Sure, technically the first day of spring is March 20, the Spring Equinox. As anyone living north of Tennessee will tell you, however, that’s a little premature. The real first day of spring is the day you can walk outside without your nose hairs freezing. Fortunately, those days might (we don’t want to jinx it) just be here again. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who feel like celebrating it.
Every spring, just as the snow melts and the grass starts growing, all kinds of pests wake up. And after they wake up, they get busy. Spring is prime time for all kinds of some of the most annoying pests we encounter all year. They’re eating, looking for mates, and trying to break into your home. Nothing ruins the beginning of spring like the beginning of a pest infestation. Here are the pests that are waking up right now, what they’re up to, and how to keep them away.
As soon as snow starts melting, ant colonies everywhere… spring… back into action. Workers get busy looking for food, reproducers start looking for mates, and the colony keeps expanding. Virtually every type of ant species becomes very active starting in spring. Carpenter ants start looking for mates and laying eggs near colony sites. Pavement ants range out further for food and reproductive partners. House ants may attempt to infiltrate your home to get at your food and water.
Keeping ants out of your home this spring is important for a couple of reasons. Ants can ruin food, make a mess, and even spread diseases. They’re one of the most common and frustrating stored food pests. The better you keep them out, the fewer you’ll have to worry about in summer. The best way to control ants is to deprive them of food sources. Clean your kitchen frequently, and never leave food sitting out. Keep all your stored food in airtight, hard plastic containers. If you can keep food away from ants, they’ll go somewhere else to get it.
Termites reproductive “swarmers” wake up after the final freeze of the season, usually in mid-spring. Every colonies’ swarmers wake up and become around the same time, to maximize their chances of finding each other. Female termite swarmers release pheromones that attract male swarmers. Once male and female swarmers mate, their wings break off. The new couple find a place to start building a new colony. Colony development kicks off in spring and will continue all the way until fall.
Termites start colonies by seeking out moist or damaged wood. They’ll usually try to find this wood near where their former colonies are established. Many termite colonies start in logs, stumps, or outbuildings like sheds. To prevent termites this spring, look for any wood outside your home that may be particularly vulnerable to infestation. Make sure there are no plumbing leaks dripping water onto siding or baseboard. Cover any wood that directly contacts the ground with hard plastic.
Bees and wasps
Bees are an important reason why spring happens at all! Most bees wake back up in early spring to eat the nectar flowers produce. In the process, they’re pollinating the flowers, ensuring growth and blooming. Wasp queens wake up in spring to mate and establish new nests. Both bees and wasps range further than usual this time of year and may seem active more frequently. You’ll find bees around garden plants, while wasps may be anywhere they can find other insects.
Despite their importance, you probably don’t want bees near you this spring. The more time they spend near your home, the more likely it is they’ll establish their nest near you. Bees aren’t naturally aggressive, but they will defend their nests if they feel threatened. Wasps work similarly, except that they’re considerably more likely to sting. Wasps and bees build their nests in sheltered overhangs. Try to prevent giving them easy access to good building conditions, and call the pros immediately if you find a nest.
Believe it or not, ticks tend to wake up surprisingly early in spring, even in parts of the Midwest. When they wake up, they’re hungry. Ticks need to feed on a blood meal after emerging for spring in order to stay active. They’ll usually begin hunting (or “questing”) as soon as it's warm enough for them to leave their shelter. Ticks quest by climbing to high vegetation and waiting for prey to wander near them.
Ticks live in any area with enough vegetation for them to hide and quest. They’re particularly fond of any areas where they can find abundant prey. That means ticks are quite common near animal paths in wooded areas… and human paths in parks and neighborhoods. Ticks will also creep close to homes if they have the cover to do so. They love hiding in tall grass, bushes, and weeds. Keep your yard trimmed and maintained to keep ticks away this spring.
Spring is supposed to be an exciting time of year--especially after the winter we’ve had. Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining… you might actually want to be outside! Pests don’t get to take that away from you. Follow the steps above and do a little spring cleaning, and you can make sure they won’t.
If you need a little help keeping the pests away this spring, give Plunkett’s a call any time. We’ll take care of the gross stuff so you can get back to enjoying the season. Have a great spring!