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What You Need To Know About The Pests Found In Maine

Here in Maine, we deal with our fair share of pest problems. From bed bugs and cockroaches to ants, rodents, and spiders, we deal with it all! To learn more about the nuisance, damaging, and potentially dangerous pests found throughout the Hancock and Penobscot counties and the surrounding area, check out the pest profiles listed below.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant found crwaling on the ground outside a blue hill home

Carpenter ants are one of the largest house-infesting ants found living in the United States. Adult workers grow to about 1/2 an inch in length and queens can grow up to one inch in length. These ants are black, red, or multicolored (black and red). Carpenter ants are often seen wandering outside as well as inside homes and other structures as they search for food.

Carpenter ants are not dangerous to people, but they certainly are dangerous to the structures of homes and other buildings. Carpenter ants tunnel through a building's structural wood to create satellite nests, helping to house and expand their colony. Over time the damage that carpenter ants can cause to the structure of a home while creating their new nesting areas can become extensive and costly to repair.

Outside carpenter ants create their main nest inside damp or rotting pieces of wood. Fallen trees, fallen tree limbs, and rotting tree stumps all make prime nesting areas for carpenter ants. Carpenter ants that are nesting inside a home or other structure typically make their satellite nests behind walls, above ceilings, or below floors in structural wood that has been damaged by water.

Carpenter ants are attracted to properties and homes that offer easy access to food sources and that have damp or rotting wood on or in them, creating a primes space for nesting. If carpenter ants have found their way into your home to nest, it is most likely because the structural wood of your home is damaged and there is an underlying moisture issue. Things like unsecured garbage cans, gardens, compost piles, or other sources of food are often responsible for attracting carpenter ants to a property.

Preventing problems with carpenter ants is a difficult job, but there are some things you can do around your home to deter them and to keep them from damaging the structure of your Maine home. Here are a few: Make sure that gutters are working to direct water away from the exterior of your home. Repair any plumbing issues found inside or outside your home. Use dehumidifiers to reduce moisture levels inside your home. Properly ventilate attics and crawl spaces to prevent moisture build-up. Inspect your home's foundation and exterior walls, sealing any cracks or crevices you find. Trim tree branches and shrubbery that are close to or touch your house, leaving some space between plant life and the exterior of your home. Place garden and compost areas away from the exterior of your home. Ensure that all outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting or locking lids. Though these tips can be helpful, the best way to a carpenter ant problem is to contact a professional pest control expert, like the professionals at MainelyPest.

Bed Bugs

bed bug being held by a person in penobscot county

Adult bed bugs grow to between 3/16th and 1/4th of an inch in length, have flat, oval-shaped bodies, and are brownish-red in color - many people believe that bed bugs look very similar to an apple seed with legs. When a bed bug has recently fed, its appearance changes a bit; the body swells, elongates, and turns a deep, purplish-red color. Young bed bugs or nymphs are smaller than adults and, before feeding, their bodies are transparent; after eating, turn bright red in color. Bed bug eggs are the size of a pinhead, are white in color, are sticky, and can be difficult to spot without the trained eye of a professional.

Bed bugs bite and feed on the blood of people, but are not considered dangerous, as they aren’t known to transmit many, if any, diseases to humans. However, it is important to understand that, while not dangerous, bed bugs create a serious pest issue that needs to be eliminated from any home or business as quickly as possible. Bites from bed bugs cause itching, and can lead to secondary infections that require medical attention. In addition, knowing that bed bugs are living inside your home with you and your family can cause a lot of stress, anxiety, and many sleepless nights.

A person can come into contact with bed bugs in a wide variety of public places and unknowingly introduce them into their home. Hotels, motels, public transportation, office buildings, nursing homes, schools, daycares, dormitories, or shopping centers are often home to populations of bed bugs. Bed bugs hitchhike into homes in a variety of ways, including on people; inside luggage, bags, purses; or inside used furniture, mattresses, or box springs.

Inside homes, bed bugs typically first infest sleeping areas. As their numbers grow, they move throughout the home – potentially infesting headboards and footboards, dressers, upholstered furniture, wooden furniture, cabinets, closets, electronics, inside electrical outlets, and underneath piles of dirty laundry. If bed bugs are living inside your home, you will most likely observe the following signs: red spots of blood or black streaks of excrement on mattresses, box springs, bedding, or pillows, live or dead bed bugs in the cracks of furniture, mattresses, or box springs, shed bed bug skins underneath mattresses or box springs, and a sweet, musty odor inside a room of your home that is otherwise clean.

Bed bugs are a difficult pest to fight, but the following tips can help you to avoid problems with bed bugs inside your Maine home: avoid purchasing used furniture, box springs, or mattresses for your home, always keep personal items off of the floors in hotels or any other public environment, inspect your family’s bedding often, and wash all bedding regularly on a high heat setting, vacuum your home often, including the seams and crevices found in and around furniture, rugs, and upholstery, immediately wash and dry all clothing on high heat settings and vacuum after returning home from a trip, and wipe out all suitcases that were taken on your travels before storing them away. Though these bed bug prevention tips are helpful, they are not guaranteed to prevent bed bug infestations. For the most effective bed bug control, turn to your local pest control provider at MainelyPest.

Rodents

large norway rat outside a hancock county home

Rodents are small mammals, and are part of the order Rodentia. Animals in the Rodentia order are all characterized by a single pair of front incisors that are found in both the upper and lower jaw and that continuously grow. To prevent their teeth from overgrowing, rodents are constantly chewing on almost any object they can find. Rodents are adaptable and can be found living in almost any indoor or outdoor environment. Rodents make up about 40% of all mammals. Examples of rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks.

Rodents are considered to be dangerous for a variety of reasons. First, Rodents constantly chew on objects to keep their teeth from overgrowing, meaning that inside a home or other structure, rodents can cause extensive structural damage by chewing through pipes, wires, insulation, flooring, and drywall. Second, rodents do not care what they chew on to keep their teeth at the proper length, so they will also gnaw on and destroy personal items like books, clothing, shoes, pictures, and furniture when living inside a home. Third, rodents have the potential to transmit a wide variety of diseases and bacteria to humans, including Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM), Salmonellosis, Dysentery, Hantavirus, and Leptospirosis. Fourth, white-footed mice are carriers of Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. These mice are typically the first blood meal for black-legged ticks, who then transmit the disease to people and pets. Fifth and finally, rodents will contaminate food and the surfaces of your home or business with their urine, feces, and saliva, making it likely that you will come into contact with this residue, as well.

Over time, and as our territories have merged closer together, rodents have come to somewhat rely on people as food, water, and shelter sources. Rodents are attracted to properties that offer easy access to food- unsecured garbage cans, garden areas, compost piles, fruit trees, bird feeders, and pet food are all highly attractive to rodents. Once ample food sources have been discovered on a property, it is only a matter of time before the rodents find their way inside while foraging for food. While rodents have the potential to enter homes any time of year, it is very common for rodents to move inside in late fall when the temperature drops, as they are seeking a warm, safe place to nest over the winter that is in close proximity to food and water sources.  

Typical outdoor nesting spots for rodents include trees, tree stumps, wood piles, under dense vegetation or piles of debris, in abandoned bird or other animal nests, in the ground, or underneath foundations, sheds, or decks. Rodents also often find their way into and nest inside outbuildings like sheds, barns, and garages. Inside homes and other buildings, rodents can be found nesting in a variety of spots, but typically make their nests in close proximity to their food sources. Typical indoor rodent nesting spots include underneath floors, in wall and crawl spaces, behind appliances, in the attic, in basements, or in laundry rooms.

Rodents are a difficult pest to battle, but the following tips can help you to prevent problems with rodents inside your Maine home. Here are a few tips that may help: Remove excess wood piles, piles of leaves, and piles of garbage or debris from your property that could attract rodents. Make sure wood piles, compost piles, and garden areas are placed a distance away from the outside of your home. Quickly pick-up fruits and vegetables that have fallen to the ground in garden areas. Inspect the exterior of your home and seal any openings found in the foundation and exterior walls. Caulk gaps found around windows and doors, and seal cracks and crevices discovered in the foundation. Seal spaces found around utility entrances, vents, and roof lines. Keep storage areas in your home organized to reduce areas in which rodents can hide. Store food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator. Wipe down counters, vacuum floors, and wash all dirty dishes on a daily basis. While helpful, these tips won't necessarily prevent an infestation. The best way to solve problems with rodents and keep them from returning throughout the year is to contact a pest control expert like MainelyPest.

Fleas

flea sitting on the skin of a brewer maine resident

Fleas are parasitic pests that feed on the blood of mammals. The “cat flea” is the most widespread species of flea found living across the United States. Fleas feed on a wide variety of hosts, including cats, dogs, rodents, wild animals, poultry, and, unfortunately, humans. Adult fleas are tiny in size only growing to between 1/12th and 1/6th of an inch in length. They have a hard, flat, shiny body and are dark brownish-red in color. Fleas are wingless, but jump great distances, and move very quickly using their large, powerful back legs. Fleas use the spines in their mouths, legs, and backs to gain a good grip on their host and feed on their blood without becoming dislodged.

Fleas bite in order to feed on the blood of its host. Fleas feed using their specialized piercing mouthparts. A flea bite typically results in the formation of a red spot that is surrounded by a reddened halo.

Fleas can be dangerous because of the many different diseases and parasites they can transmit to people and pets. In addition, flea saliva can elicit an allergic reaction in some people and pets which causes dermatitis, a skin reaction that often becomes severely itchy. As we scratch a secondary infection can occur which requires medical attention. Such an infection can also cause the loss of fur in pets. If your pets have a severe flea infestation, the constant presence of fleas feeding on their blood can cause anemia, resulting in a sick and lethargic pet.

These pests can become a problem inside any home, whether or not pets are present. Fleas are typically introduced onto a property by wild animals traveling across it. Once on your property, fleas can find their way into your home on the backs of your pets or on the clothing or shoes of you or your children. If you don’t own pets, your home can still become infested with fleas. Fleas may be introduced into homes on used furniture or rugs, on the bodies of invasive pests like mice or squirrels, or by the pets of the previous occupants of your home.

Fleas are a difficult pest to prevent, but the following tips can help you to avoid problems with fleas inside your Maine home: Keep your pets up-to-date on their flea treatments. Remove wild bird and animal feeders that could attract wild animals to your property. Keep wild animals out of your home by placing caps on all chimneys, repairing holes along the roofline, and sealing cracks discovered in the foundation. Regularly vacuum your home’s floors and upholstered furniture. If possible, do not let your pets sleep on your furniture or beds. Routinely wash your pet’s bedding. Do not purchase used furniture or rugs for use inside your home. Though these tips can help prevent flea problems, they aren't guaranteed to keep these pests out. For the most effective flea elimination and prevention, turn to a local pest control expert such as MainelyPest.

Cockroaches

large cockroach crawling on the floor of a hancock county home

The cockroach’s appearance is unique to their exact species, but, in general, all cockroaches have a semi-hard body that is oval and flattened in shape, and they have a small head compared to the rest of their body. Cockroaches have six legs that are very sensitive to touch and they have wings. However, not all species have wings that are fully developed, and not all species are capable of flight. Cockroaches are often identified by their large size and their two long antennae. Cockroaches are found in a variety of colors including dark brown, black, and mahogany-brown and may also have lighter-colored markings.

Cockroaches are considered to be dangerous. They live and travel in unsanitary conditions (excrement, garbage piles, and sewers). Their unsanitary living conditions mean that their legs and body are covered in a large amount of bacteria, human pathogens, and parasites; causing things like dysentery, diarrhea, salmonella, and more, all of which can make humans extremely ill. In addition, cockroaches shed their skins as they grow and deposit large amounts of feces inside homes and other structures in which they reside. Both shed skins and feces can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks in some people - especially for those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, or children.

Cockroaches often find their way into homes while out foraging for food sources; cracks and crevices in the foundation and exterior walls, spaces underneath doors and around windows, open windows, and vents are common cockroach entrance points. Cockroaches can also be introduced into homes inside delivery boxes, in used furniture, or in used appliances that are purchased and brought into the home.

Where a cockroach prefers to live, either outdoors or indoors, is dependent on their exact species. In general, cockroaches that prefer to live outdoors are often found nesting underneath mulch or soil, in trees, in flower beds, or in garbage piles. Some prefer to live near sources of water and can be found living inside sewer systems or near pipes. Cockroaches that prefer an indoor lifestyle can be found living in many different areas of a home or business depending on their species. Some species like to reside in warm, raised areas, and are found nesting in attics, above ceilings, or behind large electrical appliances. Some species prefer damp dark areas and therefore are found living near pipes and faucets, in basements, in bathrooms, in laundry rooms, in crawl spaces, or in kitchens or bathrooms under cabinets,  in drawers, or under sinks.

Cockroaches are difficult pests to prevent, but the following tips can help you to avoid problems with cockroaches inside your Maine home: Make sure door sweeps are installed on all exterior doors and place a mesh cover over all vents entering your home from the exterior. Caulk any gaps found around windows and doors. Make sure that window and door screens are completely intact. Outdoor trash bins should have tight-fitting lids on them and garbage should be removed from your home on a regular basis. Repair leaky pipes and fixtures to help eliminate water sources. Use dehumidifiers to reduce humidity levels inside your home. Inspect packages before bringing them into your home. If possible, do not purchase used furniture or appliances for your home. Indoors, regularly wipe down counters and vacuum floors to remove crumbs. Wash dirty dishes daily, and keep all food either in containers with airtight lids or in the refrigerator. For the best cockroach removal, turn to your local pest control provider such as MainelyPest.

Spiders

spider resting in its web inside the basement of a hancock county home

Spiders have two body parts: a fused head and thorax and an abdomen. Spiders are also identified by having between six and eight eyes, eight legs, no wings, and no antennae. Spiders range in size from small to large; their bodies can be smooth and shiny or covered in fuzzy hair and they come in a variety of colors including brown, tan, black, yellow, orange, and red. Depending on the exact species, they may be patterned with chevron, mottled, or striped markings.

Whether or not a spider is dangerous depends on its specific species. However, it may be comforting to know that in the United States most species of spiders are harmless. There are only a couple of species which produce venom that may possibly cause health problems in humans. In general, spiders are shy and reclusive, and don’t want to be around people. Spiders are not generally aggressive towards people, and typically only bite when they feel threatened, are startled, or are being directly handled.

There are no native species of venomous spiders living in Maine. However, it is possible for venomous spiders like black widows and brown recluse spiders to be transported into Maine inside boxes or items such as used furniture. If spiders are living on your property or inside your home, it is always best to contact a professional to accurately identify the species.

Spiders are usually found living outside in quiet, out-of-the-way places. Spiders create webs or burrows in garden areas, tall grasses, in bushes and shrubs, in between rocks, underneath decks and outdoor furniture, in wood piles, and underneath roof eaves or in doorways. Spiders often find their way inside homes, garages, sheds, and other buildings when out foraging for food or when the weather outside becomes too cool or rainy for them to live comfortably. Indoors, spiders are found creating webs or hiding in dark quiet areas, such as inside closets, in basements, in crawl spaces, underneath furniture and beds, and even in clothing or shoes.

Spiders can be difficult pests to prevent, but the following tips can help you to avoid problems with spiders inside your Maine home: Position garden areas away from the outside of your home. Clean up any piles of debris around your property that spiders could hide in and build webs. Trim back overgrown shrubs and bushes and keep them away from the exterior of your home. Inspect your home’s exterior, sealing any openings found in the foundation or around windows and doors. Seal spaces around utilities entering into your home through exterior walls or along the roof line. Inside your home, keep storage areas like closets and basements clear of debris, and regularly vacuum and dust throughout your home. While helpful, these tips are not guaranteed to eliminate or prevent spider infestations. For the best and most effective spider control, enlist the help of your local pest control experts like the professionals at MainelyPest.

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