Where Do Pests Go In The Winter?

Where Do Pests Go In The Winter?

While most of us look forward to the holidays that come with the onset of winter, many of us don’t look forward to the snow, ice, and freezing temperatures that also come along with it. Pests feel the same way we do about cold weather and have developed several different methods to survive these frigid temperatures. So where do pests go in the winter? As much as we’d like to believe they just disappear until spring, unfortunately this isn’t the case. Pests have developed 3 major ways to survive winter:

MIGRATION

Migration is the seasonal movement from one region to another. Just like humans, pests want to go where it’s warmer when the weather gets cold. Some pests will move to southern regions to escape the cold and return to the northern areas when the weather starts to warm. One of the most well known examples of migration is the monarch butterfly.

HIBERNATION

Hibernation is a period of time spent in a dormant state in order to survive the unfavorable conditions of winter. Bears aren’t the only animals that hibernate during the winter! Ladybugs hibernate at high elevations. Wasps seek shelter in eaves and attics of houses or barns to hibernate. Many other pests hibernate in trees, leaf debris, under logs, and under rocks. Honeybees stay in hives during the winter and form clusters when the temperatures start to fall.

OVERWINTERING

Overwintering is the process in which pests pass through or wait out the winter season in sites that provide protection from the cold winter temperatures. Ladybugs, box elders, and stinkbugs overwinter in secluded, sheltered places like your home. These pests tend to congregate in large numbers so if they overwinter in your home they could infest in large numbers. Pests like rodents, cockroaches, spiders and flies remain active during the winter in our homes. They move indoors in search of warmth and food. Spiders are relatively harmless but flies can contaminate food and surfaces. Rodents can not only contaminate your food and insulation but can also chew through wood causing structural damage and chew through wires putting your home at risk of fire and other issues.
Now that you know where pests go in the winter you can help get your home ready to prevent these overwintering pests from invading your space. If you suspect you have a winter pest problem contact a professional who can help identify the pests and help you develop a treatment and prevention plan.

6 Tips For Fall Pest Prevention

6 Tips For Fall Pest Prevention

Fall is the perfect time of year to prepare your home for winter. While prepping your yard and storing away your summer things are usually at the top of the list, don’t forget to protect your home from pests this winter also! Fall is prime time for pests to make their way into your house in search of food, shelter, and warmth over the cold winter months.
Rodents will make their way indoors in search of a warm place to shelter for winter. Flies will often be found on the south and west facing walls of your home in search heat. Many stinging insects like yellow jackets, bees, and wasps will become more hostile in the fall as their food supply dwindles. Cockroaches are attracted by the moisture found in and under your home. Other pests like ants, stinkbugs, ladybugs, and box elders will come inside looking for a place to overwinter.
Now that you know what kinds of pests to expect this fall, what can you do to protect your home from these often unseen invaders? Check out these 6 tips to prevent pests this fall.

  1. Keep Them Out. Inspect the inside and outside of your home for possible entry points that pests can use. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of your home with caulk and steel wool, especially around utility pipes. Screen your attic vents and install chimney sweeps. Screen any other openings to the outdoors like mail slots and pet doors. Repair loose mortar around your foundation and windows. Check screens for holes and repair or replace them as needed. Check for any gaps around doors and windows. Install or replace weatherstripping as needed and install door sweeps.
  2. Keep It Clean. Wipe down your counters and sweep your floors often. Clean up spills immediately. Take out your trash on a regular basis. Don’t let fruits and veggies get overripe on your counters. Keep food, including pet food, stored in airtight containers. Avoid leaving pet food dishes out for prolonged periods of time.
  3. Dry It Out. Mosquitoes breed in standing water and cockroaches are attracted to moisture. Walk your property on a regular basis to check for any standing water. Be sure to check your gutters and rain spouts for clogs and consider installing gutter guards to help prevent them. Check for leaks near your air conditioning unit. Pick up any toys from your yard that may hold water. Keep basements, attics, and crawlspaces dry and ventilated. Consider enclosing your crawlspace. Use dehumidifiers in attics and garages.
  4. Don’t Forget Outside. Maintain your landscaping and keep grass trimmed and mowed. Trim any bushes and shrubs away from your home. There should be at least 2 feet between any landscaping and the walls of your house. Rake up any debris from your yard and be sure to pull weeds. Store firewood at least 20 feet from your house and store it in racks above the ground.
  5. Inspect Before Bringing It In. Thoroughly inspect any items like boxes, packages, and even grocery bags before bringing them indoors. Thoroughly inspect luggage after traveling before bringing them into your home and store them in plastic bags or in external buildings like sheds or garages instead of in your home.
  6. Call The Pros. Call a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and comprehensive treatment and prevention plan.
Pollinators: Friendly Foes

Pollinators: Friendly Foes

Pollination is when pollen grains are transferred from one flower to another. Pollination allows plants to produce seeds which is how they reproduce. Pollinators are animals and insects that are responsible for helping with the pollination of over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. Animal pollinators are vital in the reproduction of flowering plants and the production of most fruits and vegetables. They accomplish this by getting their food from flowers (think nectar and pollen) and collecting pollen on their bodies in the process. They then move on to another plant and leave the hitchhiking pollen behind, providing the new plants with the pollen they need to reproduce.

Some of the most common animal pollinators that come to mind are bees and butterflies. But did you know there are several other animals you might not have known who are expert pollinators? Here are a few animal pollinators along with the types of plants they pollinate:

ANTS:

Ants love nectar. Because they don’t fly they have to crawl into flowers to get to this nectar. Once inside the flower, pollen sticks to their bodies, allowing them to transfer it to other flowers when they move on. Tropical plants have nectar outside their flowers to attract ants to them. They then use these ants as “protectors” from other insects.

Ants pollinate flowers that:

  • Are low growing
  • Are small and inconspicuous
  • Have flowers close to their stems

BATS:

Bats are known as one of the “night shift” pollinators. They are most common in tropical and desert climates. They are prevalent in the southwest US, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands as pollinators. In fact, mangoes, bananas, and guavas depend on bats for pollination. In the US and Central America, the agave plant (which is used to make tequila) and the Saguaro cactus are also dependent on bats for pollination.

Bats pollinate flowers that:

  • Open at night
  • Are large in size
  • Are pale or white in color
  • Are very fragrant
  • Have copious nectar

BEES:

Bees are known as the “champion” pollinators and are also the most common. There are over 4000 species of bees in the United States alone. Bees purposefully visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar which they use to feed themselves and their young. Many flowers that bees pollinate have an area of low UV reflection near their centers. Humans can’t see UV reflection so we don’t notice them. Bees, however, use them as a target to guide them to the center of the flower.
Human Perspective Bee Perspective

Human Perspective                   Bee Perspective

Photos courtesy of Apalachicola National Forest.

Bees pollinate flowers that:

  • Are full of nectar
  • Are brightly colored (usually blue or yellow) (bees can’t see red)
  • Have a sweet or minty flavor
  • Are open in daytime
  • Provide landing platforms
  • Have tubular flowers with nectar at the base

BEETLES:

Beetles were among the first insects to visit flowers. They are important pollinators for ancient species like magnolias. They are known as “mess and soil” pollinators because they eat through flower petals to get to the nectar and then defecate inside the flowers. Fossil records show that beetles were abundant as far back as 200 million years ago.

Beetles pollinate flowers that:

  • Are bowl shaped with their sexual organs exposed
  • Are white to green in color
  • Have a strong fruity fragrance
  • Are open during the day
  • Have a moderate amount of nectar
  • Have large, solitary flowers

BIRDS:

Birds are important pollinators of wildflowers. Hummingbirds are the most important bird pollinators in the United States. In the eastern United States there is only one species that acts as a pollinator and that is the ruby throated hummingbird. Hummingbirds have good eyesight and are extremely attracted to red flowers. They use their long bills to collect nectar and the pollen then dusts their heads and faces.

Hummingbirds pollinate flowers that:

  • Are tubular with recurved petals
  • Have tubes, funnels, and cups
  • Are brightly colored red, yellow, and orange
  • Are odorless
  • Are open during the day
  • Have prolific amounts of nectar
  • Have a modest amount of pollen

BUTTERFLIES:

Butterflies are very active during the day. Their body structure doesn’t allow them to pick up as much pollen as bees and other insects but they can see red where bees can’t. Butterflies produce scents that attract other butterflies of the opposite sex. This scent they produce smells like the flowers that they are attracted to.

Butterflies pollinate flowers that:

  • Have flowers with clusters and landing platforms
  • Are brightly colored (red, orange, yellow)
  • Are open during the day
  • Have ample nectar

TWO-WINGED INSECTS:

Two winged pollinators include flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. These insects aren’t as fuzzy as bees so they don’t pick up as much pollen. They are still, however, important pollinators, especially for some species of orchids.

Two-winged insects pollinate flowers that:

  • Are pale and dull to dark brown or purple in color
  • Are sometimes flecked with translucent patches
  • Have a putrid odor
  • Produce pollen
  • Have funnel-like pollen

MOTHS:

Moths are the other member of the pollination “night shift” along with bats. Some moths are also active as pollinators during the day. The yucca plant is one important plant that is dependent on moths for survival.

Moths pollinate flowers that:

  • Have clusters and landing platforms
  • Are white or dull in color
  • Are open in late afternoon or at night
  • Have ample nectar
  • Have nectar that is deeply hidden

WASPS:

Wasps look like bees but have much less hair. This makes them less efficient as pollinators because pollen is less likely to stick to their bodies. Wasps need pollen and nectar for energy. Fig wasps are responsible for pollinating almost 1000 species of figs.

Wasps pollinate flowers that:

  • Are full of nectar
  • Are brightly colored (usually blue or yellow) (bees can’t see red)
  • Have a sweet or minty flavor
  • Are open in daytime
  • Provide landing platforms
  • Have tubular flowers with nectar at the base

OTHER POLLINATORS:

There are several other uncommon pollinators. Lizards, geckos, and skinks can be pollinators. They climb inside flowers to drink the nectar and the pollen then sticks to their scales. Lemurs and possums can also pollinate. They use their snouts and tongues to get nectar from plants and then have their faces and snouts dusted with pollen.

 

We consider most of the animals and insects that are pollinators as nuisances and pests. As much as we don’t want them in our homes, they do play a very critical role in the survival of plants and food. It is important that while we should take steps to prevent them from invading our homes, we should be very careful with how we handle them should they make themselves at home in our area. If you suspect you have a problem with any of these pollinators, contact a professional pest control company who can give you a thorough evaluation and provide you with a treatment plan that both benefits you and protects these important species.

 

 

 

A Pest For Every Season

A Pest For Every Season

Just like the weather changes with each season, so do the pests that we see. Some pests prefer warmer weather and peak in spring and summer while other pests will surge in the winter as they come inside to get out of the cold. The ways that you prepare your home will depend on what time of year it is and what pests you are preparing for. We have provided you with a few of the most common pests for each season so you can be better prepared all year long.

SPRING:

Springtime brings about an increase in temperatures, the melting of ice, and the blooming of flowers. These warmer temperatures bring many pests out from their winter hiding places. As these animals emerge they will have one thing on their minds – food and water! Spring is also mating season for many species. Here are some common spring pests to look out for:

  • Ants: Ants forage for food in warmer weather. As the temperatures increase, ants will venture farther and farther from their colonies in search of food. This will eventually drive them into our homes. The heavy rains in spring also drive ants out of their colonies in search of higher ground.
  • Termites: Spring is the start of termite season as they leave their nests to mate and start new colonies. This is also known as “swarming.”
  • Mosquitoes: Heavy spring rains provide the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will increase their activity in spring in preparation for their peak season which is summer.
  • Flies: Flies reach maturity at the beginning of spring. Once they mature, they will flock to areas that humans inhabit as they look for food. They prefer liquids and other sweet foods.
  • Spiders: Spiders become active in the spring as they search for food. The increase in insect activity as they wake from their winter slumber provides ample opportunities for spiders to feed.
  • Stinging Insects: Stinging insects include bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. These insects wake up from their dormant stage in the spring and they become more active. Spring is the start of their mating season as they seek to establish their nests and breed.
  • Bed Bugs: Although bed bugs are a year round problem, their populations can spike in springtime because of the increased travel for Easter and spring break from schools.

SUMMER:

While we get somewhat of a break from pests in the summer months, there are a few species who peak during this hot season. Summer is typically the time in many pests’ life cycles where they are maturing and are less of a threat to humans. Here are some common summer pests:

  • Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are the most common summer pest. The warmer temperatures allow mosquitoes to move through their life cycle faster which means they lay more eggs in the summer months. The summer rains also provide the ideal setting for mosquitoes to breed.
  • Stinging Insects: Stinging insects reach their highest populations in the summer. They will often build their nests in any openings in your house, under overhangs or in the ground near your foundation.
  • Ants: Ants continue to be a nuisance in the summer. As the rains continue through the season, ants will continue to seek shelter in higher ground. They will also continue to forage into our homes in search of food.
  • Flies: Flies are most active in the summer months. This is also their peak breeding season. Flies will spawn in animal waste, garbage, and rotting foods.
  • Termites: Termites are most productive in the summer. This is the season when they continue to consume wood while the queen continues to lay eggs and build their colonies.
  • Bed Bugs: Once again, bed bugs are year round pests. Many populations thrive in the summer months because of an increase in travel during summer break from school.

FALL:

Fall brings about cooler temperatures. This is the time of year when pests start to prepare for the upcoming winter. Many pests will start to seek warmth and shelter inside our homes. Here are some common fall pests:

  • Cockroaches: Cockroaches are some of the most common fall pests. Cockroaches cannot survive in colder temperatures so fall is when we see them start to migrate indoors in search of shelter and warmth. Cockroaches are known to hide near pipes and drains. They can spread disease and exacerbate asthma.
  • Spiders: Spiders are also common in the fall for the same reasons as cockroaches. They will move indoors to avoid the harsh colder temperatures, as well as in search of food as many of the flying insect populations decline as the weather cools. Spiders also breed in the fall so activity will increase as males go in search of mates.
  • Rodents: Rodents are another common fall pest. Rodents will migrate indoors as the weather cools in search of warmth, shelter, food, and water. Rodents not only spread disease but will also chew through wood supports and electrical wires in your home.
  • Fleas: With rodents come fleas. Fleas flourish in warmer weather so as the weather cools, we see their populations indoors thrive. Fleas will hitchhike into your home on both your pets and any other wildlife that come into your home in the fall.
  • Stinkbugs: Stinkbugs become a nuisance in the fall. Stinkbugs are known for emitting an extremely foul odor when they feel threatened. Stinkbugs are also considered a serious threat to agriculture as they can cause significant damage to crops.

WINTER:

While many pests hibernate or become dormant over the winter, don’t relax just yet! There are still many pests that we see in larger numbers in the winter months as they make their way into our home to avoid the harsh cold weather. Here are some common winter pests:

  • Rodents: Rodents are the most common pests we see in the winter. Rats, mice, and squirrels will invade our homes in search of a warm place to stay and an ample supply of food and water.
  • Roaches: While most cockroach species die off in the winter, Oriental roaches and German roaches are still active during this time of year. They seek dark, damp areas which are prevalent in the wintertime.
  • Bed Bugs: Once again, bed bug populations are active year round but they often flourish during the winter months as these are some of the busiest travel times of the year.

As you can see, no two pests are alike and no two seasons are alike. In the same manner, one universal pest control method won’t work for different pests or for different seasons. It is important to know which pests thrive during which seasons so that you can better prepare your home year round to prevent an invasion. If you suspect that you have a pest problem in your home, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.

5 Common Summer Pests & How to Prevent Them

5 Common Summer Pests & How to Prevent Them

While pests in the house are a year-round nuisance here in the South, certain bugs are more active in warmer months. If you own or rent a home or apartment, you’re likely to come across one or all of these 5 summer pests. Here’s what you can do to prevent them.

1. Ants

Most of the ants you’ll find in your home won’t bite, but that’s not always the case. It’s best to eliminate any potential food sources and entry points to keep them out. You can do this by sealing cracks and crevices and by keeping a clean house. Take the trash out regularly, store food in sealed containers, and clean up spills immediately. Leaving pet food unattended can also attract ants and other pests, so keep the food in a sealed container when not being eaten by pets, and off of floors.

2. Mosquitoes

We’ve likely all been bitten at some point by mosquitoes. They’re active in warmer months and lay their eggs in standing water. In order to have the nutrients to lay these eggs, female mosquitoes need a food source – blood from humans and pets. If bitten, you may experience stinging or itching. In rare cases, mosquitoes will transmit diseases to their host. To prevent mosquitoes, eliminate any standing water around your home – debris, toys, bird baths, fountains, ponds, pet water bowls, etc. Wear mosquito repellent when outdoors, make sure pets are current on heartworm medication, and consider a professional mosquito control service from your local exterminating company.

3. Fleas

As temperatures heat up, fleas come out to play by attaching themselves to a food source – usually your pets. Because flea allergies are common, the bites can be itchy and painful, and they transmit diseases, it’s important to keep your pets current on preventative flea medication. Give them baths regularly, keep pet beds clean, and vacuum often. If your pet gets infested with fleas, we recommend contacting a pest control professional. Fleas reproduce quickly and can be hard to get rid of.

4. Flies

Keeping flies out can be hard to do in the summer. Just like most other pests, they’re looking for food. Prevent flies from spreading bacteria throughout your home by keeping windows and doors closed, taking the trash out often and moving garbage cans away from the exterior of your home. Don’t leave food out and clean up dishes and spills immediately.

5. Roaches

Roaches thrive in warm, humid temperatures. And because they eat almost anything, they can be hard to get rid of once inside your home. They’re most often seen in kitchens and bathrooms. Because they spread bacteria and often cause severe allergic reactions, it’s a good idea to contact an exterminator if you’re seeing roaches. Where there’s one roach, there’s probably a few hundred more hiding somewhere close. They reproduce quickly and are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of once your home is infested. To prevent roaches, keep a clean house, don’t bring in boxes or newspapers, and seal any cracks, holes or crevices.

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