Essential Winter Pest Control, and Why It Matters
Depending on where you live, winter may be a prime time of year for pests. With the crazy weather and the warmer winters, some pests are surviving, even thriving, in the coldest months.
Insects and Their Different Forms
Mosquitoes and deer flies are often seen as plagues of summer. The adult deer fly season is most active from late spring to mid- to late-fall, although they are around all year long. However, this is true of every insect, beneficial or otherwise.
Insects have different forms. When the adult deer fly population is no longer causing terror with their sharp, piercing, and flesh-rendering mandibles, you might think they’re gone — and most of them are.
Insects can be grouped by those that complete a lifecycle and those that don’t. A complete cycle goes from egg to larva to pupa to adult. An incomplete life cycle begins with the egg, and then goes from nymph to adult.
When the adult deer flies have died off, the next generation remains in the ground as larvae. When the cold weather kills off the adult mosquitoes, the next population is in a pool of water somewhere as eggs. This is because mosquitoes are aquatic during the larval state and deer flies are terrestrial.
Winter Pest Control is Essential
While Alaska may seem like an extreme, consider the weather around Phoenix, Arizona, where the average winter temperature is about 57°F. Yet, even in Alaska, insects adapt to survive. Each spring and summer, the mosquito populations there bloom into a cloud of hungry predators. Their eggs adapt to the frigid water, which is likely to be warmer than the frozen ground. If the water is not frozen solid, then it is still around 32°F. That’s warmer than than Alaska’s surface temperature, which can be -40°F.
Winter pest-control measures are just as important as are summertime measures. The focus and techniques are different, but successful strategies target larvae and eggs to reduce the number of adults that emerge in spring.
Some easily done winter tasks for pest control are the DIY types. These include:
. Making sure that your house is sealed, including cracks in boards and gaps between your home and its foundation. The underside of your home is a cozy spot for insects, even in the dead of winter.
. Making sure that fall leaf debris is removed and disposed of properly. Piles of vegetation are snug dens that insulate insects from the cold.
. Making sure that your yard is free of clutter, such as boards, which make perfect winter homes for insects.
. Check for standing water and moisture zones in your home. In the dead of winter, especially in snow, fresh water is difficult to find. An available water source is a beacon for insects.
. Double bag stored dried foods, such as crackers, cereal, flour, and other foods that insects will appreciate. A good tip to control pantry pests such as weevils is to store your flour and other dry baking ingredients in the freezer. The colder temperature keeps insect eggs in flour from hatching.
. Position garbage cans and refuse cans away from your home and garage. Garbage is a banquet for insects. Moving those containers away from your building helps to eliminate a bridge from garbage to home.
Use a Professional Service
Professional pest control services understand how insects in your local area work, including which types of insects are present during the winter and which are not. Specialized chemicals help to reduce insect populations, even in the larval form. Time-release granules are one such tool. Laying down a contact barrier that kills on contact will not do much in the winter, as rain will wash it away and snow will cover it up. The other options are granules and baits.
. Baits are especially important in late summer and fall. The adult insects will take the bait back to their colony, where it will work over the winter to reduce the colony’s size. This tactic works well on ants, termites, and other colonizing insects.
. Treating exposed wood with natural products such as orange oil can also help to reduce insect populations, especially termites.
. Green pest-control treatments for inside your home will help to reduce populations of spiders and insects such as stink bugs, boxelder bugs, and fleas.
Smart planning and the use of a professional can help to reduce the incidents of pests in and around your home. Winter is a prime time to help reduce the emerging population of adult pests such as mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, fleas, and pests that not only are annoying, but that also may carry disease.