Pest Library

Odorous House Ants (Sugar Ants)

sugar-antOne of the most common household pests in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan is the Odorous House Ant, more commonly known as the Sugar Ant. They are also one of the hardest pests to eliminate with the use of over the counter products because of their unique biology.

Odorous House Ants are very tiny, about 1/8 inch, and get their name from the odor they give off if you crush them. This odor is actually a pheromone that communicates back to the queen that the colony is being attacked and causes her to reproduce even more ants!

The easiest way to tell if this is the ant you are dealing with in your home is to check their size and the number of ants you see. Once they find a food source you will start to see a large number of them together.

One of the main factors that make them so hard to control is that they have more than one queen to a colony so their nests can grow to very large sizes. They have the ability to nest inside of small cracks, crevices and difficult to reach voids in the house. Additionally, they will often move their nests resulting in activity suddenly showing up in a different part of the house.

Mice

house-mouseAnother pest that is very common throughout Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan are House Mice. These mice are absolutely amazing in their ability to survive and thrive in almost any environment. They are one of the most populous mammals on the earth second only to humans!

A full grown House Mouse will be 6-7 inches. They are good jumpers, climber and even swimmers! They are very social animals and are amazingly reproductive. A healthy female mouse will have 5-10 litters per year with 6-8 pups in each litter. The young mice become sexually mature and able to start reproducing after only 6-8 weeks! Because of their social nature and their reproductive ability, if a home has signs of mouse activity there is almost certainly a larger population hiding out of site.

House Mice invasions can happen at anytime during the year but are the most common during the colder months. They will look for any crack or crevice ½ inch or more and are able to squeeze easily squeeze through in search of both harborage and food sources. They are mostly active during dusk or at night. In addition to the droppings that they leave behind one of the most common signs of a mouse infestation is the scratching noise that they create by gnawing with their teeth. Homes with crawl spaces are especially prone to large infestations because the sub-floor insulation provides a soft and hidden nesting location and they will often do considerable damage to the crawl space as a result.

Spiders

Spiders are present on every continent except Antarctica! Most are harmless to humans but the poisonous Black Widow spider is very common in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan and should be taken seriously.

Most spiders can live up to two years but a few have been known to live up to 25 years in captivity! They are predatory and feed primarily on other bugs. Because flying insects make up a large portion of many spiders’ diet they are often found in areas where there are high concentrations airborne bugs such as on the warm side of the house and around porch lights. They will also often hide in cracks and crevices and under the based boards of homes where small insects are likely to travel.

black widow

Bees, Wasps, Yellow Jackets & Hornets

As the warm months of summer come each year, with it they bring out the flying, stinging pests. Bees, wasps and yellow jackets are very common from May through September in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan. Their stings are very painful but for some it can cause a great deal of swelling and in rare cases even death.

These flying insects commonly build their nests in attics, wall voids, gutters, the gaps in tile roofing and under eaves. Yellow Jackets will typically build their nests in the ground or in gaps along the ground.

While all of three of these insects can leave a nasty sting they are each quite different. Bees are fuzzier and fatter than the other two. Generally, they are pretty gentle and will mind their own business unless you get to close to their nests. They will be found feeding on the pollen and nectar from flowers.

waspWasps are longer, about 1 inch and more slender with distinct black and yellow strips. They also are typically not very aggressive unless their nest is under attack. Their paper nests are very commonly found in the eaves of the roofline. Their main food source is other insects.

Yellow Jackets are a little shorter than wasps, about ½ inch. They are shiny with bright black and yellow strips. They are attracted to sweets and meats and will often interrupt a warm summer picnic lunch. They tend to be very aggressive and can sting repeatedly without dying.

Rats

The only rat free continent in the world is Antarctica. Rats live wherever humans live especially in urban areas. They are most easily distinguished from mice by their size. The most common rat in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan are the Norway Rats which can grow as large as 16 inches!

Norway rats are poor climbers but they can dig well and often excavate an extensive burrow system. This is one of the ways that they will often find their way into a structure. They can also enter a home through any openings as small as ½ inch!

Like mice they are incredibly reproductive. Female rats can breed up to twelve litters per year with up to 14 pups per litter! They are very social and will live in colonies as large as 60 rats in one location. They like to stay close to their food supply though and will typically try to nest within twenty yards of their food supply. The best way to combat a rat problem is to find and remove their food supply.

large rat

Cockroaches

cockroachOne of the nastier pests that we have in North Central Washington are Cockroaches. They are very dirty insects that can contaminate food and can actually be disease carriers as well.

German Cockroaches are the most common cockroach in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan. The German Cockroach is about ½ inch in length and a reddish brown color. They are most commonly introduced into a home on an uninspected produce from the store.

German cockroaches have a very short life cycle but they reproduce very quickly. The female cockroach creates an egg capsule that she carries. Each egg capsule will have from 30-48 young inside and she will produce 3-4 of these in her short three month lifetime. Because of their incredibly fast reproductive cycle, cockroaches adapt very quickly to baits and pesticides and new generations grow immune to them if not continually altered by the professional pest control technician.

Fleas

Fleas are very small, 1/16-1/8 inch, reddish-brown parasitic blood feeders. They are common in the Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan areas, especially in homes with pets. The easiest way to identify a flea is through their remarkable jumping abilities. A tiny flea can jump 7 inches high! This makes them one of the best jumpers in the animal kingdom relative to their size. In fact, if humans had the same jumping power as a flea they would be able to jump horizontally 98 yards (almost the length of a football field) and vertically 160 feet (the height of a 15 story building)!!

fleaFlea larvae feed on organic debris making the hair of dogs, cats, squirrels or mice the perfect place for them to breed. As a result, they are typically introduced into a home through a pet or some kind of rodent or squirrel infestation. In order to gain control of a flea infestation, it is important that you treat both the infestation as well as the animals that are the cause of the activity simultaneously. If you only treat one or the other, the activity will eventually start back up again.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs, once thought by many to be a mythical bug, is a very real and growing problem here in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Quincy, Leavenworth and Chelan. They are a blood feeding, parasitic bug that primarily are only active only at night. The peak of their attack period is an hour before dawn. They produce red, itchy bite marks and cause a great deal of discomfort and stress.

Adult bed bugs grow to around 1/8 inch. They are reddish-brown, oval and flattened. They look very similar to an apple seed. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent and lighter in color and they will molt five times during their lifetime. They will usually seek a blood meal every 5-10 days but can live up to 18 months without feeding! After feeding the bed bug will hide close to their food source but hidden behind baseboards, picture frames, electronics, dressers, clothes and even inside books. A female bed bug will lay her eggs in secluded places such as in cracks and crevices, under baseboards or deep in the weave of a carpet. They will lay up to five eggs per day and up to 500 during her lifetime. The eggs will take up to two weeks to hatch and are unaffected by insecticides.

Signs of bed bug activity include: bed bug

  • Reddish brown fecal spots on the sheets, mattresses or walls. Their fecal matter look like small bits of black pepper.
  • Blood spots on the sheets.
  • Live bed bugs in the seems of the mattresses and around the bed frame.
  • Bed bug bite patterns are somewhat distinct in that they are often clustered together. It is very common for there to be three or more bites in a row from where the bed bug detached then reinserted itself when it was disturbed.

Because of their ability to hide in cracks and crevices and their ability to hide their eggs, effective treatment of a bed bug infestation almost always requires the help of a professional pest control expert.

Termites

The most common termites in North Central Washington are Subterranean Termites. Subterranean termites cause more structural damage and economic loss in North America than any other pest. They feed on cellulose matter making our homes a prime target. They can very quickly cause considerable structural damage to a home. One local home inspector in Wenatchee has estimated that he finds subterranean termite activity in approximately 10% of the homes he inspects.

As their name suggests Subterranean Termites live in nests five to ten feet underground. A nest can contain as many as two million members! From these nests they build tunnels to their food sources. Once above ground these tunnels, called “mud tubes”, protect the termites from the air. They will feed on any kind of cellulose material including, wood, cardboard and paper. During the warmer months a mature colony sends out winged reproductive that are looking for a new nesting location.

termiteSigns of a Subterranean infestation include:

  • Mud tubes running up a foundation or wall.
  • Winged reproductive swarmers in or around your home.
  • Termite damaged wood or cardboard around the home.

Due to the fact that their nests are deep underground, effective treatment of a termite infestation almost always requires the help of a professional pest control expert.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants are present in North Central Washington but are especially active in areas, like Leavenworth, with a lot of trees. They are a wood damaging pest similar to termites, but unlike termites they don’t actually eat the wood. Rather, they carve out the wood in order to build a nest in the wood.

Carpenter Ants are large (1/4-1 inch), mostly black ants and are mostly nocturnal and will travel up to 100 yards from their nest looking for food. Carpenter Ants eat mainly honeydew from aphids and so unlike the small Odorous House Ant, most of their activity is outside. As a result of their activity primarily being outside and at night it is not uncommon for a Carpenter Ant nest to go years undetected.

The signs that you should have your home inspected for a Carpenter Ant infestation include:

  • Seeing five or more large (1/4-1 inch) black ants on the inside of your home in a day.
  • Seeing piles of “fras” – small wood shavings and saw dust mixed with dead ant body parts.
  • A scratching noise at night from their work at carving out a nest.

carpeter ant