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Battle unwanted pests in your home

March 2024

It could be a funny, scratchy noise, an unpleasant odor or telltale droppings that first alert you that something isn’t right inside your home. Or, it can be something as obvious as a line of ants marching across your kitchen floor.




From ants, beetles and hornets to mice, rats and raccoons, it’s never good when these uninvited guests decide to make themselves at home in your house. We talked to two local pest control companies to learn more about common pests in Grays Harbor and what we can do to prevent infestations.


One pest that is prevalent this time of year is the sugar ant, said Michael Timonen, owner of Blue Pest Control of Aberdeen.


“In the spring those are the prolific pests in the Northwest,” Timonen said. “They are little, tiny ants. I’ve seen when there are just a couple and other times when there are thousands.


“These ants communicate with pheromone trails,” he explained. “Scouts look for food and water in different places and then leave a pheromone trail back to the source to let other ants know where to go.”


“Sometimes people associate ants with someone being dirty, but that is not always the case. They are so tiny they can come through a closed window,” Timonen said.


Our springs are cold enough that rodents are still trying to keep warm now, Timonen added, noting that they often come through loose crawl space vents or gaps in the house’s siding or poor weather stripping on the garage door.


“They can also come inside where any kind of cable or air conditioning lines enter the house. Those are big holes too,” Timonen said, adding that a metal screen or flashing can help prevent that.


Robert Opfer, owner of Freeman Pest Control of Aberdeen, said about 80 percent of the work his company does is controlling rodents – rats and mice.


“Usually, people hear scratching in the walls, notice holes around the skirting of the foundation, or even notice a smell under the house,” Opfer said.


By the time the rodents are discovered, they’ve defecated in the attic or walls, torn up insulation and perhaps even chewed on wires, creating a dangerous fire hazard. Usually, there tends to be more rats in the cities and more mice in the more rural area, but there are plenty of each everywhere around here, Opfer said.


The huge Norway rats have a big, broad head with small ears and can create a lot of havoc in a fairly short time.  (They are also called the brown rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, etc.) Classified as an invasive species, they are definitely something you don’t want in or around your house. The other type of rat commonly seen around here are the smaller roof rats, which have a pointy face and larger ears.


Another large part of the work of Freeman Pest Control is getting rid of powder post or anobiid beetles.


These insects lay their larvae into the pores of wood that has a 10 to 13 percent moisture content, Opfer said. Over time the larvae chew through the wood, creating tunnels and then exiting.


“The damage isn’t instantaneous, but it is something you have to definitely look out for,” Opfer said.


Each season has its busy species with summer being the time when hornets and yellow jackets abound. Both tend to make nests in the ground, in eaves, in wall voids, or in gaps in the skirting or siding of your home.


“Set up traps in springtime to catch the queens before they even make the nests,” Opfer suggested.


While they begin to come out in April and May, the hives are usually established in July and August, Timonen noted, adding that a key is to be alert to any hive forming and address it as soon as possible “before the nest gets huge.”


More Prevention Advice

The experts said that keeping homes maintained and tidy can make a difference in preventing some kinds of infestations.


“Avoid having garbage out,” Opfer said. “If you are feeding the birds, make sure that seeds don’t go onto the ground. Avoid sunflower seeds. They bring birds, but also rats.”

To avoid insect infestations, Timonen said that trimming trees and bushes near houses can make a big difference. “You don’t want ants to use them as a little highway to climb into your house.”  


”And, having direct soil contact with your house is not only bad for termites and wood destroying bugs but also not great for every insect,” he added.


“Summertime is a great time to prep houses for rodents,” Opfer said, “especially in Aberdeen and Hoquiam where the crawl spaces can be flooded in the winter and spring.”


Look for damaged or missing foundations vents, loose siding, loose skirting, and make sure the flap on the heater vent is working, the men said.


Timonen recalled going to an Aberdeen home where a woman thought she had a rat infestation. Instead, he discovered that a wild rabbit had come through the dryer vent that was missing its flap and gotten into her house.


While looking around in spring, however, keep your wits about you and an eagle eye out for insects and critters. You don’t want to upset a mother racoon, possum or skunk, who has just given birth in your basement!


Some things are definitely left to the experts so take care. You can often get an estimate for their services on the phone.


“As far as ants, I’d say if you see more than 10 ants a day, or am noticing trails, there may be a bigger problem and you should get some help,” Timonen said, adding that no matter the type of pest, “I would just say call before the problem becomes huge because then it can become more difficult to get rid of.”  


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