8 Legs and Lots of Fear: Spider 101

web on wild meadow, closeup view
web on wild meadow, closeup view

Spiders have a bad reputation. So many people are afraid of them, that fear of spiders has its own name; Arachnophobia. 

Here at Environmental Pest Management, we want to show you why spiders are essential. While they might be a little scary, spiders play an indispensable role in their environments and, beyond that, they are simply fascinating.

If you have any bug questions or concerns, contact us for a free quote. Bugs belong outside your home, and we will make sure they stay away. 

Now, let’s dive into some fun spider facts!

Wasp spider in the center of its web in a spring garden in a close up view of nature with blades of green grass in the background

What are they?

Spiders are arachnids. They are a class of arthropods. Other arthropods include scorpions, mites, and ticks. 

There are about 45,000 species of spiders around the world. You can find spiders on every continent except Antarctica. Interestingly enough, scientists believe that we have discovered and classified less than half of the spider species in existence.   

Spiders can range in size from a few millimeters to almost a foot long. There are so many varied types of spiders that it is hard to believe that they are all in the same family!

Where do they live?

Because there are so many different types of spiders, it is hard to pinpoint only one kind of habitat. Spiders live in almost every climate on earth. 

There are a few types of spiders that live almost exclusively indoors. These common house spiders like to make their homes in the forgotten corners of your home. You will find them tucked away behind boxes, stowed away on shelves, or hiding in the dark spaces of your basement or attic.

Most of these house spiders are harmless and actually do you a favor by eating other bugs that may be harmful to you and your family.

What do they eat?

Spiders are carnivorous. A spider’s primary diet is composed of the insects we consider pests. Some of these include roaches, flies, mosquitoes, moths, and earwigs, to name a few. Because of this, spiders are very effective at pest control.

Not only are spiders good at keeping pest populations at bay, but they can also help reduce the spread of diseases. Many common pests can transmit harmful bacteria and viruses to humans; spiders are nature’s disease prevention. 

Spiders also eat other spiders. When two spiders meet, they usually engage in a battle royale of sorts. The victor eats the loser. Interestingly, long-legged cellar spiders, commonly known as daddy long legs, have been known to kill and eat black widow spiders.   

Black Widow Spider

Are they dangerous?

All spiders do contain some degree of venom. Most spiders though are not dangerous to humans. In fact, there are only three poisonous spiders in the US.

Black Widow 

There are three separate species of the black widow spider; the Southern black widow, the Western black widow, and the Northern black widow. 

Black widows are aggressive, and you should avoid them at all costs. If a black widow bites you, seek medical attention immediately. 

Brown Recluse

The brown recluse spider can also be known as the fiddleback or violin spider because of its distinctive markings. They like to hide in cool, dark places, like your attic, basement, or even piles of wood.

The bite from a brown recluse is very toxic. Its venom is destructive to human flesh and can cause extensive damage to the tissue which can lead to infection. If a brown recluse bites you, seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

Hobo

The hobo spider is a funnel-web spider that is found exclusively in the Pacific Northwest. It waits at the bottom of its web for its prey. 

Although the hobo spider is aggressive, it avoids humans and rarely bites. Like the brown recluse, the bite from a hobo can cause tissue damage at the site. If bitten, seek medical attention.

Close up of a spider in a web

How long do spiders live?

This question is difficult to answer as there are so many different species of spiders. Suffice it to say; most spiders can live about one to two years. Some species live longer, and the oldest known spider lived to the ripe old age of 43!

All About Webs!

All spiders are capable of making silk. Not all spiders spin webs though. Some use their silk as a means of travel. No spider can fly, but with these nifty parachutes, they are able to traverse great distances. 

When spiders spin webs, they do so for many different purposes. Spiders live on their nest, and they use them to attract and trap prey. 

Once the prey is trapped, the spider will inject the insect with a liquefying toxin, essentially allowing the spider to drink its prey from the inside out. Gruesome, yes, but utterly fascinating and essential for the ecosystem. Spiders are necessary because they kill and eat bothersome pests that destroy crops.

How do I keep them out?

  • Prevent spiders and other insects from entering your home by sealing up their entrances. Use caulk or silicone to block any place a pest may infiltrate your home; such as doorways, windows, or vents. 
  • Clear away debris from the outside of your home. Trash,  dead leaves, mulch, and plant debris can be a good place for spiders to congregate. Keep these places of refuge away from your home.
  • Store your clothing and other items in plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Cardboard boxes attract insects, which in turn attracts spiders.
  • Store your firewood far away from your house to avoid transporting spiders and other insects indoors. Shake off and bang your wood on the ground or a tree to dislodge hidden pests. 
  • Use a pesticide around your home, especially in the typical places spiders live. We recommend an environmentally friendly option like vinegar or chili powder. Check out this great list of all-natural spider removal techniques.
  • Contact Environmental Pest Management, and we will apply an outdoor pest treatment around the foundation of your home. 

Poisonous spider indoors, dangerous venomous animal. Aracanophobia concept, care to avoid spiders

Hopefully, with some of this new information, you have a more favorable opinion of spiders. They are an essential component of their environment. Without them, the world would literally be crawling with bugs.

If you are experiencing pest problems, contact Environmental Pest Management for your free quote.

Too Many Legs to Count: What You Need to Know About Centipedes

many centipedes on wooden background
many centipedes on wooden background

If you have seen creepy, crawly pests with too many legs to count scurrying around your home, you might have centipedes. These bugs can be frightening and are often a cause for worry.

If you have centipedes, or any pests, in your home, call Environmental Pest Management. We have the experience you need to take care of any pests in your home.

Centipede close-up. Brown centipede crawling on the wooden surface.

What are Centipedes?

House centipedes are known to scientists as Scutigera coleoptrata. To the general public, house centipedes are known as the “hundred leggers” even though they have less than one hundred legs the name suggests.

What house centipedes do have are 15 pairs of very long legs which help the furtive pests run extremely fast. These swift-moving pests may be scurrying right into your home soon as they are known for searching out warmer habitats in early fall.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, you may discover house centipedes running across a wall, ceiling, or open room toward a dark area.

They may stop abruptly and remain motionless before they suddenly begin running again with excellent maneuverability over and around objects. If you see centipedes darting around, here’s two primary reasons to contact a pest control company like Environmental Pest Management.

  1. Centipedes in your home could mean they are happily hunting prey inside the house, and you may have another insect problem. A professional will look for bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders, and other household pests.
  2. You want to halt any potential centipede infestation by sealing up all access points and eliminating the ones already inside before they settle in. Environment Pest Management will quickly and authoritatively show them the door.

centipede

Bathroom Invaders

Outside, centipedes primarily live under large rocks, under piles of wood, in compost piles, or buried in mulch piles around outdoor planters. They start to come indoors when the weather turns colder.

Entry points for house centipedes are usually gaps in your home’s foundation, around door frames, or through broken and basement windows. Knowing this, you can try to implement measures to keep them out.

The University of Minnesota Extension, suggests you start on the outside of your home. You should seal cracks in exterior walls, remove leaf litter, and trim foundation plantings.

Once they break in, house centipedes usually head for dark corners, damp basements, crawlspaces, and bathrooms. They like places that are dark, moist, and damp.

As a result, house centipedes are known to get trapped in sinks and toilet bowls. They will sometimes emerge from the bathtub or other drain holes. WHOA!

If the thought of sharing a bathroom with house centipedes make you shudder, you should initiate contact with Environmental Pest Management sooner rather than later.

Nighttime Hunters

Nighttime is when stealthy and covert house centipedes love to hunt. They feed on insects, spiders, cockroaches, moths, crickets, silverfish, and other arthropods, like sowbugs and millipedes.

Some even say this predatory habit and diet is what makes house centipedes potentially one of the good guys and worth keeping around the house. If you are not among that group, the Environmental Pest Management phone number is 952-432-2221.

Scary long red dirty centipede on a light background. Macro photography of insects, selective focus, copy space.

More Speed Than Bite But Beware

The legs of the centipede are on the side of the body, rather than underneath.  This enables the house centipede to move extremely fast. According to insectidentification.org, their ability to go from 0-60 mph in half a heartbeat can be freaky.

Though scary looking, house centipedes are not considered dangerous. They may bite, however, if picked up and handled.

The painful, local reaction to a centipede bite will be similar to a bee sting, and it could become red and swollen. There could be an allergic reaction. Children are often more sensitive to the bite.

More Identifying Characteristics

The University of Minnesota Extension provides a list of identifying characteristics of a house centipede on their website:

  1. They are more than 1 inch long fully grown.
  2. House centipedes have fifteen pairs of long, jointed legs that are striped.
  3. Their flattened brownish or grayish-yellow body is marked with three dark stripes
  4. Two long, whip-like antennae and “feelers allow them to locate prey in the dark moist places where they like to live and hunt for food.”

You can also check out our online pest library for photos of house centipedes and more identifying facts.

centipede

How Many Centipedes Can A Centipede Produce?

Ready for another WHOA? The house centipede can live its complete life span indoors. According to Ohio University Extension, They overwinter as adults and lay eggs in the spring. Females deposit as many as 60 eggs and often wind their bodies around their eggs to protect them from other predators. Eggs will hatch around 3 months later. Larvae, or newly hatched centipedes, are very seldom seen.

If you believe “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” give Environmental Pest Management a call at (952) 432-2221.

Free Estimates For All Pest Control

It’s getting cold outside, which means all kinds of other pests are trying to get inside. Environmental Pest Management has developed some helpful ways to keep a host of these bugs outside. This blog post provides a good starter list.

Environmental Pest Management provides services to east-central Minnesota including the greater ten county metro area of the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. We also service several communities in Western Wisconsin.

We customize our pest control programs with considerations for your safety and budget. An initial inspection will include a chance to go over your concerns and expectations. You will find a full description of Environmental Pest Management residential services right here.

Let us help you get rid of the “WHOA” and reclaim your home!

How to Get Rid of Bees

The bee pollinates the lavender flowers. Plant decay with insects
The bee pollinates the lavender flowers. Plant decay with insects

The sound of bees buzzing might make you think of delicious honey and flourishing gardens. If the buzzing is coming from inside your home, though, your thoughts may turn to panic. You may quickly start thinking about how to get rid of bees.

While these industrious little creatures are a huge benefit to the ecosystem and so much more, having them in your house is an unwelcome situation.

Bees are a necessary part of nature and have an essential role in our world. Nevertheless, the risk of getting stung can be scary. Many people are allergic to various types of bees, and no one likes the pain of being stung.

Having a bee infestation inside your home can be a worrisome experience. While harming honey bees is not something anyone wants to do, it is necessary to keep them outside where they belong.

If you are having bee trouble, or any issues with other insects invading your home, you can count on the experts at Environmental Pest Management to help find a solution. At Environmental Pest Management, we strive to be aware of our environment and surroundings.

From the health of your family to the care of the ecosystem and nature, we focus on safe pest-removal methods. Removing pests from your home is our priority, and we work to do so through prevention and removal with environmentally conscientious products.

You might be a big fan of what bees are doing for the environment, but you still want to practice safety when they are around. Staying safe around bees includes keeping your home safe and bee-free. Take a look at how bees are fantastic members of society but can become pesky household invaders.

bees flying next to wall

Bees and the Ecosystem

Do you love honey? Whether in your tea, on your toast, as a sweetener, or any other delicious application, honey is fantastic. We all know that this sticky yet yummy substance comes from our friends the bees. Without bees, we wouldn’t have honey, but we also wouldn’t have fruits and vegetables or flowers.

Bees work hard to pollinate our crops. While other insects and animals also pollinate, honey bees are one of the most important groups of pollinators

When it comes to many of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy daily; pollination is essential to their growth.  Citrus fruits, cherries, avocados, peaches, kiwis, melons, and almonds are just some of the plants that require pollination.

Not only is pollination of food crops critical to these plants, but bees also help pollinate other crops, like cotton and alfalfa. Without bees, many of these delicious fruits and vegetables wouldn’t be able to thrive. You can see that bees have a significant impact on our ecosystem.

Since bees work so hard to help keep nature running smoothly, we must treat them with respect. We don’t want to harm these buzzing critters, but we also want them outside doing their job.

bees flying next to wall

Bees in Your House

With all of the beauty outside and options for plants for food sources, why would bees enter your home? Areas in your home such as your chimney, wall voids, or your attic may attract bees. Because these areas are dark and seem safe to the bees, they might think it’s the perfect place to build a nest or hive.

While most often bees won’t sting without provocation (unlike many wasps and hornets), you still run the risk of being stung or damage occurring to your home. Stumbling upon their hive or nest in your home could lead to many painful stings even if you aren’t trying to harm the bees.

If the bees can build a hive in your walls or crawlspace successfully, the honey they produce could eventually cause rot. In this unfortunate event, other insects could infiltrate your home in search of the spoiled honey, and further damage could happen to the structure of your home.

Honey bee covered with yellow pollen collecting nectar from dandelion flower. Important for environment ecology sustainability. Copy space

How to Get Rid of Bees

If you are dealing with the misfortune of having bees inside your home, you likely have some valid concerns. Figuring out how to get rid of bees can be tricky. It’s essential to let the professionals deal with this situation.

Staying safe is a priority, and if it’s possible to remove the bees without harming them, a professional service like Environmental Pest Management will know how to proceed.

One thing to keep in mind about bees is that prevention is vital. Taking time and care to seal your home and eliminate any problem areas will ensure that bees can’t find their way into your home.

In addition to bees inside your house, sometimes even having bees near and in your yard can be problematic. A swarm of honey bees in a tree near your home can raise the alarm.

If you stumble upon a swarm, don’t be afraid. Many swarms will move on to find the right home. If your swarm seems to be setting up house in your yard, contact a professional pest service like Environmental Pest Management and let them help.

bees flying by house

Environmental Pest Management is Your Eco-Friendly Pest Solution

If you are dealing with pests of any type, Environmental Pest Management is ready to keep your family and home safe. From prevention to removal, we focus on treating your home safely, with sensitivity to the surrounding environment.

Our team of experts is knowledgeable, highly trained, and ready to keep your home pest-free. We offer exceptional service and create a custom plan for each of our clients. We are here to service all of your residential and commercial needs.

If you are ready to protect your home from infestations in the safest and most environmentally conscientious way possible, contact us today. We look forward to working with you and keeping your home pest-free.

Don’t stress about damage to your home and creepy crawlies hiding throughout; work with a responsible pest control company who you can trust.

Japanese Beetles and What You Need to Know

Japanese Beetle eating raspberry leaves
Japanese Beetle eating raspberry leaves

You have likely seen these annoying pests, whether or not you knew the name. These flying beetles with green bodies and brown wings seem to invade when the weather gets warm, and plants are blooming.

But what do you do if you see these insects destroying your plants and eating everything in your garden? Before buying Japanese beetle traps, speak with a pro. Environmental Pest Management is here to help rid you of pests around your home, whether they be inside or out. Check us out for a free quote today!

Japanese beetle

Japanese Beetle Facts

Japanese beetles are relatively easy to spot. As an adult has a body that is a metallic green color with brownish, almost copper, wings.

These beetles can’t resist your plants, especially ones growing in the warm sunshine. They will descend upon your yard and devour sweet-smelling fauna.

Certain plants are more attractive, like apple and black walnut trees, or plums and grapes. It is hard to miss their work. Your once luscious yard might take on the look of a haunted patch. Japanese beetles eat the flesh of plants, leaving skeletons behind.

Thankfully, Japanese beetles prefer to be outside in the fresh air and don’t often enter homes. That doesn’t mean you will never see a stray that accidentally slipped inside, though.

Just because they aren’t inside doesn’t mean you want them on your property. Anyone with a green thumb will take particular offense to the presence of these pests. Even if you don’t consider yourself a gardener, you likely enjoy your green yard and don’t want to see the wreckage of the plants left behind.

A pressing problem with Japanese beetles is that some years there seems to be a surge in population. You might go a year or two and hardly notice them, and then the next year your yard is destroyed by a vast number.

There are four stages to the life cycle of a Japanese Beetle.

  1. Eggs- The eggs are small and white, and shaped like an oval.
  2. Larvae- These white grubs are incredibly damaging to yards.
  3. Pupae- This stage is where the transformation to a full-grown beetle takes place.
  4. Adult- The adult beetle is no more than ½ inch long and lives for up to 50 days.

To reproduce, Japanese beetles dig small holes or burrows in the ground.  A female will lay anywhere from 40 to 60 eggs throughout her lifetime. Larvae are called grubs, and they eat roots and other food in the soil leading up to winter, then are dormant during cold months.

When the weather warms up, the grubs wake up and begin eating and growing. In the late spring and summer, adults dig out of the ground to mate. Of course, this is when they attack your yard, as well.

Japanese Beetle on leaf

Japanese Beetle Behavior

Japanese beetles likely originated in Japan, hence the name. They were first found in the United States on the East Coast in the early 20th century. A common belief is that they arrived on our shores through trade and other forms of commerce.

As previously mentioned, they thrive in areas with plentiful vegetation. Whether you have a lush, green lawn, and vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, or just abundant trees, Japenese beetles will likely find your yard.

Japanese beetles are considered transient, meaning they rarely stay in one place. They can travel miles, depending on wind and availability of food. They tend to stay close to areas with an abundance of food, however.

You are most likely to notice these hungry pests in the early summer when the weather is getting nice and warm, and your plants are most fragrant. They peak anywhere from late June to early September. The colder temperatures of the fall will begin to kill them off, however.

japanese beetle flying

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

Because Japanese beetles are dangerous at both the larvae, or grub, and adult stage, it is essential to fight them on both fronts. You will likely need to utilize a variety of methods to effectively exterminate a population of Japanese beetles in your yard and keep them out.

You will want to be on the lookout for signs of Japanese beetles and be taking steps to prevent them. Japanese beetles can travel miles, as previously mentioned, so you might not realize you have a problem until they have done a bit of damage.

The first critical step is to apply a soil insecticide at the correct time. Besides treating your soil to prevent grubs from thriving, you will want to make changes to your yard to prevent Japanese beetles from settling. 

Replacing plants and trees they are attracted to with strands they stay away from is an excellent way to keep these pests out of your yard. If they don’t want the food, they won’t settle as your um-wanted neighbors.

If you physically see Japanese beetles in your yard, attack them when they are at their weakest, i.e., early morning. These beetles are sluggish and lazy in the early morning hours. Taking a few minutes to shake the branches of the trees they are in and catching the falling beetles in buckets of water will take care of a good part of the population.

Japanese beetle traps use pheromones to attract the beetles and then kill them. The problem here is that the traps do their job, attract beetles. This likely means you will end up with more Japanese beetles in your yard than before.

If you prefer using chemicals, there are a variety of products aimed specifically for Japanese beetles. A quick trip to your local nursery will yield you a variety of results. As always, be extremely cautious using any chemicals and ensure you read the entire label before use.

A close-up of a small Japanese beetle standing alone on a green leafy plant

Call the Professionals at Environmental Pest Management

If you have noticed Japanese beetles in your yard, give us a call at Environmental Pest Management. We will tackle the problem on all fronts, ensuring that the larvae and adult stages are addressed. Unlike Japanese beetle traps, we won’t attract more pests to your yard.

We are aware that families, along with their kids and dogs, live in homes, and ensure we use safe methods. We have families of our own and only use products and practices that we would use around our own homes. You can feel safe letting us into your home and yard.

Don’t tackle this problem alone! Let the experts at Environmental Pest Management help.

Chipmunks: Cute as a Button but Destructive

2 chipmunks eating
2 chipmunks eating

While widely popularized as adorable creatures in popular culture, chipmunks can be a terrible problem once they infest your home. Chipmunks are still considered rodents, classified as a type of squirrel, being the smallest among the family.

These tiny mammals are identified with their furry bodies, their fluffy tails, and their black, white, and brown stripes on the back. Cute as these critters may seem, their unwanted presence in your house surely isn’t as charming.

At Environmental Pest Management, we are here to help you with that. But before anything else, check these few things to know about these adorable yet bothersome chipmunks.

Chipmunk standing on a mossy log

Chipmunk Basics

Chipmunks are mammals, part of the Sciuridae family, which is the same as the squirrels.

As the smallest in size in all of the squirrel family, chipmunks can only grow up to between four and seven inches. Their tails, on the other hand, may grow from three to five inches long.

These animals are not social animals, and so they usually keep to themselves. They prefer to be alone, particularly in gathering food, unless it is the season for mating. While they do hibernate, there are times when they are unable or unwilling.

A young chipmunk or a chipmunk’s offspring is called a “pup.” Also, the proper term for a group of pups born to one mother chipmunk is a “litter,” while an extensive collection of chipmunks is referred to as a “scurry.”

According to National Geographic, there are about 25 different species of chipmunks all around the world. All of which, except the Eutamias sibiricus, are found in the United States.

Habitats for the Scurry

Chipmunks prefer to live in tree-filled areas like forests. They make their own homes, with some creating their nests, but most through creating burrows, complete with a tunnel system, nesting chambers, and rooms for storage.

Their nesting chambers can be found in wooden logs or shrubbery and can be made out of many small plant parts, such as leaves, twigs, and branches.

Meanwhile, the burrows that they dig can reach up to 30 feet long and are generally kept clean. Chipmunks often hide the openings to these underground chambers, camouflaging this entry by covering it with leaves and stones.

In these underground living spaces, chipmunks hibernate in the winter and even create storage space for food for after the cold and hibernation seasons.

A chipmunk is holding peanuts.

The Chipmunk Diet

Chipmunks are omnivores. Their favorite foods are things that are easy to come by, generally accessible from the ground. Their plant and animal based diets includes:

  • Mushrooms
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Birds
  • Bird eggs

When gathering up food to store, chipmunks stuff their findings within their all-famous, massive, and highly-expandable cheeks, or technically speaking, cheek pouches.

These cheek pouches can stretch the head of a chipmunk up to three times its normal size. To put things into perspective, a chipmunk can collect an estimated 160 acorns per day.

The Chipmunk’s Lifetime 

Common chipmunks in America, mainly Eastern chipmunks, live between two and three years. While Siberian chipmunks living far from suburban areas in Asia and Europe are a few of the longest-living rodents, with a lifespan between six years and a decade.

Now that you know all about chipmunks, what is it with these tiny creatures that make their presence in your home need extermination?

Beautiful wild chipmunk sits on a rock.

What damages do chipmunks cause?

Don’t let these chipmunks’ cute exterior fool you!

Chipmunks, while not aggressive unless in defense mode, can also pose dangers to you and the suburban environment. With their sharp incisors, they can chew on the smallest things such as wires, floor elements, or insulation, which could lead to serious problems in your home. They also bring destruction to a garden by chewing on the plants, as well as to personal belongings such as clothes, furnishings, and other items kept in closed storage.

Regularly seeing signs, such as ruined property marked by left-behind chew marks is a sign of chipmunk, or generally, rodent infestation.

Even though chipmunks are not aggressive animals, they can bite, and their bite can be dangerous. Just like any animal, domesticated or wild, a single bite from them could cause a variety of health problems. Diseases and infections such as salmonella and Hantavirus could be possible results of a chipmunk’s bite.

How do you avoid a chipmunk infestation?

Chipmunks in the suburbs are mostly dependent on humans for food, water, as well as shelter, so you have to keep all the food sealed in your house.

Also, to avoid another set of chipmunks welcoming themselves in your home without your knowledge is to determine possible chipmunk entry points like open cracks and crevices in your home, and then get them covered.

Wild chipmunk sitting on log eating peanut

How can you get rid of them?

Are you having a hard time driving these chipmunks out your door, or even having no time at all to get started? We all know that getting rid of chipmunk infestations at home can be quite a challenge, and can be almost impossible without professional help.

So, if you have a chipmunk problem in your house, let us know! The Environmental Pest Management or EPM is the lending extermination hand for you. For a free quote, contact us here!

Don’t Kick the Hornets Nest: What to do With These Flying Pests

hornet
hornet

With all the “buzz” about pollinators, you may wonder how to allow stinging bugs like hornets to play their role in our healthy environment while keeping a safe distance. Yes, we want them to do their jobs in nature, but not too close to our houses and yards.

Environment Pest Management can help you keep your home secure from hornets and hornet nests with our comprehensive control service and several preventative tips. Call us today for a home evaluation and keep the hornets out in nature where they belong.

hornet on nest

Hornet Identification

The European Hornet is the most common hornet species in our neck of the woods. They measure 1.25 inches in length, with the queen appearing slightly larger. 

These hornets are reddish-brown, with white or yellowish patches on their faces, tails, and abdomens. They have six legs and two pairs of wings.

Hornet Habitat and Habits

These colorful little stingers like to build nests in trees, bushes, overhangs, and other protected spaces. That’s why your home could be prime real estate for a hornet nest. If you’ve got an accessible wall void, a protected soffit, a hornet-sized attic entry point, or other protected areas in your house, hornets love those spaces. 

Hornets gather wood fibers from their habitat and mix them with their saliva to create the paper-like material of their nests. They are nimble and competent carpenters. All types of protected or secluded corners and crevices are fair game for a hive.

These pests are attracted to trash cans and other food waste as easy food sources, as well as their more natural fare.

Hornets are seasonal pests. Only the queen and her eggs survive the winter in cold regions like the midwest. Adult bugs abandon the nest as the weather cools.

hornet close up details of fear inducing insect

How Hornets Make More Hornets

The queen in a nest hunkers down with her young in a protected area, such as underneath tree bark or in your home over winter. When the eggs hatch in the spring, she hunts for insects to feed the larvae that hatch from the eggs.

As the larvae mature into adults, the new workers construct their spring and summer nests. These workers handle all of the housekeeping tasks from protection, food gathering, to hive construction.

Once the queen has an established workforce, she goes to work laying more eggs so the seasonal cycle can begin again.

Some of the queens eggs hatch and grow into adults that can mate. These sexually mature males and females leave the hive, mate, and produce a new queen. This process is how hives proliferate across a region or neighborhood.

Hornets are generally harmless if left alone. However, they do become aggressive if they perceive a threat to their nest. It’s important to take steps to remove or prevent hornet infestations when you notice them.

Hornets Play an Important Role

Even though hornets can present a problem if they’re nesting in your house, they are important to our overall environmental balance.

Hornets are pollinators to a degree, but they are also predators. They help keep insect populations down by preying on bugs like flies and bees, among other species. 

Fun Fact: If a hornet discovers a beehive, it leaves a chemical marker on the hive entrance so that other hornets can also find the food source.

Having an eye out for hornets is a great start to ensuring they have the space they need to do their thing and to ensure you remain sting-free.

hornet on leaf

How Bad is a Hornet Sting?

For most people, getting stung by a hornet is uncomfortable to say the least. When provoked or threatened, these small beings deliver a powerfully painful jab. 

A typical sting results in a raised, red lump on the skin that may take a few days to disappear. For people allergic to hornet venom, however, a sting can be a much scarier event.

Allergic responses to hornet venom include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling beyond the sting site
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Hives
  • Other skin rashes
  • Wheezing
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Heart rate increase
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure changes

Side note: If you notice any of these symptoms after a hornet sting, be sure to stop into the emergency room or call your doctor for good measure!

Getting Rid of Hornet Nests: Where Do I Start?

Since hornets become aggressive when their nests are disturbed, leave any nests you may see alone. Call a professional like Environmental Pest Control. We’ve got all the safety equipment needed to remove nests without injury.

If you notice wasp activity around your house and yard, but don’t know the hive location, it’s also a good idea to call a professional. We’ll give your house and yard a full inspection and determine the hive location.

Hornet nests are best removed or controlled at night when all the insects go back to the hive. Usually, sprays or powders work well when applied to hornet nest entrances and access points on your house.

Sometimes a non-chemical solution works to control hornets. When the nest is small and exposed, a plastic bag tightly sealed around the entire hive at night is an effective way to move and destroy the nest. 

It’s still best to leave hornet control to the professionals, however. DIY hornet removal can often result in painful stings or even worse, trips to the ER.

hornet nest of carnivore or Vespa affinis

Hornet Nest Prevention

Whether you’ve had trouble before with hornet nests or not, here are a few tips to keep your house and yard sting-free:

  1. Monitor the spaces around your home. Places to check often for hornet activity include underneath your gutters, near doors that are largely unused, attic vents, and more.
  2. Keep your garbage container tightly sealed and remove waste often
  3. Check your trees and bushes, and keep your foliage trimmed. Hornets like secluded places to build their hives.

When you notice hornet activity around or in your home, be sure to call the experts at Environmental Pest Control. We will remove your hornets efficiently and safely so you can move about your property without fear of the big sting.

Yellow Jackets Are Not Your Friends

Yellowjacket Hard at Work
Yellowjacket Hard at Work

They may look like bees, but these black and yellow predators are much meaner than their honey-producing doppelgangers. You wouldn’t want to run into a pack of these pesky predators!

If a colony of yellow jackets is plaguing you, contact Environmental Pest Management for a free quote. Environmental Pest Management uses only environmentally friendly products to rid you of bothersome pests and insects in a flash!

You may be asking yourself, “Should I even be worrying about yellow jackets, what’s the big deal?” Let me assure you; they are a big deal. You don’t want them around your home or family.

Let us share with you some information about yellow jackets and why they can be dangerous.

The Common yellow jacket eating

What Do Yellow Jackets Look Like?

Yellow jackets usually range in size between 10 and 16 mm. While they most often display a striped black and yellow appearance, they can also be black and white in coloring.

They do look similar to bees, but there are a few ways to spot the difference;

  • Yellow jackets waists are thinner and longer than bees
  • Yellow jackets wings are longer and lighter than their body and lay laterally across their backs when at rest
  • Bees are hairy. Yellow jackets are smooth

There is one main difference between bees and yellow jackets that you should particularly notice. Bees are only able to sting once while yellow jackets can sting multiple times. They have smaller barbs which allow them to sting repeatedly.

Which brings us to;

What Do I Do If I Get Stung By A Yellow Jacket?

Ideally, you should avoid getting stung in the first place. There are a few simple precautions you can take to lower the likelihood of a sting.

  • If you are eating outside, dispose of your food quickly and remove trash from your immediate area
  • If you are hiking or walking and you come across several yellow jackets, that means there is probably a hive nearby. Clear the area as quickly as possible
  • If a yellowjacket lands on you or flies near you, don’t swat at it. Aggression from you may lead to an attack from the bug.

Fortunately, yellow jackets are only aggressive when they feel threatened. If they think you are infringing on their territory, they are likely to come after you.

Yellow jacket stings can be excruciating. Some of the common effects you can expect are mild swelling and irritation at the site.

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to a sting. Some symptoms to look out for are;

  • Problems breathing
    • Coughing
    • Weezing
    • Tightening of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms following a sting from a yellow jacket, consult a physician immediately. If you know you are allergic to any insect stings, you should always carry an epi-pen with you.

yellow jackets are feeding on a ham sandwich.

Thankfully, most people are not allergic and will experience only minor symptoms. There are many easy to use, at-home remedies you can try to treat mild irritation.

  • Take an antihistamine
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold compress. Be careful, do not leave an ice pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Make a paste out of baking soda and water. Apply to the sting to neutralize the venom
  • To reduce the itching, apply a cotton swab doused with vinegar
  • To minimize swelling, apply a sprinkling of meat tenderizer, which contains an enzyme called papain that can help break down the venom in an insect sting

For a bit more info, MultiCare has put together this helpful chart. Check it out!

Where Do Yellow Jackets Live?

Yellow jackets live in large colonies. Most yellow jackets live a little bit less than one year. Like bees, some function as workers or drones. They bring the food back to the colony. 

Also like bees, they have a queen, and she is the only one to survive through the winter. She hibernates in a safe space, either subterranean or high above the ground. In the spring, she lays her eggs and the insects that hatch become the new colony.

Yellow jackets make their homes in bushes, trees or the eaves or walls of houses. Occasionally, they will build a nest in an attic. Luckily, theses nests rarely cause structural damage to your home.

What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?

Yellow jackets are both pollinators and scavengers. They are attracted to both meat and sweets. They will hang around your trash or any food you leave around outside.

One of the few beneficial aspects of yellow jackets may be that they are known to eat other pesky insects. Unfortunately, the negatives far outweigh the positives when you’re facing a yellow jacket infestation.

yellow jacket wasp perched on the beautiful flower.

What Do I Do If I Find Yellow Jackets In Or Near My Home?

If you find an infestation of yellow jackets in your home, firstly, do not try to remove them yourself. Additionally, do not try to block the entrance to the hive as that will merely stir them up.

The best thing to do is to call a professional to remove the hive for you. Contact Environmental Pest Management now to schedule a free consultation.

Indian Meal Moths: Pantry Pests that Live a Long Time

Indian mealmoth or Indianmeal moth Plodia interpunctella of a pyraloid moth in wax of the family Pyralidae is common pest of stored products and pest of food in homes
Indian mealmoth or Indianmeal moth Plodia interpunctella of a pyraloid moth in wax of the family Pyralidae is common pest of stored products and pest of food in homes

The Indian Meal Moth is a hearty little pest that loves to feast on the grains in your pantry. Today, we’re here to give you a few tips on how to evict these bugs and keep them from coming back.

If you’ve got an enormous infestation of Indian Meal Moths or any other bug that’s fighting for control in your home, it’s time to call in the professionals at Environmental Pest Management. We’ll get you back to ruling your roost pest-free in no time.  Call today for an estimate.

Caterpillar of mealmoth in a box with sesame

Grains and Other Foods: a Vehicle For Moth Eggs

If you open your pantry and see a few of these moths fly out, you might be wondering how they got there in the first place. It’s no wonder. Indian meal moth eggs are microscopic.

Even though our food producers take precautions to keep them out of the general food stores, sometimes an egg or two manages to cling to life on some food packaging and eventually flourish in your flour cupboard.

These moths can hitch a ride into your home on the following foods:

  • Cereals
  • Grains of all kinds
  • Assorted flours
  • Dried Fruit
  • Candy
  • Pasta varieties
  • Mixed nuts
  • Powdered milk
  • Pet food

You can tell you’ve got an issue on your hands if you see the moths themselves, or if you notice a fine web-like substance on certain foods where you suspect the moths have originated.

Caterpillar of Indian mealmoth

The Meal Moth Life Cycle

Like any insect, the meal moth transforms through several phases of development.   They all begin as tiny, almost invisible eggs. An adult moth can lay up to 400 eggs in 2 weeks.

Further, any food substance not sealed in a metal can, or thick plastic container could be fair game for egg-laying and larval infestation.

Depending on the temperature and time of year, moths can take three weeks to 135 days to fully mature.  Food damage occurs during the somewhat lengthy larval phase of development. The larvae will crawl to protected or hidden areas to spin their final cocoons.

Once the adult moth emerges from the cocoon, or “pupa,” it lives for about five to seven days.  Just long enough to find a mate and make more moth eggs. You can easily distinguish the adult moth by its pale body and “grainy-brown” wing patches.  Adult moths are about a half-inch long and have a wingspan of ¾ inches.

Adult moths are usually visible at night as they may be attracted to the lights in your home. Be on the lookout for “nocturnal” activity from the adult moths.

Are There Any Other Telltale Moth Signs?

Unfortunately, yes. If you’ve noticed the adult moths flying around your cupboards or pantry, you should also be on the lookout for the following:

  • A fine, weblike substance on your dry ingredients like flour, dry pet food, cereals, pasta, candy, or other dry food products you’ve stored away.
  • The husks or cocoons of hatched pupa in places like ceiling corners or wall corners. Moth larvae will crawl to more protected spaces to spin their cocoons.
  • Holes in thin packaging materials like paper or plastic or webbing.

You’ve Identified The Moths, Now What Do You Do About Them?

If you’ve discovered Indian meal moths in your home, there are a few things you can do right away. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Try to discover the food source where the moths originated.  If you find it, wrap it in plastic and throw away immediately, preferably outside your home in your external trash can.
  2. Throw away grain or other dry food sources, especially those stored in paper packaging or boxes, as moths will lay their eggs in the cracks of such packaging.
  3. Consider clearing out all the dry food in your home and starting from scratch–after a thorough cleaning.
  4. Discard all shelf liners
  5. Wash down shelving with a soapy water mixture or light bleach blend, and finish with a spritz of peppermint oil mixed in water to prevent the moths from returning.
  6. Clean out and sanitize your trash bins, making sure to pay extra attention to cracks and crevices that could all be great places for moths to lay eggs.
  7. Place all “new” grains or nuts in a thick, sealable bag or container in the freezer whenever possible.
  8. Use sturdier storage that seals tightly to store pasta and other dry goods in the cupboard or pantry.
  9. Purchase smaller quantities of grains and other storable foods so they are used quickly and not sitting around attracting pests.
  10. Be patient and persistent. It can take several months to fully eradicate a severe moth infestation.

Indian meal moth pest, Plodia interpunctella on white wall

Environmental Pest Management, Your Expert in Pantry Purification

If, after all your meticulous cleaning efforts, you still have moths, give us a call. We’ll “unleash the hounds” on those persistent Indian meal moths, so they stay gone for good.

It’s important for homeowners to steer clear of chemical sprays when trouble-shooting these kinds of pests. The last thing you want is to infect your food or food surfaces with harmful chemicals while trying to get rid of bugs.

At Environmental Pest Management, we take the safety of your family and your food supply very seriously. We use only the most food and people-friendly products available to handle these unique and stubborn pests.

We create and utilize our trap and spray protocols with the best outcomes for you, your family, and your pets while eliminating the “yuck” factor of moths in your home.

We’ll also be able to assess your space for potential egg-laying opportunities you may have overlooked.  We’ll help you create a thorough cleaning strategy to cut off the moths at the source and keep them out.

At Environmental Pest Management, our goal is to provide you with a pest-free, care-free home. You can relax and feel comfortable knowing we’ve got your back with any unwelcome critters that may make their way inside. Call us today for an estimate, and let’s eliminate the “ewww” of bugs in your food and food spaces.