Summer’s Most Dangerous PestsDr. Jim Fredericks
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
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.
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.
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.
- Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
‘killer’ bees, wasps,
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.
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.
- 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
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.