Dry and hot. The Midwest has become very familiar with these conditions as the lack of rainfall and record breaking summer temperatures have plagued the region. The combination of these elements along with a mild winter and warm spring have created what the National Pest Management Association is referring to as a “breeding bonanza,” or what homeowners simply refer to as, a headache.
Warmer weather fuels developing insects:
Warmer weather speeds up insect reproduction cycles and allows larvae to grow at faster rates, causing a spike in pest populations. As harvesting season draws near, the larger than usual amount of insects poses a threat not only to homeowners, but to the agricultural industry as well. Greater numbers of insects feeding on crops such as alfalfa, tobacco and vegetables creates problems for farmers around the area and throughout the country. Grasshoppers and crickets are predicted to be especially damaging to crops this year because the bacteria and fungi that normally provide natural control are not very effective under hot, dry conditions.
One bright spot this summer has certainly been the lack of mosquitoes, which require moisture to reproduce. However, while mosquitoes have been less active, other insects including bees, wasps, yellowjackets, ants and grasshoppers are all developing at faster rates than normal. Adding to the issue, these pests require moisture to survive causing them to seek out water inside of homes and buildings.
How weather conditions are affecting specific pest populations:
- Wasps: Stinging insects like wasps and yellowjackets love hot weather and, as a result, have been very active this summer.
- Ants: Due to the lack of moisture, ants are venturing inside homes to find, you guessed it, water.
- Other common pests: Springtails, earwigs, millipedes, pillbugs (“rolly pollies”) and spiders are the most common pests coming indoors in search of water. These insects are migrating in unusually large numbers to seek refuge inside.
- Mosquitoes: In Wisconsin and Illinois, Wil-Kil is seeing fewer calls than last year because mosquitoes need water to breed.
- Grasshoppers and crickets: Grasshoppers and crickets can be nuisance to homeowners, but they pose an even greater threat to the agricultural world. As harvesting season nears, these insects could be feeding in greater- than- normal numbers due to this summer’s combination of heat and drought.
Tips to help protect your home from potential infestations:
- Dump standing water, fix leaking faucets and be extra careful around moist areas where wasps tend to gather.
- Seal cracks and crevices around your house to keep pests out.
- Make sure food inside your home is sealed to prevent it from attracting insects.
- Keep all doors shut or install screens on doors that are left open.
- Periodically, hose down the outside of the house. This will remove any hidden nests and spider webs.
The rising number of insects due to weather conditions poses concerns for homeowners, farmers and communities across the country. If the warmth lingers in the fall, certain insects could continue to be “pests” until the frost comes. However, with the right care and attentiveness, you can keep the bugs at bay, leaving your home clean and pest free.
Have you noticed an increase in pests in your home or backyard this summer?
About Shane McCoy:
Shane McCoy is an Associate Certified Entomologist with 17 years of experience in Pest Management and is the Technical Training Director for Wil-Kil Pest Control servicing Wisconsin and Illinois. You can find more information about Wil-Kil at www.wil-kil.com or contact your local office at 800-236-8735. You can also follow Wil-Kil on Facebook and Twitter (@WilKilPest).