School is out, summer is here, and Hotlanta is living up to its name. It’s time for beautiful weather, picnics, swimming pools, camping … and pesky bugs. The next couple of months are when mosquitoes, bees and wasps, ants, ticks, and spiders are most active in The Big Peach so chances are you’re likely to encounter these common pests.
Mosquitoes can be a real annoyance in Georgia. With the peak mosquito season of June through September quickly approaching, now is the time for mosquito prevention and control around your home. In addition to being bothersome, these pests can also cause health and safety concerns. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus and other viruses that cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. Eliminating breeding grounds and other prevention methods will help prevent an infestation and keep you and your family safe.
- Mosquitoes lay their eggs on or near water so get rid of all sources of standing water. Mosquitoes need only about ½ inch of water to lay their eggs, which can grow from larvae to adult in as little as 7 days!
- Regularly empty standing water found in flower pots, saucers, barrels, old tires, kiddie pools, buckets, birdbaths, etc. particularly after any rainfall.
- Drain or use soil to fill in low areas in lawns and landscaped areas where rainwater may accumulate.
- Clean out and repair any damaged rain gutters to prevent water from collecting.
- Keep mosquitoes out of your home with tight-fitting screens on windows and doors.
- Invest in your personal protection. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks outdoors. Use a repellent on exposed skin and on thin clothing, since mosquitoes can bite through it.
- Be particularly cautious between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
2. Bees and Wasps
Bees and wasps are also out in abundance this time of year. Bees have barbed stingers that break off in your skin after a sting and can sting only once before they die. If you find yourself with a bee sting, do not squeeze the stinger as this will cause more venom to go into the skin. Instead, remain calm and simply scrape away the stinger with a dull knife or the edge of a credit card.
Wasps, including hornets, yellow jackets, and paper wasps, are generally more aggressive than bees and can sting repeatedly. Most stings result in redness, swelling, itching, and pain. In extreme cases, if an allergic reaction occurs – such as hives, nausea, fainting, or wheezing – seek medical treatment immediately.
- These stinging insects build nests in and around most solid surfaces outside the home so be sure to regularly check gutters, windows, grilles, porch lights, etc.
- Seal all cracks and crevices around pipes, cables, and vents.
- Trim vegetation around the home to help reduce suitable nest locations.
- Cover food and drink containers to help limit food sources for bees and wasps.
- Screen all windows and doors. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.
- Most bee or wasp stings happen when they are disturbed, feel threatened, and then defend themselves and their colony. Minimizing your interactions with these insects can help reduce your chances of getting stung.
Ants are a perpetual nuisance for residents across Atlanta. It seems like they are everywhere and are always searching for food. Once they locate food, a small group of ants can lay down a pheromone trail that quickly alerts hundreds of other ants to the food source. This is why you see constant streams of ants following each other under your garbage can, around a cabinet, or through your kitchen.
Certain ant species (such as the Carpenter ant) can cause a great deal of property damage to your home. These ants do not actually feed on wood but carve extensive tunnel systems into the wood for nesting and breeding purposes. If the infestation is not removed quickly, the resulting damage can be costly to repair and may not be covered by homeowners insurance.
Another ant species, the red fire ant, is a serious problem throughout the Southern United States. You can spot a fire ant infestation by their dome-shaped mounds in your lawn. Red fire ants are highly aggressive and their bites contain painful venom. They pose even a larger threat to those who have an allergic reaction.
- When landscaping, use the minimum amount of mulch required as excessive mulch and vegetative ground covers hold the moisture needed by ants to thrive.
- Store any firewood away from the home and remove any dead wood or scraps from around the exterior foundation, where ant colonies can often be found.
- Seal all plumbing or roof leaks and check crawl spaces and attics for excess moisture.
- Clean out all parts of your kitchen where food is prepared or stored. Keep foods like cereal, crackers, and cookies in sealed containers. Keep it clean and remember that the smallest crumbs can attract the smallest pests.
- Cut tree branches and other plants away from the home to keep ants from using them as a path to enter directly into your home.
Ticks flourish in high grass or brushy areas. They find a host by detecting exhaled carbon dioxide and body warmth. Ticks will climb to the tip of a blade of grass or leaf and wait to hitch a ride on a passing host as they brush by.
These blood sucking arachnids should not be ignored as they are known to transmit several diseases such as Lyme disease which can result in arthritis, meningitis, Bell’s palsy, heart problems, and visual problems. The longer a tick is attached, the higher your chances are of being infected. First symptoms include a bull’s eye rash, followed by flu-like symptoms. Finding the tick and removing it as early as possible is the best way to protect from bacteria transmission.
- Prevent places for ticks to hang out. Keep lawns cut short. Remove debris and brush piles.
- When going on a wooded trail or high grassy area, wear long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot reach your skin. Tuck your shirt inside your pants. Avoid brushing against vegetation. Ticks will crawl around to find a suitable spot, so the less bare skin, the better chance of brushing it off before attachment occurs.
- Perform daily tick checks. Thoroughly inspect all areas of the body including the hair.
- Don’t forget about your pets, especially if they have been outside or in high grass or wooded areas. Be sure to check them particularly behind the ears and between the toes. Consult with your veterinarian to find the prevention and treatment option that works for you. Wash pet bedding and toys frequently.
- If you find an attached tick, remove it promptly. Be sure to completely remove it from the bite mark, especially its head. Do not twist or jerk to get it off. Use tweezers around the tick as close to the point of attachment as possible and remove with a firm pull.
Even though their appearance is creepy, spiders are actually beneficial in your home because they lower the populations of other bugs. Spiders like to hide in dark, undisturbed areas. So be sure to use caution when working in the yard, going in a shed, or moving objects that haven’t been disturbed in a while.
Most spider bites are harmless. Black widow spiders will stay in hard to find areas and only bite if threatened; their bites may result in redness, swelling, abdominal pain, stiffness, fever, and nausea. A brown recluse is a bit more active and their bite can cause redness that turns into a blister and then an ulcer. Although spider bites are rarely fatal, if you think you’ve been bitten you should see a doctor immediately.
- Typically you can remove spiders in your home by removing their food source – all types of bugs and insects.
- Dust and vacuum regularly to prevent cobwebs and the spiders that build them.
- Eliminate clutter around your home, including the basement and the garage. Spiders and the insects they prey upon like to hide out behind and under stuff.
- Be sure to dry out wet areas around your home as many spider species like a damp environment.
- Seal cracks around pipes, wires, and cables leading up into the home from the crawlspace or basement and down from the attic. Also seal cracks around vents and light fixtures in the ceiling.
- Cut back tree branches and shrubs at least 18 inches away from the roof and walls of the home.
- Most bites and stings happen because the spider is defending itself. By taking precautions to avoid direct contact with spiders you can help minimize your meetings with unwanted bites.
Summer bugs are no fun. If your pest problem persists, contact a local licensed Truly Nolen pest control professional for summer pest control services. With a little caution and prevention these pests don’t have to keep you indoors and you can enjoy a healthy, happy, and pest-free summer.