Protect Your Home & Family from Pests—All Work Guaranteed

There are many different types of wildlife and insects in the East and West Kootenay Region. Some can be considered pests, yet others are beneficial and provide an important role in nature’s life cycle.  Listed are just some of the critters that are in this area that Cranbrook Pest Control can help with. Click on the link to learn more about each pest.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants are one of the most valuable insects we have on earth.  They chew up wood by the ton, turning it into fine sawdust that rots into compost for new growth.  Because they enter man made structures, they are considered the most destructive common insect pest we have in Canada.
Although there are others, two species of carpenter ants are usually found in Canada:
  1. Modoc: all black, legs may have a rusty red colour; one queen in parent nest.
  2. Vicinus: black head, rusty red thorax (mid-section) and black abdomen (tail section); multiple queens in parent nest.
Carpenter ants grow to be five sizes: as small as a quarter of an inch or as large as three quarters of an inch.  All sizes can be found in one nest.
Most carpenter ant species establish their initial nest in decayed wood and once established, the ants extend their tunneling into sound wood – which can do considerable damage to a structure.
Identification and Life Cycle
These species commonly nest in standing trees, stumps or logs on the forest floor.  Since many houses are being built in forested areas, well-established, vigorous colonies are readily available in the immediate vicinity to attack these dwellings.  This is especially true when a home is built with a minimal removal of trees.  Carpenter ants typically have a parent colony in outside nesting areas in the trees, stumps or logs and when the colony grows larger and needs room to expand, satellite colonies are established.  These satellite colonies often develop in nearby structures presumably because they offer warmth and protection.  Only the parent colony contains the queen(s), young larvae and workers, while the satellite nest contains the mature larvae, pupae, workers, and/or winged reproductives.  The colony does not produce reproductives (winged males and queens) until it is from three to six years old and contains about 2,000 workers.  Ants move back and forth from parent nest to satellite nest but just a few (less than 10%) will be visible foraging for food.  Sometimes they can be seen moving mature larvae (white and grub-like) or pupae (papery cocoons).
Ants are generally active along trails from April to mid October.  These trails follow natural contours and lines of least resistance and also frequently cut across lawns.  Traffic on these trails may be noticeable during the day but peak traffic occurs after sunset and continues throughout the night.
The natural food for these ants consists of insects and other arthropods and sweet exudates from aphids and insects. They are also attracted to other sweet material such as decaying fruits.
Reproductive carpenter ants (winged males and females) leave the nest as early as January if the nest is in a heated structure. Those living outside in logs and stumps will not swarm until early May.  The fertilized queens must then find wet wood to establish a new nest, and the cycle starts over again.  The new queen could live 15 years or more and lay 70,000 fertilized eggs.
Getting Rid of Carpenter Ants
Finding carpenter ant nests requires a lot of time and patience, a job that is best left to the professional.  Nests locations are difficult to find and only an experienced eye can spot them.  Evidence of a nest includes “frass” – this is the ant’s “garbage” and is often caught up in spider’s webs close to the nest.  Sometimes the frass excavated from a nest inside a building is noticeable, most of the time it is not.Following ant trails sometimes works, although its difficult to know whether the ant is coming or going; because less than 10% of the nest’s population ever leaves, at times there is nothing to follow.  To make trailing more difficult, ants will often move through hidden pathways, protecting themselves from weather, predators and your vision. Carpenter ants make a rustling sound while they go about their business and the experienced ear can also hear them chewing wood.   A medical stethoscope can be useful but the sound of a refrigerator or even a clock can interfere too much to zero in on the location of the nest.
pest29Finding the Main Nests
Most of the time, finding the main nest is impossible, let alone eliminating it.  The colony’s expanse can be large, with several main nests and innumerable satellites, well hidden in trees, logs, stumps, buried wood or roots.  Eradicating Carpenter ant nests is best done physically instead of using toxic products – chemicals can leach into ground water, contaminating water supplies or fish habitats, consequences more far-reaching than just removing an ant’s nest.  If physical removal cannot be done, eliminate any favourable conditions which might encourage migration towards buildings: remove tree branches, fences, garden hoses, structural wood touching the soil, landscape ties and utility wires, all of which provide a “highway” to follow.  A very fine dusting of diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the building creates a bit of a border and will discourage an insect from crossing it to gain entry, although this is a short-term solution with repeated applications required during the spring, summer and fall months.

Odorous House Ant

This ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smell it gives off when crushed.  These tiny insects range in size from one-sixteenth of an inch to one-eighth of an inch long and are anywhere from dark brown to black in colour.  Their petiole has one node which is hidden by their abdomen and the thorax is uneven when viewed from the side.
Odorous house ants like to eat sweets, especially melon.  They feed on both dead and living insects, favouring aphids and scale honeydew. Typically living for several years, these ants make their homes in exposed soil and wall cracks.  While these ants do not pose a public health risk, they can contaminate food and should be avoided.  They tend to have large colonies, with up to 10,000 workers and many queens.
Odorous house ants travel in both wandering patterns and set trails.  Their trails are common along branches of trees, foundations, sidewalks, baseboards and edges of carpets.  When disturbed, they become very erratic with their abdomens raised in the air.
Eliminate standing water as pests such as odorous house ants are attracted to moisture.  Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house, don’t store firewood and building materials next to exterior walls: pests will use branches to get into homes and buildings and they often build nests in stacks of wood.  Fill any cracks or small openings around the grade level of buildings, this makes if more difficult for pests to gain entry.

Pharaoh Ant

Pharaoh ant workers are about one-sixteenth of an inch long, or 2 mm in length. They are light yellow to reddish brown in colour with a darker abdomen and a stinger.  The petiole (narrow waist between the thorax and abdomen) has two nodes and the thorax has no spines.  Eyes are poor and possess on average 32 ommatidia.  The antennal segments end in a distinct club with three progressively longer segments.
Life Cycle and Habits
The pharaoh ant queen can lay hundreds of eggs in her lifetime.  Most lay 10 to 12 eggs per batch in the early days of egg production and only four to seven eggs per batch later.  From egg to maturity takes about 38 to 45 days depending on temperature and relative humidity: at 27 °C (80 °F) and 80% relative humidity, eggs hatch in five to seven days with the larval period 18 to 19 days.  The prepupal period is three days, pupal period nine days with four more days required to produce sexual female and male forms.  They breed continuously throughout the year in heated buildings and mating occurs in the nest.  Mature colonies contain several queens, winged males, workers, eggs, larvae, prepupae and pupae.  Pharaoh ants use pheromones as the primary means of communication.
Nests can be very small, located between sheets of paper, in clothing or laundry, furniture, foods and can also occur in wall voids, under floors, behind baseboards, in trash containers, under stones, in cement or stone wall voids, light fixtures, etc.  They prefer dark, warm areas near hot water pipes and heating tapes, also in bathrooms, kitchens, intensive care units, operating rooms.  They are “trail-making” ants and often are found foraging in drains, toilets, washbasins, bedpans and other unsanitary sites as well as in sealed packs of sterile dressing, intravenous drip systems, on surgical wounds, food and medical equipment.
Health Risk
In some areas, this ant has become a major pest of residences, food plants, factories, office buildings, apartments and hospitals.  Infestations in hospitals have become a chronic problem in Europe and the United States where burn victims and newborns are subjected to increased risk because the pharaoh ant can transmit over a dozen pathogens.  Pharaoh ants have been observed seeking moisture from the mouths of sleeping infants and from in-use IV bottles.
Control of pharaoh ants is difficult, due to their nesting in inaccessible areas.  Treatment must be thorough and complete at all nesting sites, as well as the foraging area, thus, treatment must include walls, ceilings, floor voids and electrical wall outlets.  Baits are now the preferred method of control for pharaoh ants and several baits (insecticides) are labelled for indoor ant control but baits placed just anywhere will not work.  pest36
Pharaoh ant trails and their food and water resources must be located for proper placement of baits and effective control.  Non-repellent baits such as boric acid, hydramethylon or sulfonamide should be used, as repellent baits can worsen the situation by causing the colony to fracture and bud, resulting in briefly diminished activity as the new colonies establish themselves, then again become a problem as the foragers resume movements in a new location. It is recommended not to exterminate using sprays and dusts because they will cause the pharaoh ants to scatter.  A pharaoh ant infestation of a multifamily building requires treatment of the entire building to control the infestation.  Ants nesting on the outside may be controlled by also using a perimeter barrier treatment.

Thatching Ant

Thatching ants are can be referred to as mound ants because some species construct mounds from small sticks, grass stems, leaves and pine or fir needles. They may also nest in decayed logs.  Under most circumstances, thatching ants should be considered beneficial, since they are fierce predators of other insects.
However, where they occur in lawns, rockeries, picnic areas and other locations of human habitation, they can become a severe annoyance. Additionally, they are often detrimental to seedling trees or plants near their nests, and they have been known to damage the buds of apple, pear and plum trees in the spring.
The landscape can be visually disrupted by the presence of their mounds.  Physical contact with them is also displeasing, since they can bite quite hard and usually spray the area they have bitten with formic acid to produce a painful sensation or even blistering if the skin is not washed.
An interesting phenomenon demonstrated by thatching ants, as well as other ants, is the habit of “herding” and maintaining aphid colonies on trees, shrubs and weeds.  This occasionally leads to an aphid problem because, while keeping aphids for their sweet honeydew, they protect the aphids against natural control organisms such as wasps and lady beetles.  However, they deter other, more serious plant pests, so even in heavy aphid infestations they are still beneficial.
Identification and Life Cycle
Most species of thatching ants are bi-coloured red and black while a few are all black.  They are medium to large ants, averaging 4.8 mm (three-sixteenths to five-sixteenths of an inch) long, with a notch or depression on the top of the thorax when viewed from the side.  They are polymorphic, that is, the workers vary in size within the same colony and winged males and queens leaving the colony – reproductive swarms – occur in late summer to early fall.
Thatching ants can be confused with Carpenter ants so a sure way to distinguish which is to view them from the side and determine if the thoracic dorsum is smoothly rounded: all Carpenter ants have this rounded thoracic dorsum while Thatching ants have a notch or dip on the thoracic dorsum.  This diagnostic tool works only when comparing workers of either species. Thatching ant workers are wingless, possess elbowed antennae, and have a narrow pedicel (wasp waist) of one or two segments between the thorax and the abdomen.
Be sure these ants are indeed a threat because, as mentioned, they are beneficial.  If determined they are a pest, pyrethrin or cyfluthrin, can be effectively used if applied properly: do not merely apply to the nest entry hole as the ants will simple create another entry or move their nest to a nearby location.  The entire nest surface and subterranean portion should be thoroughly treated with the pesticide.
Best done with two people, one method is to penetrate the nest by digging deeply and stirring the nest contents with something like a sturdy shovel while pouring the recommended dosage of insecticide into the nest and surrounding area.  To avoid bites, attach a plastic sleeve (for example, a plastic bag attached with a rubber band) below the point hands will be placed on the stirring implement – the ants cannot travel on this slippery surface, thus preventing bites.  Boots are also recommended, with plastic or polyethylene leggings attached around the ankles: to make leggings, cut the bottom out of a long plastic bag and fasten it into position from ankle to knee with rubber bands, top and bottom.  Even with these safety measures, the application should be completed quickly.
**Use pesticides with care, applying them only to plants, animals or sites listed on the label.  When mixing and applying pesticides, follow all label precautions to protect yourself and others around you.  It is a violation of the law to disregard label directions.  If pesticides are spilled on skin or clothing, remove clothing and wash skin thoroughly.  Store pesticides in their original containers and keep them out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock.  The law requires that pesticides be used as the label directs.**
Most ant colonies are started by a single queen. From this single individual, colonies can grow to anywhere from several hundred to several thousand individuals.  Ants normally produce reproductive forms once a year and colony activity is high during this time with winged males, queens, and workers in a very energetic state. The queen and males fly from the colony, mate, and shortly thereafter the male dies.  The inseminated queen then builds a small nest, lays a few eggs and nurtures the developing larvae which soon hatch.  When the adult workers appear, they take over the function of caring for the queen and larvae, building the nest and bringing food for the colony.   Some species may have built colonies that persist for 20 years or more.

Brown Bat

Far from being pests, all species of bats found in BC are voracious insect predators.  Bats eat up to half their weight every night in moths, mosquitoes, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and flies.  A single little brown bat may catch up to 600 insects an hour.  Install a bat house! There is nothing greener than having bats around to help keep the number of mosquitoes down.
There are 16 species of bats in the province and all are protected under the Provincial Wildlife Act.  Most species are dark brown with short ears and small bodies about the size of mice with wingspans ranging from 20 to 42 cm (9″ to 16”).  The most common species found in buildings are the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), which thrive throughout the province, and the Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis), which is found only in the southern part of the province.
Bats enter a building for a variety of reasons, including simply flying in by accident.  They may use buildings as a temporary daytime roost, as a nursery to rear their young or, occasionally, as a hibernation site.  Attics are a favorite bat refuge.
Like other mammals, bats can carry fleas, mites and ticks, in rare cases, they contract rabies.  Unlike other mammals with rabies, however, they tend to get sick and die before becoming aggressive.  According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which tests about 100 injured, sick or dead bats annually, no one has contracted rabies from a bat in BC.
Health Risks Relating to Bats
Histoplasmosis is an airborne disease caused by a microscopic fungus that occurs in soil and in the nitrogen-rich droppings of birds and bats (Tuttle and Kern 1981, Greenhall 1982, Fenton 1992).  The usual signs of histoplasmosis, which is often mistaken for influenza, are a dry cough and other flu-like symptoms as well as high fever, problems with vision.  Life-threatening complications occasionally do occur.
How to Evict Bats from Your Home
The most effective long-term solution for evicting bats from roosting or hibernating in one’s home is prevention. If bats are already present, their place of entry must be sealed while the bats are gone.  There are several ways to locate the entry and exit points, keeping in mind that some bats are small and may enter through a crack of a half inch or less.
Begin with watching in the evening around dusk.  See if you can spot the bats emerging, and mark or remember where the holes are.   If the roosting site in known, enter it during during daylight hours and look for light leaks coming in from the outside. Alternatively, place lights in the roost after dark and then look from the outside for light leaks.
Once the holes are located they must be sealed, whether it be by caulking, wood strips or even steel wool.   This should not be done until late July when the young are able to fly and are leaving to feed.
Another means of exclusion is to hang half-inch polypropylene bird netting directly above the exit holes.  Attach the netting at the top and sides only with bottom free, the netting should extend at least a foot past the entrance hole on all sides.  Bats will be able to leave the building but not return: after two or three nights, all the bats will have left the building and the entrances can be sealed permanently.
Cleaning Up After Bats
Bat droppings have a strong odour and once the animals have been removed, the area should be cleaned thoroughly.  This odour may also attract bats if new openings develop in the structure.   Caution must be used while cleaning the area to avoid contracting histoplasmosis which is a respiratory infection caused by inhaling fungal spores that can grow in bat droppings.  This fungus is widespread in soils throughout the world and although most people who contract histoplasmosis have few if any symptoms or problems, some people develop serious respiratory conditions.
When cleaning up bat droppings, wear a tight fitting respirator that will filter particles as small as two microns.  Dampening the droppings before cleaning them up will help decrease the spread of any spores.  The droppings should be sealed in plastic bags for disposal and the area should be cleaned and disinfected with a solution of one part household bleach to 20 parts water.  Clothes worn while cleaning should be washed immediately.  If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable performing this task, call a professional.

Bed Bugs

The bed bug is an old pest that was common in homes prior to World War II; over the last 50 years, they have rarely been seen outside of cramped living quarters and places like jails and homeless shelters where sanitary conditions are not optimal.  Not so anymore.  In the last five years, there has been resurgence with bed bugs becoming a particular problem in hotels, motels and hostels, places with a high rate of occupant turnover.  Even five-star hotels are having problems with bed bugs and people who travel frequently can unknowingly help bed bugs move to new places.


Identifying Bed Bugs
Bed bugs have a broad, flat and oval body with a short, broad head.  Unfed adults are around 6 to 10 mm long, brown and wingless.  After feeding, they swell slightly in size and darken to a blood-red colour.  The nymphs are shaped like the adults, but are yellow-white in colour.  Itchy welts on skin, blood spots on sheets and/or black or brown spots on mattresses, bed frames or walls often indicate that there is a bed bug infestation.  Bed bugs are also known by several names: wall louse, house bug, mahogany flat, red coat, crimson ramblers as well as others.


The bed bug eggs are white and about one mm long, and almost impossible to see on most surfaces.  The female bed bug lays about 200 eggs in her lifetime, at a rate of about three or four per day.  Eggs have a sticky coating and are deposited in cracks and crevices, behind woodwork and similar hidden locations, hatching in six to 17 days.
Newly hatched nymphs feed as soon as food is available.  A bed bug goes through five molts before it reaches full maturity.
Adults usually live for around 10 months, but can live for a year or more.  In a home where the environment is conducive to their reproduction (their ideal breeding temperature is between 21° to 28°C), bed bugs can breed year round.  Bed bugs are wingless and cannot fly or jump and are able to enter extremely small locations in the home because of their flattened bodies.  Bed bugs can live for several weeks to several months without feeding, depending on the temperature.  They can go without feeding for 80 to 140 days; older bed bugs can go without feeding longer than younger ones.  Adults have been known to survive for as long as 550 days (over a year and a half!) without feeding.

What You Can Do Around Your Home

services8Bed bugs are small and can hide in a myriad of places—under wallpaper, behind picture frames, in electrical outlets, inside box springs, in mattress pads, in night tables.  Thorough care and attention must be taken to properly address an infestation, bed bugs can travel up to 30 m and are easily transported in clothing, luggage or other household items, so treatment of nearby rooms may be necessary to prevent the infestation from continuing.
If a bed bug infestation is suspected, treatment can be given by either a professional or homeowner.  Infested areas should be vacuumed carefully with a brush attachment, and the bag should be disposed of immediately afterwards.  When inspecting beds, carefully examine the seams, tufts and crevices of the mattress, box spring, bed frame and headboard. Bed bugs prefer wood and fabric to metal or plastic.  Mattresses and box springs should be steam-cleaned and then can be encased in plastic film or a zippered “bag”available from allergy supply companies.  Mattress pads and sheets should be washed in hot water and dried on the highest heat setting.   Removal of the thin fabric on the underside of the box spring may be necessary to determine the existence of bed bugs.
Bed bugs cannot easily climb metal or polished surfaces, and they cannot fly or jump, so treating the legs of beds will help keep them away.  Wrap the legs with double-sided carpet tape or petroleum jelly; the bed legs can also be placed inside an interceptor such as ClimbUp – a product available from most pest control companies.
Treating a bed effectively can be quite challenging.  Holes or worn spots in the fabric may allow bed bugs to lay eggs in areas not easily reached and restrictions are in place regulating how insecticides can be used on beds.  Carefully examine all night tables, baseboards, dressers, headboards (especially padded ones), electrical outlets, any items stored near or under the bed, any nearby carpeting or rugs, picture frames, switch plates, inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors—in short, anything and everything that is in the room where the infestation has been noted.  Upholstered chairs and sofas can also harbor bed bugs and should be treated with careful vacuuming and laundering of all possible parts (cushions, slipcovers, skirts, etc.).
Controlling Breeding Sites
Any clutter must be reduced or removed entirely as bed bugs hide in minuscule areas and any belongings left lying around provide a perfect opportunity for them to continue to breed.  Affected bedding and clothing should be bagged and laundered on the highest heat settings, or discarded altogether, as these items cannot be treated by the application of insecticides.
Smaller items that cannot be laundered can sometimes be treated through heating (temperatures greater than 50°C) or freezing.  Items can be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed outdoors on a hot sunny day or in sub-zero temperatures in the winter, however, exposure to freezing temperatures must be maintained for a at least two days to ensure the bed bugs are die.  Simply raising or lowering the temperature of the house or apartment will not kill bed bugs.
Vacuuming can be helpful in removing bugs and eggs from carpet, mattresses, walls and other surfaces.  It is very important to pay close attention to seams, tufts and edges of mattresses and box springs and the outer edge of wall-to-wall carpeting.  Steam cleaning carpeting can also be effective in killing bugs and eggs that are not picked up by regular vacuuming.
While bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, they can and will feed on other mammals and birds.  Some bed bug species are parasites of bats or birds and may bite people if the wild hosts are not available.  If bat bugs or bird bugs are involved, roosting and nesting sites should also be treated and the animals excluded from the building.
In addition, be cautious about taking in second-hand furniture, bedding, mattresses or beds.  At the very minimum, these items should be carefully inspected before being brought into the home in order to protect you and your family.
Chemical Control Methods
Domestic class products available to homeowners will generally contain the active ingredient pyrethrin or diatomaceous earth.  Always read the label carefully and be certain that the product purchased is registered for use against your particular pest problem.  Care should be taken when using pesticides, as many are not suitable for fabrics, wallpaper, woods or other surfaces due to staining or potential contamination.
Also, several commercial class products are available to professional Pest Control Operators.  These may include low-odour sprays, dusts or aerosols; Pest Control Operators will select the best product for the particular situation.
Note that bed bug infestations can be challenging to treat, and repeat applications may be required.  Always follow the label directions on the pesticide to minimize exposure and maximize efficacy of the product.  Between applications of pesticide products, use integrated pest management techniques to physically control ongoing or future infestations.  These techniques can be found in the Controlling Breeding Sites section above.

Box Elder Bug—a Nuisance, but Not Harmful

Box elder bugs cause concern in the autumn when they gather in considerable numbers on the warm exterior walls of homes and when they find their way into houses looking for a suitable place to over-winter.
After gaining entry to buildings through cracks or other openings, they remain in wall cavities and will occasionally emerge inside the home in the spring.  They do not breed indoors, so there is no danger of an infestation.
Box elder bugs cause no structural damage whatsoever, but they can “spot” interior furnishings with their droppings.  They can’t bite, they don’t eat anything on the inside of your house and they won’t harm you, your family or your pets.
Identification and Life Cycle
This bug is about half an inch long and one-third as wide.  It is black with three red lines on the thorax, a red line along each side and a red line on each wing.  The wings lie flat on the back when at rest.  Box elder bugs are sometimes confused with another insect called milkweed bug.
In the summer, box elder bugs normally feed on the leaves, flowers and seed pods of the box elder tree and the silver or red maple, causing little damage.
The adult bugs lay eggs on the host trees in the spring and the small nymphs emerge in a few days, showing more red than adults.  These nymphs develop into adults during the summer, then mate and lay eggs which hatch into the nymphs of the second generation.  Eggs are a rusty red colour and are not often seen as they are deposited on box elder trees.  The young nymphs are red and gray and the population may number into the thousands. They resemble adults, but do not have fully developed wings and are not able to reproduce; the change from nymph to adult is a gradual one.  Activity of nearly fully grown nymphs is noticed in August and September when they gather in large numbers on the trunks of box elder trees.  The migration of the adults begins at this time.
Prevention and Control
An obvious way to avoid infestations by this pest in residential properties is to get rid of near-by female box elder trees.  If this species is to be planted as an ornamental or shade tree, male trees, which are propagated by cuttings from staminate trees, should be purchased from the nursery.  Chemical control can best be obtained by spraying the nymphs on the host trees before the adults have had a chance to migrate.  Power spray equipment is usually required and a professional should be hired to do the job safely.  Caulking windows, doors and repairing window and door screens will prevent bugs from entering a home.  A pest control professional can apply a residual insecticide to exterior walls in the fall which discourages the bugs from landing.

Box Elder Bug        vs.     Milkweed Bug

Carpet Beetle – Varied Carpet Beetle & Black Carpet Beetle

Carpet beetles are scavengers that feed on a variety of animal products such as woolens, hides, feathers, hair, taxidermy specimens and dried meats.  They also feed on dead insects such as box elder bugs and attic flies that may be trapped in inner wall spaces.  Carpet beetles do not remain on their food material but instead crawl about, often for considerable distances.
The two most common types of beetles for this area are the varied carpet beetle and the black carpet beetle:
The varied carpet beetle adult is one-sixteenth to one-eighth inch long and nearly round or broadly oval.  The wing covers are marked with a mottled pattern of yellow, white and orange scales on a black background.  The coloured scales may disappear from an old specimen.
Varied carpet beetle larvae are one-quarter inch long and widest at the middle.  They typically have alternating light and dark bands across the top of the abdomen, but this characteristic is not prominent in all specimens.
Black carpet beetle larvae are one-quarter inch long, tapered in shape and have a golden sheen over the brown body with adults growing to one-eighth to one-quarter inch long, elongate oval and as the name implies, black in colour.
Prevention and Control
Carpet beetle controls include eliminating the beetles by cleaning or destroying infested items (clothing, food products, etc.).  The source may be difficult to find or not at all.
A major part of carpet beetle prevention and control is thorough vacuuming to prevent the accumulation of lint, hair, and other carpet beetle food materials. Good housekeeping is as important in preventing carpet beetle and clothes moth infestations as it is in control.
The vacuum cleaner is often the best pest management tool.   Pay close attention to areas where lint accumulates: corners, baseboards, shelves, etc. and be sure to dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag immediately.  Clean or dispose of infested clothing, cloth, blankets and other fabrics. Freeze-treat small items such as ornaments and fur toys by placing them in the home freezer for a week.  Periodic brushing and sunning of stored fabrics is helpful in prevention and control.
Store fabrics that contain wool or other animal fibers in tightly sealed chests or storage closets only after they have been brushed and cleaned.  Cedar chests provide protection only for fabrics that are initially free from carpet beetles and clothes moths.  Moth crystals, flakes or balls can also be used.
If beetles are found throughout the structure, localized applications of residual insecticides may be needed. Treatment should be lightly applied to those surfaces upon which the insects are likely to crawl, such as along the edges of carpeting, in closets, behind radiators, baseboards and moldings, in corners, cracks, and so forth. Cases of heavy, widespread infestation may require the services of a professional pest control operator.

Larder Beetle

The Larder beetle is found worldwide and is widely distributed in Canada where it is a common minor pest in households.  It feeds on the remains of other insects and products of animal origin such as hides, furs, skins, feathers, processed and dried meats, cheese, wool and dried fish.  It also feeds on vegetable products with high protein and is a minor pest in grain storage, frequently found feeding on the remains of other insects.
Both the adult and larvae eat materials of animal origin.  The larvae burrow into the commodity to feed leaving holes. They also bore into solid materials such as wood, mortar or soft metal, to pupate, which can damage storage buildings or containers. A sign of infestation is contamination with cast skins and the remains of the adult beetles.
The adult is 7 to 9 mm long, oval and covered in dark brown to black dense hairs with a wavy pale buff back across the elytra and three black spots on each elytron. They are slightly flattened with clubbed antennae and the underside is covered in hair.  Adult larder beetles can fly with a longevity is 60 to 90 days.  It can be distinguished from other Dermestid beetles by the appearance of two small horn-like structures at the tip of the abdomen.
pest60Breeding and Development
Ideal breeding conditions are temperatures between 15°C and 30°C and a relative humidity of 40%. The female lays eggs randomly on the food source and if the female has access to water, she can increase the number of eggs she lays.  The larvae are yellow-brown and cylindrical and will seek a pupation site, pupating in the last larval skin.  pest61
Ideal conditions for development are a temperature between 18°C and 20°C and a relative humidity of 80%.  In these conditions, development can take 45 days. The larvae can slow its development if ideal conditions are not present.

Western Conifer Seed Bugs (Pine Seed Bugs)

The western conifer seed bug, also called the pine seed bug, is a common household invader found inside many homes during the fall, winter and spring.  The pine seed bug is in a small group of insects called the leaf-footed bugs, the name referring to the flat, leaf-like expansions of the hind legs.  Pine seed bug is a true bug (Order Hemiptera, Family Coreidae) and consistent with all members of this order, the insect has a simple life cycle (egg, nymph, adult) and sucking mouth parts.
Identification and Life Cycle
The pine seed bug is about one inch long, elongate in shape and dull reddish-brown in colour.  It appears pointed at both ends; the antennae are almost the length of the body and are obvious in living or fresh specimens.  A faint white zigzag line is more or less noticeable across the center of the back,  depending on the individual.
Pine seed bug nymphs and adults spend the summer on pine and Douglas-fir trees where they use their piercing, sucking mouth parts to feed on sap from green cones and twigs.  This sap feeding is of no consequence to otherwise healthy trees, however, cones may be damaged causing failure in seed development.
The pine seed bug is a typical accidental invader, similar to the better known cluster flies, Asian lady beetle and the box elder bug.  The adults are attracted to the exposed south sides of houses where they bask in the warmth of the late summer/early fall sunlight.  After sunset, they crawl into wall voids and attics through cracks and gaps in the siding, foundation and eaves, or around windows and doors. Like other invaders, they do not bite, sting, feed, carry diseases or otherwise cause harm to people, pets, the house or its contents.  They cannot reproduce inside the house, as egg laying and development are restricted to the host plants during the summer months.
Control is the same as for other accidental invaders: seal cracks and gaps, particularly around doors and windows, to help prevent entry.  A treatment of areas where they are found on the structure can greatly reduce the  pest65  number of bugs gaining entry; Pine seed bugs already indoors need only be vacuumed or swept up and discarded as they appear.
Treatment for the control of these bugs is best performed in late summer and into the fall season, when they are most active and looking for places to over-winter.  For more information regarding this and other fall treatments, please call us.

Powderpost Beetle

pest66You may think that the powderpost beetle that is attacking wood products in your home are the adults, however, most of the damage done to furniture is from the mature larvae.  This is because the adults don’t live very long—usually only long enough to lay eggs – and once the eggs hatch and the larvae are out, they begin to bore into and feed on the wood surrounding them.  It can take up to five years before the larvae will mature into an adult, meaning they may be feeding on your furniture that whole time. There have been reports of powderpost beetles emerging from furniture 35 years after it was infested!
Powderpost beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, just like a fly or a flea: egg, larvae, pupae then adult.  Once the larvae have turned into adults, they will emerge from the wood, usually during any of the months between April and July.  You may notice tiny holes in your furniture from this process – these are called “exit” holes.
Once the adult female powderpost beetle emerges, it will mate with an adult male.  She will then lay her eggs either on or beneath a piece of unfinished wood, sometimes crawling into a crack or a joint in the wood to lay her eggs.  While adults do not live long, they can live for several days or weeks.  They are nocturnal in nature, making it difficult to find them during the day.

Anobiid Powderpost Beetle

pest67Anobiid powderpost beetles belong to the Anobiidae beetle family which are close relatives to the Bostrichidae and Lyctidae beetle families.  They are sometimes called “false powderpost beetles” and are the most common of all powderpost beetles.  Their bodies consist of a head that appears hood-like and their bodies are cylindrical or elongated, generally a reddish-brown/black colour.  They have protective wings that feature distinct pit-like rows, giving them a rigid, or hardened, appearance.
These beetles are true insects and have six legs, usually only one-sixteenth to three-eighths of an inch long, however, it isn’t uncommon to find larger varieties in buildings, with some being up to one-quarter of an inch long.  The mature worm-like larvae are white and appear to be c-shaped with an enlarged thorax and can also be the same size as the adults.
Anobiid powderpost beetles usually only attack sapwood but have been found in heartwood on rare occasions, thriving in woods with a moisture level higher than 14% making wood in poorly ventilated places the most susceptible.  It’s not possible, however, to see the beetles because they destroy wood from within, the only indication an infestation exists being the “exit” holes adult beetles make.  They are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest and are most abundant in coastal areas because they do best when moisture is present. Unlike Lyctid and Bostrichidae powderpost beetles, the “frass” or powder of Anobiids form into tiny gritty fecal pellets.

Lyctid Powderpost Beetles

pest68Lyctid powderpost beetles are generally found in wood with large pores such as myrtle, ash, hickory, oak, bamboo and mahogany. These beetles find homes in furniture, paneling and trim in the gulf coast states and are normally found in the Pacific Northwest.
Custom home builders should beware that the expensive ash paneling and trim that they are installing in their beautiful new home could be infested with powderpost beetles!  The “frass” or powder from Lyctid powderpost beetles is like flour and the exit holes are small pencil-lead sized holes, usually all the same size.
Lyctid powderpost beetles will generally only attack hard woods, although some reports of soft woods exist as well.

Bostrichidae Powderpost Beetlespest70

pest69Bostrichidae powderpost beetles, sometimes referred to as “death watch beetles”, are not as common as Lyctidae and Anobiid powderpost beetles because they are usually only found in the tropics.  Preferring soft woods but also found in hard woods, their “frass” or powder is very coarse, about the size of coffee grounds.
Once an infestation has been identified, the next step is to determine if its active.  Signs to look for include light fresh-cut wood powder near the exit holes – seal these holes and clean up the surronding dust, checking the wood periodically to see if new holes are formed.

Sow Bug vs. Pill Bug

Sow bugs are small land crustaceans and look very similar to pill bugs, at least at first glance.  They have oval bodies and when viewed from above, their back consists of a number of overlapping, articulating plates. They have seven pairs of legs, and antennae which reach about half the body length. Most are slate gray in colour and may reach 15 mm long and 8 mm wide. The pill bug on the other hand has a rounder back from side to side, and a deeper body from back to legs. When disturbed, it frequently rolls into a tight ball with its legs tucked inside, much like its larger but dissimilar counterpart, the armadillo.
Sow bugs have gills which need constant moisture, so they tend to live in moister northwest climates. They are primarily nocturnal and eat decaying leaf litter and vegetable matter. They may feed on the tips of young plants, so can be considered pests, but they also help the environment by breaking up decaying plant matter, helping speed up the recycling of the nutrients contained there.
The presence of sow bugs or pill bugs in the living quarters of a home is an indication of high-moisture conditions. This condition will also contribute to a number of other problems including mildew, wood rot and a good breeding environment for other insects. Reduce moisture or humidity level indoors. Use bathroom fans, stove hood vent fans, vent clothes dryers outside. Crawl spaces and attics need to be well ventilated. Remove excess vegetation and debris around exterior perimeter of the home. Make sure that leaf debris (leaves hold moisture and hide the bugs) is cleaned up from around the outside of your house. Keep rain gutters and downspouts clean and in good repair. Instead of chemicals, use caulking to close any cracks or crevices at or near ground level.
Houses built on a concrete slab poured directly on the ground can have more of a problem with sow bugs or pill bugs – if there is no moisture barrier under the concrete. Built-in planters are usually a bad idea for many reasons. Window box planters and planter boxes on decks tight against the house are good breeding places for many bugs. Make sure all your doors (ground level, to the outside) are weather-stripped. If your garage is attached or integral with the house, make sure those doors are properly weather-stripped also. Watch for obvious moisture problems in the garage and bottom level. Keep soil levels well below structural wood around the home.

Root Weevil

pest75Root weevils are common invaders of Kootenay homes. Although a nuisance, they cause no harm to humans, pets or household furnishings. Life Cycle and Habits The black vine and strawberry root weevil have similar life cycles and are the most common in BC. Root weevils wander into homes most frequently during late June and July. Household migrations greatly increase during periods of hot, dry weather. The insects apparently are attracted to the moisture of the building. Inside homes, the root weevils cause no injury to humans or household furnishings, they can, however, be quite abundant and a considerable nuisance. Exactly why these insects are attracted to homes is unclear, perhaps houses provide shelter during the hot summer months when the insects are relatively inactive. Moisture sources in and around homes also attract the adult weevils.
Because root weevils do no harm inside homes, the best way to handle infestations is to tolerate occasional beetles, vacuuming them as they are observed. However, if greater numbers are observed, a treatment can reduce the amount of activity. For more information regarding a treatment, please call us anytime. Control also includes sealing openings and screening windows to prevent entry. Root weevil populations can be reduced by removing plants around the outside of the home on which the insects feed. These especially include Rhododendrons and Yews (or Taxus). Reducing watering around building foundations may limit root weevil migrations, as the adult insects appear attracted to shade and moisture.
pest78Black Vine Weevil
One of several types of root feeding weevils, the black vine weevil is the most destructive and widespread. A European native, it was most likely introduced accidentally via plant materials. Though first reported in 1910 in Connecticut, researchers suspect that it was introduced in the 1830s. This weevil has spread by the movement of ornamental plants and thus is found throughout most of Canada. Facilitating its wide geographic range may be its rather flexible choice of foods—it feeds on over 100 types of plants, trees, shrubs and flowers.  

Cluster Fly

Although the cluster fly is a nuisance pest for homeowners, they do not bite people, carry diseases, nor cause any real damage to a home. Cluster flies are about five-sixteenths of an inch long; they are gray with golden-toned hairs on their thorax. Spotting them is easy because they are usually clustered together sunning themselves on exterior walls; this is also where their name comes from, generally clustering together when at rest. The cluster flies are similar to many other pests as they want to get inside houses to stay warm. With this in mind, the winter is when people will most often find cluster flies inside their homes.
pest80Habits and Breeding
Cluster flies search for any small openings that will get them into a house; open windows or doors are great opportunity. They generally enter homes in the fall, as the weather begins to cool down. By winter, most cluster flies will be hibernating within a warm home. While hibernating the cluster fly is not very active, so a homeowner might not even know they are there – although there are occasions where the cluster flies will come out in to sun themselves – a lovely, warm and south facing window is where a homeowner is likely to spot them, otherwise they pretty much stay in hibernation.
Also known as an attic fly, Cluster flies like to hibernate in – you guessed it – attics and wall voids.   They like to be higher off the ground and will cluster together once in hibernation.  When spring starts, the cluster flies will leave the house and venture back outside where they will mate and eat, neither of which they do during hibernation.
pest81The cluster fly reproduces frequently.  Females don’t to do much: once they have mated they lay their eggs in soil near earthworms.  About three days later the eggs will hatch and the larvae will migrate towards the earthworms, burrowing inside and using the earthworm as a food source.  Once fully developed, the cluster fly will be on its own. This cycle will continue from the spring to the summer, during which four generations or more can be made.  As summer comes to an end and fall approaches the cluster flies begin to look for another home, or the same home, to hibernate in.


The name “earwig” comes from an old superstition that these insects crawl into the ears of sleeping people, doing predictably nasty damage. This is not one of their behaviors, of course, but because earwigs do hide in crevices and crannies, they may inadvertently and rarely enter the ears of people lying on the ground. Presumably, many different kinds of small invertebrates could also do this.
Earwigs forage mainly at night, and during the day conceal themselves in all sorts of enclosed spaces: under stones, wood and bark, in vegetation and flowers. Even those species able to fly seldom seem to do so. The 1350 species of earwigs in the nine families of the Order Dermaptera are mostly tropical in distribution.  Some species are native in temperate regions, but few can tolerate cold winters and all the species recorded in BC were introduced from other lands. The random, alien origin of our earwigs is reflected in the diversity of the small fauna – four species in four genera and three families. Like cockroaches, earwigs are secretive and omnivorous, two characteristics that make them successful hitchhikers with human travelers – some kinds have become quite cosmopolitan.
Unlike cockroaches, most of these successful immigrants have established themselves out-of-doors and are not normally pests of human habitations. In Canada, because of their foreign origins and dislike of the cold, most species are concentrated on the coasts and in the Great Lakes region. They tend to live in disturbed habitats, on beaches and around gardens and human habitations.Most species are omnivorous scavengers although some are known to be exclusively predaceous; in coastal BC for example, Anisolabis maritima (Bonelli) evidently feeds mainly on invertebrates found on ocean beaches. Forficula auricularia Linnaeus, when abundant, can be a pest of garden plants, and is especially fond of flowers.  In general, earwigs probably cause serious damage to plants only when insect prey is limited.  Prey can be captured with the forceps, although these are also used in courtship and probably mostly in defence: the larger species can give a human finger a painful pinch. Eggs are laid in underground burrows, usually in batches of 20 to 40. Females of some species, including the widespread Forficula auricularia, guard the eggs and show some care and protection of their young. Family groups often remain associated and semisocial behaviour occurs. Nymphs usually molt four to six times.
The earwig body is small- to moderately-sized (5 to 30 mm long, although some foreign species may reach 5 cm), slender, elongated and rather flattened. The mouth parts are made for chewing and the antennae are filamentous, usually less than half the body length.  There are no ocelli.  Legs are similar in size and form; the tarsi have three segments. Wings are often absent. When present, the forewings are modified into short, rectangular, vein-less, leathery flaps. Hind wings may be absent even if the forewings are developed, but when present, are usually semicircular and pleated, with radiating veins. Each is stowed as a folded packet under the much smaller forewings, and the tips often project from beneath. The paired cerci at the tip of the abdomen are usually unsegmented, and strongly sclerotized into forceps. These pincers, which are the most familiar feature of the order, are usually stronger and more curved in males. The females, except in some primitive species, lack an ovipositor.
To control the number of earwigs in and around the house:
  • Reduce lighting on the outside of the house
  • Eliminate damp, moist conditions in crawl spaces under houses, around faucets, around air-conditioning units, and along house foundations
  • Be sure rain gutters are carrying water away from the house
  • Use caulking, putty and weather stripping around doors and windows and other entry sites
  • Be sure the landscaping creates a clean, dry border immediately around the foundation wall. For example, use gravel or ornamental stones rather than flower beds or mulch along the walls


Hobo Spider

pest84Tegenaria Agrestis, better known as the hobo spider, is a recently introduced species to the United States and Canada, coming from Europe to the Pacific Northwest. Hobo spiders have been labeled as spiders of medical importance because of the belief that their bites can cause severe pain and potentially necrotic wounds. The research, however, on hobo spider bites is incomplete with no definitive answer regarding their level of danger to humans. Most experts warn against using a single picture for any conclusive spider identification, including the hobo.  Given that fact, the picture here shows a spider that has many of the hobo spider’s physical characteristics. There are no bands on the legs and the abdomen has a “v” pattern down the middle. Compare the picture to the left with the picture below of the giant house spider, another Tegenaria species. The slight differences in the colour of the abdomen and cephalothorax provide another comparative identification clue.
The hobo spider belongs to the funnel web spider family (Agelenidae), the two spinnerets extending from the bottom of the abdomen being characteristic of the species. Like other funnel web spiders, they prefer the outdoors and tend to only come indoors during the late fall, as the season changes. Wandering males also are known to meander through a house. Persons suspecting they have been bitten by a hobo spider should seek medical attention.  If circumstances permit, trapping the spider for positive identification helps with diagnosis and treatment.

Giant House Spider

At one time or another, many different spider species – from jumping spiders to cellar spiders to wolf spiders and more – find their way into people’s homes. Technically, the term house spider refers to species in the Tegenaria genus, with three species commonly found in Canada:
  • Tegenaria agrestis – hobo spider
  • Tegenaria domestica – domestic or common house spider
  • Tegenaria gigantea – giant house spider
  • pest86
The three species look very similar, with the hobo spider commonly considered a species of medical concern. The range of the hobo spider and giant house spider are limited mainly to the Pacific Northwest, although extended ranges to Utah, Montana and the interior BC are reported. While giant house spiders are large, up to 3” long with their legs extended, their bites are not as dangerous as the hobo spider. In fact, they are a natural predator of the hobo spider and their presence is considered a natural pest management remedy.      

Indian Meal Moth

pest87The Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella (Hubner), is one of the most commonly reported pests of stored grains in Canada. Larvae of the Indian meal moth feed upon grains, grain products, dried fruits, nuts, cereals and a variety of processed food products. The Indian meal moth is also a common pantry pest. The Indian meal moth is handsome with a wing expanse of nearly three-quarters of an inch. It is easy to distinguish from other grain pests by the peculiar markings of the forewings: they are reddish brown with a copper luster on the outer two-thirds and whitish gray on the inner, or body ends. The hind wings lack distinctive markings and are more or less uniformly gray. Adults can be seen resting on the grain surface or grain bin walls. The adults fly at night and like many of the moth family, are attracted to lights.
pest88The eggs of the Indian meal moth are whitish, ovate and very small. making them difficult to see without the aid of a microscope. Newly hatched larvae are also very small and difficult to see. Larger larvae are usually yellowish, greenish or pinkish in colour. Fully grown larvae are a half to five-eighths of an inch in length with a brownish head capsule. Larvae have three sets of legs near the head (thoracic legs) and five sets of prolegs on the abdomen. Larvae of the meal moth spin a web as they become fully grown and leave behind silken threads wherever they crawl. This loosely clinging webbing on the grain is characteristic of this pest and often abundant enough to attract attention.
pest90Life Cycle
As long as the temperature within a grain bin or building where grain is stored remains above 50° F (10° C), the Indian meal moth can survive and reproduce. A typical life cycle (egg to adult) is completed in forty to 55 days with the potential for seven to nine generations per year, however, because of cooler temperatures during the winter months, fewer generations are produced. Under optimal conditions, the entire life cycle can be completed in approximately 28 days. A mature female lays 100 to 300 eggs on food material, either singularly or in groups of twelve to thirty.  Larvae begin to hatch in two to fourteen days, depending on environmental conditions.  Newly hatched larvae feed on fine materials within the grain and are small enough to pass through a 60-mesh screen making it difficult to exclude larvae from most packaged foods and grain.


pest91Silverfish are silvery to brown in colour because their bodies are covered with fine scales. They are always wingless and generally soft-bodied. Adults are up to three-quarters of an inch long, flattened from top to bottom, elongated and oval in shape, have three long tail projections and two long antennae. The Firebrat, Thermobia domestica (Packard), is quite similar in habits but is generally darker in colour. The firebrat prefers temperatures over 90°F (32° C) but has a similar high humidity requirement so it is commonly found near heating pipes, fire places, ovens and other heat sources.
pest93Life Cycle
Silverfish have a simple metamorphosis (egg – nymph – adult) with females laying eggs continuously after reaching the adult stage.  She may lay over 100 eggs during her life which are deposited singly or in small groups in cracks and crevices.  Hatching in three weeks, Silverfish develop from egg to young to adult within four to six weeks and continue to molt throughout their life. Immature stages appear similar to adults except they are about one-twentieth of an inch long and when they first hatch are whitish in colour, taking on the adults’ silver colouring as they grow. They are long-lived, surviving from two to eight years.
Habitat and Food Sources Silverfish are chewing insects and general feeders, preferring carbohydrates and protein, including flour, dried meat, rolled oats, paper and even glue. They can survive long periods without food – sometimes over a year – and are sensitive to moisture. requiring high humidity (75% to 90%) to survive.  Silverfish have a temperature range between 70°F and 80°F (21° C to 26° C). They are fast running and mostly active at night, generally tending to reside in the lower levels of homes although have been found in attics.
pest94Pest Status and Damage
Silverfish are medically harmless and primarily a nuisance pest inside the home or buildings: they can contaminate food, damage paper goods and stain clothing. Many of their habits are similar to cockroaches and they appear to be more a common household pest in drier parts. They can occasionally damage book bindings, curtains and wallpaper.


The wasps that are known as “yellow jackets” and “hornets” are medium-sized insect pests 10 to 25 mm long, easily recognized by the bands of black and yellow or white on their stomachs.  There are, however, many other types of harmless wasps that look similar and can be mistaken for pests. A hollow stinger, found at the rear of the wasp’s body, injects venom when it penetrates the skin. These stings can be quite painful. The species known as social wasps are the most common and also the most dangerous because of their behaviour; among them, German yellow jackets are considered the most aggressive.  Social wasps make paper nests in different shapes and sizes, some quite visible and others hidden: the nest can be fully enclosed with an opening near the base or it can be an open structure, depending on wasp species. In early spring, the hibernating queen comes out of her crack, crevice or tree bark to look for a new nesting site.  Once found, she builds the first few paper cells and lays a single egg in each cell.  After being nurtured by the queen, these new workers will take over all the colony duties like feeding and tending the queen, tending the new larvae, hunting and scavenging for food, building new brooding cells,                                                                                                               and cooling the nest on hot summer days. The queen’s sole role is then to lay eggs for the rest of summer.
All larvae become female workers, except in late summer where some of the eggs hatch into the reproductive males and females that will produce the next season’s generation.  Only the inseminated females survive the winter to start the cycle again as new queens; all workers and the old queen die and the nest is not used the following year.
pest97What Can They Do?
Social wasps are common in urban and rural areas throughout North America and are the most common stinging menace in many Canadian cities. Outdoor gatherings are often visited by wasps because of their attraction to sweet foods and, earlier in the season, to food rich in protein.  Stings can happen when people or animals bother wasps that are hunting for food or when a nest is approached by accident, triggering a defensive reaction from “guard” wasps.  However, people or animals have been attacked even when seemingly unprovoked. Thousands of people are stung by these venomous insects each year. In some rare cases, severe allergic reactions to the venom results in death.  Immediate medical attention is required if a reaction to a sting includes unusual swelling, itching, dizziness or shortness of breath. Unlike the bee, a wasp can sting more than once. Wasps can also damage ripe fruit by creating holes when they eat the flesh.  Many species are known to habitually scavenge in city garbage bins.
However bothersome, wasps are beneficial in many ways.  Workers catch insects like flies and caterpillars, carrying them back to the nest to feed the developing larvae.  They also act as pollinators when they visit flowers for nectar.  They are also a source of food for small mammals, birds and spiders.
Management Strategies Given their beneficial role in nature, tolerance is best for small populations of wasps.  Learning to tell the difference between harmful social wasps and the solitary, harmless species prevents accidental exterminations and allows the solitary species to continue their valuable behavior. Prevention Inspect your yard and home surroundings in early summer, looking for any wasp activity or paper nests taking shape. It is easier to discourage a single queen wasp from establishing too close to your home than handle a full-size nest later in the season. Physical Control Since wasps hunt for high-protein food like insects to feed their larvae, make sure moist pet food or picnic leftovers are not left in the open.  Other attractants like sweet food and strong scents like perfume and hair spray should be avoided and try not to leave food or drink uncovered when eating outside.  Keep all garbage covered in tightly closed containers and walking barefoot on lawns or other grassy areas should not be encouraged, especially in late summer when wasps are more abundant and active.
Commercial traps are available at Cranbrook Pest Control.Food bait can be used with these traps to increase their effectiveness.  Be aware that there may be more wasp activity around baited traps, so they should not be placed close to play areas or other places of human activity.  These traps can be useful in the short term during outdoor events where wasps can be drawn away from food-serving areas. If the location of the nest does not present a health hazard, it’s best to leave it in place until November or December.  Once the nest has been abandoned, the trap can be removed and the nest disposed of with minimal risk. If the nest must be removed during the summer months, it should be done in the evening when wasps are least active.  Nest removal can be dangerous and extreme caution must be used because of the risk of attack by a large group of wasps. Depending on the location and structure of the nest, removal can be as simple as enclosing the nest in a plastic bag and detaching the single anchoring stalk from the supporting tree branch or structure. To dispose of the active nest, place in a freezer for at least 48 hours. Remember to always wear protective clothing, including a head net.  Although a homeowner—with adequate protection—can remove a nest, professional help is recommended.
Treating the nest with an insecticide like pyrethrin is an effective way to control wasps.  Spraying after nightfall is recommended because wasps are not considered nocturnal.  Use a red filter over a flashlight for visibility instead of direct light as this will alarm the wasps and increase their activity.  Always wear protective clothing when using pesticides. What to Do if You are Stung by a Wasp If a wasp lands on you, remain calm and wait for it to fly away or gently brush it off; sudden movements can cause the wasp to sting defensively.  Stings can be soothed with ice packs or with a baking soda paste.  A wasp’s venom is very potent and people with anaphylactic allergic reactions need medical attention immediately – even with the use of an anti-venom shot.


There are six types of woodpeckers common to the Kootenay region: the Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker.
pest102Downy Woodpecker (Picoides Pubescens) Length: 17 cm A white back generally identifies both this woodpecker and the similar Hairy Woodpecker. The Downy Woodpecker is smaller in size, with a much smaller bill, their outer feathers generally have faint bars or spots.  Birds in the Pacific Northwest have pale gray-brown back and underparts and birds living in the Rocky Mountains show less spotting on their wings; the females may be confused with the female Three-toed Woodpecker.  Note the Downy’s conspicuous eyebrow and lack of barring on the sides.  Calls include a soft pik note and a high whinny.  They are quite common and often seen in backyard feeders, park lands and orchards, as well as forests.
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides Villosus) Length: 24 cm A white back generally identifies both this woodpecker and the similar Downy Woodpecker. The Hairy Woodpecker is larger, with a much larger bill, their outer tail feathers are entirely white. Birds in the Pacific Northwest have pale gray-brown back and underparts. Rocky mountain birds have less spotting on their wings; the females are easily confused with the female Three-toed Woodpecker.  Note the conspicuous eyebrow and lack of barring on back and flanks, sides are not barred. Its forehead is spotted with white, its crown is streaked with red or orange in young males. Its calls include a loud, sharp peek and slurred whinny. They inhabit dense mature forests and may move to open woods in the winter.
Three-Toed Woodpecker (Picoides Tridactylus) Length: 22 cm Black-and-white barring down the center of the back distinguishes the Three-toed Woodpecker from the similar Black-backed Woodpecker. Both have heavily barred sides. The male’s yellow cap is more extensive in the Three-toed. Barring on the back varies from heavy and dense in the eastern form (picoides tridactylus bacatus), to lighter in the northwestern (picoides tridactylus fasciatus). In the rocky mountain subspecies (picoides tridactylus dorsalis), their backs may be mostly white rather than barred. Females resemble female Hairy or Downy Woodpeckers, look for heavily barred sides. Its call is a single pik. Three-toed Woodpeckers are found in coniferous forests, especially in burned-over areas.
Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides Arcticus) Length: 24 cm They have solid black back, heavily barred sides. Males have distinct yellow cap. Similar to the Three-toed Woodpecker, it has a barred back. The Black-backed Woodpecker inhabits coniferous forests and is often found in burned-over areas, foraging on dead conifers, flaking away large patches of loose bark rather than drilling into it, in search of larvae and insects. Its call note is a single, sharp kik. They are uncommon. In winter, it withdraws from the highest altitudes in northernmost part of range and may visit wooded valleys.
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus Pileatus) Length: 42 cm A perched bird is almost entirely black on its back and wings.  Pileated is the largest woodpecker commonly seen.  The female’s red cap is less extensive than in the male.  Juvenile plumage, held briefly, resembles the adult but is paler overall. Call is a loud, rising and falling wuck-a-wuck-a-wuck-a, similar to the flicker.  They are generally uncommon and localized throughout much of its range.  It prefers dense, mature forests but also seems to be adapting to human encroachment, becoming more common and more tolerant of disturbed habitats, especially in the east.  Also found in woodlots and park lands, as well as deep woods.  Listen for its slow, resounding hammering, look for the long rectangular or oval holes it excavates.  Carpenter ants in fallen trees and stumps are its major food source.
Northern Flicker (Colaptes Auratus) Length: 32 cm It has a brown barred back with spotted underparts and black crescent bib. Its white rump is conspicuous in flight and it lacks white wing patches. Females lack red or black whisker stripe. All three forms—yellow-shafted, red-shafted, and gilded flicker—are regularly seen in the Midwest and southwest. Large, active, and noisy, flickers are common in open woodlands and suburban areas, often feeding on the ground. Calls include a rapid wik-wik-wik-wik and wick-er, wick-er, wick-er, and a single, loud klee-yer.

Deer Mouse

pest108The Deer mouse is a small, white-footed mouse with large dark eyes and long whiskers.  The soft fur of the deer mouse varies in colour from a golden brown to a pale grey on the back, while the underparts are white, including the underside of the relatively long tail. The ears are large, round and covered with fine hairs; they can be described as Mickey Mouse-like.  Deer mice have four toes on the forefeet and five toes on the hind feet.  Adult deer mice weigh from 10 to 35 grams with external measurements averaging 17 mm total length, 81 mm for the tail, 20 mm for the hind foot and ears measuring between twelve to 20 mm.
The Deer mouse is found throughout BC and indeed can be found all over North America particularly in forests, prairies, and deserts but not usually in urban area or where the ground is continually wet.  Their natural habitat is rural and semi-rural areas where they inhabit fields, pastures and the various types of vegetation found around homes and outbuildings. The Deer mouse builds a spherical nest by shredding materials such as bark, grass, hair, string and the fluff from cattails into a soft, warm bed with one main entrance. The nesting site can be found anywhere where there is a cavity or opening, such as under rocks, wood piles or in empty bird nests.  Deer mice drop their scat and urinate in and around their nest site, posing the threat of Hantavirus whenever the Deer mouse is found in sheds, attics, feed bins or other enclosed spaces were people may breathe the dust from the nest.
Breeding starts very late in the winter and young are born in April; on average, the deer mouse has four litters each year.  The gestation period varies from 22 to 27 days, averaging about 24 days. Litter size ranges from one to nine, averaging about four.  At birth the young are blind, pink, and hairless and weigh from 1.1 to 2.3 grams.  The male, while not present at birth, does return to assist in the care of the young.  Sexual maturity is reached before the young lose their “blue” juvenile pelage, and females born early in the year may themselves produce young by late summer or early fall. The deer mouse is omnivorous and feeds on seeds, plant greens, berries, nuts, mushrooms, insects and carrion. They will also gnaw on bones or antlers for the calcium. Deer mice in turn are an important food source for many carnivores like weasels, fox, skunks, minks, raccoons, bears, coyotes, and wolves.  Owls and snakes are also important predators.

House Mouse

pest111The house mouse is common in all parts of Canada. The house mouse is dusty grey in colour and measures from 10 to 15 cm long with large ears and small eyes. The tail is usually the same length as the mouse. The house mouse is sometimes confused with the deer mouse, which is pale grey to reddish brown in colour and has a bi-coloured tail with a white underside. Mice are nibblers and thus tend to make small holes or other slight damage in many places rather than a lot of damage at one place.  The house mouse has a keen sense of touch, smell and hearing.  They can run, climb, jump and swim very well. The house mouse is considered one of the major structural pests, causing serious economic loss, health hazards and unsanitary environments. House mice eat the same food as humans, including cereals, seeds, fruits and vegetables and are especially fond of sweet liquids.  Because they nibble, they may feed as often as 15 to 20 times each day consuming only a small amount of food each time.
pest112Life Cycle
The average lifespan of a mouse is 12 months.  The young are born about 20 days after breeding and mature rapidly; a single female may have as many as eight litters per year, averaging five to six young each.  By three months, the young are independent and capable of reproduction. Habits and Health Hazards Since the contributing factor to a mouse infestation is the presence of food, good housekeeping is essential.  This includes the proper storage of foods in sealed jars or tins, in addition, all refuse should be stored in containers with tight-fitting lids. Mice cause extensive damage to houses, granaries, restaurants, bakeries – any where food is handled or stored – they will gnaw through wood to gain entrance into buildings.  In constructing their nests, mice will destroy fabrics and leather goods and can cause fires by chewing through the insulation on electrical wires.  They can survive outdoors during the winter under certain conditions but generally invade buildings when the weather turns cold.
Contaminating food with their droppings and urine, spreading diseases such as salmonella bacteria, lepospirae and typhus, mice also carry parasites such as fleas, round worms and mites. Mice are year-round pests becoming active primarily during the evening and remain so until the middle of the night unless food is scarce or the infestation is large, then they will be active during daylight hours.
pest114Nesting spots are any safe location close to food, preferring the spaces in double walls, above ceilings and floors and closed-in areas around counters.  There are several ways that mice make their existence known, droppings near available food is the most common indication.  Noises made by their running, gnawing and scratching will provide clues to their actual location and holes gnawed in bags and boxes containing food or garbage is also a sign of mouse presence.

Pack Rat (Bushy-Tailed Wood Rat)

pest115The bushy-tailed wood rat, otherwise locally known as the pack rat is the only native rat found in Canada.  This large, gentle and squirrel-like rodent is immediately distinguished from the introduced Norway and roof rats by its bushy tail.
Adult fur coat is long, soft, dense, usually grey on the back and with tawny brown sides, the undersides and feet are white.  Males are 8 to 10% larger than females, measuring about 28 to 46 cm (11″ to 18″) in length.  Tail length can be 10.5 to 22 cm (4″ to 8-3/4″) and weight can be 211 to 526 grams (7.4 to 18.4 oz).
Wood rats are active all year and primarily solitary and nocturnal, being most active during the first half hour after sunset and again before dawn.  One individual to 20 acres is an average density in its preferred habitat with their presence characterized by a large bulky residence composed of twigs, bones, foliage, debris and all manner of human artifacts, some containing up to three bushels of material. Their actual nest is situated in the center of this mound, and is made of shredded bark, grass and moss – if in human environments, soft, shredded cloth, cotton batting, wool, etc. are used.  The nest itself is tidy but nearby are the toilet areas, where the waste stains and cements loose debris to the rocks.
For food, wood rats prefer the leaves of aspen, willows, roses, cherries, currants, snowberries and elderberries and will also eat the twigs and needles of Douglas fir, Alpine Fir, Englemann Spruce and Junipers. They also use the seeds and fruit of Douglas fir, anemones, gooseberries, cinquefoils, raspberries, fireweed, gentians, elderberries, honeysuckles and goldenrod.  In autumn, they are provident, collecting and curing the available food items, stockpiling them in crevices and under large boulders for winter needs.
Beginning in February, a male will meet with a female and pursue her until they mate in March.  Gestation period is 27 to 32 days and after the young are born, the dominant female drives out the male.  Litter sizes are one to six with the average at three and a half.  Under favourable conditions two litters about two months apart are produced, but in the northern part of its range, usually only one.  The young are weaned at 26 to 30 days and reach maturity when about eleven months old.
Distribution within British Columbia
Most literature reports that the bushy-tailed wood rat is found throughout all of BC’s mainland and is absent from the coastal islands.  Some authors, however, report that this rodent is also absent from the northeast and northwest corners of the province, it is however, very predominant in the Kootenay Region.  This rodent is not considered to be in jeopardy and is therefore not protected (Stevens and Lofts 1988).
Habitat Requirements
The bushy-tailed wood rat requires habitat that offers security with good cover provided within rocky habitats such as talus slopes, caves, cliffs, river canyons and rock outcrops in open forests.  In the absence of rocky habitat, security cover can be provided by logging slash, hollow logs, abandoned buildings and mine shafts, suitable sites for building their “stick” houses.
Wood rats owe their nickname of pack rat because of their association with stick houses which are generally quite large (1 to 1.8 m in height) and built out of woody debris, dried vegetation and other objects collected, including human artifacts such as silverware, jewelry and clothing.  These houses are preferably situated within the shelter of a rocky overhang, but can sometimes be found in the open, up a tree, or in the attic space of an unfortunate homeowner.
Although often referred to as stick houses, the large piles function more as a storage dump than a house.  Their true nests are small (about 15 cm in diameter), cup-shaped, and are made up of finely shredded bark and other soft materials such as fur. These nests may be found within the larger stick house but are more commonly found in a sheltered spot nearby.
Food Habits
The wood rat is an omnivorous rodent that will make a meal out of a variety of plants, insects, small amphibians and carrion.  The majority of the wood rat’s diet is comprised of green and dry vegetation with preference shown for the foliage of herbs, shrubs and trees, but not grasses.  They also feed on the vascular tissues of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and western hemlock; willow leaves are also a favoured food.  Bushy-tailed wood rats stockpile large quantities of dried vegetation to sustain them throughout the winter months.
pest116Daily Activity and Movement Patterns
The bushy-tailed wood rat is nocturnal in activity, but can be observed occasionally during the day; they rarely venture far from the nest. Although the bushy-tailed wood rat can climb trees, and will occasionally locate its stick house up a tree, it is less arboreal than its semi-arboreal cousin, the dusky-footed wood rat.
Bushy-tailed wood rats are a solitary and territorial species – males spend considerable time marking their territory with their ventral musk glands, which they rub on toilet posts, food caches and nests. This can also create a very recognizable odour when found nesting inside your home.
Seasonal Activities and Movement Patterns
The bushy-tailed wood rat does not hibernate, instead it actively prepares for the winter by stockpiling a cache of vegetation, which it gathers and dries in the sun during the growing season. Winter months are primarily spent under the snow among the cover provided by their rocky habitat, however, short trips may be made over the snow’s surface.
Bushy-tailed wood rats do not travel significant distances throughout the year (with perhaps the exception of dispersing juveniles), remaining in the near vicinity of their stick houses and nesting sites.
Physical Signs
Good indicators of the presence of a bushy-tailed wood rat are the deposits of urine and feces that accumulate within this animal’s home range.  Feces and urine form a thick, tar-like substance often mistaken for some kind of mineral, if deposited in a spot sheltered from the rain.  Bright white streaks result from urine deposited on rocks exposed to rain, the thinking is rain leaches out the organic components of the urine leaving a white calcareous deposit behind – a useful sign to look for when determining occupation (or former occupation) of an area by a wood rat.  Because feces and urine deposits are quite perpetual, lasting for thousands of years in sheltered areas such as caves and decades on exposed surfaces, care must be taken not to confuse past use of a site with that of current use.  Locating fresh streaks of urine can quickly differentiate that of an old site, the distinction being fresh urine’s transparent yellow to opaque brown colour, skunky odour and stickiness.


pest117Skunks are legendary for their powerful predator deterrent: a hard-to-remove and horrible-smelling spray, an oily liquid produces by glands under its large tail.  To employ this scent bomb, a skunk turns tail and blasts its foe with this foul mist that can travel as far as 10 feet (3 m).
Skunk spray causes no real damage to its victims but it sure makes them uncomfortable.  The smell can linger for many days and defy attempts to clean it off.  As a defensive technique, the spray is very effective as predators typically give skunks a wide berth unless little other food is available.
pest118Identification and Habitat
There are many different kinds of skunks and they vary in size (most are house-cat-sized) and appear with a variety of stripes, spots and swirl patterns, but all are a vivid black-and-white that makes them easily identifiable, alerting predators to their pungent potential.
Skunks usually nest in burrows constructed by other animals and also will live in hollow logs or even abandoned buildings.  In colder climates, some skunks may sleep in these nests for several weeks of the chilliest season.  Each female gives birth to between two and ten young each year.
pest119Skunks are opportunistic eaters with a varied diet.  They are nocturnal foragers who eat fruit and plants, insects, larvae, worms, eggs, reptiles, small mammals and even fish. Nearly all skunks live in the Americas, except for the Asian stink badgers who have recently been added to the skunk family.  


Pigeons and doves have been around for a long time—long before humans. Rock doves are thought to have originated in southern Asia several million years ago. Compare this to modern humans that first appeared about 120,000 years ago.
Size and Weight
A pigeon is about 13” (32cm) in length from bill to tail and weighs a little less than a pound (0.35 kg). Males are slightly bigger than females.
A pigeon family:
  • Hen: an adult female pigeon
  • Cock: an adult male pigeon
  • Hatchling: a newly hatched pigeon just a few days old
  • Squab: a young pigeon from one to 30 days old. When ready to leave its nest, a squab can sometimes weigh more than its parents.
  • Peeper or Squeaker: a young bird that is learning to eat
  • Fledgling: a bird that is ready to fly or that has just taken its first flight
  • Juvenile: a bird out of its nest and flying but less than eight months old
Nesting  A pigeon nest usually is constructed with small twigs on covered building ledges that resemble cliffs, a rock dove’s natural habitat.  They also nest and roost on the support structures under bridges in cities and along highways.  Usually well hidden and hard to find, the cock brings the nesting material to his mate, one piece at a time and she builds the nest. Breeding
Pigeons usually lay two white eggs with the parents taking turns incubating the eggs; males usually stay on the nest during the day and females at night.  Both male and female pigeons produce a special substance called “pigeon milk” made is a particular part of the bird’s digestive system called the crop, which is fed to hatchlings during the first week of life.  Eggs take about 18 days to hatch and when hatchlings are about one week old, the parents start regurgitating seeds with crop milk; eventually seeds replace the pigeon milk.
Colouring and Feathers
There may be as many as 28 pigeon colour types, called “morphs”. Pigeons also have colourful neck feathers: iridescent green, yellow and purple feathers called “hackle”.  Adult males and females look alike, but a male’s hackle is more iridescent than a female’s.  White feathers are actually feathers that have no colour pigments, so, when you see white on pigeons you are actually seeing no colour.
Adults have orange or reddish orange eyes; juveniles younger that eight months old have medium brown or grayish brown eyes.  Pigeon legs and feet are red to pink to grayish black and their claws are usually grayish black with occasional white on some pigeons.  Some birds have “stockings”, which are feathers on their legs and feet!
The cere is the fleshy covering on the upper part of a pigeon’s beak which is grayish in young birds or juveniles, and white in adults.  Albino birds may have pinkish ceres.
Pigeons have many types of feathers, including contour feathers, the stiff feathers that give the body its shape, and down, the fluffy insulating feathers.  Many pigeon feathers are accompanied by one or two filoplume feathers, which look like hairs. These filoplumes may have sensory functions which detect touch and pressure changes.
Senses and Calls
Pigeon eyesight is excellent.  Like humans, pigeons can see colour, but they also can see ultraviolet light—part of the light spectrum that humans can’t see.  Pigeons are sometimes used in human search-and-rescue missions because of their exceptional vision.
Pigeons can hear sounds at much lower frequencies than humans can, such as wind blowing across buildings and mountains, distant thunderstorms and even far-away volcanoes.  Their sensitive hearing may explain why pigeons sometimes fly away for no apparent reason: maybe they heard something.
Pigeons make two types of sounds: vocal and non-vocal. The primary call used by males to attract mates and defend territories is coo roo-c’too-coo. From their nests they might say oh-oo-oor. When they are startled or scared they might make an alarm call like: oorhh! Pigeon babies make non-vocal sounds such as bill snapping and hissing.  After mating, males often make clapping sounds with their wings.
Most birds take a sip of water and throw back their heads to let the water trickle down their throats. But pigeons (and all of their relatives in the family Columbidae) suck up water, using their beaks like straws.
Do pigeons have compasses in their heads?  Not really, but pigeons, especially those bred for their homing instincts, seem to be able to detect the Earth’s magnetic fields.  Cornell University pigeon researcher Dr. Charles Walcott says that magnetic sensitivity, along with an ability to tell direction by the sun, seems to help pigeons find their ways home.
On the ground, pigeons don’t hop the way many birds do. They walk or run with their heads bobbing back and forth. Pigeons are strong fliers and can fly up to 40 or 50 miles per hour. Some pigeons are raised for their exceptional abilities to fly fast and find their way home. These pigeons may fly as far as 600 miles in a day. Although feral pigeons are good fliers too, most of these birds seem to stay close to their regular feeding sites.
Natural Predators
The Merlin, which is one species of falcon, eats so many pigeons its scientific name is Falco columbarius (with the “columba-” meaning pigeon) and it was formerly called pigeon hawk.  Merlins are medium-sized raptors and although they are not very common in cities, you can bet they are preying on pigeons living in open parks near marshes and ponds.  In cities where peregrine falcons have become established, feral pigeons are their prey, with the falcons often carrying their catch back to their nestlings.  Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks also search out pigeons in cities and in rural areas.
Fancy Pigeons
People raise all kinds of fancy pigeons which occasionally compete in shows. The breeds have names, such as rollers, tumblers and fantails, which reflect the way the birds fly or the way they look.