Cascade, Your Spider and Other Insect Control Experts
• Occasional Insect Pests– Carpet Beetles, Clothes Moths, Cluster Flies
• Drug Store Beetles, Indian Meal Moths, Silverfish
• Wasps & Bees
• Arthropods other than insects or spiders
Occasional Insect Pests
“Occasional Pests” is a category for arthropods-including certain insects, that seem to stumble into our homes and become nuisances, even periodically causing damage to our belongings.
Carpet Beetles originally gained their name by infesting wool carpets such that all the tufts would simply fall out, leaving the carpets backing-hence “thread-bare.” Carpet Beetles can be found in most Northwest homes and often people have no idea what is leaving small holes in their sweaters or suits. Carpet Beetles can thrive off shed pet hair, allowing them to multiply until they get into our woolens. Carpet Beetles are more adaptable than all that, however, and they are also formidable pests of stored foods such as spices and some grains. Since they spread throughout a home an extensive treatment is required. Contact Cascade for more information or to schedule a treatment. Carpet Beetle Prep Sheet (pdf)
Clothes Moths are infamous for infesting woolens and silk, however, they only occur in the Northwest when brought in on items, especially from travels. Otherwise, in most cases, when damage to woolens or silk is found it is due to Carpet Beetles. Contact Cascade for more information or to schedule a treatment. Clothing Moth Prep Sheet (pdf)
Spiders in General
Spiders are famous for their ominous appearance, ability to bite-often with venom, their webs and their predacious nature. Having eight legs places them in the group known as “arachnids.” Spiders vary widely in size, “personality,” and presence or type of webbing they produce. Fortunately, Black Widow and Brown Recluse spiders are not native to Western Washington and are only rarely transported here. Unfortunately, we do have House Spiders (also known as the Hobo Spider) which produce a skin ulcer and various other symptoms. Of course, spider webs cause a great deal of aesthetic concern, covering areas of home exteriors, widow views, and indoor areas of walls and ceilings.
House Spider (Hobo Spider)
The house spider or hobo spider is rather large, about 2/3rds of a inch in length, and responsible for our worse spider bite injuries in Western Washington. These spiders can be found in many locations in and around a home, they travel long distances and are swift runners. Their bite is not too painful, but the symptoms that follow can be severe. Within a half-hour a red swelling occurs that can be 2 to 6 inches across. Within 1 to 2 days this area blisters and breaks, creating an open ulcer which can require surgery. Healing of the ulcer can take months. Systemic illness, when it occurs, can include headache, nausea, weakness, and vision impairment.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown Recluse Spiders are not normally found in the Northwest. According to arachnicologist, Rick Vetter, there have only been 3 documented cases of Brown Recluse Spiders in Washington State.
Wasps & Bees
Wasps and bees are loosely related to ants, only they continually use winged flight as their primary means of motion.
Wasps differ from bees in that they are basically hairless and have narrow waists. There are hundreds of kinds of wasps, many of them too tiny to sting humans, and others that are good pollinators of plants. But there are a few wasp species-all of them “paper wasps”-that can cause severe stings to people, pets, and livestock and that sometimes even cause death due to severe allergic reactions.
Yellow Jackets & Bald-faced Hornets
Yellow Jackets, including “Bald-faced Hornets*,” are some of the most notorious stinging pests, causing a great number of trips to hospitals due to the proteins in their venom. Yellow Jackets, depending upon the species, are either predators-eating spiders and/or other insects, or scavengers-eating carrion (dead animal or fish flesh.) In nature they make up an important part of the balance of nature. However, when their nests are located near, on, or in our homes they can cause significant human harm. Part of the problem stems from the fact that they are so extremely defensive of their territory, attack in numbers, and can sting repeatedly. Some species immediately think they own whatever food they find or land on, even if it is our dinner!
“Picnic” Yellow Jackets are often small, unusually aggressive, black-and-yellow wasps. They are not at all intimidated about landing directly on the food we are preparing, serving, or trying to eat. Many people get stung while eating outdoors each year. However, the presence of their nests poses an even greater hazard, housing up to 5,000 workers they can inflict an enormous amount of pain and venom. In one Seattle case, when a small boy and his dog came across a ground nest, the dog was killed and the boy, unconscious, had to be rushed to the hospital. This group of yellow jackets consists of species that nest in the ground; inside hollow logs, stumps & landscape timber; paper nests hanging from trees or under roof eaves, or within house wall voids or within attics. When their nest is unprotected outdoors, they build a paper envelope around it with an entrance near the bottom.
*Bald-faced Hornets are actually not a true “hornet,” but a type of Yellow Jacket that nests only in shrubs and small trees. Since they always build their nest unprotected outdoors they build a paper envelope around it with an entrance near the bottom. They are unusually large, and colored black-and-white, and only eat live insects so they don’t bother us when eating outdoors. These yellow jackets become a problem when they nest in our yards and other locations that conflict with us, often resulting in numerous painful stings and periodic allergic reactions.
Polistes are a kind of solitary paper wasp that makes rather small, “umbrella-shaped” nests that hand from beneath roof eaves, porch stoops, and the underside of roofs within attic spaces. These nests have not paper “envelope” around them for protection, and are only “occupied” by up to 30 wasps when the young are all hatching and preparing to start on their own. While Polestes can pack quite a powerful sting, they are not aggressive. In fact, they almost seem docile. It is when their numbers are too big that they can pose a collective threat to children, adults, and pets.
Bees differ from wasps in that they are hairy and have “thick” bodies. There are many types of bees, some of them solitary loners and many of them very small. Bees of all types are renowned as the great pollinators of flowering plants. Bees are considered beneficial insects until they happen to nest in homes or other locations that make them difficult to avoid. Except for such rare cases bees seldom sting people. But when bee nests are close to our activity they will aggressively defend themselves resulting in repeated stinging. The pain of a sting is bad enough, but some people have severely allergic, life-threatening reactions. In such cases bees have to be removed or controlled.
Bumble Bees are beneficial insects and only when their nest is located such that it compromises human health due to stings should any control measures be taken. It was long held that Bumble Bees “shouldn’t be able to fly,” and only recently have the secrets of these large “bumblers” begun to be understood. Bumble Bees pollinate a great variety of plants, however, they can at times choose rather unfortunate nest locations to nest.
Honey Bees are, of course, famous not only for pollinating crops, but also for their honey which has been a delicacy of humans throughout history. Honey Bees occasionally swarm in the late spring or early summer. When this happens they split their colony and a mass of bees fly along with a queen to a new nest site. A swarm of bees can be massive, noisy, and downright scary. If found soon after landing, a swarm of honey bees can be caught by a beekeeper, placed in a hive box, and transported to another site-saving nearly all the bees. However, once honey bees set up a hive within a house wall void, or other similar location, they often have to be treated. Moreover, the remaining honey in bee hives attracts bees from other colonies, flies, beetles and rodents. And if that’s not bad enough, old honey trapped in walls can create serious mildew problems. So the siding has to be removed in order to reach and extract the old honey.
Centipedes are long, fast-moving, wormlike animals with many legs that stick out along the sides of its body. Most in our area are about an inch long and don’t bite (but those in tropical areas can be 6 or more inches long and are venomous.) Centipedes feed on tiny insects and are found in leaf litter outside but occasionally find there way indoors.
Millipedes are worm-shaped, brown or black, and have many legs that stem from the bottom of the body near the sides. Millipedes primarily eat decaying vegetable matter but sometimes find their way into homes in great numbers.
Sow Bugs (a.k.a. Pill Bugs, Potato Bugs)
Sow Bugs and Pill or Potato Bugs are in the same group, but only the Pill or Potato Bug can roll up into a ball when disturbed. They are gray to light brown in color, and generally feed on decaying organic matter. Sow Bugs and Pill Bugs can enter homes and become quite a nuisance, occurring most often in basements. Contact Cascade for more information or to schedule a treatment.