The cold has thawed, and the lovely colors of spring have started to replace the bleak whiteness. However, along with spring comes the return of animals, some of the pests.
Here are five common spring insects to watch out for, and how you can get rid of them.
Ants are one of those things you can never truly eradicate. There are an estimated 1 quadrillion ants on the planet, far outnumbering all other living creatures with the exception of bacteria.
Thankfully, of the 12,000 species of ants, only a few present much of a threat to your household. Nuisance species include:
The most damaging to houses, these red or black critters have a penchant for nibbling woodwork and furniture. They can even threaten the structural integrity of wooden posts and foundations if left unchecked.
Also known as stink ants, these are characterized by their noticeable smell.
These are light brown to black, and tend to build nests under the concrete aprons of homes, walkways and driveways.
With colors ranging from brown to yellow, these are one of the most challenging to root out and exterminate, often requiring professional pest control.
These look similar to pharaoh ants and get their name from stealing food and larvae from other ant colonies.
- Eliminate food sources by cleaning up scraps, wiping countertops, and vacuuming food particles that may have collected from the floor.
- Keep food containers tightly closed, and avoid leaving out food for pets.
- Use baits in areas like pipes, outlets, basement and crawl spaces where they might enter.
Termites are highly destructive to critical areas of the house like attics, basements, foundations, woodwork and furniture. According to the EPA, termite damage accounts for $2 billion worth of property repairs annually.
Signs of termite infestation include:
- Wood that sounds hollow
- Sagging ceilings or floors
- Sawdust and wood debris
- Crumbling posts or furniture
- Holes, cracks or distorted paints on wooden surfaces
- Clean your gutters and downspouts to avoid nesting areas
- Reduce openings in your exterior walls by filling in cracks in cement, or using caulk in passthrough openings.
- Trim trees and shrubs that are too close to your walls.
- Avoid storing wood such as firewood or scraps close to your home.
- Use cellulose baits with slow-acting insecticide to combat strong infestation.
Did you know that mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal on Earth? They may not look as threatening as sharks or tigers, but these annoying little critters are responsible for over a million human deaths each year. The humble mosquito actually kills more people than any other animal in the world due to the many diseases they carry.
- West Nile virus
- Yellow fever
- Lymphatic filariasis
Since the 90s, dengue outbreaks worldwide have soared more than 30x. In the US, severe cases of West Nile virus have risen by a quarter over the past 10 years. Mosquito-borne diseases are so prevalent that the US spearheads the President’s Malaria Initiative across 24 countries, and the government spends almost $300 million annually to combat mosquitoes
- Eliminate all sources of standing water to deprive them of a breeding ground. Make sure your drainage and gutters are clean and free from blockage.
- Watch out for pooling water on your lawn, which indicates a dip, slope or uneven ground where mosquitoes could lay their eggs.
- Swimming pools are immune from mosquito egg infestation thanks to chlorine, but other water features like ornamental ponds or bird baths are not. Aerate them to keep mosquitoes away.
- Alternatively, you can stock ornamental ponds with fish that eat mosquito eggs, such as goldfish and koi. Smaller water features can benefit from killifish or guppies.
- Water plants in the morning when there is direct sunlight, so the water drains quickly.
- If you have a garden infestation, use plants that are repel mosquitoes such as geraniums and lemon balm.
- Catnip has also been shown to be an effective mosquito repellent over DEET.
4. Bees and Wasps
While they are obviously beneficial to the ecosystem, wasps and bees can be a danger to households with young children or pets. Both hibernate in winter and come out in spring to make their nests. People who stumble into their nest can suffer painful stings, which can cause deadly reactions leading to anaphylactic shock.
Then there’s the rising threat of Asian giant hornets invading the US, also known as “murder hornets”.
- Aerosol sprays labeled specifically for use against wasps and bees may be useful in case of a swarm attack.
- The only way to remove the presence of wasps and bees is to pinpoint and remove their nest, which is best done by a professional pest control service.
- Repellent finishes can then be applied to the old nest site to prevent reinfestation.
While the least threatening in the list, ticks are the hardest to spot due to their size. You may have a tick infestation without even knowing it. They carry a wide range of diseases, ranging from anaplasmosis and Colorado tick fever to Lyme disease and the Heartland virus.
- Create a tick-safe perimeter in your yard. Trim tall grass and bush, remove leaf litter, and mow regularly.
- Get your pets treated for ticks, whether or not they are infested. Dogs in particular are the most common vector, and the ticks can easily be acquired after a day in the park.
- Vacuum areas where they might lay eggs, such as carpets, armchairs, bedding, and cushions.
- Wash your pet’s bedding, towels, and blankets regularly, and subject it to heat treatment to eliminate tick larvae.