to help you care for your property and keep you and your family safe.

How to Spot 7 Common Pest & Insect Infestations

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.

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.

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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