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It’s here: July, the hottest month of the year. If June didn’t exactly feel like the stifling Midwestern summer you’ve grown accustomed to, at least you won’t have to worry about that going forward. July is when the realities of summer, good and bad, start to sink in. The good: barbecues, swimming outside, T-shirt weather, sun, and… did we mention barbecues? The bad: bugs, bugs, bugs. Summer is prime bug season in the Midwest, and this year is no exception. You probably can’t do anything about the bugs themselves, but you can stop them from impeding your summer fun. Whether you’re getting out in the sun or enjoying the great indoors, these are four bugs you’re inevitably going to encounter, and what you can do about them.

mosquitoes summer bug Mosquitoes

You know them. You hate them. You can’t seem to shake them. Mosquitoes are as much a part of summer as sunburn and the Fourth of July. But you don’t have to just tolerate them. Mosquitoes thrive in moisture, particularly standing water. Look for places around your home where puddles accumulate. After you water your lawn, does the water soak up quickly, or does your grass stay wet for hours? Do your windows gather condensation in the morning? Do you have any leaks or dripping faucets? Obviously you can’t prevent mosquitoes when you go out, but you can protect yourself from them. Wear long sleeves and pants with socks and boots. Minimize sweating by wearing a hat or staying in shade. Always wear mosquito repellent, especially if you’re going into a wooded area or walking near a lake. If you’re planning a party outside, consider building a (safe) fire for when it gets dark.

house fly summer bug House Flies

House flies annoy homeowners all over the Midwest every summer with their constant buzzing and zipping around. They’re notoriously unsanitary, carry diseases, and do that creepy thing where it looks like they’re rubbing their stubby little hands together. Unlike most bugs, house flies aren’t active at night. They come into your home looking for food and a safe place to rest. House flies can only consume liquids, though they can liquify various small foods like crumbs. They’re crazy about sugar, which is why they swarm around lemonade and soft drinks. House flies stay near where they’re born for their entire (brief) lives. They’ll lay eggs in almost any warm, moist material, especially if it provides food for their vulnerable larvae. This includes all kinds of food, but also animal waste, standing water or beverages, and garbage. You’ll have to deal with house fly infestations quickly; house fly eggs hatch very quickly in hot weather.

tick summer bug Ticks

If there’s one pest you loathe more than mosquitoes, it’s probably ticks. They’re dirty, they hurt, they suck your blood for days, and they transmit disease. Ticks are excellent climbers, and use vegetation to get onto prey. Keep your grass and hedges trimmed short, and take care to keep your garden or houseplants well-maintained. Avoid overgrown paths or heavily wooded places, especially while you’re walking your dog. Even if you don’t think ticks are likely, apply repellent to your pets whenever they go out. Even if you take precautions, you should check your own body (and your pet’s) whenever you get home from spending time outside. Ticks tend to climb toward dark, moist, and warm parts of the body, so check armpits and upper thighs, as well as hair. If you find a tick, remove it immediately. If possible, preserve it in a bag or bottle so it can be identified by an expert in case of disease.

gnats summer bug Gnats

Also known as “black flies,” gnats are those tiny black bugs that buzz around your head constantly. Their bites don’t transmit diseases, but because they use slashing mouthparts to actually break the skin, they’re quite painful. Gnats lay eggs in or near bodies of water. Unlike mosquitoes, they don’t need that water to be stagnant. When the larva hatch, they actually spend the first week or so  their lives underwater, before emerging as adults. Gnats are especially annoying around lakes and streams, but wind can carry them all over. Like mosquitoes, they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide in breath, which is why they swarm around your head. They bite exposed skin, particularly along the hairline, feet, ankles, and arms, so wearing long clothing can help deter them. Avoid going outside unprotected during their most active hours immediately after sunrise and sunset. Gnats are attracted to dark colors, so consider wearing bright clothing if you’re going near water.   Summer pests are annoying, but you don’t have to let them dictate your plans. Take a few steps to pest-proof yourself, and you’ll find you can enjoy the great outdoors (or indoors) without much bother at all. And of course, if you end up with a pest issue that you can’t solve on your own, you can give Plunkett’s a call anytime. We’ll get your summer back on track.

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