By its very nature, summer’s warmth always causes an uptick in the number of insects and pests in and around the home. But it’s interesting to see how differences in weather in various parts of the U.S. impact the amount by which this increase is seen.
Take the summer of 2015 as an example …
The Northeast U.S.
In Connecticut, the average temperature has increased over the last several decades, and that has caused an increase in disease-carrying pests, such as mosquitoes and ticks.
According to NBC Connecticut, the mean annual temperature has increased 1.5 degrees since 1950, rising from 49.5°F to 51°F; in Bridgeport (considered to be “the official climate site on the Connecticut shoreline,” a similar increase has been seen, with the mean annual temperature, of the same time period, rising 1.8 degrees – from 51.2°F to 53°F
While a shift of less than two degrees may not seem like a lot, the impact on insects can be significant, as is shown in the final section (Climate Change) of this article.
Pest control companies are always busiest in the summer, dealing with the rise in consumer calls for the elimination of summer pests. But in Albuquerque, New Mexico, pest control companies began getting even more calls than usual. According to a KRQE article, the build-up of moisture from 2014 and 1015 has been one cause.
And the result is more shoreline ground beetles, ants, and wasps.
- The larva of the ground beetles live beneath the soil, but once they develop into adults, they emerge at night and are attracted to lights. Although they are present during the day as well, they are generally hiding in a dark spot. On the plus side, these beetles don’t generally come into homes, and the few that might are simply nuisance pests, they are not harmful, don’t live long, and don’t reproduce indoors.
- Ants are a typical summer pest, but the added moisture and heat has provided them with even more moist, organic material.
- Cockroaches, particularly German cockroaches that are primarily found indoors, are a year-round pest, but the weather has caused an increase in outdoor cockroaches that live in sewers and thrive cool, damp areas. Keeping moisture to a minimum and reducing any standing water and organic debris can go a long way toward reducing the presence of these pests.
- Wasps, too, are attracted to water, but are most likely to be found around swimming pools, backyard ponds or water fountains, baby pools, etc. Keeping these covered went not in use will help to keep wasps at bay.
California’s Salinas area is commonly called the “salad bowl of the world” because of the vast amount of leafy greens that are grown there. While the weather is generally temperate much of the year, the drought of 2015 not only impacted the produce itself, it also has increased the insect threat to the crops, according to KSBW. There are more insects and their life cycle has been shortened, enabling even more insects to be breed.
The pests are causing problems for the farmers through eating and damage of the crops and exacting more time, effort, and money for pest control – so much so that the farmers are having a hard time keeping up.
Because of the reduced supply and increased cost of growth, consumers across the U.S. are likely to see a price increase in this produce.
Although the specific trends have been somewhat different for each of these areas of the U.S., a common thread is the increased heat and the related increase of insect pests. The impact of this warming is explained by Climate Central as having significant impact on three key insect pests – across the U.S.:
With the rising temperatures brought about by global warming, the risks posed by these pernicious pests could also be increasing. A warmer climate can mean expanded habitats for many pest species, as well as increases in their numbers.
- Mosquitoes – Because temperatures are rising all across the U.S., the areas in which mosquitoes can successfully live and breed (and bite us!) could expand. Additionally, they are likely to emerge earlier in the spring and die later in the fall.
- Deer ticks. A similar impact is likely to be had on deer ticks, as they are able to spread into more areas – increasing the spread of Lyme disease and other diseases they can carry. In fact, the ticks have already spread into Canada, and the trend – and rising Lyme disease reports – is expected to continue. Additionally, like mosquitoes, the warming year round temperatures are enabling a longer active season for ticks, and the warmer temperatures of winter are likely to enable more ticks to survive this off season.
- Fire ants. As a southern pest, fire ants need warmth, and the lengthened summer and warmer winter are likely to enable more of these ants to survive and further expand. It is predicted that they could expand by as much as 21% by the end of this century – with colonies spreading north into states such as Nebraska, Kentucky and Maryland.
Although there is nothing we can do about the weather, there are many steps that can be taken in prevention, control, and elimination of these disease-carrying pests. (Click the links imbedded throughout this article, and in the box below for information.)