Summer’s Most Dangerous Pests

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Top Three Insects to Avoid this Season

 

Most people consider Memorial Day Weekend to be the unofficial start to summer, but in the pest control industry, we consider it the official start of pest season. It’s true, household pests are a concern year-round, but there is no doubt we see an increase in many types of pests once the weather heats up. If you’re like most and are planning to spend lots of time out in the sun this summer, it’s important to be aware of the risks posed by summer’s most dangerous pests – and learn how to keep yourself and your family safe.

1. Mosquitoes

Overview

Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous of summer pests. They are most well known for their pesky biting habits, which can leave itchy, red bumps. But the real threat posed by this pest is their ability to transmit numerous diseases including West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever, dengue and encephalitis.

Risks

Although many of these diseases are rare in the U.S., some – including West Nile virus – are more common. In fact, the CDC reports there were more than 700 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. in 2011, resulting in 43 deaths. According to the CDC, symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, and in some cases, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

Prevention

  • Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Eliminate or reduce standing water on your property, which can be a breeding site for mosquitoes. Drain flower pots, swimming pool covers, barrels and other objects that can collect water on a weekly basis. Add a fountain or drip system to ponds and birdbaths on your property to keep water fresh.
  • Repair or replace any torn screens on windows and doors.
  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin whenever outside for prolonged periods.

2. Ticks

Overview

Ticks are always an issue during the summer months, but with their populations expected to be unusually high this season, they will be a major concern for those spending time outdoors. Of greatest concern is the blacklegged deer tick, found in the Northeastern U.S., from Virginia to Maine, in the north central states, mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota, and on the west coast, primarily in northern California.

Risks

Blacklegged deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease to humans, as well as pets. The CDC describes the symptoms of Lyme disease as fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans, which forms in the shape of a bull's eye. According to the CDC, Lyme disease can also affect joints, the heart and the nervous system if left untreated.

Prevention

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses.
  • Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
  • Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
  • When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
  • Keep your own yard tick-free by cutting grass low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris.
  • Inspect yourself and your family members carefully for ticks after being outdoors.

3. Bees & Wasps

Overview

Yellowjackets, Africanized ‘killer’ bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects are a summer staple, frequently showing up at pool parties, barbecues and baseball games —especially in the late summer months. But these pests can pose a serious health risk if a hive is threatened or provoked, causing them to swarm and sting en masse.

Risks

Stinging insects send more than half a million people to the emergency room every year. Young children, the elderly and especially those with allergies are most at risk.

Prevention

  • Wear shoes, especially in grassy areas.
  • Overseed grassy areas to get better coverage, as this will deter ground-nesting insects.
  • Paint/stain untreated wood.
  • Remove garbage frequently and keep trashcans covered.
  • Do not swat at a stinging insect as it increases the likelihood of an aggressive reaction.
  • Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes.
  • Ensure all doors and windows in your home have screens that are in good condition.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if stung, as reactions can be severe.

Insects are an inevitable part of summer, but that doesn’t mean you should spend the next three months hiding indoors. Instead, follow our prevention tips to help reduce your risk of encountering pests in your home and on your property. If you discover that you have a growing mosquito, tick or stinging insect or other pest problem on your property, don’t try to remove them alone. Instead, contact a licensed pest professional who will be able to inspect your property and recommend an effective treatment and prevention plan.