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When it comes to protecting your family and home against pests, hindsight doesn't have to be 2020 in 2020. Western Exterminator is helping homeowners prepare for the new year by offering insights into anticipated pest activity.
For nearly 100 years, Western Exterminator has been protecting homes and businesses from destructive and harmful pests. As 2019 comes to a close, the company's entomologists examined trends, company data, and their own field experiences to put together this list of six pest predictions for the new year.
Populations of disease-spreading mosquito species, such as the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito, have surged in recent years in some Western states. These mosquitoes, along with the already well-established common house mosquito, can spread diseases such as West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and Zika virus, as well as the parasite that causes heartworm in pets. These species seem to be adapting to survive in a drier West Coast environment, which may lengthen the overall mosquito season. "Their survival techniques are ingenious," says Fred Rozo, a Board Certified Entomologist and Senior Technical Services Manager with Western Exterminator. "We have actually seen these species lay eggs so that they survive through a cycle and hatch in the next cycle."
What can homeowners do? To prevent mosquitoes from breeding on your property, remove standing water. It only takes a tablespoon of water for mosquitoes to breed. When spending time outdoors, protect yourself and family members by wearing an EPA-approved insect repellent. Yard barrier treatments can also reduce activity.
In major metropolitan areas across the country in 2019, rat populations surged. Expect to see that trend continue and watch for rats to continue pushing outward into suburban areas, as well. A number of issues are contributing to the swell of rat activity, including warmer winters, a booming construction pipeline, lack of sanitation control, and affordable housing crises.
What can homeowners do? "Rats can be extremely destructive to homes, so take precautions to make your home less attractive to them," Bobbie Orr, Board Certified Entomologist and Technical Services Manager with Western explains. "There are four main steps to take: Eliminate excess vegetation, especially dense low-vegetation that can serve as good hiding places for rats. Ensure that no trees overhang your home. Seal any exterior openings larger than a nickel with rodent-proof material such as hardware cloth or flashing. Finally, ensure that all trash is sealed in bags and placed into garbage cans with well-fitting lids."
Termites are a continual problem for homeowners in the Western U.S., but 2020 could bring heavier pressure than usual. Western Exterminator experts have seen an increase in activity from subterranean and dampwood termites in many areas this year.
What can homeowners do? You can deter termite activity by avoiding wood-to-ground contact at your home and eliminating excess wood (stumps, lumber, etc.) from your yard. However, termites can be present for years before homeowners ever seen signs of their activity, causing extensive and costly damage. To avoid this, have a termite protection plan in place. Speak to your pest control provider about risk and options for your home.
The Turkestan cockroach is an invasive species of large cockroach, sometimes referred to as a "red runner" cockroach, first discovered in the U.S. in the late 1970s. Since then, it has flourished in pockets of the U.S., including the Southwest, Southeast, and now, California. These outdoor cockroaches don't fly, but they can make their way inside by crawling in through cracks, gaps, and open windows and doors. Due to their large size, about 1.25 inches (3 cm) long, they may frighten or startle people.
What can homeowners do? Just as with rodents, the best way to keep these pests out of your home is to ensure there are no cracks or gaps where they can sneak in. Ensure that door seals, including the one on your garage, are in place and intact. Caulk and seal any cracks around windows or door frames. Other common entry points may be gaps where pipes or cables enter your home, or along your roofline. If you're experiencing cockroach problems, speak with your pest control professional to determine the best solution for your home.
Been noticing more flies in your area? You aren't alone. "Filth flies – house flies, bottle flies, flesh flies – are more abundant than we've seen in previous years," says Claudio Salem, West Market Technical Director for Western Exterminator. "We expect this trend to continue into 2020." You can thank increasing population density, waste management practices that haven't kept pace with growth, and a general trend toward a warming climate for the fly pressure.
What can homeowners do? Fly activity can be difficult to control, but there are small steps homeowners can take to keep them at bay. Screen all windows and doors. Keep trash at a distance from your home and ensure that all trash cans have lids. If flies are bothering you when sitting outside, use a box or oscillating fan to keep them away. When air is moving, flies have a hard time landing.
If you've ever seen a rather large yellow and black spider spinning a giant web just outside your home, you've likely encountered an orb-weaver spider – and they've been very abundant in 2019. That's likely because there's been an increase in other flying insects, which these spiders feast on. These industrious pests spin a web each night to catch their prey and tear it down the next day, before starting the process all over again. The biggest risk to homeowners? Walking through one of their webs!
What can homeowners do? There's nothing to fear. Orb weavers are harmless to humans. If the thought of spiders lurking around freaks you out, try changing your white outdoor light bulbs to yellow light bulbs, which attract fewer insects that can serve as food for the spiders.
All of Western Exterminator's experts agree that the best step any homeowner can take to prevent pest issues is to have a proactive pest control plan in place year-round. New pests concerns are continually emerging. As the new year approaches, take time to evaluate your current pest control program and adjust it accordingly to achieve the best protection for your home, family, and pets.