3 Pest Problems That Can Be Caused by Flooding

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

With natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding making headline news recently, you may be wondering what you can do to protect your home if your area is similarly affected.

One serious aftereffect of flooding that’s not often discussed is the pest problems that often occur in homes and other buildings. A flood can be damaging enough to your home. You don’t need the additional inconvenience and damage brought on by a pest infestation as well.

7 Home Care and Lifestyle Habits That Will Help Deter Pests

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

There are so many household pests to consider, from mice to termites or earwigs. Sometimes, it might seem like you’re fighting a losing battle. You take steps to eradicate one type of pest, but then another one appears.

While each pest may be attracted to slightly different conditions, that does not necessarily mean you have to employ separate preventative measures for each pest. Often, it’s easier to focus on pest prevention as a whole.

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

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

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

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

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.

Moving In? It’s the Perfect Time to Be Proactive About Pest Control

Written by BooAdmin on . Posted in Blog

It’s often easier to keep insects out of your home than to get rid of them once they’ve decided to move in. So if you’re moving into a new house, proactive pest control measures definitely deserve a spot on your to-do list. Follow these steps while moving into and settling into your new home, and you’ll have fewer issues with insects going forward.

Place Wood Piles Far Away From the Home

If your new home has a wood-burning stove or even just a fire pit in the yard, you need to be very careful when choosing a location for firewood storage. Firewood is very appealing to termites since it is often moist and laden with moss and leaves. If termites settle into your wood pile and it’s close to your home, it won’t take long for the termites to start invading your home’s wooden structures, too.

Stack your firewood as far from your home as possible. Try to rotate through it, using the oldest wood first, to avoid letting it get too rotten and attractive to pests. Only bring wood inside as you need it rather than storing a large amount inside your home.

Fill Any Cracks

All sorts of insects, from ants to earwigs, can crawl in through cracks in the walls. If you ever do end up with an infestation, it will be much harder to treat if your walls have cracks where the bugs can hide. Before you paint your new home, take the time to fill any cracks in the walls.

Filling cracks in standard drywall is quite easy. Cover the crack with mesh joint tape, and then apply a layer of joint compound. Allow it to dry, and then apply a second layer. A day or two later, sand down the joint compound. You’re now ready to apply primer, followed by your paint.

Dry Out the Basement

If the basement is at all moist, it’s best to dry it out now before you start moving items into the home. If you put items into a moist basement, the items themselves will absorb moisture and become more appealing to an array of insects, from centipedes to silverfish to earwigs.

For small moisture problems, opening a few boxes of desiccant may be sufficient. If you’re noticing ongoing humidity, consider setting up a portable dehumidifier. These devices typically only cost a few hundred dollars. They’ll pull moisture out of the air as needed, depositing it in a tank or bucket that you can empty every few days.

Devise an Impenetrable Food Storage System

When the time comes to organize your new kitchen, pay close attention to food storage. A cardboard box or plastic bag is no match for a hungry cockroach. It’s best to store all of your food in thick, well-sealed plastic or glass containers. Consider investing in a matching set of storage containers for items like flour, cereal, and snacks.

Also, wipe down all of your cupboards and shelves before you start putting your kitchen items into place. If the old owners did not clean thoroughly, there may be some crumbs left behind that could attract ants, roaches, and other pests.

Buy Used Furniture With Caution

Furnishing a new home can be expensive, and there’s nothing wrong with purchasing used furniture from friends, yard sales, or thrift stores. But if bed bugs happen to hitch a ride on this furniture, you may end up spending more on pest control than you would have on a new couch. Be proactive and check every piece of used furniture for bed bugs and other pests before bringing it inside.

To check for bed bugs, place the piece of furniture on a white sheet. Run gloved fingers along any creases and crevices in the furniture. Keep your eye on the sheet—the white color should make it easy to see any bugs that fall out. Also, use a flashlight to check corners and seams not only for bugs, but also for tiny red or black stains. These may be bed bug feces, and if they are present, you should say “no, thank you” to the furniture.

Treat Your Pets for Fleas

Getting a flea infestation under control can be tough when the home and the pets are laden with fleas. Whether or not you suspect your dog or cat actually has fleas, it’s a good idea to give them a flea treatment before you move into your new home. This way, you’re “starting fresh” and fighting against any pests your pet may have picked up in a kennel or when staying with a friend during your move.

Spot-on treatments, which you place at the base of your pet’s neck, are often the most effective. Your vet should be able to recommend one that will meet your pet’s needs safely.

If you do notice signs of an insect infestation in your new home, consider contacting an exterminator before you start moving in. It will be easier for the experts to rid the home of insects before your furniture and other items are in place.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.