While the return of warm weather might inspire you to fire up the grill, plant flowers or go for a hike, it should also inspire a sense of caution, as spring and summer are when pests such as stinging and biting insects emerge in full force.
Spring is when many pests reproduce, especially those that thrive in warm, wet conditions. Others that are fleeing this type of weather will attempt to find refuge in your yard, house or apartment. Certain pests can spread disease and damage your home or property, so it’s important to be proactive to keep them at bay.
These obnoxious and potentially unsafe insects and animals could be a threat to you this spring and summer.
Whether they’re yellow, red, orange or brown, most every color of wasp is an unwanted pest because of their nasty sting. Queens build their nests in the spring, and attractive places to set up shop include around door or window frames, on the ceiling of your porch, and under and around railings and decks -- basically the places you want to be to enjoy the warmer weather. Wasp workers are tasked with foraging for food in the daytime, so if a hive is nearby, you’ll be hassled anytime you’re outside with any food or drinks.
Mosquito eggs begin to hatch in the spring. They’ll linger in parks and yards where they can be guaranteed a meal along with standing water to breed in, whether that’s a children’s play pool, a puddle or a clogged rain gutter. Mosquitoes will often hide out in tall grass or other vegetation during the day before coming out in full force in the cool of the evening. On top of the irritation of their inflammatory bites and buzzing sounds, mosquitoes carry dangerous diseases, including West Nile virus.
Tick populations boom in the spring and summer, especially in areas with wetter or hotter conditions than normal, where they will emerge earlier and in greater numbers. March and April are when ticks lay their eggs, and June, July and August are considered peak season for Lyme disease. Ticks carry Lyme disease and other illnesses, and they will latch on to both pets and people.
The term “pest” usually makes people think of small creepy-crawlies, but citydwellers know that the category also includes unwanted rodents and birds, particularly pigeons. With springtime being one of their peak mating seasons, pigeons will be aplenty around the country once the weather gets warm. On top of being a nuisance, wild pigeons carry disease as well as harbor their own pests, such as fleas, lice and ticks. Their droppings are corrosive to structures, so homeowners need to pigeon-proof their properties by eliminating places where they could roost and build nests.
Like wasps, queen bees hibernate in the winter and emerge to rebuild their colonies. If the queen’s winter hideaway happened to be in your home, such as the attic, roof or wall, she could easily set up shop there or nearby after her slumber, and suddenly you have a buzzing hive on your hands. These hives can cause structural damage if they’re attached to your home. Some bees are more aggressive than others, but they’re all drawn to sugar and bright, floral colors, meaning they’ll interrupt your attempts at backyard get-togethers and will sting when swatted at.
Though termites are a year-round threat, warm, rainy weather triggers termite colonies to swarm. That’s when they send out flying “swarmers” to find the site of a new colony. If you find winged insects congregating in your home or notice collections of shed insect wings, it could be a sign that termites are trying to take up residence in your home. Termites cost the average person $3,000 to exterminate them and repair the damage they cause.
Flea season runs roughly from April through September, and these blood-sucking parasites will torment you and your pets if given the chance. As your dogs and cats venture back outdoors, they’re more vulnerable to fleas from your yard, shared green space, dog parks and other animals. Fleas congregate in dirt or tall grass and will happily hitch a ride on you as well as your pants, socks or shoes. Other pests like squirrels and rats can also carry fleas. Fleas bite both people and pets and can infest your home if brought inside.
Spring showers might bring flowers, but they’ll also drive ants indoors as they seek drier ground. Or, in especially hot places in the summer, they’ll try to get inside to escape the heat. Some ant species will come inside your home to look for food but return to their outdoor colony, while others will move indoors entirely if they find a steady food source. Dirty grills, outdoor furniture and patios will also entice ants into your yard. While different species have different behaviors, they’re all unwanted pests because they can bite, contaminate food and damage property.
Springtime is synonymous with new life, from adorable ducklings to pesky pests. And with numerous prey to pick off, spring means spiders, with babies of their own, will be out in full force. While many people assume pests that stayed in their homes for the winter would want to return to the outdoors, why would they leave the cool and safety of your home if food is plentiful? While many folks are simply creeped out by spiders, certain kinds like brown recluses are dangerous to humans.
Once the weather gets warm, both house flies and cluster flies emerge from hibernation-like states to reproduce and find food, spreading disease and bugging humans along the way. They’re active throughout the spring and summer and will flock toward food, garbage, dirty surfaces and even pet food and feces.
These copper and green bugs are the bane of gardeners in the East and Midwest of the U.S. come spring and summertime. This invasive species isn’t picky -- it will dine on and destroy more than 300 different plants -- but they prefer beans, grapes, raspberries and roses, the latter of which they will kill by eating from the inside out. The grubs feed on grass roots, so these pests can also damage your lawn. Unfortunately, the most effective way of getting rid of these beetles is to hand pick them off your plants, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, so it’s important to keep an eye out for them before your garden is overrun.
Cockroaches are more active in the spring and summer, so if they made their way into your home to hunker down for the winter, you’re more likely to catch them out and about in your home. While cockroaches like warmth, they want to beat the heat like humans when temperatures soar in the South and West, driving them into your home. Cockroaches carry disease, contaminate food, and trigger allergies and asthma, so it’s important to keep your home clean and clutter-free in the summer so they don’t become unwelcome guests.
Boxelder bugs, also known as Maple bugs, don’t cause much damage to your home, lawn or garden when they begin multiplying in the spring and summer on box elder trees, nor do they bite, sting or carry disease. These red and black bugs are an annoyance because of what they leave behind. When disturbed or crushed, these bugs leave an orange stain as well as emit a foul smell. Their excrement can also stain walls and other surfaces. This becomes a major problem once the weather starts to turn as boxelder bugs will attempt to move into your home en masse.
Rats and mice multiple in the springtime, meaning they’re on the hunt for new food sources and places to hide out. Rodents are just nuisances, they pose health threats and can do costly damage to your home. Spring cleaning is the perfect time to make sure your house is properly sealed off against whiskered intruders.