Common Pests in Portland

All About the Most Common House Pests in the Northwest

Are sugar ants on an eternal scavenger hunt in your kitchen? Does your cat proudly drop a fuzzy gray “present” with a long, ugly tail on your front porch every summer? You’re not alone! No matter if you live in a mansion in the West Hills or a crumbling basement apartment next to a rowdy bar on Columbia Boulevard, thousands of Portland residents deal with pests year-round.

And though pests are always annoying, at least most of ours aren’t dangerous. No scorpions, rattlesnakes, tsetse flies, or deadly spiders in the Northwest, thank goodness! But mosquitos and other bugs in the area can carry diseases and with increases in international travel, population growth, and warmer temperatures come corresponding increases in transmitted diseases. The best place to start in protecting yourself from bites and home infestations is to know how these common pests behave, where they like to hang out, and what attracts them.

So, what are the most common pests in Portland?

There are more specific varieties of each, but these are the culprits as they are most commonly known:

  1. Ants
  2. Mosquitos
  3. Spiders
  4. Moths
  5. Rats

Ants: Your Kitchen is Basically a Picnic

Pharaoh Ants, Odorous Ants (Sugar Ants), and Moisture Ants are pretty common in Portland homes. Odorous ants are those little black things that seem to be active no matter the season. Their bodies are small and black and they travel in a line from tiny holes in caulking and grout. Fortunately, they don’t bite, fly, or make a mess, so as long as you keep food tightly sealed and set some traps around the house periodically, they shouldn’t become a nuisance.

Mosquitos: Window screens are your best friend

Keeping mosquitos out of the house is somewhat of a no-brainer, but we still manage to unintentionally invite them in every summer. As we well know, keeping doors and windows closed and removing pools of stagnant water are the first steps to keeping winged bugs outside where they belong. But fresh air is a necessity, so before opening the house up for a nice cross-breeze, invest in some window screens. For extra protection, hang a sticky trap somewhere inconspicuous on the exterior of the house.

Spiders not biters

Spiders are gross and scary, yes. But most Portlanders are fortunate enough to never have to deal with the poisonous variety. Though black widows are venomous and have been seen around the city, they’re not very common. Spiders are fairly uninterested in humans since most varieties around here lack the ability to bite flat surfaces. Aside from sealing tiny holes in your home’s interior, setting sticky traps, and removing live ones, spider infestation problems are best solved by professional exterminators.

Moths in the cloths

Portlanders love wool clothing because it performs well in cold, wet climates. But guess who else loves it? Moths! More specifically, their larvae love wool and any animal fiber that contains keratin. Momma moths like to deposit their eggs onto these materials, and it’s actually the babies who eat holes through the fabric. So be sure to send those stored-away wool blankets, cashmere sweaters, and silk shirts to the cleaners on a regular basis to avoid a major moth outbreak.

Aw, rats!

Rats are attracted to all the same food, water, and shelter as humans. However, they are the undisputed beneficiaries in the relationship. Where there is food waste, there will most likely be rats. And in a densely populated city, it’s nearly impossible to eradicate thriving rodent populations while still maintaining business as usual. Rats in residential neighborhoods are a bit easier to control than, say, downtown commercial districts with loads of restaurants. If there’s a rat problem near your home, follow the Disneyland model and adopt some feral kitties to naturally control the rat population.

If your common pest problem persists, call a Portland pest control service. Professional exterminators tend to do a better job of removal, cleanup, and prevention for the long term. 


  • Hi Killers, thank you for working with me on my pest problem. Having customers in the restaurant seeing pest problems isn't good. Keep up the great job.
  • Paul, Thank you for coming to spray the back of the house. We appreciate the superior work you do.
  • My service with the killers has been great. I would recommend them to anyone that needs a pest service.
  • Wanted to let you all know that Paul did an amazing job on the ants at my home. It's good to have a company that really cares.
  • Paul is an awesome tech and does an amazing job on our pests. I hope it's possible for him to always be our service tech.
  • Thank you for treating our house for ants and spiders. I noticed a big difference the next day and now it's been a week and what a difference. Victor did a great job and was very personable and a great person to represent your company. I would recommend you to any of my clients.
  • Gus did a great job at our house the other day. I wanted to let you know that Gus was amazing at killing the bugs and interacting with the kids as I have a daycare. You have a great employee there.
  • Hello there, I recently had your company out to our house for termites and other bugs. I've seen your trucks and thought they were funny. I'm glad I didn't shop around because you guys did a great job. Paul was very pleasant to talk to and took care of our pest problem. Thank you, Tracy Beadles
  • Gus stopped by to check on how our pests were doing without even us having to call. He's a great tech and my wife said he always does a amazing job.
  • Dear Killers, I'm writing this to let you know how much we appreciate the job Paul did underneath our home. It was not an easy task but he got in there and took care of it.
  • Kyle, Marge called to say that you did an exceptional job yesterday. She said that she hasn’t seen the ants since you treated for them so she wanted you and your boss to know. Great job!
  • Called in to compliment Randal. Mr. Vandehey is a licensed pest applicator for his job and says it is obvious that Randal knows what is doing. He was extremely impressed with how professional and thorough he was. Kudos to Randal!
  • Hey Randle, Great Job. Always nice when you have a peer give you kudos. Great job!