Read about the common insect pests that plague our summers, what to expect, how to spot them and what you can do to control them.
Like spring and the blossoming of flowers, summer and pests seem always to go hand in hand. The high temperatures and humidity that come with summer provide the perfect conditions for pests to reproduce. This causes a significant increase in pest populations which in turn makes it more likely for you to get a pest infestation during the months of summer.
Although summer should be a fun season, the plague-like pest populations that accompany it can be a real downer. Pests are everywhere during summer months; they’re outdoors disrupting your barbecue, as well as indoors disturbing your sleep and feasting on your stored food in the pantry.
Because of all the inconveniences and damages pests can cause when they invade your space, it’s wise to prepare in advance before the “pest season” sets in. Early preparations will ensure you successfully stave off these troublesome intruders until the hot season is over and the risk of pests reduces.
Here are some of the pests you need to keep an eye out for in summer and some tips on how to keep them at bay.
Ants are probably the most common insects in Australia. With over 1300 documented species and subspecies, you’re almost guaranteed of personal contact with these insects – more so when their populations balloon during summer. While ants are, more often than not, beneficial while out in the wild, they turn into a real nuisance when they intrude where they’re not welcome.
With the exception of a few species, ants generally don’t bite (thank goodness); but they can, however, contaminate and damage food making it unfit for consumption. The sensation of the tiny insects crawling on your skin can also be very unpleasant.
Although these pests are most abundantly found outdoors, they’re not shy to venture indoors when there’s something to feed on. To avoid colliding with ants this summer, you need to:
- Keep your house and property food free by cleaning up the barbecue grill and the surrounding areas, keeping your kitchen and dishes clean, and taking away your pets food after they feed.
- Store all your food in containers that are tightly covered.
- Repair leaky plumbing.
- Keep your garbage bins tightly covered.
- Protect your food during picnics by putting it in resealable bags or food tents.
Flies are equally as stubborn as they are dangerous. Their indiscriminate feeding habits mean that they will feed on just about anything they come across, from rotting garbage to decaying carcases. This makes them a health hazard as the probability of them spreading germs as they jump between different food sources is very high.
Usually, flies multiply quite fast, but their rate of multiplication will even be higher in the warmer months of the year. This means that a fly infestation – if left untreated – could get out of hand very quickly. To prevent a fly infestation, you should:
- Clean food and beverage messes immediately they happen.
- Keep your food in covered containers.
- Clean up your pet’s poop right away.
- Keep unscreened doors and windows shut.
- Wash your dishes after you’re done using them.
Summer is the ideal season to spend some time outdoors for both you and your pet companion. Extended time outdoors for your pet could expose them to fleas. A flea infestation will affect both you and your pet as fleas will also feed on human blood.
But painful bites are not the only problem associated with fleas; these tiny critters can also spread diseases as they feed on a host. To keep these annoying pests from your home this summer, you should:
- Wash your pet often with flea shampoo.
- Keep your yard clean and tidy by mowing your lawn and clearing bushes as these provide spots for fleas to hide and await hosts.
- Keep feral animals and wildlife off your property as they often have fleas on their bodies.
- Vacuum your house regularly to pick up fleas and their eggs.
These are generally regarded as the most dangerous pests in the world due to the number of deaths they cause. Mosquitoes spread several dangerous diseases including Malaria, Dengue fever, Zika virus among others.
Mosquito populations usually start increasing in spring as the temperatures start rising and reach their peak in summer when temperatures are at their highest. During the months of spring and summer, eggs that had been laid previously will hatch, and the mosquitoes that were in hibernation during winter will also emerge. The result is an extremely high mosquito population.
Most mosquito species don’t feed on animal blood (and even in species that do, it’s only the females that can), but even those that don’t bite can be a nuisance to have around. You can keep mosquitoes at bay by:
- Keeping your grass short and clearing bushes and other overgrown vegetation on your property. Plants provide food and shelter for mosquitoes – the primary diet for mosquitoes is plant sap.
- Drain any stagnant water near your home as mosquitoes will use it as a breeding medium.
- Close doors and windows that are not screened as soon as it starts to get dark – night is when mosquitoes are most active.
- Screen any openings that can’t be covered such as chimneys and vents.
Rats and mice are destructive creatures that can do a lot of damage to your home and property if left uncontrolled. They gnaw at anything they come across including cables, food, furniture, and fabrics causing damage and contamination.
Their hairy bodies could also be harbouring other smaller pests such as fleas and ticks which they could introduce into your home. Because rodents are quick breeders (as noted by the popular saying about rats), eliminating an infestation after it takes root can be quite challenging. You, therefore, need to take measures to ensure you don’t get one.
These measures include:
- Sealing holes and gaps that rodents can use to get into your home.
- Keeping your food in tough, sealed containers – preferably ones made with glass or metal.
- Covering your garbage bins.
- Keeping your home clean and tidy.
Don’t let their cute appearance fool you; possums can be a nightmare when they intrude into your property. These critters will make a lot of noise, create messes and intimidate your pet if you own one. Additionally, possums (being wild animals) will often have smaller pests on their bodies such as fleas and ticks that they will bring into your home.
Possums usually build their nests in places that have little to no human traffic such as under decks, the attic or basement.
You can keep possums away by:
- Covering your outdoor garbage bins that could attract scavenging possums.
- Screening your low decks to deny possums access.
- Keeping tree branches that possums could use to access your roof trimmed.
- Keeping windows that are close to the ground closed.