There are only two main types of ants in the Seattle area that are considered Wood Destroying Organisms and those are carpenter ants and moisture ants. Carpenter ants are very large in size compared to other ants and are usually pretty easy to identify. Much like a termite, a carpenter ant can cause extensive damage to a home if left untreated. It’s common to see these ants trailing outside in our region; however, seeing them inside is cause for alarm. This is a pest you definitely want to treat for.
Moisture ants are small reddish-brown ants. As their name suggests, they are usually attracted to moisture. The presence of these ants in a home often indicates that there is a moisture problem somewhere in the home. Often it can be a leaking toilet or a windowsill letting moisture in. Although they cause damage, the bigger issue is the moisture problem. Generally, if you solve the moisture problem, you solve the moisture ant problem.
Odorous house ants are the most common ant in Western Washington. These ants do not cause structural damage to a home but can be a nuisance more than any other pest. They can be very difficult to eradicate by yourself, so it’s generally recommended to have a professional treat for them. Depending on your neighborhood and home, these ants may require multiple treatments.
Velvety Tree Ants are another type of Wood Destroying Organism, and we see these in almost all counties, with the Kitsap region having the least amount.
Rats & Mice
In the Seattle area we are overrun with rodents! It’s extremely common for homes to have signs of mice and rats in their crawlspaces or attics, so rest assured that you are not alone if you have rodents. Evidence of rats and mice in crawlspaces and attics are very easy for home inspectors to find, so many new homeowners are alerted of their presence prior to moving in. One things home inspectors struggle with in regards to rodents is determining if it’s old or new activity. Because of this, it’s a good idea to hire a pest control company to help determine the level of infestation. Some rodent issues are very easy to fix and can be done in one or two visits. Other rodent problems can be very difficult to resolve. A common issue we see is that the insulation in your attic or crawlspace becomes contaminated with rodent droppings and urine. This can be a health hazard, so sometimes it is recommended to have your crawlspace and attic cleaned out and insulation replaced.
The Pacific Northwest is known for having a major spider population, especially in late summer and early fall. The good news is that spiders do not infest a home in large numbers, so you are not going to have hundreds of spiders hiding in your walls! Homes that are near water or have a lot of trees/bushes are generally going to have a higher spider population. Many people are concerned about venomous spiders in our area; however, new research suggests that the yellow sac spider is the only one in our area and it’s uncommon. All homes in Western Washington will have some level of spider activity so it’s really up to the homeowner what their comfort level is and if they want to have a professional treat for them.
Stinging Flying Insects
This includes wasps, hornets, yellow-jackets, and bees. Most homes in Western Washington will have some sort of flying insect activity. Most of the time it’s just small little nests in the eaves of a home. What one needs to be concerned about are large active nests. If you see a nest on the exterior of the home that’s larger than a tennis ball, then you will want to have it treated and removed by a professional. Another indication of a nest inside the walls of a home, which can be very dangerous, are flying insects going in and out a hole on the exterior of the home. You’ll generally see dozens of flying insects using the same hole and pathway. This indicates there is a nest somewhere within the walls of the home. These nests can be very difficult to eradicate on your own, so hiring a professional is strongly recommended.
Fortunately, termites are very rare in Western Washington. We do see a few homes in the area with termites so we are not completely immune to termites, but overall they are not a high risk for homes in our area. Subterranean termites are the ones that can cause the most damage in our area. Generally if these are present, a home inspector would find evidence of them. A more common termite in our area is the dampwood termite, but this termite is generally found outside in rotting and decaying wood. These are also the termites you’ll see swarming in late summer.