Pests can make your Northern California home feel less comfortable and secure. From ants invading your kitchen to cockroaches lurking in dark corners, these unwanted guests can cause stress and frustration.

This guide will help you identify the most common pests in Northern California. You’ll learn about their habits, how to prevent infestations, and the most effective control methods if they’ve already moved in.

By understanding these pests, you can take steps to protect your home and reclaim your peace of mind.


Ants on an apple


1. Ants

Ants are some of the most common pests in Northern California. While typically harmless, they can swarm food sources and become a major nuisance in your kitchen and elsewhere. Here are some of the most frequent ant invaders:

  • Carpenter Ants: These large, black, or reddish-brown ants can damage your home by tunneling into wood.
  • Argentine Ants: Smaller and brown, these ants travel in large colonies and are highly invasive, often pushing out other ant species.

Prevention Strategies

The best way to deal with ants is to stop them from getting inside in the first place. Here’s how:

  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home for cracks and gaps around doors, windows, and your foundation. Seal any potential ant entry points.
  • Keep it Clean: Wipe up spills, store food in airtight containers, and don’t leave dirty dishes out overnight to avoid attracting ants.
  • Natural Repellents: White vinegar, cinnamon, and peppermint oil can act as natural deterrents against ants.

Control Measures

If ants have already made their way into your home, here are some options to get rid of them:

  • Ant Baits: These are effective for many ant species, luring them in with a sweet substance and slow-acting poison.
  • Natural Remedies: Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that can dehydrate and eliminate ants.
  • Professional Ant Control: For severe infestations or carpenter ants, professional help may be necessary.

Dead cockroaches

2. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are particularly unpleasant pests, known for their resilience and ability to spread bacteria. Unfortunately, they thrive in the warm California climate. Here are the types you’re most likely to find in your Northern California home:

  • German Cockroaches: The most common type, identified by their small size and brown color with two dark stripes behind their head.
  • American Cockroaches: Larger than German cockroaches, reddish-brown, and sometimes called “water bugs”.
  • Oriental Cockroaches: Shiny, dark-colored cockroaches often found near drains or other damp areas.

Prevention Strategies

Cockroaches love dark, moist environments, so making your home less inviting goes a long way:

  • Proper Food Storage: Seal food tightly and avoid leaving dirty dishes around.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean up crumbs and spills promptly, and pay attention to areas under appliances.
  • Moisture Control: Fix leaky pipes and reduce humidity in damp areas of your home.

Control Measures

Getting rid of cockroaches can be challenging. Here are some effective approaches:

  • Baits and Traps: These can be successful, but make sure to choose the right type for the cockroach species in your home.
  • Boric Acid: This natural roach killer can be effective when used correctly, but use it with caution around pets and children.
  • Professional Cockroach Extermination: For severe infestations or hard-to-eliminate species, professional pest control is often the best solution.

Lady looking for bed bugs under the mattress

3. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on blood. They’re expert hitchhikers, often infesting homes after travel or when you bring secondhand furniture inside. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Identifying Bed Bugs: Look for flat, oval-shaped bugs about the size of an apple seed. You might also find their shed skins, tiny white eggs, or reddish-brown fecal spots on mattresses and nearby surfaces.
  • Signs of Infestation: The most common sign is itchy, red bites that often appear in a line or cluster.

Prevention Strategies

Vigilance is key when it comes to preventing bed bugs:

  • Inspect While Traveling: Thoroughly check hotel rooms, especially mattresses and bed frames for signs of bed bugs.
  • Be Careful with Used Furniture: Always inspect secondhand furniture carefully before bringing it into your home.
  • Wash After Travel: Wash clothes and luggage in hot water as soon as you return from a trip.

Control Measures

Bed bug infestations are extremely difficult to handle without professional help. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Don’t Panic: While stressful, bed bug infestations can be treated effectively. Take a deep breath and plan your approach.
  • Isolate Infested Items: Seal infested linens and clothing in plastic bags until they can be washed or treated.
  • Call a Bed Bug Professional: Professional exterminators have the tools and expertise necessary to eliminate a bed bug infestation completely.

Two rats

4. Rats

Rats are more than just a nuisance – they can spread diseases, gnaw on wires, and cause serious damage to your home. The most common types of rats in Northern California are:

Roof Rats: Slender, dark-colored rats with long tails, known for their climbing abilities.
Norway Rats: Larger, stockier rats with brownish fur and shorter tails. They are skilled burrowers.

Prevention Strategies

Keeping rats out of your home is the best line of defense:

  • Secure Food Sources: Store pet food and garbage in tightly sealed containers. Pick up fallen fruit and birdseed around your yard.
  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your home’s foundation, roofline, and vents for gaps or holes. Seal any potential entry points with caulk or steel wool.
  • Reduce Clutter: Eliminate piles of debris, wood, or other materials near your home where rats can hide.

Control Measures

If you suspect a rat infestation, here’s what you can do:

Humane Traps: Live traps can be effective for catching rats. Check them frequently and release any captured rats far from your home.
Professional Rat Extermination: For large infestations or to ensure complete elimination, professional pest control is recommended.
Ongoing Prevention: Even after getting rid of rats, it’s important to maintain preventative measures to keep them from returning.

Red house spider

5. Spiders

While most spiders in Northern California are harmless and even beneficial for insect control, a few venomous species warrant attention. Here’s what you need to know:

Common Harmless Spiders: You might find house spiders, jumping spiders, or orb weavers in your home. These spiders are generally not dangerous to humans.
Venomous Spiders: The main spiders of concern in Northern California are black widow spiders and brown recluse spiders. Their bites can cause serious health problems.

Prevention Strategies

Reducing spider habitats around your home can help minimize encounters:

Remove Clutter: Clean up piles of wood, boxes, or other debris where spiders like to hide.
Seal Gaps: Check for gaps around windows, doors, and your foundation and seal them to prevent spiders from entering.
Shake Out Items: Inspect clothing, shoes, and outdoor gear that have been stored before bringing them inside or wearing them.

Control Measures

Here’s what to do if you see spiders in your home:

  • Natural deterrents: Spiders dislike the smell of citrus, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Try using essential oils to discourage them.
  • Remove Webs: Regularly knock down webs and egg sacs to reduce spider populations.
  • Professional Help: For venomous spider infestations or if natural methods fail, consider calling a spider control professional.


6. Wasps

Wasps can deliver painful stings, especially if their nest is disturbed. Common types of wasps in Northern California include:

Yellowjackets: These social wasps build nests in the ground or in cavities, and they can become aggressive when defending their colony.
Paper Wasps: They build paper-like nests that hang from eaves or other structures. They are generally less aggressive than yellowjackets but can still sting.
Mud Daubers: Solitary wasps that build mud nests. They are not usually aggressive towards humans.

Prevention Strategies

Here’s how to minimize the chances of wasps setting up shop near your home:

  • Food and Drinks: Cover food and drink when outdoors, and properly dispose of leftovers to avoid attracting wasps.
  • Regular Nest Checks: Regularly inspect your home’s eaves, sheds, and other potential nesting sites. Safely remove small nests early in the season.
  • Seal Holes: Fill any gaps or holes in your home’s exterior to prevent wasps from building nests inside.

Control Measures

If you find a wasp nest, take precautions:

  • Safety First: If you are allergic to stings, or if the nest is large, it’s best to call a professional for removal.
  • DIY Removal: If you decide to tackle a small nest yourself, wear protective clothing and do it at night when wasps are less active. Use a wasp spray designed for quick knockdown.
  • Professional Assistance: For established nests or if you’re unsure, professional wasp control will have the right equipment and expertise for safe removal.


7. Earwigs

Earwigs get a bad reputation due to their pincer-like appendages and the myth that they crawl into people’s ears. In reality, they’re mostly harmless scavengers that can occasionally damage plants. Here’s the scoop:

  • Identifying Earwigs: You’ll recognize earwigs by their long, slender bodies, reddish-brown color, and prominent pincers at their rear end.
  • Misconceptions: Earwigs don’t intentionally crawl into ears, and despite their appearance, their pincers are too weak to cause serious harm to humans.

Prevention Strategies

Earwigs love moisture and decaying organic matter, so here’s how to make your home less appealing:

  • Reduce Moisture: Address any leaks or drainage issues around your home and yard.
  • Manage Yard Debris: Keep mulch, leaf piles, and compost bins away from your home’s foundation.
  • Seal Entry Points: Check for gaps around doors, windows, and your foundation, and seal them to keep earwigs out.

Control Measures

Earwigs are usually more of a nuisance than a real threat. Here are some ways to manage them:

  • Traps: Simple traps made with oil and soy sauce in a shallow dish can attract and drown earwigs.
  • Diatomaceous Earth: This natural powder can desiccate earwigs when sprinkled around problem areas.
  • Chemical Control: If necessary, insecticidal sprays or dusts can be used for larger infestations, but should be used with caution around children and pets.
  • Professional Earwig Control: For persistent earwig problems or to ensure safe and effective treatment, contact an earwig control professional.


Don’t Let Pests Take Over Your Home!

Tired of dealing with creepy crawlies in your home? Whether it’s ants in your kitchen, cockroaches giving you the shivers, or those unsettling earwigs, Gecko Pest Control has the solutions you need. Our experienced technicians understand the unique pest challenges of our region, and we’re committed to providing safe and effective pest control.

Get your free quote today by calling us at (530) 342-3050. Reclaim your peace of mind and enjoy a pest-free home with a professional pest control service in Northern California. Pest Control!