Common Summer Pests Coming Your Way (And How to Prevent Them)
Summer gives us many things to look forward to—camping, road trips, barbecues, and swimming come to mind. But those activities often come with uninvited guests. Plan ahead for summer pest control so you can keep bugs from being a buzz kill.
It doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re in, mosquitos are a ubiquitous part of summer everywhere. The biting, blood-sucking insects thrive in warm weather and are particularly happy near any water source.
While you might expect to find mosquito swarms at your campsite, they can make your backyard unpleasant too. Be prepared with smoke devices and bug deterrents.
The best line of defense is to keep standing water out of the area. Add a solar fountain to your birdbath, watch drainage around downspouts and keep the pool tightly covered when not in use.
In particularly problematic areas you can have a professional spray to keep them away.
Ticks are another blood-thirsty insect. However, rather than biting and flying away like mosquitos, ticks burrow beneath the skin.
Like mosquitos, ticks can also harbor and spread diseases, so they are more than just annoying. There are many different kinds of ticks and some are more prevalent in certain areas of the country. They can hang out just about anywhere and are quick to attach to a warm host, whenever possible.
The best way to prevent ticks is to cover your skin. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. Allow long socks to cover your lower leg and tuck pants into your boots. Also wear a hat!
Ticks have been on the rise lately, and they can be very dangerous in some cases. So always be sure to check children, pets, and yourself head to toe after every nature walk. If you see a tick attached to the skin, use tweezers to pull out the entire bug.
Use a slow and steady motion. Do not squeeze the tick or leave any of it behind.
The good news is that out of the innumerable types of spiders, very few of them are actually poisonous. That doesn’t mean anyone wants to suffer a bite, or even have them scurry across the room.
Spider deterrents include sealing up access holes and maintaining a dust-free, garbage-free home. Spiders will collect around wood piles, so stack wood separate from your dwelling.
Since spiders eat other bugs, cut off the food chain in your home with frequent sweeping and dusting. Also turn out the lights at a reasonable hour to discourage bugs that will attract spiders.
Home remedies that can deter spiders include those with eucalyptus, peppermint, citrus, tea tree, and vinegar.
These invasive insects might need a separate category altogether. To call them a pest is a downgrade from the structure-consuming critters they are. If you noticed some termites during the spring, you already have a problem. Summer, however, is when the multiplication happens.
If they’re around, there will be tens of thousands more very soon. The best action to take against a termite takeover is to bring in the big guns with a professional. Now is not the time to try subtle home remedies, since termites do much more than simply gnaw on wood.
They can decimate a wood surface, leaving you with noticeable, and expensive, repairs. Address termites early and aggressively.
Indoors and outdoors, flies are pesky additions. They hover on food, buzz your ear, and cause your animals to react. A female fly can produce hundreds of eggs in just a few days, so the problem can quickly get out of hand.
Equip your outdoors with zappers and fly strips. Indoors you can use fly strips too, but they’re not very inviting visually. It’s best to keep flies from coming in in the first place. Do your best to keep doors closed at all times.
Set aside an afternoon to inspect and repair holes or tears in window and door screens to keep them out.
Bees might be the buggiest of bugs. They’re a bugger, really. Hornets and wasps fall in the same category too. If you or a loved one gets an allergic reaction to bee stings, it moves beyond inconvenient into very scary.
The first thing to know is that some types of bees are very unlikely to sting you, so it’s okay to invite Mason bees or honey bees to the picnic, for example. These are defensive bees, meaning they will only sting if they feel they need to defend themselves.
Next to these busy, but basically benign bees, we have the bold and troublesome stinging bees. Sometimes you won’t be able to avoid them, but there are many ways to keep bees (along with hornets and wasps) away from the backyard fun.
Start by keeping food inside or very tightly covered if outdoors. Then invest in some bee traps. They are very effective if equipped with the right bait.
You can also use a can of spray to treat the hive. For extreme cases, call in a professional to remove hives underground or under the building eaves.
If someone does get stung, apply a mixture of baking soda and water after removing the stinger. Also make sure you have medications readily available if anyone in your home is allergic.
They are so considerate they do their best to remain hidden all the time. But then, you pull a grocery bag out of the car with a few tucked inside.
Or, in a half-awake stupor, you make your way across the room at night, flip on the light, and break up a party of them in your bathroom.
Cockroaches have recently been identified as having the ability to carry diseases so if the mere thought of them doesn’t keep you up at night, that little tidbit might.
There are several home remedies and over-the-counter options you can try to keep cockroaches away. Try sugar and baking soda, sticky traps, or a pesticide. The primary line of defense, however, is a meticulously clean home.
Make sure to clean floors often. Wipe down appliances and remove the grease from the stovetop. Keep a tight lid on your enclosed garbage can as well. If you take away all food sources cockroaches are less likely to hang around.
Fortunately, fruit flies are little more than annoying. They can appear during any season but often stake their claim during the harvest season since they are primarily attracted to ripening fruits and vegetables.
They’ll also take advantage of damp areas like garbage disposals, bottles, and rags. Like with most insects, the best way to discourage fruit flies is to take away their attractant. When the fruit on your counter is ripe, use it up, take it to the compost, or move it to the refrigerator.
If you keep a compost bin indoors, keep it tightly covered with the carbon filters in place. Fruit flies will take advantage of any food source so finding the core of the problem can take some time. However, even once established there are effective treatments you can try.
For starters, create an attractant at home with a few inexpensive ingredients. Simply mix some warm apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap. The sweet smell draws them in and the dish soap breaks the tension on the surface so they sink into the liquid and drown.
If that doesn’t work, make a cone out of paper or use a paper funnel. Place it inside of a glass with some cider vinegar in the bottom. Place these devices anywhere you’ve seen fruit flies.
There are myriad types of ants, and all of them can become unpleasant. They’re amazing bugs, skilled at carrying many times their weight. Of course, they’re team players so working alongside friends they can really make a haul.
However, ants are invasive. Sugar ants are commonly problematic. They can enter the home with the tiniest space of invitation so it’s not uncommon for them to appear out of nowhere, suddenly marching across the room and up the side of the cabinetry onto your countertops.
Again, there are myriad options to try when you go into battle with ants. Start by keeping the home sparkling clean, including any sticky patches on the floor or counter. Then use a citrus and/or vinegar-based cleaner.
Actually, there are many strong scents ants don’t care for including cinnamon, peppermint, and black pepper. If home remedies don’t work, you can head to the home improvement store to scour the many sprays and sticky assortments to choose from.
As a last resort, you can call in a professional to spray around the house.
You probably won’t see them, but if you or someone in the home starts getting small bites at night, bed bugs might be to blame. Remove all bedding and wash in very hot water. Be sure to include comforters, mattress covers, and pillows as well.
When transporting items infested with bed bugs, place them in a sealed bag so they don’t have a chance to get established on other surfaces. Next, vacuum the mattress, including the sides. Flip it over if possible and vacuum some more.
Also vacuum or wipe down all areas around the bed. Empty the vacuum into an outdoor trash can immediately after cleaning. Inspect daily and repeat inspections weekly until you’re sure the problem is gone.
If cleaning alone doesn’t manage them, try a fogger or other chemical application.
If you can’t get them under control, you may need to call in a professional exterminator.
If you’ve ever crushed a stink bug you’ll know how they got their name. As a penalty for your crime of squishing it, a stink bug releases an unpleasant aroma. However, that’s not the biggest issue with stink bugs.
They can become very invasive, gathering together to make blankets of their shield-shaped bodies huddled together. They particularly like to hang out in the spaces between the window glass and the screen.
The best way to prevent stink bugs from entering your home is to block all access points. Make screen repairs, keep doors closed, and look for small gaps around all openings in your home.
While you might be able to add some strips of insulation around gaps in doorways, stink bugs can enter through very small cracks you haven’t noticed in the chimney, the siding, and other more discrete locations.
From there, follow the basic pest control protocols of keeping the house clean, shutting off lights when not in use, tightly packaging food, and monitoring water sources for dripping or leaks.
As the weather warms, fleas will come out of the woodwork--literally. Some fleas can live inside the cracks of wood flooring for months, just waiting for the temps to rise a bit before hopping out to play.
Most often, though, animals bring fleas into the home from outdoors. Protect your pets year-round, even when you’re not seeing fleas.
Ask your vet what’s right for you, but there are pills, topical ointments, and collars that can all help. If, however, you do get a flea infestation, a flea bomb is your best course of action.
Wash what you can wash, open cupboards and interior doors, and set a bomb off before leaving the house. Then wash and wipe down surfaces throughout the home. Vacuum and promptly empty the vacuum bag.
Depending on where you live, grasshoppers may elicit a mild curiosity or deep-rooted anger. For a small pest, grasshoppers can do serious damage. Just ask a farmer in the south after grasshoppers devour a field of crops.
For smaller areas, you can try home remedies that contain garlic or pepper. There are many selections at the store too. Of course, you can always have a professional spray, but use extreme caution around edible produce plants.
Summer pests can put a damper on your outdoor plans, so come to the event ready to battle. If you’re planning a move, check out Pest Control Tips for New Homeowners, and for all types of critters check out these 11 Natural Pest Repellents.