Many non-fans of winter were happy when—in several parts of the country—the season was milder than usual and appeared to end quickly and abruptly. As the saying goes, though, 'you can't get something for nothing', and the cost of avoiding shoveling snow and getting a few extra days of spring may be an increased risk for being infected with a disease when summer rolls around. Here's what you should know about this problem and a few things you can do to protect yourself.
The Importance of Winter
It's undeniable that winter can be annoying with its freezing days and penchant for randomly dumping a few feet of snow on your lawn. However, the cold weather is one of nature's pest control methods that helps keep bug populations in check.
While many pests have developed strategies and defenses to help them survive the cold weather, quite a few of them die off as the temperature drops towards and past freezing. For example, mosquitoes are cold-blooded bugs that prefer high-temperature weather over 80 degrees F. They go into hibernation when the temperature drops below 50 degrees and eventually just start freezing to death the colder it gets.
Pest larvae are typically hardier, but the net effect between their survival and the cold weather killing off the parents is a fairly stable bug population when spring rolls around.
Unfortunately, when winters are warm and cold snaps are few and far between, more of the parents survive and some larvae that would've died end up hanging around. As a result, the population of bugs swarming around your backyard and trying to breach the walls of your home is much bigger than normal in the spring and summer. Since many of these pests carry diseases harmful to human health (e.g. mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus), more pests typically means an increased risk of being sickened.
Protecting Yourself This Summer
If you happen to live in an area where the winter wasn't as cold as it normally is, taking steps to keep pests away from your home, family, and pets can help reduce your risk of being infested with and/or infected by disease-carrying bugs.
To reduce the mosquito population near your home, remove any and all standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, and water that's been sitting at the bottom of an empty pool or accumulating in rain gutters are likely home to thousands of baby mosquitoes just waiting to hatch. Destroy the habitats by draining the water away, or filling the areas with dirt to smother the eggs before discarding. For standing water that can't be easily dealt with in this manner—such as water in irrigation ditches and catch basins—use a chemical treatment specially designed to kill mosquitoes and larvae in these areas. These treatments can be purchased at most retail stores.
Check your home for cracks, holes, and other points of entry that small bugs can crawl through and plug them. You can further prevent pests from getting into your home by laying down pesticide around the perimeter. For instance, diatomaceous earth is a natural bug killer that eliminates ants, fleas, and even bed bugs but is safe to use around pets and kids.
Make a habit of checking outdoor pets for ticks and other clinging bugs. Even though flea and tick collars are generally effective at keeping these pests away from your cats and dogs, these bugs may still find a way to attach themselves to the animal. If the bug finds it can't burrow into the pet like it wants because of the chemical deterrent, it may crawl away from your pet and find a new home on the first human it comes across. Inspecting your pets on a regular basis can help you catch these pests before they become a problem.
There are many more things you can do to keep pests at bay this spring and summer. Contact a pest control company in your area, such as Ace Walco & Sons Termite & Pest Control, for more tips or assistance with keeping your home bug free.