After working in the pest control industry for numerous years and seeing a wide array of pest issues, we came to an undeniable conclusion: every homeowner should have regular pest control at their home. Plain and simple, that is our mission at Standard Pest Control: to provide simple, affordable, and effective pest control maintenance plans for homeowners.
Most companies spend the majority of their time completing large extermination projects. Our goal is to help people avoid this altogether. Alberta is home to a wide variety of pests. Some are completely harmless, some are a nuisance, and some are bad news for homeowners. Below we break down the top 6 pests that homeowners need to be wary of.
Carpenter ants are a wood boring ant that can cause substantial structural damage to wood framing, decks, fences and more. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/pest-control-tips/carpenter-ants.html We find them present in a high percentage of homes in Calgary, Edmonton and Canmore. What makes carpenter ants particularly worrisome is that they often go undetected for years. Even when they are detected, they look similar to regular, non-wood boring ants.
Carpenter ants will drill burrows into wood, particularly soft wood that has experienced some form of moisture damage to make burrowing easier for them. We often find them behind the walls in kitchens, washrooms and laundry rooms where moisture is present, as well as in older decks, fences, wooden retaining walls, and even trees. Carpenter ants can cause tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars of damage without you even knowing, until it is too late.
Mice are extremely common in Alberta and pose a wide array of risks to homeowners. Mice are known to carry hundreds of different diseases that they will spread to humans and pets that live in the homes they inhabit. Rodents spread hantavirus, for example, which has a high mortality rate in humans. It can be contracted by vacuuming or sweeping up rodent droppings within the home.
Rodent’s teeth will continuously grow throughout their life. This means that they need to continually chew on things in order to keep their teeth at the correct size. Around your home, mice will chew on wiring inside appliances, walls, and even vehicles. Over time, this can cause thousands of dollars of damage. When chewing these wires, mice are also known to start many fires every year by causing a short circuit while chewing on live wires. Mice are a pest that is best kept outside of your home. The best way to do this is to have a regular home maintenance plan in place.
The northern pocket gopher is a common pest in rural Alberta, however they also tend to show up inside city limits in Calgary and Edmonton. Gophers cause substantial damage to lawns and gardens, which can be a frustrating experience for homeowners. Gophers are highly territorial pests. When you eliminate one, oftentimes a new one will take over the existing tunnel system. Getting rid of gophers can feel a bit like digging a hole in sand – no matter how much you do, your progress is quickly erased.
What makes gophers a particularly damaging pest is the risks they pose to septic systems. Gophers will dig holes in leach fields, chew through pipes, disrupt the flow of wastewater, and even cause structural damage to the foundation of the septic tank by tunneling underneath it and destabilizing the ground it was built on. For this reason, if you have a septic system and have gophers near it, it is imperative you learn to trap and kill gophers yourself or engage a pest control company in order perform routine maintenance and ensure that you do not incur costly repair bills.
Field mice, or voles, are a common pest both in Calgary, Edmonton, and rural areas. They are an incredible nuisance for homeowners who live in areas with large populations of voles. Voles feed on vegetation throughout the year, particularly gardens and lawns.
Oftentimes you will not notice just how much of your lawn is being eaten by voles as it regrows quite quickly in the summer months. In the winter, however, voles remain active and will continue to feed on your lawn throughout the winter months underneath the snow. Once the snow melts in the spring, the voles will leave an odd track pattern in the lawn that takes months to regrow. I have spoken to numerous homeowners who had such severe damage that they had to replace their lawns.
The other issue with voles is that they tunnel underneath things in order to build burrows to nest in. They particularly like to tunnel underneath paved and concrete areas, such as patios, driveways and foundations. These burrows can become quite large as populations grow, leaving a large gap underneath the structure. Over time, this can collapse, requiring you to repair your foundation, driveway, or other structure that they damage. As anyone who has replaced a driveway or foundation before knows, this is quite expensive to fix. This can easily be avoided by having a regular maintenance program at your home.
Pavement ants will build a football-sized underground nest underneath pavement, concrete or brickwork. You can find where they are living by the sand piles they bring to the surface above their nests. Most people will just sweep these sand piles away declaring the problem solved, however this is not an effective solution. The ants are still underground, and they will continue to excavate the area underneath their sand piles. The problem is that as these nests grow, they can cause the ground above them to shift, sink, and crack.
In my pest control career I have seen hundreds of collapsed walkways and patios from pavement ants being left to their own devices for years and years. Most commercially available over-the-counter products are completely ineffective at eliminating pavement ants. They will only kill the ants on the surface and not get to the root of the problem. Pavement ants are a pest that I always recommend having treated professionally. It will save you time and money in the long run.
Most people have no idea just how much damage a squirrel will cause to the inside of a house. They are incredibly destructive creatures that will cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage. They cause damage to electrical systems, insulation, and finishes in a matter of days. Squirrels often go undetected as their entry points can be very discreet and are often high up on the house. Having your home looked over by a professional on a regular basis to advise you on high-risk sites and investigate concerns will help you keep these nasty critters out of your home.