Chipmunks: Cute as a Button but Destructive

2 chipmunks eating
2 chipmunks eating

While widely popularized as adorable creatures in popular culture, chipmunks can be a terrible problem once they infest your home. Chipmunks are still considered rodents, classified as a type of squirrel, being the smallest among the family.

These tiny mammals are identified with their furry bodies, their fluffy tails, and their black, white, and brown stripes on the back. Cute as these critters may seem, their unwanted presence in your house surely isn’t as charming.

At Environmental Pest Management, we are here to help you with that. But before anything else, check these few things to know about these adorable yet bothersome chipmunks.

Chipmunk standing on a mossy log

Chipmunk Basics

Chipmunks are mammals, part of the Sciuridae family, which is the same as the squirrels.

As the smallest in size in all of the squirrel family, chipmunks can only grow up to between four and seven inches. Their tails, on the other hand, may grow from three to five inches long.

These animals are not social animals, and so they usually keep to themselves. They prefer to be alone, particularly in gathering food, unless it is the season for mating. While they do hibernate, there are times when they are unable or unwilling.

A young chipmunk or a chipmunk’s offspring is called a “pup.” Also, the proper term for a group of pups born to one mother chipmunk is a “litter,” while an extensive collection of chipmunks is referred to as a “scurry.”

According to National Geographic, there are about 25 different species of chipmunks all around the world. All of which, except the Eutamias sibiricus, are found in the United States.

Habitats for the Scurry

Chipmunks prefer to live in tree-filled areas like forests. They make their own homes, with some creating their nests, but most through creating burrows, complete with a tunnel system, nesting chambers, and rooms for storage.

Their nesting chambers can be found in wooden logs or shrubbery and can be made out of many small plant parts, such as leaves, twigs, and branches.

Meanwhile, the burrows that they dig can reach up to 30 feet long and are generally kept clean. Chipmunks often hide the openings to these underground chambers, camouflaging this entry by covering it with leaves and stones.

In these underground living spaces, chipmunks hibernate in the winter and even create storage space for food for after the cold and hibernation seasons.

A chipmunk is holding peanuts.

The Chipmunk Diet

Chipmunks are omnivores. Their favorite foods are things that are easy to come by, generally accessible from the ground. Their plant and animal based diets includes:

  • Mushrooms
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Birds
  • Bird eggs

When gathering up food to store, chipmunks stuff their findings within their all-famous, massive, and highly-expandable cheeks, or technically speaking, cheek pouches.

These cheek pouches can stretch the head of a chipmunk up to three times its normal size. To put things into perspective, a chipmunk can collect an estimated 160 acorns per day.

The Chipmunk’s Lifetime 

Common chipmunks in America, mainly Eastern chipmunks, live between two and three years. While Siberian chipmunks living far from suburban areas in Asia and Europe are a few of the longest-living rodents, with a lifespan between six years and a decade.

Now that you know all about chipmunks, what is it with these tiny creatures that make their presence in your home need extermination?

Beautiful wild chipmunk sits on a rock.

What damages do chipmunks cause?

Don’t let these chipmunks’ cute exterior fool you!

Chipmunks, while not aggressive unless in defense mode, can also pose dangers to you and the suburban environment. With their sharp incisors, they can chew on the smallest things such as wires, floor elements, or insulation, which could lead to serious problems in your home. They also bring destruction to a garden by chewing on the plants, as well as to personal belongings such as clothes, furnishings, and other items kept in closed storage.

Regularly seeing signs, such as ruined property marked by left-behind chew marks is a sign of chipmunk, or generally, rodent infestation.

Even though chipmunks are not aggressive animals, they can bite, and their bite can be dangerous. Just like any animal, domesticated or wild, a single bite from them could cause a variety of health problems. Diseases and infections such as salmonella and Hantavirus could be possible results of a chipmunk’s bite.

How do you avoid a chipmunk infestation?

Chipmunks in the suburbs are mostly dependent on humans for food, water, as well as shelter, so you have to keep all the food sealed in your house.

Also, to avoid another set of chipmunks welcoming themselves in your home without your knowledge is to determine possible chipmunk entry points like open cracks and crevices in your home, and then get them covered.

Wild chipmunk sitting on log eating peanut

How can you get rid of them?

Are you having a hard time driving these chipmunks out your door, or even having no time at all to get started? We all know that getting rid of chipmunk infestations at home can be quite a challenge, and can be almost impossible without professional help.

So, if you have a chipmunk problem in your house, let us know! The Environmental Pest Management or EPM is the lending extermination hand for you. For a free quote, contact us here!

Don’t Kick the Hornets Nest: What to do With These Flying Pests


With all the “buzz” about pollinators, you may wonder how to allow stinging bugs like hornets to play their role in our healthy environment while keeping a safe distance. Yes, we want them to do their jobs in nature, but not too close to our houses and yards.

Environment Pest Management can help you keep your home secure from hornets and hornet nests with our comprehensive control service and several preventative tips. Call us today for a home evaluation and keep the hornets out in nature where they belong.

hornet on nest

Hornet Identification

The European Hornet is the most common hornet species in our neck of the woods. They measure 1.25 inches in length, with the queen appearing slightly larger.

These hornets are reddish-brown, with white or yellowish patches on their faces, tails, and abdomens. They have six legs and two pairs of wings.

Hornet Habitat and Habits

These colorful little stingers like to build nests in trees, bushes, overhangs, and other protected spaces. That’s why your home could be prime real estate for a hornet nest. If you’ve got an accessible wall void, a protected soffit, a hornet-sized attic entry point, or other protected areas in your house, hornets love those spaces.

Hornets gather wood fibers from their habitat and mix them with their saliva to create the paper-like material of their nests. They are nimble and competent carpenters. All types of protected or secluded corners and crevices are fair game for a hive.

These pests are attracted to trash cans and other food waste as easy food sources, as well as their more natural fare.

Hornets are seasonal pests. Only the queen and her eggs survive the winter in cold regions like the midwest. Adult bugs abandon the nest as the weather cools.

hornet close up details of fear inducing insect

How Hornets Make More Hornets

The queen in a nest hunkers down with her young in a protected area, such as underneath tree bark or in your home over winter. When the eggs hatch in the spring, she hunts for insects to feed the larvae that hatch from the eggs.

As the larvae mature into adults, the new workers construct their spring and summer nests. These workers handle all of the housekeeping tasks from protection, food gathering, to hive construction.

Once the queen has an established workforce, she goes to work laying more eggs so the seasonal cycle can begin again.

Some of the queens eggs hatch and grow into adults that can mate. These sexually mature males and females leave the hive, mate, and produce a new queen. This process is how hives proliferate across a region or neighborhood.

Hornets are generally harmless if left alone. However, they do become aggressive if they perceive a threat to their nest. It’s important to take steps to remove or prevent hornet infestations when you notice them.

Hornets Play an Important Role

Even though hornets can present a problem if they’re nesting in your house, they are important to our overall environmental balance.

Hornets are pollinators to a degree, but they are also predators. They help keep insect populations down by preying on bugs like flies and bees, among other species.

Fun Fact: If a hornet discovers a beehive, it leaves a chemical marker on the hive entrance so that other hornets can also find the food source.

Having an eye out for hornets is a great start to ensuring they have the space they need to do their thing and to ensure you remain sting-free.

hornet on leaf

How Bad is a Hornet Sting?

For most people, getting stung by a hornet is uncomfortable to say the least. When provoked or threatened, these small beings deliver a powerfully painful jab.

A typical sting results in a raised, red lump on the skin that may take a few days to disappear. For people allergic to hornet venom, however, a sting can be a much scarier event.

Allergic responses to hornet venom include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling beyond the sting site
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Hives
  • Other skin rashes
  • Wheezing
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Heart rate increase
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure changes

Side note: If you notice any of these symptoms after a hornet sting, be sure to stop into the emergency room or call your doctor for good measure!

Getting Rid of Hornet Nests: Where Do I Start?

Since hornets become aggressive when their nests are disturbed, leave any nests you may see alone. Call a professional like Environmental Pest Control. We’ve got all the safety equipment needed to remove nests without injury.

If you notice wasp activity around your house and yard, but don’t know the hive location, it’s also a good idea to call a professional. We’ll give your house and yard a full inspection and determine the hive location.

Hornet nests are best removed or controlled at night when all the insects go back to the hive. Usually, sprays or powders work well when applied to hornet nest entrances and access points on your house.

Sometimes a non-chemical solution works to control hornets. When the nest is small and exposed, a plastic bag tightly sealed around the entire hive at night is an effective way to move and destroy the nest.

It’s still best to leave hornet control to the professionals, however. DIY hornet removal can often result in painful stings or even worse, trips to the ER.

hornet nest of carnivore or Vespa affinis

Hornet Nest Prevention

Whether you’ve had trouble before with hornet nests or not, here are a few tips to keep your house and yard sting-free:

  1. Monitor the spaces around your home. Places to check often for hornet activity include underneath your gutters, near doors that are largely unused, attic vents, and more.
  2. Keep your garbage container tightly sealed and remove waste often
  3. Check your trees and bushes, and keep your foliage trimmed. Hornets like secluded places to build their hives.

When you notice hornet activity around or in your home, be sure to call the experts at Environmental Pest Control. We will remove your hornets efficiently and safely so you can move about your property without fear of the big sting.

Yellow Jackets Are Not Your Friends

Yellowjacket Hard at Work
Yellowjacket Hard at Work

They may look like bees, but these black and yellow predators are much meaner than their honey-producing doppelgangers. You wouldn’t want to run into a pack of these pesky predators!

If a colony of yellow jackets is plaguing you, contact Environmental Pest Management for a free quote. Environmental Pest Management uses only environmentally friendly products to rid you of bothersome pests and insects in a flash!

You may ask yourself, “Should I even worry about yellow jackets? What’s the big deal?” Let me assure you; they are a big deal. You don’t want them around your home or family.

Let us share some information about yellow jackets and why they can be dangerous.

The Common yellow jacket eating

What Do Yellow Jackets Look Like?

Yellow jackets usually range in size between 10 and 16 mm. While they most often display a striped black and yellow appearance, they can also be black and white in color.

They do look similar to bees, but there are a few ways to spot the difference:

  • Yellow jackets’ waists are thinner and longer than bees’.
  • Yellow jackets’ wings are longer and lighter than their body and lay laterally across their backs when at rest.
  • Bees are hairy, while yellow jackets are smooth.

There is one main difference between bees and yellow jackets that you should particularly notice. Bees can only sting once, while yellow jackets can sting multiple times because they have smaller barbs that allow them to sting repeatedly.

Which brings us to:

What Do I Do If I Get Stung By A Yellow Jacket?

Ideally, you should avoid getting stung in the first place. Notwithstanding, there are a few simple precautions you can take to lower the likelihood of a sting.

  • If you are eating outside, dispose of your food quickly and remove trash from your immediate area.
  • If you are hiking or walking and come across several yellow jackets, you should know that a yellowjacket nest is probably nearby. Clear the area as quickly as possible.
  • If a yellow jacket lands on you or flies near you, don’t swat at it. Aggression from you may lead to an attack from the bug.

Fortunately, yellow jackets are only aggressive when they feel threatened. If they think you infringe on their territory, they will likely come after you.

Yellow jacket stings can be excruciating. Some common effects you can expect are mild swelling and irritation at the nest site.

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to a sting. Some symptoms to look out for are:

  • Problems breathing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms following a sting from a yellow jacket, consult a physician immediately. If you know you are allergic to insect stings, you should always carry an epi-pen when you are out and about.

yellow jackets are feeding on a ham sandwich.

Thankfully, most people are not allergic and will experience only minor symptoms. There are many easy-to-use, at-home remedies you can try to treat mild irritation. Some of these include:

  • Take an antihistamine
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold compress. Be careful, do not leave an ice pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Make a paste out of baking soda and water. Apply to the sting to neutralize the venom
  • To reduce the itching, apply a cotton swab doused with vinegar
  • To minimize swelling, apply a sprinkling of meat tenderizer, which contains an enzyme called papain that can help break down the venom in an insect sting

For a bit more info, MultiCare has put together this helpful chart. Check it out!

Where Do Yellow Jackets Live?

Yellow jackets live in large colonies, which are typically started by a single queen. Most yellow jackets live for a little less than one year. Like bees, yellow jackets also have workers or drones that bring food back to the colony.

Also, like bees, they have a queen who is the only one to survive through the winter. During the winter, the queen hibernates in a safe space underground or high above the ground. Then, in the spring, she lays her eggs, and the insects that hatch become the new colony.

Yellow jackets make their nests in various locations, including bushes, trees, or the eaves and walls of houses. Occasionally, they may even establish a nest in an attic, although these nests rarely cause structural damage to your home.

Sometimes, they even build a nest underground in abandoned rodent burrows or other hollow spaces. However, unlike bees, yellow jackets are social wasps and can exhibit aggressive behavior to defend their nests.

What Do Yellow Jackets Eat?

In terms of their diet, yellow jackets are both pollinators and scavengers. They are attracted to various food sources, including flower nectar, but they are also drawn to meat and sweets. As a result, they are often found foraging for food around trash cans or any food left outside.

Interestingly, yellow jackets are also known to eat other pesky insects, which can be considered beneficial. However, when facing a yellow jacket infestation, the negatives far outweigh the positives.

yellow jacket wasp perched on the beautiful flower.

What Do I Do If I Find Yellow Jackets In Or Near My Home?

If you find an infestation of yellow jackets in or near your home, do not try to remove them yourself. Additionally, blocking the entrance to the nest will only agitate them, considering they are naturally wired to defend their nests.

The best action is to call a professional pest control service, such as Environmental Pest Management, to safely and effectively remove the yellow jacket nest for you.

Remember, if you encounter yellow jackets, it’s important to be cautious and take necessary precautions to avoid getting stung. And if you or someone you know experiences severe symptoms or allergic reactions from a yellow jacket sting, seek immediate medical attention.

Indian Meal Moths: Pantry Pests that Live a Long Time

Indian mealmoth or Indianmeal moth Plodia interpunctella of a pyraloid moth in wax of the family Pyralidae is common pest of stored products and pest of food in homes
Indian mealmoth or Indianmeal moth Plodia interpunctella of a pyraloid moth in wax of the family Pyralidae is common pest of stored products and pest of food in homes

The Indian Meal Moth is a hearty little pest that loves to feast on the grains in your pantry. Today, we’re here to give you a few tips on how to evict these bugs and keep them from coming back.

If you’ve got an enormous infestation of Indian Meal Moths or any other bug that’s fighting for control in your home, it’s time to call in the professionals at Environmental Pest Management. We’ll get you back to ruling your roost pest-free in no time.  Call today for an estimate.

Caterpillar of mealmoth in a box with sesame

Grains and Other Foods: a Vehicle For Moth Eggs

If you open your pantry and see a few of these moths fly out, you might be wondering how they got there in the first place. It’s no wonder. Indian meal moth eggs are microscopic.

Even though our food producers take precautions to keep them out of the general food stores, sometimes an egg or two manages to cling to life on some food packaging and eventually flourish in your flour cupboard.

These moths can hitch a ride into your home on the following foods:

  • Cereals
  • Grains of all kinds
  • Assorted flours
  • Dried Fruit
  • Candy
  • Pasta varieties
  • Mixed nuts
  • Powdered milk
  • Pet food

You can tell you’ve got an issue on your hands if you see the moths themselves, or if you notice a fine web-like substance on certain foods where you suspect the moths have originated.

Caterpillar of Indian mealmoth

The Meal Moth Life Cycle

Like any insect, the meal moth transforms through several phases of development.   They all begin as tiny, almost invisible eggs. An adult moth can lay up to 400 eggs in 2 weeks.

Further, any food substance not sealed in a metal can, or thick plastic container could be fair game for egg-laying and larval infestation.

Depending on the temperature and time of year, moths can take three weeks to 135 days to fully mature.  Food damage occurs during the somewhat lengthy larval phase of development. The larvae will crawl to protected or hidden areas to spin their final cocoons.

Once the adult moth emerges from the cocoon, or “pupa,” it lives for about five to seven days.  Just long enough to find a mate and make more moth eggs. You can easily distinguish the adult moth by its pale body and “grainy-brown” wing patches.  Adult moths are about a half-inch long and have a wingspan of ¾ inches.

Adult moths are usually visible at night as they may be attracted to the lights in your home. Be on the lookout for “nocturnal” activity from the adult moths.

Are There Any Other Telltale Moth Signs?

Unfortunately, yes. If you’ve noticed the adult moths flying around your cupboards or pantry, you should also be on the lookout for the following:

  • A fine, weblike substance on your dry ingredients like flour, dry pet food, cereals, pasta, candy, or other dry food products you’ve stored away.
  • The husks or cocoons of hatched pupa in places like ceiling corners or wall corners. Moth larvae will crawl to more protected spaces to spin their cocoons.
  • Holes in thin packaging materials like paper or plastic or webbing.

You’ve Identified The Moths, Now What Do You Do About Them?

If you’ve discovered Indian meal moths in your home, there are a few things you can do right away. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Try to discover the food source where the moths originated.  If you find it, wrap it in plastic and throw away immediately, preferably outside your home in your external trash can.
  2. Throw away grain or other dry food sources, especially those stored in paper packaging or boxes, as moths will lay their eggs in the cracks of such packaging.
  3. Consider clearing out all the dry food in your home and starting from scratch–after a thorough cleaning.
  4. Discard all shelf liners
  5. Wash down shelving with a soapy water mixture or light bleach blend, and finish with a spritz of peppermint oil mixed in water to prevent the moths from returning.
  6. Clean out and sanitize your trash bins, making sure to pay extra attention to cracks and crevices that could all be great places for moths to lay eggs.
  7. Place all “new” grains or nuts in a thick, sealable bag or container in the freezer whenever possible.
  8. Use sturdier storage that seals tightly to store pasta and other dry goods in the cupboard or pantry.
  9. Purchase smaller quantities of grains and other storable foods so they are used quickly and not sitting around attracting pests.
  10. Be patient and persistent. It can take several months to fully eradicate a severe moth infestation.

Indian meal moth pest, Plodia interpunctella on white wall

Environmental Pest Management, Your Expert in Pantry Purification

If, after all your meticulous cleaning efforts, you still have moths, give us a call. We’ll “unleash the hounds” on those persistent Indian meal moths, so they stay gone for good.

It’s important for homeowners to steer clear of chemical sprays when trouble-shooting these kinds of pests. The last thing you want is to infect your food or food surfaces with harmful chemicals while trying to get rid of bugs.

At Environmental Pest Management, we take the safety of your family and your food supply very seriously. We use only the most food and people-friendly products available to handle these unique and stubborn pests.

We create and utilize our trap and spray protocols with the best outcomes for you, your family, and your pets while eliminating the “yuck” factor of moths in your home.

We’ll also be able to assess your space for potential egg-laying opportunities you may have overlooked.  We’ll help you create a thorough cleaning strategy to cut off the moths at the source and keep them out.

At Environmental Pest Management, our goal is to provide you with a pest-free, care-free home. You can relax and feel comfortable knowing we’ve got your back with any unwelcome critters that may make their way inside. Call us today for an estimate, and let’s eliminate the “ewww” of bugs in your food and food spaces.