Pest Management

Various pests are found in the Okanagan and occasionally residents need assistance to deal with them. The following links should provide some helpful information from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.

For assistance in managing specific pests, please contact a professional pest control company.

For more information on pests in Canada, visit Health Canada’s website here


What are they?
Ants are tiny insects and may be black, brown, red, or yellow. Adult ants range in size from as small as 1 millimetre (1/16 to 1/32 inch), like little black ants and thief ants, to as large as 13 millimetres (1/2 inch), like carpenter ants.

Should I be concerned?
Most ants commonly found in Canada are not aggressive, although some can sting. Ants should be tolerated as much as possible since they cause little damage in the garden. They can even be considered beneficial because they eat other insects like young silverfish and moths.

Species known to invade homes in Canada include the carpenter ant, the little black ant, the odorous house ant, the thief ant, and the pharaoh ant. Pavement ants can become a nuisance in lawns, gardens, and pathways, as well as indoors.

Carpenter ants are larger than other species, although the sizes of the workers vary. They can cause structural damage to homes as they destroy wood to make room for their nests. Piles of sawdust may mean you have carpenter ants.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)


What are they?
Aphids are small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects with long antennae and a pair of cornicles (short tubes) sticking out on either side of their stomachs.

Aphids are common garden pests. These tiny creatures have hundreds of species and almost as many colours. Their see-through bodies are usually green, red, black, yellow, or white.

Should I be concerned?
Aphids damage plants by sucking the sap from leaves, twigs, stems, or roots. They can sometimes spread plant diseases in the process.

Many aphid species produce large amounts of "honeydew," a sweet sap that makes leaves shiny and sticky, accumulating on anything found under infected trees or plants. Because of its sweetness, aphid honeydew attracts other pests like ants, flies, and wasps. The honeydew can also predispose an affected plant to develop black sooty mould, making the leaves appear dirty and grey.

All of these factors contribute to making the aphid a pest. An initial infestation of aphids is usually localized, but can spread quickly if allowed to develop unchecked. A colony of aphids can grow very quickly, especially indoors. To keep plant damage to a minimum, it is important to control an aphid infestation in the early stages.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

Gypsy Moths

What are they?
Gypsy moths are destructive pests. They get their name from their ability to travel by attaching to various objects. They appear in late July or August. Males are greyish brown and can fly and survive about one week, mating with several different females. Females are larger and whitish with darker zigzag marks. The female cannot fly and dies shortly after laying her eggs.

Gypsy moth caterpillars (larvae) change looks as they grow. Young caterpillars are black or brown and about .6 cm (.24 inches) in length. As they grow, bumps develop along their backs with coarse black hairs. The caterpillar is easily recognizable in the later part of this stage: charcoal grey with a double row of five blue and six red dots on its back. Feeding ends by early July, and mature caterpillars can be as long as 6.35 cm (2.5 inches).

Should I be concerned?
Gypsy moths are a concern because the larvae feed voraciously, mostly on the leaves of deciduous (leafy) trees, but also on some conifers (evergreens). During the larval stage, a single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat an average of one square metre of leaves.

Leaves play a major role in food production for trees, converting light into food by photosynthesis. Reducing the leaf surface available to capture sunlight causes a loss in food production. Deciduous trees can sometimes produce a second crop of leaves, but after repeated defoliation, trees may die or become so weakened that they are vulnerable to secondary infestations. Evergreens may die after only one defoliation.

The gypsy moth has been found on approximately 500 species of trees. They prefer broad-leaved trees, mainly red and white oak, poplar, and white birch. The destruction of oaks affects forest wildlife, especially deer that depend on oak acorns for part of their diet. The acorns provide nutrition needed to survive harsh winter conditions.

The discovery of the Asian gypsy moth strain in Canada has raised new concerns. The Asian gypsy moth prefers coniferous trees, is better adapted to colder climates, and the female is able to fly. These traits make the Asian gypsy moth a serious threat to Canadian forests.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

Moles and Voles

What are they?
The adult mole is 12 to 20 cm (4.5 to 8 inches) long and has dark grey or brown velvety fur. Its eyes are small and its broad front feet have strong claws for digging in soil.

Moles are insectivores. Most do not eat plants, but feed mainly on earthworms, insects, and grubs. Some moles may damage tubers and the roots of garden plants. But any plant damage is most likely incidental, or may be blamed on other small herbivores using the tunnel.

Voles look like house mice, but have a shorter tail, a rounded muzzle and head, and small ears. Like all rodents, voles have a single pair of large chisel-like incisors in their upper jaw that continue to grow as the tips wear away. The vole has a dark brown coat with a greyish belly that turns white in the winter. In contrast, the house mouse is uniformly grey.

Voles search for green plants and seeds during the day or night, and in winter, they travel in tunnels beneath the insulating snow, making round holes in the snow when coming up to the surface.

Should I be concerned?
The mole can be considered beneficial in some ways since it eats insects, including grubs, other insect larvae, and slugs. Moles also feed on earthworms, and some will even eat small snakes and mice.

But the mole and its tunnels can damage lawns, gardens, parks, golf courses, and cemeteries. They can kill plants when tunnelling by removing soil around roots (the unprotected roots then dry out and die). Plant diseases may also be spread by the mole's movements. Pests like voles, field mice, and other rodents use these tunnels to feed on exposed roots.

Moles do not hibernate. They remain active day or night all year long. During the winter, the mole looks for food deep below the frost line. Most surface activity happens in the spring and fall. Moles are solitary animals, and it is likely that only one or two moles are responsible for the damage to your lawn or garden.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

Rats and Mice

Managing rodent pests
Because rats and mice are prolific breeders, ignoring a problem can result in a much more damaging infestation. They can chew on materials including insulation, siding and wallboard; gnaw on wiring and start an electrical fire; consume and contaminate stored food and transmit diseases.

Identify the problem
You may have a rodent problem if you notice any of the following conditions:

  • Rodent droppings – check the size to determine if they belong to mice or rats
  • Chew marks on wood or food and around pipes
  • Dirty rub marks along frequently used routes
  • Noises in walls

Control methods
Ensure that native species are not harmed by control methods. If in doubt, use a live trap to catch the animal so you can identify it.

Use a professional pest control operator to help with a serious rodent problem. They will know the behavioural differences between different rodents which will help effectively manage the pest.  

Once the infestation is under control, repair or seal any access points to prevent new infestations from starting.
Read more about how to keep them out of your spaces…

(source: Government of British Columbia)

Additional information about rodent management is available here from HealthLink BC.

Slugs and Snails

What are they?
Slugs and snails are molluscs, like oysters and clams. They are both similar in structure, except that the snail is protected by a hard shell that makes it less vulnerable than slugs to dry conditions and the sun.

Slugs and snails have a soft, unsegmented body that is 2 to 4 cm (.79 to 1.5 inches) long. The head has one or two pairs of tentacles. The front tentacles are sensitive to odours and sometimes taste, while each of the larger back tentacles have an eye at the end.

Slugs and snails are known as gastropods, which means "stomach foot." The foot located on the stomach is how they move around. Slugs and snails are also hermaphrodites, with both male and female organs. Snails have an external shell large enough to cover the entire animal, helping them to survive severe drought and heat.

Should I be concerned?
When slugs and snails invade vegetable or herb gardens, they can cause major damage, eating up to 40 percent of their weight in a day. Slugs and snails attack seedlings, roots, tubers, and young plants, leaving large jagged holes and sticky silvery deposits, mainly on the leaves of herbs and garden vegetables.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

Tent Caterpillars

What are they?
The three most common types of tent caterpillars in Canada are the Eastern tent, the Western tent, and the Forest tent caterpillar.

  • Forest tent caterpillars feed on deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves seasonally) in many parts of Canada. Outbreaks last two or more years and usually happen at intervals of ten years or more.
    Forest tent caterpillars have a similar life cycle to the Eastern and Western tent caterpillars, with one distinct difference: instead of building tent-like webs, they make a type of silken mat on the trunk or branches where they collect to rest, leaving only to feed on the leaves. These caterpillars are a pale blue colour with black, and have a series of white spots on their back. The adult moth is a yellow-brown colour.
  • Eastern tent caterpillars are hairy, brownish black with a light stripe down their back. Blue spots and brown-yellow lines are found along the sides of their bodies. Adult moths are usually a reddish-brown colour, but can be yellow-brown as well.
  • Western tent caterpillars tend to be reddish brown on top and pale underneath. They have a row of blue spots on their backs, with orange spots mixed in between. The adult moths are orange-brown with yellow lines on the wings.

Should I be concerned?
Eastern Tent caterpillars have been in North America since 1646. Outbreaks happen about every ten years and sometimes last up to two years.

Tent caterpillar outbreaks are periodic, but do not happen on an exact schedule because they depend on several environmental and biological factors. Although they seldom kill the infested tree, these caterpillars can cause severe damage, often nearly defoliating the entire tree.

If damage is minor and the tree is healthy, the tree can bud again later in the summer. However, repeated defoliation can weaken trees and make them more susceptible to other types of stress.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

White Pine Weevils

What are they?
The white pine weevil causes extensive damage to many types of evergreen trees. It is also known as the Engelmann spruce weevil and the Sitka spruce weevil.

Adult weevils are about 8 mm (.31 inches) long. These beetles are dark brown with white and tan patches on their backs. They have the characteristic and prominent hooked snout of the weevil.

White pine weevils produce one generation a year. The adults overwinter in the "duff" or debris beneath trees, and in the spring they climb up to the top of the leader (the vertical stem at the top of the trunk) to feed and mate. Weevils can also spread by flying on warm sunny days. Their eggs are laid mainly from late April to early June in small holes made in the bark of the previous year's tree leader.

The eggs hatch after 10 to 14 days and the larvae will begin to feed as a group, forming a ring around the leader stem as they eat their way downwards, first in the inner bark and then between the wood and the bark. This feeding action cuts off the water flow, causing the deformity and death of the leader stem. Trees will lose up to two or three years of height growth in the five or six weeks of feeding.

Finally, the larvae will build pupal cells in the stem, where they remain inactive for five to six weeks. They emerge as adults from late July until early September. The adults will feed on nearby tree branches until it is time to move to the duff for over-wintering.

Should I be concerned?
This harmful pest attacks at least 20 different species of trees. In eastern Canada, it prefers the eastern white pine, the jack, Scotch and red pines, and the Norway spruce. In western Canada, it attacks mainly the Sitka, white, and Engelmann spruce. Ornamentals like the mugho pine and blue spruce are also susceptible.

Repeated infestations may stunt the growth of trees and also cause deformed or forked trunks, a serious problem for Christmas tree growers. Forked trunks are created as one or more side branches of the tree assume the function of the dead leader stem.

Trees growing in the open without the canopy cover provided by larger trees appear to suffer greater deformation of their trunks. Small trees will sometimes die as a result of an infestation. Also, damaged trees are more susceptible to disease, especially heartwood rot.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)

White Grubs

What are they?
White grubs are the larvae of certain beetles, like June beetles and chafers. Grubs are one of the hardest lawn pests to deal with.

Grubs are white or yellowish and have fleshy, wrinkled, C-shaped bodies with tan or brown heads and six spiny legs. They are quite small when they hatch, but when fully grown are from 2 to 4 cm (.75 to 1.5 inches), depending on the species.

The most common white grubs infesting turf in Canada are those of the native June beetle or June bug. Two smaller exotic species, the European chafer and the Japanese beetle, have been accidentally introduced into Canada and are found mainly in the Niagara peninsula. The European chafer, though, has recently migrated further north and east, and is responsible for much of the lawn damage in recent years in eastern Ontario.

June beetle adults are shiny reddish brown, and up to 2.5 cm (1 inch) long. The adult European chafer is light brown or tan, and is about 1.3 cm (0.5 inches) long. The adult Japanese beetle is metallic green and bronze, and about 1 cm (less than 0.5 inches) long.

Should I be concerned?
Grubs feed on the roots of many plants, but like the fibrous roots of lawn grass best. As the roots are destroyed, turf will wilt and turn brown. Grubs also feed on potatoes and carrots in the garden. They cut the main stems or roots of plants below the soil surface, and tunnel into tubers and freshly rooted plants.
Read more for management tips…

(source: Government of Canada)