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!

10 Cool Facts About Termites

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

You don’t want termites in your house-they can destroy the structure of your home quickly. However, when you’re not dealing with them, termites are actually really interesting.

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with termites, but you can learn more about them by reading this blog.
Read these 10 fascinating facts about termites.

1. Termites Don’t Sleep

Termites are busy bugs. With all the tunneling, burrowing, and nest building to do, termites work 24/7.
Though it seems impossible, they survive without rest for one or two years, which is their average life span.

2. Termites Are Ancient

Though individual termites don’t live long, as a species, they’ve been around for ages. Termites are closely related to cockroaches. Both insects descended from a common ancestor that lived about 300 million years ago, before dinosaurs walked the earth. Termites as a species emerged during the Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago.

3. Termites Are Ecologically Important

When they aren’t eating through people’s homes, termites are actually useful bugs. They help decompose plants by eating tough fibers like wood, which breaks the plant
matter down and returns it to the soil, making the dirt more fertile for new growth. Termites also aerate the ground they tunnel through, and the added oxygen encourages new growth.

4. Most Termites Are Blind

Except for the kings and queens of the colony, most termites don’t have functional eyes. They don’t need to-they spend their entire lives underground.

5. Termites Communicate With Scents and Vibrations

A termite colony has its own complex social order, and the members work together to ensure the colony’s survival. To signal where food is, termites leave a scent trail for other termites to follow. When something dangerous is approaching the colony, termites that spot it will hit their heads on the walls of the colonythe vibrations will warn other termites to be on guard or to come help fight.

6. Termite Colonies Are Founded by a King and Queen

Most termites are born blind and wingless. However, some termites have functioning eyes and wings. They are the only termites that reach sexual maturity, and when it’s time for them to mate, they swarm outside their colonies to find another termite to pair off with.

A mated male and female termite pair will then look for a place to find a new colony. When they find a good spot, they shed their wings and begin reproducing. The king will help look after the eggs the queen lays, at least until some of their children have grown up enough to help out around the colony.

7. Queens Lay Millions of Eggs

Queens may lay as many as 30,000 eggs in just one day, and queens can live for possibly more than 10 years, if the conditions are right. In 10 years, at 30,000 eggs a day, one termite queen will lay 109,500,000 eggs.

The termite queen does nothing else after she has mated and begun the colony. She will stay in her chamber for the rest of her life, be fed and groomed by her mate and her children, and lay eggs to keep the colony going.

8. Some People Eat Queen Termites

Queen termites are considerably bigger than other termites. In Singapore, they’re considered a delicacythey can be served in many ways, including live or preserved in rice wine.

9. Worker Termites Take Care of Business

Inside the colony, each termite has a job to do. Some termites tend the queen, some look after the termite eggs and larvae, many go look for food, and many work to build the colony’s nest.

Those that perform these essential functions are called worker termites. They can be either male or female, unlike the members of beehives, where all the workers are female. They form the majority of the colony’s members. If a colony forms in your home, these worker termites are the ones that cause the damage to the wood in your house’s structure.

10. Soldier Termites Protect the Colony

Solider termites look different from workers-they have large mandibles to fight off intruders or predators (the most common problems for termite colonies are ant colonies).

Soldiers guard the colony and go out with the workers on foraging expeditions. Because their heads are large, they sometimes use them to block tunnels that lead to the nest so intruders can’t get in, or they plug holes in the tunnels with their heads until the workers can repair them.

Soldiers aren’t as common as workers. They make up maybe 15 percent of the colony. Like the workers, they can be male or female.


Termites may be interesting, but you don’t want them in your home. They can cause expensive, dangerous damage to your house in short amounts of time by chewing through your wooden structures. If you suspect you have termites, call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management immediately. Contact us and we’ll promptly investigate, assess, and treat the problem so your home stays safe.

Best and Worst Bugs Found in Gardens

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Homegrown tomatoes, crisp zucchini, fresh green beans, tender snap peas-gardeners know well the joy of growing and enjoying their own veggies. Unfortunately, those tasty plants often attract bugs as well. Some insects help gardens to flourish while others sneak samples of your harvest without permission.

Learn the difference between beneficial and baneful garden insects below.

Bugs to Banish

The worst garden pests earn that superlative because they feast upon your plants. They nibble on the leaves or even take large bites out of the vegetables you were planning to eat. Take steps to eliminate any of the following bugs when you find them in your garden.


Aphids make every list of the most annoying garden pests. These creatures are tiny, about one-tenth of an inch in length, and come in many colors-including green and light pink. But don’t be fooled by their small size and their fun colors. Aphids multiply quickly and spread to other plants fast. Plus, they feed on essentially any plant, so you should get rid of them as soon as possible.


The book “The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar” makes this insect variety seem like a cute, fun bug-but don’t forget that they crunch holes in leaves on their path toward becoming beautiful butterflies. In fact, they have to eat a large amount of plant matter so they can store enough energy to survive and transform inside their cocoons. If you find these creatures, move them to a different area so your garden can thrive.

Spider Mites

Think of spider mites as tiny vampires that suck plant juice instead of blood. They are quite small and repopulate in large numbers, so they can do quite a bit of damage before you notice their presence.

Your plants will look dull or wilted if spider mites have started feeding on them. Unless you notice the infestation early, the mites may also have time to make thin webs in between leaves and plant stalks that could harm the plant.


Thrips look like tiny, translucent worms with legs. This pesky pest often causes the most trouble in the hottest months. During warm conditions, fresh eggs can hatch in about two weeks. Thrips are also troublesome because they can hide inside plant parts like flowers, making them hard to eradicate.

When you find any of these insects in your garden, request eco-friendly pest control that protects your plants while targeting all these pesky bugs.

Bugs to Attract

Unlike the pests named above, helpful garden bugs will not eat your plants. Instead, they usually eat harmful bugs or discourage them from taking up residence in your garden. You can welcome the following insects to your rows of thriving vegetables.

Ground Beetles

If you don’t visit your garden much when it’s dark outside, you may not realize ground beetles live there. This species is nocturnal, emerging at night to consume pests like slugs and snails. A ground beetle’s prey also includes cutworms and gypsy moth larvae, which are actually types of caterpillars.


Master gardeners know that delicate adult lacewings reach maturity after devouring many garden-dwelling pests as larvae. Lacewing larvae have earned the nickname “aphid lions” because of their huge appetites for aphids. Each larva can eat more than 200 aphids per week. The larvae also eat scales, thrips, and caterpillars.

Lacewing larvae look almost like miniaturized alligators with pincers instead of jaws. Lacewing eggs typically lie under leaves in small groups.


These spotted red bugs aren’t just pretty to look at. Both the full-grown adults and their less developed larvae feast on garden pests. Their favorite meals include spider mites and aphids. Some devoted green thumbs even order ladybugs in the mail and deliberately release them into their gardens to control other bug populations.


Sorry to those with arachnophobia, but most spiders should be welcome guests in your garden. They spin webs that catch insects, thereby controlling the overall bug population. You really only need to worry about poisonous species, such as the black widow or the brown recluse. Next time you see a web on the fence near your pumpkin patch, think of “Charlotte’s Web” and leave it alone.

Spined Soldier Bug

This insect looks quite a bit like the stink bug, but instead of rounded shoulders, it features more pronounced pointy shoulders. The other distinguishing trait you can see is the shorter, thicker nose on the spined soldier bug.

But the most important difference between these two bugs is that spined soldier bugs eat beetle larvae and some types of caterpillars. Stink bugs, on the other hand, love to eat the same fruits and veggies you enjoy. Plus, they obviously smell when crushed.

Remember that even these beneficial bugs can become pests in large numbers. Bigger populations may wander away from your garden and into your home. If you experience this issue, partner with a meticulous pest control company like Chem-Wise. We can keep these bugs out of areas where they aren’t welcome.

Biological Pest Control: What Works and What Failed Miserably

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

In 1962, Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring,” a book about the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Carson’s book effectively launched the modern environmentalist movement and changed our nation’s policies on the use of pesticides, especially those containing the chemical DDT.

Pest control today is much safer than it was during the ’60s, and Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management takes our responsibility to the earth seriously. However, today’s methods are the results of a lot of experiments, some of which did not turn out.

Biological pest control, or using natural forces like predators and parasites to keep pest populations low, is one of those alternatives with mixed results. Keep reading to learn which methods have proved successful and which haven’t.

Biological Pest Control That Works

Some biological pest control methods are older than human memory, and some are recent developments. You’ll find some from both categories in this list.

1. Cats

Most people today keep cats as pets, and cats have been domesticated since possibly 8,000 BCE. However, cats are often kept as pest control instead of as companions. Domestic cats in the United States kill about 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 to 20.7 billion mammals (primarily rodents like mice and rats) every year.

2. Dogs

Similarly to cats, many dogs were bred to hunt rodents. Most terrier breeds are natural mousers, such as the rat terrier, dachshund, and Yorkshire terrier. Their small size and high energy help them chase and fit into tight places when on the hunt.

We usually treat these dogs as companions now instead of workers. However, they still have natural instincts for chasing small prey. If you have one of these dogs, you’re probably familiar with how much they want to chase balls or dig-or chase any rabbit, mouse, or gopher that they might come across. If you also own another pet like a hamster or a gerbil, you probably have to keep the two pets apart.

3. Ladybugs

Aphids are tiny bugs that consume leaves. If an infestation develops, an entire crop in a garden or a farm can be decimated. Ladybugs offer a natural solution: ladybugs and their larvae feed on aphids, caterpillars, scale insects, and mites. Some farmers have bought live ladybugs to release into their fields to cut down the pest population.

Another way to take advantage of ladybugs and similar insects is to encourage their native populations instead of simply importing them. In England, researchers found bugs that eat aphids living in grass by the sides of the farmers’ fields. To encourage the aphid predators, the farmers planted those grasses in patches throughout the fields, allowing the bugs more places to live and ultimately reducing the aphid population.

4. Cactus Moths

One of the issues with globalization is the rise of invasive species. If a plant or an animal travels to another part of the world where it does not have natural predators, that species’ population can explode. One example of this is the prickly pear cactus in Australia-the plant was introduced as an ornamental shrub for people’s gardens, but it quickly became a weed.

In this case, the solution was to bring the cactus’s parasites over to Australia as well. To stop the spread of the cactus, scientists brought over the cactus moth, among other bugs. These parasites feed on the cactus, weakening and even killing it.

Biological Pest Control That Failed

Some biological pest control measures didn’t work, and some made things even worse. These two methods were failures.

1. Mongooses

The mongoose is native to Asia and preys on small animals like rodents and birds. In 1883, Hawaiian plantation owners introduced mongooses to their fields in an effort to keep the rat population down.

In theory, this should have worked. However, unlike current methods of biological pest control that take into account the entire environment, this attempt was short sighted. Mongooses don’t just eat rats-they eat whatever they can get. As a result, they have aggressively picked off Hawaii’s bird population without doing much damage to the rodents. They are considered an invasive species and a nuisance today.

2. Cane Toads

The cane toad is another classic example of early failed biological pest control. In 1935, the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations brought the toad to Australia to control the local beetle population. The beetles, though native to Australia, threatened sugar cane crops, and the South American cane toad looked like a good solution.

Instead, no evidence exists that shows that the toads have helped with the beetles. But they multiply quickly and are still spreading over Australia. Unfortunately, they can carry diseases that affect native animals around them, making them an enormous threat to Australia’s ecosystem.


Some biological pest control methods work, and some don’t. However, you don’t have to get a cat if you’re worried about mice-call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management. We can help you find a low-impact, quick pest control method right for your family. Contact us to get your pest problem solved.

Fun (and Not So Fun) Facts About Cockroaches

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Anyone familiar with insects or pests can probably recognize a cockroach on sight. They have a well-deserved reputation of being resilient and adaptable, and they’re also probably one of the most disliked insects in the world. Many people associate cockroaches with dirty environments and disease – generally a correct assumption.

If you believe you have a cockroach infestation, take a minute to learn a little more about these insect invaders. Understanding the biology and behavior of these pests will help you understand how to get rid of them and how to prevent them from coming back.


There are more than 4,600 distinct species of cockroaches, and 50 of these species are native to North America. However, very few of these species enter dwellings and pose a threat to humans.

The cockroaches you need to worry about in the Chicagoland area are the German cockroach, Oriental cockroach, and American cockroach. Each will invade your home and cause problems, although they do have some fairly significant differences:

  • German cockroaches are the most common home invader, and they’re likely the pest you’re dealing with if you have a cockroach problem. They’re about half an inch long, making them smaller than most cockroaches, and are light brown in color. They prefer to remain in the dark, and though they have wings, they can’t fly.
  • Oriental cockroaches are also known as “waterbugs” because they prefer moist environments. They can grow to be slightly over an inch long and are black in color. Males have wings that cover most of the abdomen, while females only have tiny wing stubs. Neither sex can fly very well, however.
  • American cockroaches are the largest of the three, growing up to two inches in length. They are light brown in color with long wings and can fly in warm temperatures. They prefer to live in environments above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Each cockroach is attracted to the walls, basements, and foundations of human dwellings because these areas tend to be darker, warmer, and moister than the Illinois outdoors, and cockroaches require these conditions to thrive.

Life Cycle and Biology

Cockroaches earn their reputation as consummate survivors because of several factors. The first cockroaches lived around 300 million years ago, and their modern descendants are still biologically quite similar.

Cockroaches are resilient and hard to kill. Most species can live for a week without water, a month without food, and 45 minutes without air. In fact, if a cockroach loses its head, it will continue to live until dying from dehydration. Furthermore, cockroaches-though mostly unable to fly-can run at speeds of up to three miles an hour, the equivalent of a human running 210 miles per hour.

Each cockroach matures rapidly, with German cockroaches reaching adulthood after 2 months, American cockroaches after 15 months, and Oriental cockroaches after 18 months. Cockroaches lay their eggs in a single capsule, which can contain anywhere from 14 to 48 eggs, depending on the species. Since German cockroaches age quickly and lay the most eggs, their populations expand the most rapidly in a safe environment, which is why they are the most common cockroach pest.

Although cockroaches only live for about a year, a female cockroach can lay up to eight egg cases during her lifetime, which can result in several hundred new members being added to the population in a short time span.


Unlike many harmful pests, cockroaches don’t bite or sting. They pose no physical threat to humans, but their behavior and habits make them dangerous.

Cockroaches are drawn to human food, particularly food that’s kept in dark, quiet, or damp areas. Since cockroaches are social creatures, they usually live in large groups. If you see a few cockroaches in the open, you can safely assume infestation-level numbers are hiding just out of sight.

The reason cockroaches pose a threat to humans is because they are carriers of disease. They move from the sewers to homes and from eating feces to eating the food in your cupboards. They carry the bacteria with them, depositing the germs on the food you eventually consume. This can be especially problematic in areas such as hospitals, where sanitation and germ control are paramount.

Cockroaches are known to transmit bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, which can result in food poisoning and worse gastrointestinal diseases. Certain proteins on cockroaches’ skin and in their feces can cause humans to develop allergic reactions and even asthma. They also have been known to carry parasitic worm eggs in or on their bodies, which they then transfer to food.

If you see cockroaches scuttling around your home, take action immediately. Start by sealing any exposed food in sturdy containers and fixing cracks or holes around your home. Although many people claim natural methods can deter cockroaches, the best way to eradicate your infestation is to call in a pest control professional.

Call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management as soon as you notice cockroaches in your home. We can get rid of the pests and provide some additional information to prevent future infestations.

The Ants Go Marching: 3 Ways You’re Attracting Ants to Your Home

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Have you noticed a few ants wandering around your bathroom floor? Although you probably don’t have an ant infestation yet, these lone ants may lead to a more serious ant problem. Ants that wander places alone are scout ants that are looking for a new home for their colony. Once these few ants find a safe harbor in your home, the entire ant colony will soon follow.

Fortunately, the more you can learn about what is attracting ants to your home, the more you can prevent an ant infestation.

Here are a few things that may be attracting ants to your home.

1. Water

If you have excess moisture around your home, you may be attracting ants. Bathrooms are a common area for ants to nest because of the readily accessible water. For instance, carpenter ants tend to build nests under bathroom sinks or tiles; these areas usually hold more moisture than others. If you notice ants in your bathroom, look near sinks, toilets, and tubs for dripping or leaking water.

In addition, you should thoroughly clean your bathroom to remove any pools of water. Scrub floors and inside drawers with a disinfectant cleaner.

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen sink may also provide ants with needed water. Try to keep the area around the kitchen sink free of standing water.

2. Food

Ants may also choose to nest in your home if you have a lot of accessible food. In fact, homeowners who don’t clean food spills or messes will likely attract ants. If you want to deter ants from your home, clean your kitchen regularly and thoroughly. Make sure to clean areas that have sugar and grease residue. Ants are particularly attracted to the scent of sugar and grease.

Be proactive and diligent by quickly cleaning any spills. Take care of spills after preparing meals, and use soap or vinegar with water to clean away food. If you only clean with water, you may not entirely eliminate the food scents that attract ants. Also, keep your countertops clear of crumbs, as these substances could also attract ants.

A part of cleaning your kitchen should include securely storing food. Ants will likely smell food unless it’s stored in a container or in the refrigerator. In particular, use tightly sealed plastic containers to store sweet foods, such as syrup, sugar, and honey. If you get any sticky residue on the outsides of these containers, wipe away the residue immediately.

You may also want to keep ants out of dry-good containers, like flour, by putting a bay leaf in the containers.

Another common food source for ants is the garbage can. Never leave food in the garbage can for longer than a day. When food sits out for days, it will often emit a strong odor. Instead, try to take the garbage to an outside trash can each day.

Also, keep your outside trash cans away from the entrances of your home. Place any perishable food in a bag before throwing the items in the garbage can.

3. Shelter

One of the best ways to prevent an ant infestation is to stop ants from initially entering your home through small cracks or holes in the walls. After you have eliminated food and water sources for ants, make sure the ants can’t easily enter your home. Seal windows and doors with weather stripping to prevent ants from entering your home.

If ants do enter your home, they often use walls as a safe, secluded shelter for the colony. Seal cracks and holes in walls and floors to prevent ants from entering the walls of your home. Seal these openings with silicone caulk.

Along with preventative measures, you may need professional pest control services to avoid infestations. Some ant species are particularly hard to remove from homes, such as carpenter ants. In extreme cases, contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management to remove an ant infestation from your home.

Asian Lady Beetles: Pest or Pal?

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Ladybugs are loved and adored by many. With their characteristic red shells and black spots, they’re often admired by even the most squeamish of individuals. Children allow these little beetles to crawl across their hands, and gardeners appreciate the pest control ladybugs provide.

But in recent decades, a similar beetle has swept through the states: the Asian lady beetle. While Asian lady beetles can be yellow, orange, or red with black or no spots, they can easily be mistaken for the little ladybugs that are native to our nation.

Asian lady beetles may seem harmless enough for the most part, but many homeowners and business owners struggle with lady beetle infestations in or around their homes and businesses. So, are these bugs a concern? Or are they a friend?

To learn more about the origin of these mysterious beetles and whether or not they’re a pest or pal, read on.

Where Do Asian Lady Beetles Come From?

As suggested by the name, Asian lady beetles are actually from Asia. They are commonly found in Russia, Japan, Korea, and China, and they are usually found feeding on aphids in trees.

However, to control some of the pest population in various crops, such as apples and pecans, these foreign beetles were intentionally released in various states across the US. Some people also suspect that Asian lady beetles were accidentally transported into Louisiana through a Japanese freighter.

These beetles have adapted fairly well to their new environment and successfully find food in various crops and gardens instead of trees. Even now, they’re still spreading across the country.

How Are They Pals?

If they eat garden pests, they can’t be so bad, right? Actually, in the springs and summers, these little beetles are wonderful friends. Their favorite snacks are mites, mealybugs, and aphids, so they can ultimately protect your plants from troublesome insects.

Also, Asian lady beetles aren’t known to carry any diseases, so they’re a family-friendly bug to have in the yard. They may occasionally bite, but the small nip isn’t much of a concern.

If they collect in any areas around your property, rest assured that they don’t damage fabrics, wood, or other materials. They also don’t find human food appetizing, so you don’t have to worry about infested food supplies if they come into the house.

How Are They Pests?

Asian lady beetles wonderfully gobble up the garden pests in the warmer months, but where exactly do they go in the cold months? In their native countries, these beetles often collect under cliffs or similar areas and use each other’s body heat for warmth. However, there isn’t always an abundance of cliffs in the United States, so Asian lady beetles settle for the next best thing: homes and buildings.

The lady beetles collect in cracks around roofs, doors, and windows to find a cozy place to stay for the winter. If there are cracks that go all the way into the home, many of these beetles will gather indoors, and they sometimes gather in living areas and attics.

While Asian lady beetles don’t damage wood or other building materials, many people find the small swarm of Asian lady beetles a nuisance. Also, if Asian lady beetles feel threatened, they excrete a substance from their legs in a process called reflex bleeding. This substance can leave behind yellow stains and the strong scent of dead leaves.

Furthermore, some people can have allergic reactions to the protective substance that oozes from the lady beetles’ legs. Some people can have a reaction to the beetles themselves. Lady beetles and their reflex bleeding secretions can cause asthma issues, sinus and skin irritation, and allergic conjunctivitis. So, even if you don’t have a problem with a collection of lady beetles in your attic, your body may disagree.

How Can You Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Asian Lady Beetles?

To avoid any allergic reactions or unpleasant odors, keep the lady beetles out of your building for the winter. To keep them out, use caulk to seal up any cracks in your home or building. Check for cracks by fascia boards, soffits, utility pipes, wires, doors, and windows. If you have large holes or cracks, use urethane foam or cement to fill them.

Also, be sure to replace any damaged screens on windows or doors so beetles can’t sneak through the openings. If you have any attic vents, be sure you have functional screens over each one. Use foam weather stripping to also enforce areas under sliding glass.

If you have any other questions about how to prevent Asian lady beetles from marching into your home, call a local pest control company, such as Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management. Pest control professionals can offer effective solutions to keep your home pest free all year long.

If you should ever have an Asian lady beetle infestation, be sure to call the location closest to you, to identify the beetle and remove it from your home.

Nuisance vs. Nightmare: Which Bugs Will Actually Hurt You?

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

When you see insects or arachnids scurrying around your home, you may not care whether or not they actually pose a threat to your family and pets. You probably just want them out. However, understanding what these pests are and how they affect you can help you understand the severity of the infestation and what pest control steps to take.

Some bugs spread venom or disease when they bite you, while others eat harmful bugs. Some chew your clothes and infest your food, while others keep to themselves. Before you call pest control or try to deal with the bugs yourself, take some time to figure out exactly what you’re dealing with. Some bugs you can kill easily, some you might want to leave alone, and some you should entrust to the professionals.

Nightmare: Mosquitoes

It’s safe to say that no one likes mosquitoes. These tiny flying insects live all over the world, and the females rely on animal blood to nourish their eggs. If mosquitoes are attracted to your specific scent, you can find yourself covered in itchy bites. The itchiness is caused by a substance in the saliva that prevents your blood from clotting.

If mosquitoes only caused itchy red rashes, they might be considered merely annoying, not dangerous. However, mosquitoes act as carriers for a variety of serious illnesses, including malaria, West Nile virus, and Zika. Although treatments for these diseases exist, they can still severely harm the infected person and have lasting consequences.

Mosquitoes are easy to kill one at a time, but standing water on your property can lead to a large infestation, as that’s where mothers lay their eggs in the summer. Call pest control if you’re worried about a large population.

Nuisance: Crane Flies

Because crane flies look similar to mosquitoes, many people think the two pose the same threats. Crane flies are larger, with long gangly legs, and actually feed on mosquitoes. Rather than spreading disease, crane flies prevent further spread by eating the carriers.

Crane flies are handy to have around to keep the mosquito population under control, but having giant bugs flying around your home can be irritating. They won’t hurt you, but you might want to encourage them to stay outside.

Nightmare: Brown Recluse

The good news is that brown recluse spiders aren’t aggressive. They won’t actively try to attack you. The bad news is that if you go in for the kill, they will likely bite in self-defense. While their venom probably won’t kill you, it can cause your flesh to rot if left untreated.

Brown recluse spiders are among the most dangerous pests in Illinois because they are common in homes. They love warm, dark spaces, such as your closet, basement, or attic. If you see a brown recluse, it’s better to call pest control right away, rather than try to deal with the spider on your own.

Nuisance: Wolf Spider

At first glance, the wolf spider would appear to be much more of a threat than the brown recluse. They’re almost twice the size of brown recluse spiders and have prominent eyes and “feelers,” or extra appendages by the front of their head. They tend to hunt their prey rather than waiting in webs, making it more likely that you will run across one out in the open.

Despite their intimidating appearance, wolf spiders aren’t as dangerous as brown recluses or black widows. They don’t bite often, and when they do, the venom isn’t strong enough to have lasting consequences (although it’s smart to still seek treatment in case you’re allergic.) You can approach and deal with wolf spiders individually, as they aren’t as drawn to human dwellings as brown recluses.

Nightmare: Assassin Bug

This class of bugs gets their name from the way they attack and stab their prey using their sharp nose. Although they help out in the garden by killing and eating other harmful pests, you don’t want their assassination skills used against you.

Humans who come in contact with assassin bugs receive extremely painful bites. While some species, like the wheel bug, won’t attack unless provoked, the species known as the “kissing bug” actively seeks out human prey. They act as parasites, biting humans around the mouth and drinking blood.

You can identify kissing bugs from their flat, black body, flanked on either side by red spots. They also have long, cone-shaped noses. Wheel bugs are brown, with a long proboscis on their face, and long, angular legs. Their young are black, with a bright red abdomen that curves upward. If you see either species, don’t try to get too close. Call pest control immediately.

Nuisance: Boxelder Bug

Like the assassin bug, this insect is a “true bug.” It has a flat black back, interspersed with red lines, so at first glance it can be mistaken for the kissing bug. However, they don’t pose any real threat to your garden, your home, or your family. They don’t bite, damage plants, or even come inside very often.

Like most “nuisance” bugs, however, seeing the small black insects crawling around your home can be irritating. If you’ve started seeing boxelder bugs with increased frequency, you may have an infestation.

For help dealing with any pests, dangerous or otherwise, contact Chem-Wise. We can help you identify the pest and discuss how to handle it in a way that will be safe for you and your family.