We all enjoyed the warm winter we had this year, but so did many insects. This year’s warm winter, from Eau Claire’s 60-degree record breaking temperature back in February, to it being the third warmest February in Milwaukee’s history, resulted in a bug’s paradise. Combine that with what’s now looking to be a warm, wet spring, and 2017 is gearing up to create the perfect breeding ground for many bothersome insects. After our mild Midwestern winter, we can expect early activity and an uptick in ants, mosquitos and ticks this year.
This summer, expect enough mosquitoes to keep your family indoors or covered with bug spray. According to NPMA’s bug barometer, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota residents can expect mosquitoes to emerge earlier and in greater numbers than usual. A warm winter and a wet spring is the perfect combination for mosquitoes to thrive. First, adult mosquitoes and their larvae can survive a warm winter. Second, a wet spring results in standing water, and mosquitoes breed in standing water. On top of all that, overall warm weather accelerates a mosquito’s reproductive lifecycle—more eggs, faster hatching. Put that all together, and mosquitoes are sure to be out full force this summer.
What You Can Do:
- Avoid standing water. Mosquitoes thrive on stagnant water, so make there is no pools of water in artificial containers – pet bowls, flower pots, buckets, etc.
- Clean up the yard. Rain water can easily pool year-round, but particularly when the ground is already saturated. One way to avoid this is to clear any debris like wood piles and leaves, and fill in low-lying areas with soil/grass/mulch to prevent the pools.
- Keep your gutters clean. Clogged gutters can create standing water, so keep them clean to make sure water can drain freely.
Get the tick repellent and flea and tick collars ready, because we expect to see an increase in these annoying and dangerous pests this summer. Ticks, which carry Lyme disease, will be in full swing this summer, so be prepared and take precautions. During a mild winter, more adult ticks and larvae are able to survive due to the less extreme temperatures. More small animals survive too, like mice and squirrels, which tick larvae use to feed on and grow. Combine these two conditions, and it simply creates a larger tick population come spring.
What You Can Do:
- Mow your lawn regularly. Mowing your lawn to the proper height reduces flea and tick hang-outs.
- Avoid overwatering your lawn. An overwatered or poorly drained lawn can extend an invitation to these insects.
- Keep your yard clean. Remove yard debris, such as piles of lumber, bricks and stones. Ticks like shady, moist areas.
Get ready; ants will come marching in two by two this year. An early start to warmer weather this year means an early start for ants. Our mild winter as a whole also means we can expect more ants, and will see more activity around homes than previous years.
What You Can Do:
- Keep your kitchen surfaces clean. Leaving a sweet, sugary spill even just overnight could result in major problems in the morning.
- Consider a deep spring cleaning. Pull out your appliances, grab the scrub brush, and get all of the hidden nooks and crannies where grease and other food debris tend to accumulate.
- Store your open food in containers with tight-fitting lids so you are not attracting any ants or other pests.
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