Mild Winter Brings More Pests This Spring

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

According to Punxsutawney Phil, there are six more weeks of winter, but for much of the country this has been one of the mildest winters on record. With several bouts of 50 and 60-degree days, people are delighted and Mother Nature is becoming confused. Being able to take afternoon walks in winter is a welcome surprise, but an early influx of pesky insects much less so.

"Many insects hibernate during the cold winter months, but as this winter has been anything but typical, they may be emerging from their hiding places much earlier than we expect," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). "Several states have even reported tick sightings, which is especially worrisome as people head outdoors to enjoy the weather and are unprepared for tick encounters."

Insects survive harsh winter temperatures using several strategies, such as slowing down their metabolism and respiration. But with the warmer temperatures many are forced out of their hibernation-like states prematurely in search of food.

NPMA expects increased numbers of boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian lady beetles and springtails, as well increased activity in ant and termite colonies. Wasp and hornet "future queens" may also survive the winter, resulting in more colonies in spring and summer.

To guard against the early emergence of pests, NPMA offers the following tips for homeowners:

  • Maintain a one-inch gap between soil and wood portions of a building.
  • Keep mulch at least 15-inches from the foundation.
  • Seal cracks and small openings along the bottom of the house.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants trimmed back from the house.
  • Keep indoor and outdoor trash containers clean and sealed.
  • Screen windows and doors.
  • If you suspect a problem, contact a qualified pest professional who can recommend the best course of treatment.

For more information on household pests, please visit www.pestworld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

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