Bees, Wasps, and Hornets-Oh My! How to Spot the Difference

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

During the spring and summer, you love to bask in the sunshine as much as possible. You sit in your favorite chair and sip lemonade, or perhaps you run on the grass and play games with your children.

But while you’re enjoying that light breeze on your face, you happen to feel a tickle on your arm.


Something stung you. The red bump starts to swell, and then the insect flies past your nose.

Not sure what it was? Use the following guide to help you determine the culprit.


Chicago is home to a variety of bees due to the city’s hobbyists and green entrepreneurs. Many restaurants rely on the natural honey to create cocktails or honey wine.

Yet while beekeepers tend to their hives in their backyards and balconies, you can’t help but wonder if the insect that stung you was an escapee or a natural local.

Bumble Bee

Bumblebees are fat and furry in appearance, with black and yellow (and occasionally orange) markings. They are social bees that most often live in the wild. They live in nests with 50 to 400 bees, and these nests tend to stay mostly in the ground or slightly higher. They only make small amounts of a honey-like substance that they eat themselves.

Though bumblebees have a loud buzz, they are not aggressive in nature. However, their smooth stinger enables them to sting more than once if aggravated.

Carpenter Bee

Carpenter bees look like bumblebees in size and appearance. They are fuzzy and large with black and yellow markings. However, unlike bumblebees, they are solitary creatures. They build nests in trees and in the frames of buildings where they can drill into the wood.

The male carpenter bee does not have a stinger, but it may approach people who move quickly or wave a hand in the air. If you’re approached, don’t panic; the bees are harmless. The female carpenter bee can sting, but seldom does. You must handle and provoke her a great deal before she will sting.

Honey Bee

Honeybees are smaller and slimmer than bumblebees, but they’re not as angular as wasps. They live in hives of up to 50,000 or 60,000 bees, which are often tended by beekeepers. As their name implies, honeybees make a lot of honey, which beekeepers can harvest to sell or eat.

Unfortunately, many honeybees are dying due to Colony Collapse disorder. And because they have barbed stingers, they can only sting once. The stinger lodges into its attacker, causing the stinger to rip from its body. Because of this, honeybees only sting as a last resort to protect their colony.


While bees tend to be harmless, wasps are often more aggressive. You can often tell the difference between wasps and bees by their hair and body shape. Wasps tend to be slimmer than bees, with elongated bodies. They also lack the body hair that makes bees look fuzzy. Yellow Jackets

True to their name, yellow jackets are black with prominent yellow stripes. They have narrow wings that fold longitudinally when resting. You can recognize a yellow jacket by the way it flies: a rapid, side-to-side pattern right before it lands.

Unlike bees, yellow jackets do not produce honey. Rather, they scavenge and eat meats and sweets, which is why you can often find them in parks or picnic areas.

Yellow jackets create enclosed nests below ground, which they defend aggressively. Because they can repeatedly sting if provoked, you should take care to check for yellow jacket nests before mowing your lawn.

Cicada Killer Wasps

Chicago is home to unique wasps known as cicada killer wasps. Unlike other wasp species, many nature-lovers appreciate these insects for the work that they do. Rather than attacking humans, cicada killer wasps kill cicadas that invade and damage neighborhood trees.

Before you grab the bug spray, double check the wasp’s appearance. Cicada killer wasps are large, nearly two inches long, with distinctive black and yellow stripes and reddish-brown eyes and legs. They are mostly solitary insects that nest in bare soil and along edges of flower beds. Hornets

Hornets, or bald-faced hornets, look much like yellow jackets. They have black and yellow (and occasionally white) markings. However, hornets are often longer and thicker than yellow jackets, and their sting is often more powerful.

Unlike yellow jackets, hornets do not scavenge, so they are less likely to show up at your favorite outdoor activities. And unlike cicadas, hornets prefer to build their nests high above ground, such as high in eaves and trees.

See These Insects Buzzing Around Your Home?

While some bees, wasps, and hornets are harmless, you might still have difficulty spotting the difference. If you worry about an insect infestation on your home or property, don’t hesitate to call pest control, just in case. A professional can help you safely remove the insects and protect your home and family.

The “Bite” on Mosquitoes: How to Keep Mosquitoes Out of Your Yard and Away from Your Skin

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

As a child, you may have read the children’s book Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. In this book, a mosquito lies to a lizard, which causes a chain reaction, eventually disrupting the entire animal kingdom. The story ends by saying that the mosquito continues to buzz in people’s ears to find out if everyone is still angry at him.

If this story were true, it may partially explain the anger many people hold toward mosquitoes. But we all know was have plenty of other reasons feel angry with them. Mosquitoes are especially annoying if they overpopulate your yard, ruining your chance to enjoy the outdoors. Let’s learn more about mosquitoes’ role in our ecosystem and how we can keep them safely at a distance.

What Is a Mosquito?

I’m sure you’ve seen-or received a bite from-a mosquito at some time in your life, but have you stopped to learn more about this interesting creature? Mosquitoes are midge-like flies (their name in Spanish literally means “little fly”).

There are more than 3000 species of mosquitoes, and only three species spread human disease. Surprisingly, most blood-seeking mosquitoes prefer biting horses, cattle, and birds rather than humans.

An adult mosquito lives 5 to 6 months. This doesn’t seem like a lot to humans, but for insects, it’s a long life.

The Danger of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes seem bad enough simply because of the annoying, itchy bites they give people. The itchiness comes from your body’s reaction to the saliva the mosquitoes inject when they take your blood. But that’s not the end of the story-mosquitoes can spread all sorts of blood-borne diseases, like the following:

West Nile Virus: This disease isn’t as dangerous as you may think, as most people do not experience symptoms. However, 1 in 5 people will develop a fever, and 1% of people may develop a neurological disease.

Malaria: Thousands of people die from malaria each year, most of whom live in Africa. Malaria, a parasite-caused disease, causes flu-like symptoms.

Yellow Fever: Also causing flu-like symptoms, yellow fever is a dangerous virus. It can also cause muscle pain and even liver damage.

Chikungunya Virus: Chikungunya happens most commonly in the Caribbean, but it has also spread to many U.S. states. It causes joint pain but rarely proves fatal.

  • Dengue Fever: Like other mosquito-borne diseases, dengue fever causes flu-like symptoms and joint pain. In extreme cases, it can cause bleeding and low blood pressure.

Fortunately, the majority of mosquitoes will not infect you with a disease. But the more you can reduce or repel your mosquito population, the less likely you are to contract a mosquito-borne illness.

Mosquitoes Aren’t All Bad

Before we move on to strategies for eliminating mosquitoes, let’s cut the mosquito some slack. We’ve already noted that the majority of mosquitoes do not carry disease. But what about mosquito bites? It’s interesting to learn that that only female mosquitoes bite, and they do so to feed their children. So they don’t exactly bite you with malicious intent.

Still annoyed? Note that mosquito larvae serve as food for fish and other animals. Eliminating mosquitoes completely would disrupt the ecosystem.

How to Eliminate Mosquitoes

Despite their benefits, an overpopulation of mosquitoes is no fun to have in your yard. We’ve given you some tips for keeping them at bay:

Wear mosquito repellant while outdoors. Repellants contain substances such as DEET, SS220, and citronella oil. If you use DEET-based sprays, do not use it under clothing or on broken skin, and choose a product that contains less than 30% DEET.

If you plan to host an outdoor gathering, light citronella candles or torches to keep mosquitoes away.

Plant plants that naturally repel mosquitoes. These include basil, citrosa, lavender, lemon balm, and lime basil.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes will more likely bite.

  • Eliminate areas of standing area in your yard, because mosquitoes need water to hatch. These areas include flower pots, bird baths, ponds, and swampy areas.

If these methods do not keep mosquitoes out of your yard, call a pest control professional. A professional can eliminate the cause of the problem not only by removing adult mosquitoes, but by removing mosquito larvae. He or she will also provide a treatment that will keep mosquitoes from congregating in your yard.

You can use chemicals and traps yourself, but this can prove dangerous if you have not first consulted with a professional. A pest control professional has the training to use only environmentally friendly pest control methods that won’t harm nearby plant or animal life.

Stop those mosquitoes from buzzing in your ears! If mosquitoes have overrun your yard and destroyed your summer vacation, take steps to repel them or lower their population. If these steps don’t work, call a pest control professional.

Eliminate Bugs Once and For All with Pest Control in Chicago, IL

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Are you concerned about pests in your home? You’re not alone. Nearly 80% of homeowners in America have these same concerns. Your home should provide you with sanctuary from your worries. Yet when bugs and rodents invade, your home becomes anything but a refuge. For this reason, protecting your home from pests should become your top priority.

Most Common Pests

Ants invade U.S. homes more commonly than any other pest. In fact, they’re responsible for 49% of pest problems affecting homeowners. As a close second, spiders cause 43% of pest issues.

You may also have pest problems outside of your home. Many homeowners find that wasps cause a fair amount of problems around their yards. These flying, stinging pests cause 29% of pest problems for homeowners. However, homeowners have to deal with more than just insects. Mice typically cause 30% of pest concerns.

How Do You Eliminate Pests?

When you deal with pests, you can either try to eliminate them on your own, or you can rely on professionals to solve your problem. Keep in mind that of the 54% of homeowners who tried treating pest problems on their own, only two-thirds succeeded.

On the other hand, 51% of homeowners believe it takes a professional pest control services to resolve their pest problems. Additionally, 95% of homeowners say working with a company that guarantees its work really matters.

Call us at 630.236.1600. We will free your home from pests and restore your sanctuary today.

Indian Meal Moths in Schaumburg, IL

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

The Indian Meal Moth is a very common insect found in stored products within the home and in stored grain on farms, in warehouses, and grocery stores. In the home, Indian Meal Moth larvae feed on any grain product (flower, cornmeal, oatmeal, etc.), seeds (including bird seed and dried beans), nuts, chocolate, dried fruit (such as raisins), and even dog food. These larvae often leave their food supply when they are ready to spin their cocoons and they may wander about in search of a suitable place to pupate. They are frequently found in unsuspected places because of this wandering behavior. Control of any stored food pest requires locating and eliminating infested item(s). All potentially infested foods should be checked. The insects may be in unopened boxes or containers. Infested items can be thrown away or salvaged by freezing for 1 week or heating in a 140 degree oven for 15 minutes. Empty and thoroughly vacuum clean cupboards or shelves holding infested items, paying particular attention to cracks and corners. Vacuum cleaning picks up hiding insects and spilled or infested material. Empty the vacuum cleaner bag after use to prevent re infestation. Insecticide sprays are not recommended for controlling insects in stored food cupboards.

Chem-Wise usually does not need to spray for Indian Meal Moths. The customer must first follow the following outlined steps, which in many cases will eliminate the problem:

  • Thoroughly clean cupboards with a strong cleanser: repeat this process two weeks later
  • After cleaning, thoroughly vacuum cupboards paying close attention to cracks and corners
  • Store pet food in air tight containers: throw out old food and clean the containers before adding a new bag
  • Store susceptible foods in seal able glass, metal, or heavy plastic containers

Treatment is really up to the homeowner, we do sell Pheromone Traps to customers with an ongoing problems. If you have any questions regarding stored product pests in the Naperville area, please call our office.

The Added Value of Routine Pest Management in Aurora, IL and Surrounding Areas

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As the old saying goes; “a penny saved is a penny earned”. This statement holds more importance in today’s economy. What many people do not realize is the added values and benevits that are gained by maintaining a preventative maintenance pest control program on the biggest investment of one’s life.

What are the benefits of a preventative maintenance program in Naperville and surrounding areas?

-“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”… especially when dealing with the insect world. By treating the source areas and breeding grounds of insects on a regular basis, excess populations are less likely to develop and infest areas of your home.

-Prevent the possibility of rodents invading your home which my result in unhealthy conditions, or damage to food and property.

-Avoid the cost to restart the program. The average cost to restart the Tri-Annual program is double what a seasonal maintenance visit is.

-Take advantage of discounted services such as Wasp Proofing or Termite monitoring.

-The Tri-Annual preventative maintenance program is guaranteed throughout the year! If there is ever a need for service between your seasonal visits let us know and we will take care of it at no charge for any covered pest.

For these reasons Chem-Wise strongly suggests that maintaining the Tri-Annual service is an investment in your home, personal safety and property.

Pest Prevention in Chicago

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

It’s sad to say it, but winter is around the corner.  Anyone that had the pleasure of being in the Chicagoland area last winter is probably not looking forward to another long, cold, snowy winter.  Summer seemed to take forever to arrive and now it’s gone already.   I guess that is just how the story goes when you live in a four season state like we do.  The good news is that there are many things you can do as a homeowner that will help make living in your home this winter a little more tolerable no matter how cold it gets outside.  It’s one thing to wake up in the middle of the night cold, but it’s another to wake up cold and see a mouse scurry across your floor.  Below you will find tips that will help keep your home pest free and also might even save you money in the long run.

1.  Seal Up Entry Points.  This will not only make it tougher for pests to invade your home, but it will also prevent drafts and save you money on your gas and electric bills.  Repair any damaged screens or windows and make sure they are all properly caulked on the outside and the inside.  Apply weather stripping and/or door sweeps around all doors.  Use caulk to seal up any other holes or cracks you may have on the outside of your home.  Also, be sure to keep the garage door closed as much as possible.

2.  Clean Out Gutters.  Doing this will eliminate insects from nesting in your gutters and eventually invading your home.  It will also prevent a potential roof leak if water gets backed up on your roof from the gutters being clogged.

3.  Clean Up Yard & Relocate Firewood.  Leaves and brush should be picked up and properly disposed of (check with your local municipality for a brush/leaf pickup schedule).   Don’t forget to clean out your window wells also.  Ideally you should have window well covers installed.  Firewood and brush piles should be stored at least 2 ft away from your home.  In addition, try to avoid bringing firewood indoors until you are ready to burn it since many pests like to hang out in the wood piles.

4.  Eliminate Moisture.  Make sure you inspect your basement, crawlspace, bathrooms, kitchen, attic, and roof to be sure you do not have any water leaks or moisture content.  Not only will accumulation of water or moisture cause damage to your property it can also attract pests into your home.  To help eliminate dampness in a basement or crawlspace you can set up dehumidifiers to alleviate some of the moisture.  For any major leaks that you find, we recommend using a licensed contractor to make the necessary repairs.

5.  Remove Clutter.  Pests love cluttered conditions since there are so many places for them to hide.  Since wintertime can leave you stranded inside with nothing to do, why not go through your storage in your basement and garage and get rid of what you no longer need.  Doing this will help you be more organized and also eliminate potential hiding places for pests.

Hopefully you will find these tips useful and will enjoy a pest free winter.  If you do end up with any unwanted visitors inside your home be sure to give us a call and we will get a technician out to take care of the problem.  Stay warm and enjoy your winter!

Mouse Control in Chicago and Surrounding Areas

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Ready or not, the Fall season is now upon us! This is the time of year we look forward to planning the upcoming holiday season and spending time with our families. Unfortunately this is also the time of year we will sometimes get the unwelcome house guests as well-the house mouse! Chem-Wise provides mouse control and rat control in Berwyn, IL and the surrounding Chicagoland area.

The house mouse is generally small and slender from 2-3 1/2″ long, weighing 5/8 to 1 ounce. Mice are excellent climbers and can be found anywhere from cultivated fields to basements to upper stories in a skyscraper.

There are a few simple things that you can do to make these critters feel unwanted, and prevent them from being attracted to your home.

1. Keep leaf debris away from the perimeter of your home.

2. Keep you firewood stacked as far from the home as possible.

3. Keep your grass seed, bird seed and pet food in sealed containers so that the mice do not have a food supply.

4. Strategically place the bird feeders as far from the house as possible.

5. Make sure all potential entry points are sealed. The most common areas are where the utilities such as the A/C condenser line, gas line, water spigots and electrical lines enter the house.

6. Reduce the overall clutter in the garage to reduce the potential harborage sites.

Following the simple “cultural practices” noted above you will greatly reduce the changes of having mice overwinter in your home this cold season.

If you are having problems with mice contact your local Chem-Wise office today!


Boxelder Bug Control in Chicago, IL

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Battling Boxelder Bugs!

Boxelder bugs are one of the most common and widely distributed household pests in the Chicagoland area. These distinct red and black bugs are a nuisance to homeowners because they often gather in large numbers on the sides of buildings and on nearby ornamental plants and trees.

They enter homes through:

  • open doors
  • open windows
  • through cracks around sills
  • bellow siding

BIOLOGY: The favorite host for this insect is the Boxelder tree (Acer negundo) especially the female tree, which bears the seed pods. Boxelder bugs may also feed on trees in the maple family. Since these insects can migrate great distances, it is not practical to remove the trees in order to reduce their population for Boxelder bug control.

During spring Boxelder bugs can be seen emerging from hibernation sites. Females begin to lay eggs during April and May, depositing them around host trees. The development from egg to adult takes about 60 days.

In the fall, there is an increase in the number of insects on homes and structures as the Boxelder bugs look for suitable sites to overwinter. This is the ideal time to perform Boxelder bug control with exterior barrier treatments. By treating homes in late September and October the Boxelder bugs are prevented from overwintering.

Boxelder bugs overwinter in such places as:

  • basements
  • wall voids
  • crawl spaces

Although it is difficult to achieve 100% elimination of this pest, Boxelder bug control applications by Chem-Wise during October will drastically reduce the population and decrease sightings throughout the year. Contact your local office for more information or click here.

Wasp Control in Naperville, IL

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How Safe is Your Home from Wasps? Get Pest Control in Naperville, IL

Pesky wasps always set up their homes in the most inconvenient of places. The experts say that they rarely attack—only when they feel threatened. They also say that they are beneficial insects that act as a sort of natural pest control for your garden.

Most of the time, the cons outweigh the pros. When they do feel threatened, they attack with vengeance. When wasps tuck themselves into the corner of your eaves, move into your old car, or even get under your siding, it is only a matter of time before someone feels threatened and any benefit of keeping them around ends.

Wasp nests can get as big as a beach ball and contain up to 2,000 adults. Luckily in Naperville, Aurora, and St. Charles, IL, pest control is tempered by the winter. In warmer areas, wasps just keep building and multiplying.

Protect your home from wasp invasion.

  • Call us to get rid of nests.

We have the right equipment to protect us and you from stings when we begin removal. We start by killing all the wasps then we remove the nest itself.


  • Use safe products and techniques.

Many insecticides are hazardous. It’s best to leave it to the pros. Minimizing your exposure to both insecticides and angry wasps is our job.


  • Enjoy long-term wasp control.

Many treatment products and techniques simply don’t get the job done. Did you know that if even one wasp escapes treatment, it won’t be long before a new nest gets started? We guarantee that you’ll be wasp-free for 90 days.


  • Get into our maintenance program for a wasp-free life.

You can get even better results if you treat for wasps regularly. Our Tri-Annual barrier treatments bring us to your home three times a year. We guarantee that you’ll be wasp-free for a year.

Call us at 630.236.1600 for a free pest control evaluation in Aurora, IL or anywhere in the greater Chicagoland area.

Bed Bug Control in Chicago, IL

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Once a thing of the past, bed bug control has now become a common topic among residents of Naperville, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Aurora, Rolling Meadows, and the entire Chicagoland area.

Recently bed bugs have been found in:

  • Homes
  • Hotels
  • Apartment buildings
  • College dorm rooms
  • and more

Although it is not really possible to avoid contact with bed bugs there are ways to try to avoid infestation. If you purchase items from a second hand store make sure you thoroughly inspect them before bringing it into your vehicle or home. When traveling, be vigilant and keep an eye out for indication of bed bugs. Always inspect your hotel room before bringing your belongings into the room, double check the bed skirt and underneath the box spring for any residue. Do not be afraid to ask for a room change if you suspect a bed bug infestation. You’ll be glad you did.

Signs of a bed bug infestation:

  • Mosquito-like bites
  • Possible blood spots on your linens/sheets where you sleep
  • Small blood spots or molted skin on seams if the mattress or box spring
  • Fecal marks in the cracks and crevices of the head board or on a mattress and box spring

The difference between a mosquito bite and a bed bug bite is that a bed bug bite will typically appear in a line where your bare skin contacts the mattress.

If you do feel that you may have a bed bug infestation, Chem-Wise offers bed bug control services and inspections at a discounted rate to our Tri-Annual customers. Contact your local office for more information or click here.