Author Archive

Four Primary Pests to Watch Out for During the Summer Months

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

antsPests like termites, earwigs, ants and wasps can invade your home at any time. However, each pest has its own season during which an infestation is most likely to arise. This fact is largely due to variations in breeding and nesting schedules between pest species. Summer is prime season for many pests, but four pests, in particular, tend to begin showing up in homes throughout the months of June, July, and August.

A good pest management program focuses on these four pests during the summer months.

Carpenter Ants: How They Differ From Regular Ants and When You Should Worry

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

carpenter-antMost homeowners know the dangers of common pests like termites and mice, but there are many pests that can affect the structure and safety of your home. Carpenter ants pose just as serious a threat as termites, and many homeowners might not notice them because carpenter ants may look like other types of ants at first glance.

Nobody wants to have any kind of ant in the home, but carpenter ants are the most damaging. Here’s what you need to know about identifying carpenter ants, their behaviors, and signs of an infestation in your home. With the right pest control methods, your home can be safe and protected once again.

Worried About Termites? How to Detect an Infestation

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Termites
Termites do incredible damage to homes, but many homeowners don’t know they’re there until it’s too late. If you can catch termites right when they move in, you can get rid of them before they damage your home’s structure and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Learn the signs of termite infestation so you can nip the problem in the bud. Remember, if you aren’t sure if you have termites, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Call a professional pest control company immediately to perform an inspection.

Protected Pests: What Homeowners Need to Know About Bees and Wasps

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beeonflowerIt’s unfortunate that bees get such a bad reputation. Many people run away screaming if they even spot a honey bee or bumblebee buzzing lazily around their home patio. However, bees are one of the most useful insects on the planet, and far from being killed as pests, they should be encouraged and protected.

With bee populations on the decline, it’s more important than ever for homeowners to spot the difference between wasps, yellow jackets, or hornets and honey bees or bumblebees. Here’s what you need to know about bees and wasps and what you can do to tackle wasp and bee colonies in or around your house. 

Take These Steps to Keep Cockroaches Away From Kitchen

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

kitchencockroachMany Illinois residents assume that cockroaches are a “southern problem” and that they don’t need to worry about these pests. But while the massive, two-inch cockroaches seen in Florida may not be common in Illinois, there are certainly roaches around. The German cockroach, in particular, tends to take up residence in homes during the winter since it cannot survive out in the cold. American cockroach infestations are not unheard of in Illinois, either.

All cockroaches need to survive is warmth, moisture, and food. They’re not too picky, but they are most attracted to food scraps. For this reason, most cockroach infestations begin in the kitchen. Here are some steps you can take to ensure these pests don’t move into your kitchen this winter.

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4 Winter Pest Problems and How to Prevent Them

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

The holidays approach. Frost coats the tips of grass on your lawn. Winter is here.

Insect eggs aren’t hatching. Flies and mosquitoes aren’t buzzing. But you still seem to have some kind of pest infestation in your house. Why?

Most homeowners aren’t aware that winter doesn’t necessarily kill off all pests. It brings many of them indoors, often right into your house. Here are the five most critical winter pest problems you should be aware of and how you can prevent them.

1. Rodents

Rodents are the most common winter infestation. Their collapsible skeleton allows rodents to squeeze into tiny spaces. For example, a mouse can get through a dime-size hole, while a rat can compress its body through a quarter-size hole. After they get into your home, rodents will aggressively search for food and reproduce at a rapid pace.

Prevent rodent infestation this winter by applying drywall or caulking any gaps in your house’s walls, foundation, doors, and windows. Seal your food in containers and don’t store the containers on low-hanging shelves.

2. Termites

Termites love your firewood, particularly because they can burrow through it and stay inside on a cold night. Once they’re in your house, they will try to find other wood materials to consume like your floors and furniture.

To keep them out of your house, store your firewood on a raised platform outside and cover it with a plastic sheet. This storage solution will both protect the wood from infestation and increase the temperature, killing any insects who try to make your wood their home.

3. Spiders

Depending on the species, certain spiders look for warm, dry places like your air vents. Others look for warm, moist places like your basement. They tend to like dark places within your house, entering through small cracks in your doors and windows. Once they’ve taken residence, spiders are difficult to find and, therefore, challenging to remove.

Most of the spiders you see in the Chicagoland area aren’t poisonous. They may, however, bite you or your pet. They also can lay a significant amount of eggs, potentially skyrocketing the amount of spiders who live in your home.

To spider-proof your home, seal up cracks and gaps in your doors and windows. Repair, or replace, any torn window screens. These little entryways are ground-zero for spider infestations.

After you’ve sealed these areas up, dust your home thoroughly. Spiders feed on other insects, some too tiny to see, but if you’ve vacuumed the dust up, you’ve probably gotten all the bugs with it. Once you’ve dusted, vacuum your carpets. Clean your upholstery and your window treatments. This intense cleaning process should rid your home of spider eggs while your current spider population dies out.

4. Cockroaches

Cockroaches become a problem in your home, particularly in the winter months, because they seek out warmth. What exacerbates this problem is your schedule of holiday parties.

Between the stocked pantry, the regular food preparation, the crumbs of food that fall off your guests’ plate, and the leftover dishes that linger into the morning after the party, cockroaches who discover warmth in your house have plenty to eat.

Stop cockroaches from moving into to your home by meticulously removing trash, compost, and recycling from the house. Wipe down your kitchen counter tops, dining room table, and other surfaces where you and your guests might dine.

Keep your floors clean, too, sweeping and vacuuming them regularly. Store foods in tightly sealed containers, like Tupperware, and wipe down the shelves within your pantry. Clean out crumbs and spills out in your refrigerator as well.

If you do host a dinner party, don’t leave the dishes until the following morning. Collect the dishes immediately after your guests leave. Though you might not have the energy to wash everything that night, you can leave the dishes in soapy water and avoid attracting cockroaches. Once clean, hang or place your pots and pans upside.

As winter progresses, review our description of common winter infestation issues and how you can prevent them in your house. If you do discover that pests have made your house their home, contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management and ask about our residential pest control services. We offer a tri-annual service, which includes an inspection and pest prevention treatment in summer, spring, and fall. We also offer a single service, a one-time infestation treatment with a 90-day guarantee.

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You “Mite” Want to Know the Difference Between the Three Basic Types of Termites

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Termites: they’re those pesky insects that chew apart buildings and turn wood piles into sawdust. But how much do you really know about these destructive creatures? “Termite” is actually quite a general term, as there are more than 3,000 species of termite on the earth and about 50 living in North America.

Luckily, North American termites can be classified into three basic groups. Knowing the basics about these three types of termites will help you protect your home from these destructive wood munchers.

Subterranean Termites

When you think of termites, this species is the type that most likely comes to mind since subterranean termites are the most common variety in the US. They can be found in every contiguous state, including Illinois.

Lifestyle Habits

Subterranean termites, as their name suggests, live beneath the ground where they build complex networks of tunnels. Each colony of termites contains a king, a queen, and numerous workers who collect wood material to feed the colony. There are also soldiers who guard the colony with their large, sharp jaws.

Appearance

Subterranean worker termites are about 1/8 inch long and have soft bodies. They’re cream or white in color and have no wings. In the spring after a rainstorm, however, you may see a winged caste of subterranean termites emerge from a colony. These insects are known as swarmers, and they are essentially the scouts of the termite colony. They fly through the air, land somewhere else, shed their wings, and begin a new termite colony.

Signs of an Infestation

Subterranean termites attack a structure from below the ground, entering buildings through cracks in concrete or faulty plumbing. They prefer moist wood. If they are to blame for the wood damage to your home, you’ll notice little mud trails on the ground around your home that stretch across the wood they’ve attacked.

You can also identify subterranean termites by their excrement, which looks like chewed up cardboard. Subterranean termites only chew the softest part of the wood between the grains, so the holes they leave in wood seem to follow the grain.

Pest Control

If you think you may have subterranean termites on your property, do not disturb them. Disrupting their colony may cause them to move and damage another part of the building. A licensed pest control company can fight the infestation by carefully baiting and trapping the insects. The soil around the perimeter of your home may also be treated to eradicate termites as they seek entry into your structure.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites are not very common in Illinois. They are mostly found along the Pacific Coast and in Florida. Still, some less-damaging species do pop up in the Midwest from time to time, so it’s important to know about them.

Lifestyle Habits

Dampwood termites often access a home through the ground, but they set up their colony within the wood itself. Their colonies stay quite small compared to other termites, but a mature colony can still house several thousand insects. Dampwood termites are named such because they only feed on and live in moist wood.

Appearance

As with subterranean termites, there are several castes of insects within each colony. The workers are soft and cream colored, and the soldiers are brown with large, sharp mouthparts. In the reproductive stage, dampwood termites reach about 3/4 inches long and develop dark brown wings. You may see them swarming in the summer or early fall.

Signs of an Infestation

Dampwood termites plug the holes they make in wood with their fecal material, so it’s unlikely you’ll see the wood damage until it is very severe. However, you may see the discarded wings of swarmers around your wood structure. You may also see piles of these moist feces on the floor. Note that dampwood termites are often found in basements and near the ground. They don’t travel very far up and they will not bother dry wood.

Pest Control

Treating a dampwood termite infestation requires you to dry out your home. Your pest control team may need to partner with a contractor to correct issues like leaky pipes or a cracked foundation. Once the wood is dried out, the termites will typically die off. Sometimes, your wood may also be treated with insecticides to accelerate the eradication process.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are mostly found in California and Arizona, and they cause terrible destruction to both homes and forests.

Lifestyle Habits

This type of termite establishes its colony directly inside dry wood. Many colonies live inside dead trees and brush, and then when the land is cleared and homes are built, the insects invade those homes. They can enter a home from the attic, through a roof vent, or through any little crack.

Appearance

Drywood termites are about a 1/2 inch long, including their wings. They’re light to dark brown in color and often have reddish brown heads with white spots. Unlike the other types of termites, which only swarm for a few weeks, dry wood termites swarm throughout the spring and summer.

Signs of an Infestation

When you have drywood termites in your home, you typically see the termites themselves as they tend to enter from obvious access points like windows and roof vents. The damage they cause to wood is extensive—you’ll see wide, gaping tunnels build through it. These galleries within the wood look smooth and sculpted, not rough and frayed like the damage caused by dampwood or subterranean termites.

Pest Control

Chemical insecticides are generally the go-to remedy for a dry wood termite infestation. The pest control company will also need to seal off any access points to prevent more termites from entering the home.

Termites of all varieties can cause serious damage to a home. If you think a colony of termites may be chewing away at your home, don’t try to remedy the situation yourself. Contact a pest control company like Chem-Wise. We’ll inspect your home and recommend the best course of treatment based on our findings.

4 House Pests You Can Be Glad You Don’t Have

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

The Chicago area is a beautiful, diverse part of the country with a countless cultural events, gorgeous landscapes, and nearby job and recreational opportunities. But it also has its fair share of downsides, including bad weather, gridlocked traffic, and destructive pests. If you live in the area, you’ve probably dealt with wasps and hornets in your garden and rats and mice in your home.

But even with all the house spiders, ants, and rodents you have to deal with, you still have a better deal in Chicagoland than many other homeowners nationally and globally. Read below to learn more about some of the world’s worst house pests, none of which you’ll ever have to deal with in your Illinois-area home.

1. Sydney Funnel-Web Spiders

You’ve dealt with your fair share of house spiders, including daddy long legs and small jumping spiders.
You might have even encountered a black widow or a brown recluse. But you’ve never wrangled a spider like the Sydney funnel-web, one of the most venomous spiders in the world.

Funnel-web spiders burrow beneath debris in yards across New South Wales in Australia. They can grow up to 4 inches long, and they move incredibly quickly as they dart outside their homes to catch any prey that wanders near, including snails, beetles, and even small lizards.

Funnel-web spiders are quite clever. They sit inside their burrows, away from their predators’ prying eyes, and spin thin lines of silk that they set just outside their front doors. They can then wait for a wandering insect to trip the line. The vibration sends the spider dashing out of its hideaway for an easy snack.

Funnel-web spiders generally keep to themselves and stay outside where they belong. However, they sometimes wander into houses and give homeowners a nasty surprise. They’re also dangerous to pets, especially curious cats and dogs who like to dig in the yard.

Most often, homeowners encounter funnel-web spiders in their backyard pools-funnel-web spiders fall in and, instead of drowning, swim around for hours.

Most funnel-web spiders are very venomous. If one of these spiders bites a person, the victim usually needs hospital treatment.

2. Scorpions

Scorpions are far from the deadliest creatures in the world, but they’re some of the most obnoxious and most frightening pests in the Western United States. Scorpions are particularly troubling because they love to climb into dark, secluded areas-including the toes of shoes. Scorpions are also small enough to squeeze between cracks in the door and infiltrate homes.

Scorpion stings hurt, but they don’t kill. The only truly dangerous scorpion in the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion, whose sting can provoke severe allergic reactions in some people. These scorpions are more aggressive than other types of scorpions in the area.

The eeriest part about Arizona’s scorpions? Bark scorpions live in packs, which means when you encounter one, you’re likely to encounter more. They can also survive freezing temperatures. Once the frozen scorpion thaws out, it gets back to business as usual.

3. Bullet Ants

These South American creatures have the dubious distinction of delivering the most painful insect bite in the world. In fact, they get their English name from the fact that their bites are so painful, even one feels like a shot from a bullet.

The only other insect capable of producing a similarly painful sting is the tarantula hawk wasp. However, although a sting from a hawk wasp is intensely painful, the pain alleviates after a few minutes. Hawk wasps rely on their venom to paralyze tarantulas, so it only needs to last long enough to keep the wasp’s dinner still. In contrast, the pain from a bullet ant’s sting can last up to 24 hours.

According to Justin Schmidt, the entomologist who created an index that rates the intensity of insect bites, getting bitten by a bullet ant feels just like sticking your hand in a socket-in other words, it’s exceedingly painful, not just at the site of the bite, but throughout your entire body.

Fortunately, bullet ants are only found in the rainforests of Paraguay and Nicaragua. Although they might wander into locals’ homes occasionally, they generally keep to themselves deeper in the forest.

4. Tsetse Fly

As you know if you’ve ever battled a housefly or a batch of fruit flies, keeping flies out of your house is nearly impossible. But although houseflies and fruit flies are certainly annoying and can contribute to the spread of disease, they can’t compare to the tsetse fly.

This fly from sub-Saharan Africa spreads a serious disease called sleeping sickness. The fly bites a human host and transmits a parasite that can cause fevers and aches and, in its most intense form, nerve damage, lethargy, and death.

Keep Pests Out of Your House

Thanks to your home’s location, you don’t have to deal with any of these noxious pests. But that doesn’t mean you have to discount your own pest problems! Whether you’re dealing with a mouse infestation or a plague of mosquitoes, call Chem-Wise for help. We’ll ensure you, your family members, and your property are safe from any detrimental effects from any type of pest.

Harmless Spiders You May Find in Your Home

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Colored bodies. Eight legs. Beady eyes. You can instantly recognize a spider as soon as you see one. No matter where you live in the US, you’re bound to encounter spiders at some point or another. Some spiders, like the black widow or the brown recluse, are poisonous. If you notice these crawlers on your property, take caution and contact a pest control specialist immediately.

Other spiders, however, are completely harmless, and you’re more likely to find them in the nooks and crannies of your home. Below, we’ve provided you with a guide to some of the most common harmless spiders you may find in your home.

Read on to learn how to identify these critters and what you can do about their presence in your house.

Woodlouse Hunter

This spider is known by several names, including woodlouse spider, slater spider, sowbug killer, sowbug hunter, pillbug hunter, and orange spider. Its scientific name, Dysdera crocata, roughly translates to “hard-to-fight, orange-colored spider.” This arachnid preys specifically on woodlice in, around, and near buildings, so if you see one on your property, you don’t need to fret.

Not including their legs, male woodlouse spiders range between 9 and 10 millimeters in size. The females measure between 11 and 15 millimeters. They have eight slender legs that are usually a bright orange color, and the tips of each leg have two claw tufts, or small hair clusters, that make climbing easier. Additionally, woodlouse spiders only have six eyes shaped like a tight semicircle.

Both male and female don a few different colors, such as red, orange, brown, and tan. Sometimes, they may look gray in color. Typically, though, the cephalothorax (or combined head and thorax) ranges from yellow-brown to deep red-brown, and the abdomen is a light tan or gray in color. Their bodies also appear shiny.

Unlike most spiders, the woodlouse hunter can be found year-round in gardens, forests, and fields. You may also find these spiders in your basement or cellar or under piles of wood or stone. Depending on the weather, you may find these spiders inside your home. Again, they’re harmless, so you don’t have to worry if you find one or two scattered in your house.

House Spider

As the name suggests, the house spider is an arachnid you’ll primarily find indoors. They’re also found across the Northern Hemisphere, but one common species that you’re likely to encounter in the US is Tegenaria domestica.

Tegenaria domestica, or the domestic house spider, is also called the barn funnel weaver. The males range between 1/4 to 3/8 inches, while females measure 1/4 to 1/2 inches. Male domestic house spiders have longer banded legs than the females as well as a long abdomen. These spiders only feed on other small insects and aren’t venomous to humans.

Typically, domestic house spiders have two dark stripes on their cephalothorax, and the top of the abdomen is patterned with beige and brown speckles. You’ll often find these arachnids inside man-made buildings, usually in dark, cool places like basements and cellars. Some house spiders live beneath rocks and wood stacks.

Aside from the domestic house spider, you may encounter red house spiders, brown house spiders, southern house spiders, giant house spiders, and black house spiders, depending on where you live.

Daddy Longlegs

These spiders also go by a few different names, including cellar spiders, carpenter spiders, granddaddy spiders, and vibrating spiders. These arachnids are more delicate spiders. Their fused bodies size from 2 millimeters to 10 millimeters and their legs can measure up to 50 millimeters long. Interestingly, daddy long legs can have either six or eight eyes. These spiders also don’t produce venom, so they’re perfectly harmless.

Daddy longlegs are found everywhere in the world, excluding Antarctica. You’ll often find these spiders in damp, dark spaces indoors and outdoors. These creatures also thrive in various habitats such as basement corners, cellars, attics, and windows. They may also live below rocks or tree bark if they have access to a food source.

Surprisingly, daddy longlegs are closely related to scorpions. These arachnids have also been around for a long time-the oldest known daddy longlegs was found in a fossil in Scotland. Scientists determined that the spider in the fossil was at least 400 million years old.

What Should You Do if You Spot Spiders in Your Home?

If you spot one or two of these spiders in your home, don’t worry. They’re completely harmless to humans and actually benefit your home. As mentioned above, they eat small insects that could otherwise harm or damage your home or landscape.

However, if you notice several of these spiders in your home, they can become quite a nuisance. Contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management and schedule spider control services so you can remove small infestations in your home.

A pest control expert can also help you find entry points, food sources, or similar factors that could attract these spiders to your home. Use these professionals’ advice to prevent other spiders from coming into your home in the future.

Tired of Mosquito Bites? Why They Itch and What to Do About It

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Summer can be truly beautiful. You probably love sitting outside during the evening when the sun goes down, the air cools off, and people are out and about-but the mosquitoes like summer evenings too.

By now, you’ve probably been bitten a few times, and you’re tired of dealing with the itchy red bumps. As you scratch away in frustration, you may have a few questions. Why do mosquito bites itch so much? Why do they get bigger when scratched? And how can I lessen the itching? This blog can give you the answers.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

When a female mosquito (males don’t bite) feeds on you, she inserts her proboscis (or needle-like mouth) into your skin to draw blood. However, blood has platelets that form clots over cuts and scratches. If a clot forms around the bite, the mosquito could get trapped.

To make sure they don’t get caught, mosquitoes inject a little of their saliva into the person they bite. The saliva contains an anticoagulant, and this substance prevents clots from forming.

By injecting this mixture, the mosquito gets to feed on your blood and get away with it. However, exposure to the anticoagulant is not so great for you. Your immune system recognizes the foreign anticoagulant and fights off the “invader” by releasing histamine.

Histamine causes the bitten area to swell up with extra blood (extra blood means extra white blood cells, which fight off germs and aid in healing), and it also causes the area to get irritated and itch, just like how your eyes itch when they get pollen in them. The result is the itchy red bump you know all too well.

However, some lucky people don’t react to mosquito bites, or they rarely react at all. In areas with lots of mosquitoes, some people have been bitten so many times that their immune systems stop reacting and just accept the bite as normal. In that case, the bite will not itch or swell, and the person may never know they were bitten.

If that person travels to an area with a different species of mosquitoes, though, the bites will contain a different anticoagulant. That person will again get the itchy bites the rest of us suffer from.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Get Bigger When Scratched?

Probably the worst thing about mosquito bites is that if you scratch them, they get bigger and last longer. You can only let them heal if you ignore the itching.

The bite marks get bigger when scratched because of your immune system’s response. As previously mentioned, the area swells in an attempt to get rid of anything that could harm your body. If you scratch it, you’ll irritate the area more, convincing your body that the problem is getting worse instead of going away, so the immune system will release more histamine instead of less. The area gets bigger as a result.

You have to let your body calm down by ignoring the bite if you want it to go away.

How Can I Treat Itchy Mosquito Bites?

To soothe your body’s response, you can try various lotions or salves, including:

  • Hydrocortisone cream. Hydrocortisone contains a mild steroid that reduces inflammation and swelling. Essentially, it reduces your immune system’s reaction. You can find a tube of it in most drugstores for a few dollars.
  • Cold. Numbing the area can provide some temporary relief. Take a cold shower if you have bites all over your body, or use an ice pack to numb just one or two bites.
  • Protection. If you worry that you’ll scratch a bite no matter what, cover it so you can’t get to it. A Band-Aid or some tape might do the trick. Additionally, some people say that the pressure feels good on the bite.
  • Baking soda. Some people swear by baking soda. Make a paste with baking soda and water, and spread it on your bite. Similarly, toothpaste (many of which contain baking soda) may get the job done.
  • TUMS. If you have these antacids on hand, they can also be crushed and made into a paste that many users have found effective at relieving itchiness.

If all else fails, you may have to rely on simple measures like using distractions and willpower. You should be rid of that itchy bite in a day or two if you leave it alone.

 

If you’re sick of mosquitoes getting into your yard, you may have a pest control problem. Calling in an expert can help. Call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management to get started. We can answer your questions, assess your property, eliminate mosquito breeding areas, and treat existing mosquito infestations.

With our help, you can get back to enjoying your summer evenings without worrying about mosquitoes and getting bug bites. Enjoy sitting on your porch!