For people who own a home, there is usually a wide variety of maintenance concerns that must be attended to. While some are maintenance issues to keep up with the functioning of mechanical systems, some involve maintenance of the structure and safety issues.

This is the case with the maintenance and upkeep of insect infestations. Some insects that can infiltrate a home are more annoying than a safety or structure hazard, others can be dangerous to the structure of the home and the safety of people and pets living in the home.

Because of this, it is very important to pay attention to home insect infestations for the well-being of the home and the people living in it.

Understanding Insect Infestation Types

There are several primary insects and several other non-primary insects well known to infest homes and businesses in the Portland area. Getting to understand these insects and their potential threat to property and personal safety is important.

In a home, there are usually six primary insect invaders. Each of these insects can create a level of havoc and damage to a home and a few can cause concerns for the health of the occupants. These include:

• Termites

• Carpenter Ants

• Small Ants

• Carpenter Bees

• Other Bees, Wasps, and Hornets

• Cockroaches

When it comes to damage to the structural component of a home the primary concerns are from carpenter ants, termites, and carpenter bees. Each of these insects bore into the wood of a home and can cause structural damage. Termites and carpenter ants do direct damage to wood.


Termites are tiny white, tan, or black bugs. An infestation from these insects can cause major wood damage. Like the carpenter ant, they create tunnels in the wood of the home. However, Termites consume the wood of the home. Because of this, the home becomes a food source. If left unattended, they can destroy walls, floors, and ceilings.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants do not eat wood for food. Instead, they make tunnels to allow them ease of access through the wood from one nest area to another within their nesting system. Carpenter ants look for moist wood as particularly easy wood to tunnel through.

They are often found in window sills and doorways where there is usually moisture-laden wood. They can do extensive damage to wood structures and if the home has multiple nests, they can cause significant damage to walls, floors, window sills and entryways.

Carpenter ants forage for food both inside a home and outside in wooded areas. Areas with a large insect population tend to attract carpenter ants because they often consume other insects when they die. They can also forage on human food as well. Because of this, it is essential to keep the food in a home well packaged so they are less likely to invade inside the home.

Small Ants

Small ants do very little damage to a home, their primary concern is getting to a food source. They do not typically bore into wood, but they do make nests and usually find a small point of entry into a kitchen area for food.

Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bees resemble Bumblebees in look and size. These bees bore into the wood of a building or tree to build a nest. The male bees do no

t sting but can swarm. However, the female carpenter bees will sting animals and humans if threatened.

Like carpenter ants, carpenter bees do not consume the wood they bore through. They simply bore through the wood to make nesting areas. Unlike carpenter ants, carpenter bees do not make extensive tunneling systems. They usually create nests in a central area.

Carpenter bees’ nests that are left unattended often create other carpenter bee communities in the same home. This increases the likelihood of people being stung and more wood damage to the home. These bees like to nest in the wood support of the eaves, overhangs, and roofs of a home.

Bees, Wasps, and Hornets

Bees, wasps, and hornets do not traditionally nest in a primary area of a home. These insects often build nests in areas like carpenter bees. However, they do not penetrate the wood. Instead, these insects create nests externally. Hornets, wasps and yellow jackets can be highly aggressive and can cause serious bodily harm even to people who are not allergic. This is especially true if they swarm.


Cockroaches are brown hard-shelled insects that can grow up to two inches in length. They can become very problematic. They are drawn to human food and to water. Because of this, a community of them can nest in a building or home readily. While they do little damage to the structure of a home, they can carry disease and viruses including salmonella and Hepatitis.

Because each of these insects is well known to cause problems that can be quite significant in the Portland region, being very diligent to address them quickly can be essential to ensure they do not become worse. The good news is that these insects can be removed from a home by looking for a quality natural pest control Portland homeowners can rely upon to be thorough.

Non-Primary Insect Infestations

There is also a group of insects that are non-primary threats to a home. These insects can become a threat to the surrounding yard and can still pose a health risk. These insects do not typically infest a building structure but can be very problematic. They include:


• Bed Bugs

• Ticks

• Mosquitos

• Spiders

While this group of insects rarely causes damage to the structure of a home, they can cause health concerns. The bite from any of these insects can cause human health concerns that range anywhere from rashes and skin irritations to more significant diseases and even fatalities.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are well known to cause excessive rashes which can get infected. Bed bugs feed off human or pet blood in a similar way as a mosquito which is why they bite. They also can be particularly difficult to get rid of. They tend to nest in any type of cloth including bedding, carpets, and clothing.

Mosquitoes and Ticks

Mosquitoes and ticks are often an exterior problem. However, if allowed to go unchecked in a yard, they can infect people with serious health problems. Some of these can be fatal. West Nile Virus is a known disease carried by mosquitoes in Oregon and can be fatal.

Ticks are very small dark colored insects often smaller than the tip of a pen unless engorged. They can carry Lyme Disease as well as several other diseases. In most cases, the disease does not prove to be fatal. However, people who get Lyme Disease several times or those who have poor immune systems are at a heightened risk for serious health concerns with this disease.


Spiders are identified as eight-legged double sectioned insects of varying sizes and colors. While some can look horribly scary, they may have no effect on humans and pets. However, spider bites can be nasty. In fact, some species can have a bite that can prove fatal such as the Brown Recluse Spider.

For people who have problems with any of these insects, it is recommended to get the home or building treated quickly and have followed up treatments. Whether the insect can cause damage to property, person or pet, leaving them unattended can be a cause for major problems and concerns. In some cases, it is recommended to have ongoing treatment or a management plan in place to ensure these insects are permanently removed from the home.


Published by Charlesa Gibson