Up close image of a wasp. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about wasps.

A Hornet to the Heart

When I was a kid, I had a perfect summer day ruined by hornets. I was walking in our orchard to get myself a crisp green apple. I had my saltshaker because that is how I eat Granny Smith apples. I could feel my mouth pucker in anticipation. I was only wearing cut offs, tennis shoes, and no shirt. As I walked, four hornets raised out of the ground like Harrier Jets hovering 3 feet in front of me. All of a sudden, they turned into bullets hitting my chest and stomach repeatedly. I dropped my salt (I know, bad luck) and bolted back to the house. A dozen welts were developing on my kid-sized abdomen. Out came the home poultice remedies and I spent the day in bed. Damn hornets. To this day, I only buy my apples.

Stuck up a tree with wasps

My younger brother Bart was the exact opposite of Bart Simpson, which made him even more annoying. I was three years older than he was. He thought life was a sporting event and kept trying to one up me at everything. One day to get him out of my hair at Grandpa’s house, I challenged him to climb a tree, up and back in three minutes. He made it to the top in two minutes and I knew he couldn’t make it down in a minute.

I looked down for a second and then heard a loud commotion in the tree. My brother was leaping down the tree, jumping from branch to branch then lost control and crashed through the rest of the branches to the ground. He jumped off the ground with wide eyes and yelled, “Run!” He was being chased by angry wasps. We ran onto the covered porch and shut the door, swatting any wasps that followed. We later saw the rugby ball sized nest at the top of the tree.

Faster than a speeding bullet

As if we hadn’t learned our lesson, we counseled with our grandfather on a good strategy to take out the nest. He just shook his head and said, “I wouldn’t try anything.” He then told us about a time he and some farm hands saw a big wasp nest in a tree by the barn.

One of the farm hands went to his truck and got his 30-06 rifle out of his truck. He had a scope on it, so the plan was to move to safe 50 yards and then let the nest have it. His first shot hit the nest dead center. Everyone hooted and cheered. As he got ready to fire again, he noticed a couple wasps coming at him, then 5, then 20, then more. Everyone scattered. The wasps had actually triangulated where the shot came from and sent out an attack signal to the hive. There is no safe distance to attack a wasp nest.

When it comes to wasps, I am not trying to scare you but if my legitimate phobia against wasps rubs off on you and you have a wasp problem, then you should call a pest control organization. They have tools and products designed for professionals to remove your wasp problems.

If you would like to learn more about wasp control in Portland, check out other blogs on Interstate Pest Management.

Bed Bugs

Bedroom with lamp and nightstand. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about bed bugs.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite? Just try and stop them.

When I was very young I used to play “Ring Around the Rosie.” It was fun for a three-year-old. I played it with my kids. Then when some historical purist told me that the little Nursery Rhyme referenced the Black Plague of 1348 in Europe, it kind of ruined it for me.

The same thing happened with the bedtime rhyme about bedbugs. Bedbugs were a fairy tale when I was a kid. Nobody had seen or heard of one in decades; but then around the turn of the century, they made a dramatic comeback. Like little vampires freed from their coffins they once again slipped between our sheets and sucked our blood leaving us with red marks and itching by morning.

Fear and loathing in the heartland

A recent news article shows the fear level bedbugs have raised among people. A man entered a Salt Lake City courtroom full of apologies for being late. He lifted his pant leg showing visible red marks.

“My home has a bedbug infestation and I didn’t get much sleep,” he stated.

The Judge’s face went ashen. She dismissed the man’s case, cleared the courtroom, then cancelled all sessions for the day until professionals could come in and fumigate the entire room.

Was she being irrational? If you knew how nasty a bedbug infestation can be and how sneaky they are piggy backing from your friend’s house to yours, you would understand her reaction. She had obviously had experience with bedbugs.

What is your best approach?

The Bank of America and a few other large companies sponsor a program called The Savings Experiment. You might have seen it. They may show you the many uses for mayonnaise in your home and garden or how you can replace every cleaner you buy with vinegar and lemon juice, plus you can drink it. Think of the savings. They have 1001 different ways to save money by doing it your self or making something at home.

They had a segment on bedbugs a few months ago. I was curious to see what ingenious solution they would have for bedbugs. Their honesty was amazingly refreshing, especially for a program sponsored by a bank notorious for nefarious practices.

After presenting several options like vacuuming, steaming, and buying poisons from Home Depot, they stopped and looked at the camera and stated, “None of these work and they are a big waste of time. Your best option is to call a professional bedbug exterminator. It will save you time and money.”

Boy was I glad they didn’t recommend slathering mayonnaise over my mattress because that would have been pushing the mayonnaise segment too far.

So, there you have it, from a respected program on how to save money and still get the job done. You really needn’t waste any more time on the subject. If you wake up with a small itchy blotch or rash on your face or other body part, call Interstate Pest Control now. You don’t want to show up to work with bedbug bites. They might shut your office down.

Box Elder Bugs – Don’t Let Them Get Comfortable

Group of boxelder bugs. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about box elder bugs and how to not let them get comfortable.

The story is all too familiar: you’ve spent the entire first weekend of summer at Stumptown Coffee, finally enjoying the sun peeking its head through the clouds of the Pacific Northwest. Each day you arrive back at a beautiful home, your palace gently bathed in sunlight. This summer is going to be great!

Then one day it happens. You step up to your front door, and all you can see is black and red. Where there was a porch, there are bugs. Where there was a door, more bugs. There used to be a handle, window frames, and a beautiful wood banister you just had installed. These red and black pests have invaded!

Who Are These Guys?

Box elder bugs need plants to munch on, and they’re famous for invading your home as long as there is food nearby. If your house has any foliage surrounding it, especially the delicious box elder tree, they don’t mind hanging out on the front steps for the whole summer until their stomachs are full. But don’t worry about that, they never finish eating, and they love keeping you company!

Why Did They Choose Your Home?

They most likely didn’t come to your house because of your delicious Tillamook cheddar. No, there’s something else about your home that they love – usually it’s houses bathed in sunlight, and homes with easy access to the outdoors.

Box elders are infamous for finding warm, sheltered areas to keep cozy until the warmer months arrive. Often times this means your garage, attic, porch, or anywhere that’s heated where they can snuggle up together.

Allowing the box elder beetles an entrance into your home is a big concern as well. While you might not think you sent out an invitation, any unsealed entrances can be a wide-open space for a box elder bug. Even the smallest of cracks can look like a welcome mat for a box elder bug. They especially like the inside of your curtains. They love to leave red poop bombs that leave a red stain when you try to clean them up.

Don’t Worry – You Can Fix This!

The first step is management of the problem. Whatever you do, do not squash them! Not only will this leave you with a mess to clean up, but these bugs are known for leaving a parting stench that will test even the strongest of stomachs. Instead, grab a hand vacuum and try to collect as many as possible. Hire a professional exterminator in the meantime.

There are a few steps to prevent future home invasions. First, make sure that all windows, screens, and doors are properly sealed. Kitchen and bathroom fans, dryer vents, holes for utility cables, and any other pathway to the outside can all act as entrances. Seal ‘em up!

If you’re not sure about proper sealing, consider asking your professional exterminator for suggestions or help. They can get rid of this problem quickly so you’ll no longer be seeing red (and black).

Carpenter Ants Aren’t Carpenters

Stacks of railroad ties. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about why carpenter ants aren't carpenters.

Would you call your butcher a veterinarian? Of course, you wouldn’t. So who was the misguided person who named the carpenter ant? Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat wood. They do however, take apart your house to make theirs. They are uncarpenters. I guess someone must have thought they were carpenters because they build tunnels through all the soft moist wood they can find in and around your home.

That is the ridiculous part; they don’t “build” the tunnel, they chew through your home to make theirs. Left unchecked, you will see quickly that carpenter ants aren’t building anything. They just remove wood that is in their way. If that wood happens to be a support post under a floor beam, how are they to know? They are, after all, NOT CARPENTERS. They can’t read a blueprint nor recognize a bearing wall.

How to fight carpenter ants

If there ever were a species that should learn the value of unions, it is ants. They work ridiculously long hours. You can hear them munching away all through the night. They follow their supervisors blindly as they disseminate your house and build more tunnels for their growing colony. They only take a break from digging tunnels to become caterers for the colony. When they aren’t hunting for dead bugs to eat, they will go after anything sweet they can find in your pantry. They do this 24/7 365 days a year. They still don’t complain. But you should.

When ants invade your home, particularly carpenter ants, you may think since you are bigger and smarter that you may have the upper hand. Without experience, the proper equipment, and products you will find this isn’t true. It’s not that ants are smarter than you, but they have been doing their thing for eons, and they are really good at it—they also out-number you sometimes millions to one. Do it yourself remedies usually become a protracted battle that you end up losing in the end, along with your time and money.

Bring in the professionals

Besides having the proper products and equipment, an Interstate pest control professional will know how to locate colonies and prevent future infestations. Yeah, they know how to out think carpenter ants. It’s harder than you would think. We have been ridding homes of carpenter ants for years. We don’t believe in making it a long process either. We come to your home and make quick work of your carpenter ant infestation. We then make sure they don’t return.

Sugar Ants and Twinkie Withdrawal

Sugar granules. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about sugar ants and Twinkie withdrawal.

When Twinkies became scarce, 200 trillion sugar ants began a long painful withdrawal. Twinkies aren’t the only sugary snack available to junk food addicts but their iconic mixture of yellow cake infused with a sugary caulk are difficult to replace. Even the sugar ants have had to adjust. They seem just a little more aggressive and determined, as if they aren’t sure when their next staple will fall victim to corporate failure.

This means war

What’s next? Oreos? Snickers? Pop Tarts? The sugar ants aren’t taking any chances; get ready for the invasion.

Sugar ants eat more than just sugar, but so do you. They like protein from dead caterpillars or the sweet milk they harvest from aphids. These take a little work and of course, they are healthy, but face it, they aren’t Cap’n Crunch.

During their Twinkie withdrawal, it almost appears that sugar ants are moving faster than ever before. They will squeeze through any crack and march single file into your home on their quest for something more than aphid slime.

Do you think those powdered mini-donuts are safe on your kitchen table? From the time you set them out for your kids until they actually get out of bed, the donuts are covered in little black sprinkles that move around. That’s fast. Time to rethink your kitchen policy?

How to ant-proof your home

One of the best ways to ant-proof your home is to become OCD on cleanliness. (not to make light of people who suffer with OCD) You may think this works and in part it does. But most people aren’t aware that ants can read. They send a few scouts into your pantry and take an inventory by reading the labels. They send messages back to the colony instructing which boxes will yield the sweetest treat.

What happens is the next time you pick up that new box of Frosted Flakes it will seem very light and you might notice a fine powder leaking out the bottom through a tiny hole created chewed into the corner. Go ahead and pour some flakes in a bowl. Look! Your cereal is alive. Yum.

As far as do-it-yourself methods go, sugar ants think they are a great idea. Several soldiers may march right into your trap or eat your poison. They will then reel over and play dead while the rest of the colony laughs at your efforts. Some may even die, just to fool you.

Now what?

Just how far will you go to win this war over your pantry? This isn’t a trick question. It shouldn’t be a surprise that professionals like Interstate Pest Control know how to take back your pantry, kitchen, and dining room. They are full-time mercenaries for hire to rid your home of sugar ants and other pests for good. And it isn’t guesswork.

They don’t negotiate with the ants either. They use eco-friendly products that are easy on your home but not on ants. They send them to ant heaven where Twinkies exist for as far as the antennae can sense.

A Mouse in the House?

A mouse hiding in the grass. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about a mouse in the house.

‘Twill be the night before the Portland marathon, and it will be quiet all through the house. Not a creature will be stirring, except for the mice that sleep, eat, and defecate in every room of your home. Sweet dreams!

Mice, rats, and other rodents are a serious problem, and the last thing you want to deal with on the eve of a big race, or ever for that matter, is an infestation of these little critters.

The good news? We can help you say goodbye to them forever.

Living in the Sewers

Remember the giant rat Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? He was the nice kind of rat, the one that stayed in the sewers year round. Unfortunately for you, the rest of them like to come into your warm, cozy home.

Here’s why:

  • You might leave food and other edible debris on the ground.
  • There could be unsealed holes in your walls or floors, or a crawlspace that has easy access to the outdoors.
  • Your pet’s food might be uncovered or unsealed, or you might have an easy to access bird feeder nearby.
  • Your door doesn’t create a proper seal when closed.

If any of this sounds like your home, and you’ve been hearing scratching at your walls lately, now you know why. But there are ways to fix this.

The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper of Hamelin was able to rid the town of rats by playing a tune on a flute. You on the other hand only have to play a simple tune on your phone when you dial Interstate Pest Control.

They will show you how to rodent-proof your home and even help you do it. It is important to fill any holes to the outdoors and seal any open containers of food or other items that rodents might enjoy. The smell of certain foods, give rodents the will to find any way possible to find a way to obtain it. Don’t give them any reason to peek their heads in your house.

Leave it to the pros

A quality pest control company such as Interstate Pest Control will then rid your house of your current guests. If you’re thinking of using poison against the rats on your own, think again. Rat poison placed improperly can severely harm children or pets, and if a rat is killed in a hard to reach place, you’ll be stuck scouring the walls of your house to find a rat carcass that keeps smelling worse as time goes by. Leave extermination to the professionals. We remove rodents from the premises.

If you think you may have a rodent infestation or if you aren’t sure, call a professional exterminator today. A professional exterminator can ensure that your house is airtight and protected from any rodents, and that your furry friends will be packing their bags and looking for somewhere else to hide.

8 Facts Wikipedia Won’t Tell You about Carpenter Ants

Up close image of an ant. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about 8 Facts Wikipedia Won’t Tell You about Carpenter Ants.

Wikipedia can tell you a lot about Carpenter Ants; how large they are, indigenous to many climates, prefer damp areas, and how they disastrously damage wooden structures with their tunneling, but there’s a lot that Wikipedia leaves out. Below are eight little known facts about carpenter ants.

1. Colonies are often established in wet areas like windowsills and door casings, but moist wood isn’t the only thing they destroy. Carpenter Ants prefer rotting wood to create their maze of tunnels, but their large mandibles can chew through dense lumber just as easily.

2. Colonies can even live within creosote-treated railroad ties because they don’t actually eat the wood, but only chisel tunnels and homes in it with their mouthparts.

3. If a Carpenter ant bites you with its powerful jaws, it spray formic acid into the wound. This acidic blast can cause a terrible burning sensation in the injured site.

4. If you see Carpenter Ants outside, beware. That tree stump outside might seem like a good place for the ants, but if they’re disturbed, they’ll move. A disrupted colony will travel to a more inviting location, like a nearby home or office building. The colony might also decide to extend its foraging range…into your kitchen. Since they don’t eat wood, they are always looking for food. The foraging range of Carpenter Ants can take in several hundred feet.

5. You can hear a heavy infestation. As ants move within walls, brushing against the tunnel interiors, a soft rustling sound can be heard from within the house. That is the sound of structural damage.

6. If you find winged adults massing inside your home during the late spring or summer, it’s the sign of a serious infestation. If conditions are right, colonies will swarm after years of chewing away inside your walls.

7. Wikipedia is quiet on how to control an infestation once it has been established. Anyone experiencing piles of sawdust and ant carcasses in their home or office is going to want to know what to do about it. Eliminating areas of high moisture will go a long way toward controlling the infestation. There are also a wide variety of chemicals that will kill the worker ants, but if the queen remains alive all those dead ants will soon be replaced. A certified pest control expert will know the best combination of chemicals to use in order to get the queen.

8. There are a few great recommendations that can be followed in order to prevent infestations and re-infestations. Remove stumps and dead wood from around your home. Correct moisture problems by clearing gutters, fixing plumbing issues and repairing holes in siding. Trim shrubbery and keep vegetation away from the house. That goes for firewood as well, keep it away from your home.

Carpenter ants can cause a great deal of damage but if you’re prepared and have an incredible exterminator, you don’t need to fear the destruction they can bring.

7 Movies in Desperate Need of Rodent Control

Image of an old camera. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about 7 movies in desperate need of rodent control.

Aside from the fact that rodents are carriers of numerous diseases, movies love to portray rats and mice as cute and cuddly. Here are 7 movies where a little bit of pest control could go a long way.

7. Cinderella

Though a group of singing little mice might have saved Cinderella from her evil step mother, let’s be honest, by coming into contact with the little rodents, she probably contracted Hantavirus (A particularly nasty disease that causes the lungs to slowly fill with fluid). Cinderella might not have lasted to the wedding day. Even if the mice were miraculously clean, imagine poor Prince Charming when Cinderella decides to break the news, “By the way… I have several hundred pet, uh, mice.” What can you expect from a shut-in?

6. Charlotte’s Web

A nice story about a web-writing spider that, with the help of a rat, saves a pig from becoming pork chops. First off, if you have spiders that are able to read and write, it’s past time for the bug spray. Second, rats are worse than literate spiders. Not only do rats spread bacteria like Salmonella, they are voracious eaters. It is estimated that rats eat one fifth of the global food supply annually.

5. Stuart Little

Any parent willing to claim that a mouse is their newly adopted child is in desperate need of psychiatric evaluation and an exterminator. The CDC lists 11 diseases directly transmitted by rodents. Add an additional 15 when indirect transmissions (vectors such as ticks and fleas) are included.

4. Willard

A man using an army of rats for revenge is a scary thought, but his intended victims needn’t worry. Poor Willard, sharing an apartment with hundreds of disease carrying rodents, wouldn’t last long enough to get his revenge.

3. An American Tale

Thousands of Russian mice sail from the Motherland to America to be free from feline oppression. Upon reaching the United States, the realization that strays are plentiful would devastate even the most robust Mouse-stakovich. It’s a good thing America has so many cats. Other areas are not so lucky. When rodents are introduced into locations where they didn’t previously exist, they destroy ecosystems and cause millions of dollars in damage.

2. The Secret of Nimh

Rats and mice holding secret meetings beneath a rose bush would cause even the most rodent loving homeowner a few sleepless nights. The Secret of Nimh is a bit different from the previous five, because exterminators were called out to the farm. Regrettably, it was too little too late. The rats escaped. Look for the signs. If there are droppings in the yard, it is only a matter of time before they invade your home. Early detection and rapid response reduce the risk of damage and sickness.

1. Ratatouille

Rats again. The idea that a rat could learn to love cooking is pretty neat, but the reality of a rat cooking up a delightful dish is really disgusting. From Bubonic plague (the Black Death) to tapeworms, rats are the source of many dangerous diseases. Include their propensity to defecate and urinate on food as they move through it and you have a culinary chef that any health department would immediately shut down.

As charming and charismatic as Hollywood has depicted these filthy vermin, reality always sets in once the film stops rolling—rodents are disgusting, cause grave amounts of damage, and can pass on deadly varieties of bacteria.

Don’t let the movies fool you; call an exterminator before you start naming the rodents in your life.

Six Facts about Rodents That Will Make Your Hair Stand on End

Girl looking scared. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about Six Facts about Rodents That Will Make Your Hair Stand on End.

Simply put, rodents are nasty. Seeing a mouse can send people fleeing to the tops of chairs and their larger cousin, the rat, can even send bodybuilders running for the door. Rats and mice get into our food, carry more diseases than most people can name, invade our living spaces, and cause all manner of destruction. If seeing one isn’t enough to make your hair stand on end, here are a few facts that might get your hair pointing skyward.

1. Rats have very strong teeth. They can bite through aluminum and lead. Rats have been known to chew through electrical wiring. Not even glass, brick or cinderblock can stop them. If you see a rat, think twice about using your feet as a weapon. Their sharp teeth can easily bite through shoes and even your toenails.

2. Rodents are tricky. If you see a hole the size of a quarter, an adult rat can find a way to wiggle through. A mouse can do even better. If your house has a crack or hole the size of a dime, (where utility pipes enter your home, or perhaps the crack beneath the door) you’ll soon be sharing your food with Mickey and Minnie.

3. If you find one, there could be dozens more. Dozens might not be the best word. That little ball of fur scurrying across your kitchen tile can become an infestation fast. In one year, a single female mouse can birth around 140 babies. Each female can begin having offspring at the age of 2 months. 140 soon become thousands. Don’t procrastinate, contact a licensed pest professional early.

4. They are tough. A rat can survive being flushed down the toilet. After being flushed, some have been known to make their way back up. Water isn’t an issue, they can swim. An adult rat can tread water for three days before complete exhaustion sets in. Falling isn’t much of a problem either; rats can survive a 50 foot drop without being injured.

5. Rodents are associated with disease. Not only do they transmit Hantavirus, the Black Plague and Salmonella, but so much more. The Center for Disease Control lists 11 diseases that can be transmitted by direct contact, and another 15 that are transmitted indirectly (from vectors such as ticks and fleas).

6. Talk about a loose bladder. Rats and mice urinate, a lot. They use pee as a way to mark trails and territories. Rats will urinate on top of scent trails to show dominance and on food to mark it as their own. A loose bladder isn’t everything; a mouse can leave 40 to 100 dropping per day. If nothing better can be found, a rat will eat its own defecation.

Rodents are horrifying, goose-pimple-inducing little demons. Nobody wants their little droppings anywhere near their home or family. If you suspect any pernicious rodents poking around, make sure you act quickly. They can cause more than just a bad hair day.

For more tips on how to keep pests out, check out some of the other blog posts on Interstate Pest Management.

Do Cockroaches Deserve Their Bad-Boy Reputation?

Dead cockroach. Interstate Pest Management serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about Do Cockroaches Deserve Their Bad-Boy Reputation?.

You flip the light switch in your kitchen and watch hundreds of little brown bodies flash across the floor and table looking for hiding places. You are beyond concerned; you are disgusted and angry. Cockroaches rank high on the list of creatures we never want to see in our homes. Hundreds of horror stories exist describing their resilience, persistence, and overall putrescence. Do they deserve this reputation? Below is a list of 14 cockroach bad-boy facts.

  1. There are more than 4,000 types of cockroach, 30 of these will try to invade your home.
  2. Cockroaches can live without a head. Due to small breathing openings called spiracles all along their body, they do not need a head to breathe. The only reason they die is they can no longer drink.
  3. They can go without food for a month and a half, but only a week without water.
  4. Everything is on the menu. While most Cockroaches prefer sugar and anything that is fermenting, desperation can force them to eat soap, hair, leather, grease, paper, wallpaper glue, and even bookbinding.
  5. A crack the thickness of a dime won’t keep a cockroach out of your house. They can squeeze through tiny openings and are thigmotrophic, meaning they like the feeling of a tight fit.
  6. They can produce their own vitamins. Cockroaches have a symbiotic relationship with bacteriods living within their body; roaches don’t have to ever worry about the nutritional value of their food.
  7. Disease is their friend. E. coli, Salmonella, typhimurium, Entamoeba histolytica, and the poliomyelitis virus can all be carried and spread by cockroaches. It doesn’t end there; scientists have discovered that ground up roach nerves can kill germs.
  8. A cockroach can hold its breath for more than 45 minutes. As a coldblooded insect, they often restrict breathing in order to regulate body temperature.
  9. After being underwater for 30 minutes, a cockroach will still be alive.
  10. It takes 36 days for a hatchling to become an adult.
  11. One will soon be hundreds. A female roach can lay a sac (ootheca) that contains nearly 40 eggs. She can produce several ootheca in her life time, resulting in approximately 400 offspring.
  12. In a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches would outlast humans. A roach can resist a lethal dose of radiation 15 times higher than that of humans.
  13. Roaches can run. The fastest was clocked at 3 miles per hour. It might not sound very quick, but if the cockroach were the size of a human, it would be going nearly 200 miles per hour.
  14. Cockroaches can sense infinitesimal changes in air movement and can react within 8.2 milliseconds or 25 times faster than a human.

Despite this list of terrifying facts, a licensed pesticide applicator can make quick work of these cockroach bad-boys. At Interstate Pest Control, we will make sure you don’t learn about the secret life of cockroaches first hand. We know all of their behaviors and how to eliminate even the most serious cockroach problems. You will be smiling in satisfaction each time you turn on a light.