Keeping a Vigilant Eye Against Emerging Yellowjackets in the Spring

We’re officially in the middle of April, which means that yellow jacket season is just around the corner. For many, the sight of a yellowjacket causes feelings of fear, dread, and annoyance. With their painful stings and aggressive temperament, it’s no wonder that most are not fond of the insect. However, for the select few that are allergic to bee stings, the sight of yellowjackets is a potentially dangerous and lethal occurrence that is only exacerbated by how prolific the species is during the summer. With it still being early, now is the time to be vigilant of any signs of forming yellowjacket nests. By knowing their behaviors and nesting tendencies, you can put a stop to any new nests before they become big enough to necessitate pest control.

The term yellowjacket actually refers to a number of different species of wasps. The ground-nesting western yellowjacket is included in this grouping and is the most commonly encountered species. The western yellowjacket accounts for the overwhelming majority of stinging incidents recorded, and are the most noxious species. Yellowjackets are sometimes mistaken for “bees” due to similar size and appearance. However, yellow jackets are a type of wasp. Unlike bees, yellowjackets do not have furry bodies or carry pollen. They are identifiable by their distinctive markings, thin “waists,” and their side-to-side flight pattern.

Yellowjackets begin making their nests in spring when a single queen who overwinters becomes active due to the warming weather. Once she emerges in late winter/earl spring, she will start her mission of feeding and starting a new nest. The nest grows considerably between spring and summer, and workers will seek out other insects to feed the increasing number of larvae. By late summer, the colony will have grown quite large. Yellowjacket colonies usually only live out for one summer. After, the new queens abandon the nest to start new colonies, and the remaining yellowjackets die at the end of the summer. They do not reuse the same nest next year.

Yellowjackets build both paper and ground nests. Aerial-nesting yellowjackets will usually build their paper nests attached to the eaves of a building or hanging off of the limb of a tree. However, yellowjackets will also build their nests anywhere that is generally undisturbed such as between walls and within ceilings. Yellowjackets build their paper nests out of paper they make from wood bits mixed with saliva. Fully built, it resembles multiple tiers of vertical cells with a single entrance hole usually at the bottom of the nest. Ground-nesting yellowjackets usually utilize rodent burrows for their nests. If the nest grows too big for the hole, yellowjackets will increase the size by burrowing.

Yellowjackets are incredibly aggressive and will vehemently defend their nests. Though all wasps will defend their nests, yellowjackets do so with the most fervor. When disturbed, they will bite and sting simultaneously and repeatedly. Because wasp stingers do not have barbs, yellowjackets can continue to sting the subject a considerable number of times. This can be exacerbated by the sheer number of yellowjackets that can inhabit a single nest, with populations reaching between 1,500 and 15,000, depending on species. Their defensive behavior only gets more rambunctious throughout the continuation of summer as the colony populations become larger and food becomes scarcer. Yellowjackets can be killed with general pesticides, but due to their aggressive nature and sheer numbers, calling pest control might be necessary for removing a particularly large nest, especially if it has made its way into your home.

So, if you happen to see a yellowjacket starting to build her nest within the next few weeks, address it right away. Killing the nest now with pesticides will eliminate the need for pest control to remove a nasty, huge nest once summer arrives. Staying vigilant will help keep yellowjackets at bay and protect you from getting stung. However, if you do find yourself needing pest control to remove a wasp nest later in the season, then call Antworks. We not only provide our services in Vancouver, but also provide pest control in Tacoma, WA.

Differentiating Between Wild and Domesticated Rats

One of the many services provided here at Antworks is rodent control. Small and tenacious, wild rats can wreak havoc on your home, destroying your house interior and leaving droppings. To those that are unfamiliar with rats, there may seem to be little difference between the wild rats we provide rodent control services for, and the domestic (fancy) rats that people buy in pet stores. The inability to distinguish between the two types can sometimes lead to ambivalent attitudes toward the animal and how to approach a rodent infestation. Those who are rat enthusiasts might feel a sense of fondness toward a wild rat they find in the home and start perceiving it as a “pet.” However, domestic rats greatly vary from their wild counterparts much in the same way that domestic dogs differ from wild dogs you would find in the savannahs. Though the two may appear the same due to visual similarities, there are distinct behavioral differences between a wild rat and fancy rat that vastly differentiate the two. Understanding how the two differ not only helps to delineate wild rats from fancy rats, but also clarifies why a wild rat cannot be perceived or dealt with like a domesticated rat and necessitates rodent control services.

Social Nature
Unlike fancy rats, wild rats are not naturally sociable with humans. Wild rats may take scraps that are offered or dropped, but any attempts by a human to establish contact will be perceived as a threat and the rat will flee. Fancy rats are more docile and receptive to human affection. Though fancy rats can become feralized if left out in the wild for a long time, they are more likely to come toward you versus immediate scampering off.

Coloring
In general, a wild rat will either be a varied shade of brown with a lighter brown underbelly, or solid black with a white underbelly. Fancy rats come in a much broader variety of colors: white, cinnamon, peach, tan, brown, black, and greys. Just like you would see far more colors represented in domestic cats than you would in wild cats, fancy rats are far more colorful than their wild counterparts.

Fur
A wild rat will puff up its fur in your presence, seeing you as a threat. On the other hand, you will rarely see a fancy rat with its fur standing on end. The only exceptions to this are if the fancy rat happens to have wavy fur, is scared, or is cold.

Size & Shape
Wild rats are streamlined for survival, which means they tend to look more sleek and lean. Because wild rats also have a much shorter life span, they rarely reach their maximum size of about twelve inches. Because of this fact, wild rats generally appear to be smaller than fancy rats. On the other hand, fancy rats tend to be somewhat on the pudgy side, and you will often see rolls and contours. It is also more common to see fancy rats reach the maximum twelve inches in length.

Posture and Stance
Wild rats are always on the move. Unless the wild rat is ill, you will likely see them standing on all fours, back partially arched, as if to leap forward. Fancy rats, however, rarely stand on all fours. Even when nervous, fancy rats are more likely to be seen sniffing around rather than prepping to pounce.

So though they may appear similar, major differences in behavior and temperament vastly differentiate wild rats from fancy rats. Because they are more fearful and much less friendly, a wild rat cannot be treated the same way you would a fancy rat. Just as fancy rats are not adapted to live in the wild, wild rats are not adaptive to becoming pets. Wild rats will become extremely stressed when forced into confined spaces and often experience lower lifespans as a result. Even wild rats that are raised from birth by humans lack the domesticated qualities that would make them good pets. So if you see a wild rat in your home, don’t hesitate to call rodent control. Though they may look like the cute fancy rats you see in stores, a wild rat infestation cannot be treated as harmless and left to idle. If you have a rat infestation in your home, call Antworks to provide rodent control in Vancouver, WA.

How to Spot a Meal Moth

When we hear about the need for pest control, we generally tend to think of pests such as cockroaches, termites, ants, and rodents. It is less often that we hear about home infestations caused by the infamous meal moths. However, despite being slightly lesser-known than the cockroach, meal moths can wreak havoc on your pantry or kitchen. Known for feeding, and laying their eggs in food products like grains and flour, meal moths will infest your food and become a general nuisance to your household. To better know whether you are dealing with a meal moth infestation in your home, let’s cover how to spot a meal moth and where they tend to spawn in your home.

The meal moth, or Pyralis farinalis, is a type of moth of the Pyralidae family. They are a common pest found in pantries or kitchens and feed on grains, cereal, cornmeal, and flour. Like most moths, the meal moth is mostly nocturnal and attracted to light. Adult meal moths are easily recognizable due to the coloring of their wings, which are speckled grey with a rust-brown band toward the ends. Their upper wings are considered colorful by moth standards, and the meal moth generally holds them close to the body while the moth is resting. The adult meal moth has a lifespan of around 6 days, of which it spends its adult life entirely dedicated to the function of reproduction. Within that time, the female meal moth will lay between 300-500 microscopic eggs that will hatch into larvae that are off-white in color and have a brown head.

Meal moths infest your home in one of two ways. They are either brought in with packed food items that have already been infested with eggs or larvae, or from food bought from an infested store or supermarket. Though product manufacturers take extensive efforts to prevent infestation and prevent the delivery of tainted food, meal moths can be hard to contain. Therefore, despite best efforts, infested product can occasionally slip by and make its way to the grocery aisle.

Once in your home, the meal moth will overrun your pantry. Larvae will chew through packaging to feed on other foods. They will also hide among grains they are feeding on or within various cracks they find. Though preferring grains, larva will also feed on dried fruit, seeds, and even cork. You may also find webs in your food from larvae creating silken cocoons as they transition into pupas. Larvae can even make their way to areas several meters from infested food in the pantry as they crawl around trying to find places where the can make their cocoons. Once an adult, the meal moth will lay its eggs in grains, flour, and cereal to ensure the survival of its offspring.

Once you determine that you have a meal moth infestation, there are a few options you can take to rid yourself of the pests. You can apply chemical insecticides to all cracks and crevices found within your shelves and cupboards to prevent future infestation. Or, if you are concerned whether you will be effective at removing the infestation on your own, you can contact pest control to handle the infestation. Just know that pest control or pesticides alone will not be enough to completely eliminate the infestation, and additional effort will need to be made to dispose of all contaminated foods. However, pest control can effectively remove a meal moth infestation from your pantry and prevent reinfestation in your home. If you are finding meal moths in your home, call pest control in Vancouver to get rid of these annoying pests.

Pet Risks Posed by Fleas: How Pest Removal Services Can Protect Your Pet’s Health

Fleas are a nuisance. Not only do they irritate your pets, but they can irritate you as well with their bites and dander. However, a flea infestation is more than just an irritant, but poses a serious health risk to your pets. Fleas transmit diseases as well as other parasites that can harm the overall wellness of your pet and possibly be fatal. Here are some pet diseases that can be caused or transmitted through fleas.

1. Anemia
Fleas can cause anemia or a significant amount of blood loss in pets over time, since fleas can consume 15 times their own weight in blood. This can be especially problematic for young puppies, as an adequate number of red blood cells is crucial, and can be life-threatening if compromised.

2. Flea Allergy Dermatitis
A flea infestation can cause an allergic reaction in your pets. Your dog or cat can experience intense itching and discomfort, generalized hair loss, reddened skin, hot spots, and scabs. Flea allergy dermatitis often leads to skin infections as well.

3. Plague
This is the same disease that riddled Europe during the Middle Ages. Though it is no longer common for humans to catch the plague, pets can still be infected. If a flea had previously bitten an infected animal then it can easily infect your dog or cat. Pets that catch the plague will have symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and can possibly die suddenly.

4. FPV (Feline panleukopenia virus)
FPV is a viral infection that infects cats, and can be spread through contact with an infected animal’s bodily fluids as well as by fleas. FPV attacks the lining of the intestines, causing ulcers, bloody diarrhea, malnutrition, anemia, and often death. FVP is highly infectious and has a high mortality rate amongst cats.

5. Cat Scratch Disease
Cat Scratch Disease does not negatively affect cats, but can put their owners at risk. Fleas pass CSD from one cat to another, and close to 40% of cats will carry the disease at some point in their lives. CSD passes to humans when infected flea feces is transferred from the pet to their owner through a bite or scratch, and can cause fever, headaches, fatigue, and general illness.

6. Tapeworms
Fleas can infect your pet with tapeworms if your dog or cat eats a flea that is carrying tapeworm eggs inside its body. Once inside your pet, the tapeworm hatches and attaches itself to your pet’s intestines. This can cause excessive weight loss, vomiting, and irritation.

If your pet is infested with fleas, then you should take the following precautions to rid your pet and your home of the infestation.

Part 1: Treat Your Pet

-Bathe your pet using a gentle shampoo or a commercial flea dip. After the bath, comb your pet with a flea comb.
-Treat your pet with oral and topical medication such as Frontline and Advantage.
-Wash your pet’s bedding as well as any cloth items that have been on the floor. Do this all at the same time, removing everything at once and keeping clean items wrapped in bags for 12 hours after you’ve treated your house.

Part 2: Treat Yourself and Your Home

-Clean your floors thoroughly. Vacuum all carpets, rugs, and upholstery and mop all smooth floors with a cleaning agent.
-Purchase flea control spray or fogger. Make sure to purchase product that also kills flea eggs, and if using a fogger, purchase enough to bomb the entire square footage of your home. Spray your carpets, rugs, furniture, and along walls. Don’t forget corners, edges, and underneath furniture and cushions. If you are unsure of the amount needed, or want to ensure treatment is done correctly, hire professional pest removal services.
-Spray your house again two weeks after the first treatment to kill any new fleas that might have emerged from their cocoons.

After the initial treatment of your home, you can find many home remedies on the internet, such as sprinkling salt on your carpets, which claim to protect your home from reinfestation. However, most of these home remedies require a certain amount of time and effort while only producing minimal and unreliable results. The best option for making sure that your house is truly rid of fleas and protected from reinfestation is to employ pest removal services. A professional in the business knows exactly how to address a flea infestation and how to overcome the aggravating tenacity of fleas and their tendency to reinfest. By hiring pest removal services, you save yourself time and effort by allowing professionals to handle the job. Furthermore, you have the peace of mind that you are taking all the necessary steps to ensure that fleas don’t potentially endanger the health of your pet. So if you’re seeing fleas on your pet, get out the flea shampoo, and contact your nearest Vancouver pest removal services to get the job done.