Since 2010, Austin has been the fastest growing city in the United States, and is adding over 5,000 people per month on average including both births and migrations. An unofficial recent estimate puts the city population above 1,000,000 — the 11th U.S. city over one million.

Before new residents arrive from out of town, they usually search for the best neighborhoods and schools. But what they probably don’t research is the bugs and pests who will be their new neighbors.

So if you’re one of the many that are new to town—WELCOME!

And as our own unique housewarming gift, we offer the following “Guide to Austin Pests” to help you answer the question: what kind of pests live in Austin? You’ll get acquainted with the insects around your neighborhood but more importantly, get some tips on how you can be UN-neighborly and kick them out, and keep them out!

Roaches

While Texas generally claims everything is bigger, and with apologies to Houston’s giant roach reputation, there are larger roaches both around the world and even within the United States. But that doesn’t make the roaches in Austin any less disturbing to many residents.

American Roaches

American roach AustinThese suckers can definitely make you uncomfortable. They’re big and they’re fast. The American roach comes inside especially during the hot summer months and can be found scurrying around homes in search of food or water.

They can be an inch and half or longer, have six spiny legs and two reddish-brown wings. Yes, they can even fly – yikes!.

Prevention is always a great first step for dealing with bugs. As with most pests, the best way to help stop roaches before they move in is first handling the environment around a home. This can include:

  • removing dead leaves around the structure
  • cleaning out gutters
  • reducing ground clutter like dense vegetation and piles of rock or debris
  • trimming back any tree branches or vines that are near or touching the home.

All of these actions help to remove the bugs’ favorite places to live outside that are near your home.

American roaches are scavengers, so even having a perfectly clean home doesn’t ensure they won’t be wandering around.

Sealing gaps around doors and windows can help, though they can wiggle through tiny openings, as small as 1/10th of an inch. So while closing up gaps can improve things, just relying on sealing out bugs as a prevention technique is not going to handle the persistent pest that inevitably gets inside.

So along with the prevention focus, adding a home pest treatment makes a great “one-two” punch. By both removing conducive conditions and then using a thorough pest control service that is pet and family friendly, you’ll ensure that these large nasty house guests don’t become permanent residents and you can rest easier at night.

Our own general pest control service treats and warranties against American roaches, among others, and uses low-toxicity and pet and people-friendly products. We are thorough, applying products to nooks and crannies inside, access points outside and spaces underneath the home, as applicable. We do this in a conscientious manner to minimize impact on beneficial insects, and the result is long-lasting insect control, with no contracts needed. Find out more about our pest treatment techniques here.

German Roaches

German roach AustinThese are often found in multi-family dwellings such as apartments and duplexes. The German roach is smaller and lighter in color than the large American roach and is often seen late at night in kitchens and bathrooms. They don’t get any larger than about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch long. They’re tan colored with two dark spots on their head trailing down.

They don’t live outside, but get in by hitchhiking on items brought in, such as food containers, old appliances or anything brought from an already infested location. They can also move around through shared walls and show up in a new location.

Once inside, they can reproduce quickly, and if left untreated will quickly take over a room or even an entire dwelling. So spotting them early and bringing in professional pest control is key. This is particularly true because recent studies indicate they can be resistant to many chemical pest control products. We avoid that risk and use a combination of baits and natural powders, primarily a unique boric acid formula (a natural occurring element) which is about as toxic to people as table salt. But to roaches it’s lethal. They don’t develop a resistance to these dusts and when applied correctly they will handle an otherwise tough roach issue.

Ants

There are more than 250 species of ants in Texas, nearly matching the 254 counties in the state. Luckily, there are only a few which can cause serious issues and require handling. Here are a few of the ants we commonly see around Austin:

Fire Ants

Fire ants AustinNo article about Austin pests can overlook the red imported fire ant. As the name suggests, it isn’t a native ant. So while they weren’t born in Texas, they got here as fast as they could, and then they made up for lost time. They migrated into the state around the 1950s, and now they cover nearly all of Texas as they continue to march westward.

Fire ant workers vary in size from 2 to 6 mm (0.079 to 0.236 in). Coloration is typically red and copper with a darker abdomen. While fire ant mounds are visible and well-known, they also exist generally in the soil. Mounds are constructed in open areas where no other protection for them is available, and can pop up after rains.

They’re an angry bunch when provoked which earned them their name. You don’t want to introduce yourself by stepping on a fire ant mound. They will swarm and sting, creating a painful initial sensation and itchy spots that can last several days.

Bait can be very effective, especially the right one applied at the right times. Our fire ant professionals apply our low-toxicity bait product around the structure and the yard. We can also spray around the home perimeter to keep fire ants from moving inside. The bait formulation is irresistible to foraging fire ants and combined with the perimeter spray, these can help keep your home and yard fire-ant free.

Acrobat Ants and Carpenter Ants

acrobat ant austinAcrobat ants and carpenter ants are both types of “wood ants” — ants that like to nest inside rotted trees or moist wood such as fences and even homes when given the opportunity. They like to burrow in to create paths and nests, chewing and extracting softer woods with those higher moisture levels. They are often spotted around the home by the debris they leave behind which looks like sawdust or light wood shavings, often accompanied by dead ant pieces.

If left untreated, they can cause some damage to the wood and certainly become a nuisance inside the home. Sometimes these ants even get into air conditioning units, light fixtures and electronics and cause havoc in these systems.

Prevention includes removing or controlling water sources nearby or in the home since they need a nearby water source to live. Another vital part of prevention for wood ants is trimming back any tree limbs and bushes that touch the home. They quite often use these as “roads” to climb onto and into your structure. These ants are most active at dusk and later, so you can walk around the house in the evening to see if they are active, particularly in the late spring and early summer months. Besides tree limbs, they can also be seen climbing onto a home from fences and even utility lines.

Treatment for carpenter or acrobat ants involves looking for the nesting site and eradicating it. We also apply a spray around the perimeter of the home so any remaining ants crawl across the treated surfaces. These ants will pick up the product on their sticky feet and carry it back to other ants and pass it along. We may also use bait as needed to fully handle the situation.

Small black ants, sugar ants, etc.

These are mostly seen in kitchens and pantries, looking for water and food sources particularly in the late Summer and early Fall. They are black or brown and some are so small they are not noticed, particularly on dark surfaces, until they have established a trail and “suddenly” there are dozens or hundreds around a sink.

Again, as with any bug, they need a water source so they can be found around sinks and plumbing. They also can go into pantries and crawl around unsealed food boxes or sweets, like honey. Storing these foods in airtight containers and keeping pantry shelves clean will help prevent these pests from setting up a buffet line in your kitchen.

Treatment from our Austin pest professionals includes inspecting around the outside of the home to find their entry points, spraying around the outside perimeter and treating the cracks and crevices both inside and outside where they walk.

Scorpions

Striped bark scorpion AustinScorpions are more common outside the main metro area, where rockier soil and geology play a part in their habitat and increased presence.

As for in the home, they can be found nearly anywhere. Scorpions often crawl inside to escape extreme temperatures. They can rest in walls and even attics since they do climb. They are a very unusual pest in that they can slow their metabolism down to where they can survive on eating just one insect a year if necessary, so prevention with scorpions is particularly key.

Avoid placing stacks of firewood, rocks or debris near the home. Even potted plants on the ground can provide a shelter they will hide under so you can hang plants if possible, or just keep them further away from the structure.

Be sure door and window seals and weather stripping are intact. Trim tree limbs that touch or overhang the home.

Doing a pest service around the home and removing other insects can help with scorpions since they are carnivores and eat insects.

A scorpion pest treatment from Aztec Organic Pest Service includes treating attics with a fine dust that is people and pet-friendly. It will attach to scorpions crawling through it to help dry them out and kill them off. We also can insert mesh screens into your home’s weep holes all along the foundation to keep out these larger pests. Finally, a thorough inside and out treatment including cracks and crevices in and around the home will help handle them.

Spiders

Along with ants, spiders come in hundreds of varieties — over 900 in Texas. Like scorpions, they can be trickier to eradicate because they don’t preen themselves like cockroaches or touch other insects like ants.

Prevention is very helpful with spiders and simple actions around the home can help as well. Pulling down spider webs with a vacuum or broom will both kill existing spiders and discourage them from nesting there. As with nearly any pest, removing debris, rocks, brush and clutter around the home will reduce their favorite places to lurk.

Finally, like with scorpions, treating in general for pests will reduce spiders even if the treatment doesn’t hit them directly. With the reduced food supply the spiders will perish or move on.

Spiders in the yard and environment are for the most part helpful by eradicating other pests, and they’re not aggressive towards humans. But if you need to keep spiders out of the home give us a call.

Rodents – Rats, Mice and others

Rat AustinRats, mice and other rodents are a uniquely human problem — meaning where there are people, there are rodents. As people have moved into areas the rats and mice often follow since we are quite often the source of their food: our waste products. We also set up potential sources of warmth and protection with our homes and structures.

Despite our unintentional hospitality, rats and mice in a home are of course never welcome. The surefire signs of a problem include scurrying sounds in an attic or in walls and rat droppings in AC or hot water heater closets.

If you suspect a rodent issue, we provide a rodent inspection which includes looking around the home for signs and entry points and using a safe and effective bait product to eradicate them. Following the baiting period, we can seal up those holes and entry points to keep them out.

Rodents can be a year-round problem but in winter months they can often increase as cooler temperatures and less available outside food drives them inside. Give us a call for any rodent issues you need handled.

Termites

One of a homeowner’s worst nightmares is their house being infested with termites, and for good reason. These wood-eating insects cause up to $5 billion in yearly home damage in the U.S. alone. But keep in mind that termites are not all bad. They play an important role in decomposing and breaking down wood and vegetation. The problem of course is when that wood is part of your home.

If you see the following, you may have termites:

  • Mud tubes are used by many termites to reach a food source and as protection as they travel. These can be seen on the inside or outside of walls as well as possibly in cracks in the structure or cement.
  • Bubbling paint that may look like water damage.
  • Walls and wood in or on the the home that sound hollow when tapped.
  • Small piles of termite droppings that resembles sawdust near a nest (not to be confused with acrobat or carpenter ant debris).
  • Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills which can indicate swarmers are in the home.

We offer a termite inspection service and, if found, an extremely low-toxicity treatment. The product we use, called Altriset, requires no signal word from the Environmental Protection Agency. Signal words on products are the Caution, Warning or Danger labels. It’s also so low in toxicity that the technician is not required to wear protective gear when applying.

Wasps

There are a variety of wasps around Texas. The types around Austin include red paper wasps, yellowjackets, mud daubers and large cicada killers. While they all can look intimidating, wasps are usually harmless to people unless threatened. As predators, they also help control the pest population.

But near a doorway or certainly inside you may need these handled. We can include wasps as part of our general pest service or a stand alone service when they are inside walls, high up on structures or other tough to reach areas.

Mosquitoes

Warm wet weather in Austin always brings out the mosquitoes, particularly in the green and vegetative parts of town. They can make backyard BBQs and get-togethers challenging, but you can take steps around the yard to handle them.

Stop any water leaks and areas of standing water, such as pipes and hoses that don’t fully shut off and downspouts that don’t divert water properly. Keep landscaping trimmed. Remove debris and piles of leaves or brush.

Some consumer products such as mosquito dunks placed in standing water or areas that stay wet after rains can help reduce the mosquito population.

We do offer one-time mosquito treatments but since we don’t require contracts we let our customers know that these are better for brief relief such as before a party or event at your residence.

Miscellaneous

There are of course hundreds if not thousands more insects in and around Austin, including pill bugs, millipedes and silverfish which can come into a home and be a nuisance. While not particularly dangerous and perhaps not even as gross as the above pests, they still are unwanted intruders.

Pill bugs and millipedes are included on our general pest control service warranty. So if you’re having issues with these smaller crawlers, give us a call.

Silverfish live in paper products, boxes, shelves and around drains and pipes and there are silverfish bait traps that are pet and people friendly that can help reduce their population. Otherwise an occasional “spring cleaning” of old books and files could help control their numbers.

Keep Austin Weird…And With Fewer Bugs

If you came to Austin but didn’t anticipate the bug population that would greet you, we’re here to help.

Austin provides hundreds of great reasons to call it home. But if your new home is starting to seem like it also has hundreds of pests that you’d like removed, give our office a call for a free pest control quote. We use low-toxicity products that are people and pet safe, have highly trained, reliable pest control technicians that will do a thorough job the first time, and we require no contracts. Many of our pest technicians have worked with us for over a decade. If a pest service is done expertly and thoroughly, you don’t need visits every other month.

Call (512) 443-0123 or fill out our online pest service form for more information.