Spring is around the corner, and that means our favorite stinging insects are making a return! Some of these stinging pests are very beneficial for pollinating flowers, but some are not so nice for your home. Check out our list of popular stinging insects in the southeast and what you should know about them!
Bumblebees are relatively harmless and can be greatly beneficial for pollinating flowers. These insects can be identified by their black and yellow markings and an overall fuzzy appearance. They build their nests out of pollen buildup and will usually build them in the ground or a dense grass clump. If they feel threatened, they can become aggressive and result in stinging, so if the nest is found near a structure, then control may be necessary.
Carpenter bees are often confused with bumblebees, but the top of their abdomen is largely bare and shiny. They are a serious threat to your property, as they burrow deep into wood to make galleries for nurturing their young. Male carpenter bees are territorial, and you may find them hovering in front of your face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show. Female carpenter bees have a powerful sting which is rarely used.
Honeybees are less than an inch in size and are orange-ish brown or black in color. They are considered social insects and live as colonies in hives, where they can reach sizes up to 80,000 inhabitants. Three types of honeybees live in a beehive: worker, drone, and queen. Each has its important roles and performs specific duties within a bee colony. Honeybees are very beneficial and pollinate 85 percent of food crops intended for human consumption. They are critical to our environment and provide us with honey, which has many positive health benefits.
Yellow jackets are less than an inch in size and are yellow and black in color. These pests reside in nests constructed of paper cartons, which can grow to be the size of a baseball. One nest can contain multiple rounded paper combs which are attached to one another and covered in many layers. Depending on the species, the nest can be near the ground, such as plant roots, logs, or timber; or aerial and attached to shrubs, houses, garages, or sheds. Yellow jackets are slow to sting unless they feel threatened. They are considered beneficial because they control many pest insect species, like flies and aphids.
Remember – it is not recommended to attempt to remove a stinging insect nest on your own and doing so can be extremely dangerous. Instead, work with a local pest control company to access your property and the nest, identify the type of stinging insect (like wasps or other dangerous stingers) and determine the best way to eliminate the threat to your family.
One thing we look forward to in the summer is warmer weather which lets us spend more time outdoors. Unfortunately for some, this also means summer pests come out full force to ruin your outdoor plans. Some of the most common summer pests are flies, ants, mosquitoes, roaches, gnats, ticks, rodents, and stinging insects like wasps and hornets.
There are five major reasons these pests become more prominent in the summer months. The first is temperature. The temperature outside can affect both the behavior and development of pests. Many of these creatures favor the warmer temps, increasing their activity. Other pests, however, will make their way into your home in an effort to escape the heat. Moisture also contributes to pests invading in the summer. Most pests need water to survive and will thrive in moist environments. The increased humidity and summer rain showers provide ideal conditions for pests to thrive during this season. During times of drought, they will make their way indoors in search of water.
Summer also means longer days and shorter nights. More daylight means more time for pests to stay active in their search for food. Food is another motivator for summer pest activity. Grass and other vegetation grows in abundance in the summer months, providing a literal feast for many pests. This also provides them with an ideal place to hide out. Finally, for many pests summer is one of the busiest seasons of their life cycle. They reproduce at a rapid rate during these months in order to grow their populations before the slow down of the winter months. Many also go in search of food to store away for their upcoming winter hibernation or brumation.
Summer pests don’t have to ruin your good times. Here are some Dos and Don’ts of summer pest control.
- Remove any sources of standing water like bird baths, buckets, and toys.
- Keep drainage areas and gutters clear and freeflowing.
- Consider installing gutter guards.
- Make sure rain water is diverted from foundations.
- Repair loose mortars around foundation.
- Keep your yard tidy and grass cut short.
- Replace weatherstripping around windows and doors.
- Keep counters clean and floors swept.
- Keep food and pet food put away in sealed containers.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawlspaces well ventilated and dry.
- Consider crawlspace enclosure.
- Throw away overripe fruits and vegetables.
- Use trashcans with tight fitting lids and clean them regularly.
- Leave pet food and water bowls out overnight.
- Let garbage pile up.
- Leave dirty dishes in the sink.
- Store firewood or other materials up against the house.
- Ignore cracks and openings in your home’s exterior.
- Let sprinklers spray toward foundations.
- Store piles of newspapers or other materials.
- Use cardboard boxes for storage; use plastic when possible.
If you have a problem with pests this summer, contact your local pest control company who can evaluate your home, identify the type of pest you are dealing with, find how and where they are getting into your home, and provide you with the best treatment and prevention plan for your situation.
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A household pest is any undesired animal that has a history of living, invading, causing damage to, eating food from, acting as a disease vector for, or causing any other harm to a human habitat. While most are considered a nuisance, household pests become dangerous when they pose a risk to health, property, or lifestyle. Household pests aren’t just limited to insects; they also include arachnids, rodents, and wildlife.
While household pests can be found year-round, some are more common in the summer months. Here are 8 of the most common summer household pests and how you can prevent them.
Mosquito season peaks in the summer months. The warm weather and humid environments accelerate their life cycle so they are able to reproduce in large numbers during this time. You are most likely to see mosquitoes when you have standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and the hot, humid climate in summer is ideal for both breeding and to find food sources. Mosquitoes are dangerous to humans as they carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases like Zika and West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes can be prevented by:
- Avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk
- Wearing clothing that covers arms and legs
- Eliminating areas of standing water
- Repair or replace torn window screens
- Apply insect repellent
Ants hibernate in the winter and come out in full force over the summer. They have to forage in the summer months to feed their growing colonies and to build up their reserves for fall. Ants are usually seen indoors in the summer because they are searching for food and water as these can become scarce for them.
Ants can be prevented by:
- Keeping your home clean, especially the kitchen
- Not leaving pet food and water bowls outdoors
- Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house
- Sealing cracks and holes in your home’s exterior
Fleas are prevalent in the summer months, although they can be found on pets year-round. Pets will indicate the presence of fleas by scratching and biting when they come in from outdoors.
Fleas can be prevented by:
- Treating pets for fleas with preventative medication
- Vacuuming frequently, especially in areas that pets frequent, and disposing of the bag immediately
- Treating your yard with outdoor flea spray
- Washing pet bedding and toys weekly in hot water
Ticks are problematic to humans and pets because they spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Tick bites increase in the summer because people and animals are spending more time outside. The US is also seeing an increase in ticks because of the combination of mild winters and an increased population of deer and rodents which are known to carry ticks.
Ticks can be prevented by:
- Using tick preventatives on pets
- Wearing long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outdoors
- Avoid areas with high grass or woods when possible
- Eliminating debris and wood piles from your property
- Wearing insect repellent
- Checking yourself and your pets for ticks immediately after coming in from outdoors
- Removing any ticks found immediately
Termite swarming season is in the spring but these newly established colonies grow exponentially in the summer. Termites can go long periods of time undetected, causing significant damage to your home. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of termites so you can catch them early.
Termites can be prevented by:
- Eliminating wood to soil contact around foundations
- Creating a 4 inch barrier between wood mulch and your home
- Keeping plants a few feet away from your home
- Making sure storm drains point away from foundations
- Fixing leaks and eliminating any other sources of excess moisture
- Having an annual termite inspection performed
While most people view grasshoppers as just a nuisance pest, they can be devastating to gardeners and farmers. Grasshoppers can devour an entire field of crops in just a few days. Grasshoppers surge in large numbers in the summer months and are most prevalent in dry, hot summers. Grasshoppers can also cause damage to non-farmers as these are one of the only pests that can chew through screens.
Grasshoppers can be prevented by:
- Plant flowers that deter grasshoppers (lilac, crepe myrtle, verbena, sage, juniper)
- Plant vegetables that don’t attract grasshoppers (squash, peas, tomatoes)
- Introduce predators by making your garden attractive to birds
- Use floating row covers on crops and plants
- Consider natural products that kill grasshoppers without harming other animals or plants (Nosema locustae or Beauveria bassiana)
Flies invade your home in the summer months to escape the heat. They only reproduce during the hotter months and reproduce even more prolifically when they get indoors. Flies will stick around well into the fall months.
Flies can be prevented by:
- Keeping windows, doors, and vents sealed
- Using garbage cans with tight fitting lids
- Taking the garbage out when it is full
- Storing food in airtight containers
- Not leaving dirty dishes out
- Not leaving grass clippings in the yard
- Turning off outdoor lights at night
Stinging insects mate in the spring and their populations grow during the summer months. Hornets and yellow jackets are especially common in the summer because they have to establish new nests each year. These are usually found under decking or under piles of leaves. These stinging insects are potentially dangerous for people with allergies. Yellow jackets and bees can also get into the walls of homes, causing significant damage.
Stinging insects can be prevented by:
- Wearing shoes when outdoors
- Keeping trash cans tightly covered
- Eliminating dirt patches on your lawn
- Avoiding sweet smelling perfumes
- Don’t swat at stinging insects
Don’t let these common summer pests ruin your summer. If you have a problem with any of these pests, contact a professional pest control company who can help eliminate them safely and prevent them going forward.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
With Spring only a few weeks away, now is a good time to start preparing for allergy season. And what’s one of the major causes of allergies and asthma? PESTS! Don’t suffer through the beautiful spring season this year. Here are some tips to keep your home pest and allergen-free.
Pest prevention measures can be very effective at combating allergies and asthma. Common household pests, like cockroaches and stinging insects, can pose a significant threat to asthma and allergy sufferers. Roach droppings, saliva, shed skins and other body parts contain allergen proteins known to cause flare-ups and increase asthma symptoms, especially in children. And stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year due to serious reactions from the pest’s venom.
The first step to a pest and allergen-free home: practice good sanitation.
In addition, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommends the following tips for safeguarding homes against common indoor allergens caused by pests:
- Exclude pests by sealing cracks and gaps on the outside of the home. Pay special attention to utility pipe entry points.
- Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
- Keep food sealed and stored properly, and clean kitchen floors and counters daily.
- Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed containers.
- If allergic to stinging insects, learn how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.
- Should you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction following a stinging insect encounter, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call 911.
- If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional to safely remove the threat.