Sweet summertime…and bugs. The days are longer; barbecue grills have become hubs for gathering, shorts and flip flops are to be seen everywhere. Whether you’re gathering for a backyard cookout, going out for a walk, or planning a weekend camping trip. Summer is a perfect time for picnics, swimming, hiking, outdoor activities.  But summer can also mean unpleasant seasonal pests that can put a damper on fun when they bite or sting. Summertime means warm weather, and if you’re like most homeowners, it’s the season to wage war on prevalent summer bugs. Taking care of summer bug issues can be a big hassle, but it can be manageable if you take a constructive approach rather than a reactive one.

Summertime is bugs time

Summer seems to bring out the worst in insect populations. As the ambient temperature rises, insects also see growth in development, locomotion, population, and metabolism. This means that in the warm summer months, insects become better, more productive, eat more, and propagate more before they outrun their short life cycle (i.e., die).

However, during a very bad heat wave, bugs will die at a much higher rate because they all will dry out. The fluids in their insect bodies tend to melt and evaporate at higher temperatures, and they can not replenish moisture faster than they lose it.

Conversely, as temperatures drop (such as in the winter season), their bodies’ biochemical processes simply don’t have enough energy to continue. They must either enter some form of hibernation or die. ⠀ 

Here are some distinct patterns of some insects you should be well aware of.

• Butterflies will only fly at warm temperatures.

• The way crickets chirp shows how warm it really is. The warmer the temperature, the more chirps you hear.

• Wasps tend to be more aggressive in the summer, “using” more alcohol from fermenting fruit.

• Bees may get “drunk,” exhibiting habits of excessive grooming, loitering, or moving aimlessly.

• Mosquitoes often prefer to search for people with any alcohol (compared to those who don’t).

Enemy’s enemy is my friend

Warmer weather means more predatory insects. Growing insect populations also means that predatory insects need more food.

Ladybugs, praying mantises, some species of wasps, and flower flies (or hoverflies) are only a few insects that profit from the rise in aphids, ants, flies, and other small prey.

These predator species have a much easier time to catch a bite to eat in the summer and act as a kind of natural pest control measure for your home and garden. Many insects hibernate in winter, particularly scorpions. However, as temperatures begin to rise, it pulls these creatures from hibernation, searching for food, shelter, and water. Additionally, as competition for food and other survival needs is high, other insect-eating predators may potentially push these bugs in your home to seek protection.

Know the offenders

Hovering flies waiting to go down on picnic plates and gnats making a beeline for eyes and nostrils are annoying pests, but some summer bugs aren’t only irritating, they’re even harmful to your health. Here are a few summertime insects to keep in mind:

Wasps, Hornets & Bees

Earth has over 100,000 wasp species, each a testament to the mind-boggling diversity in these winged bugs. They’re found in all parts of the world except polar areas. Identifying them is generally simple, as they have black and yellow stripes, a well-defined, narrow waist, and a tapered abdomen. Hornets are scavengers, like most wasps. Wasps, like bees, are incredibly important pollinators, helping to keep plant life and crops healthy. They often prefer to chow on caterpillars and dangerous flies, making them useful for farmers. When you see a bee, there is generally little cause for concern. Most bees are docile, even when swarming. Don’t mistake a bee for the hornet, wasp, or yellow jacket. While similar in appearance, they can be incredibly aggressive. They may also cause extreme allergic reactions, some of which need medical treatment. Unlike bees, wasps and hornets tend to unleash multiple stings. These common summer insects also build aerial nests in locations such as deck railings, porch awnings, and tree trunks. Bug repellents are not much effective against stinging insects, wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding fragrant perfumes can help minimize the risk of wasps or hornets stung.

Why in Summer?

Every spring, queen wasps re-emerge their overwintering sites to search for new nesting places. Inaccessible to predators, safe from the crowd, and close to food and building materials, the perfect nesting spot. When the wasp queen finds a suitable nest, they lay eggs to start a new colony. When these eggs hatch, the resulting workers build the nest while the queen reproduces and reproduces. Wasp colonies reached the peak population by summer. Hundreds to thousands of workers live in a nest, hunting food all day to feed their young. The higher the wasp population, of course, the more wasps you’ll find.

Protection against Wasps, Hornets & Bees

• Keep separate Outdoor shoes, especially when in grassy areas.

• Keep the lawn safe, replacing soil with fresh grass. This will help deter yellow jackets and other pests from finding a home there.

• keep cans tightly sealed.

• Do not disturb insects, as sudden movements can cause them to become aggressive. Try to stay calm, if possible.

• Avoid wearing sweet-smelling perfumes, as that can attract these stinging insects, especially bees.

• Seek immediate medical attention if you experience a severe stung reaction, particularly if you notice swelling in your face, tongue, or throat.

Mosquitoes

The planet’s deadliest insect is abundant in summer. If there’s standing water around your property, mosquitoes have already used it to lay eggs. Mosquito control is a must, as the hot, humid climate is ideal for feeding and breeding. The trick is breaking the reproductive cycle, getting rid of standing water, and killing adults—mosquitoes like nice and wet surroundings.

Why in summer?

Like other insects, mosquitoes are cold-blooded or ectothermic. Unlike humans, their body temperature closely matches the surrounding temperature (air or water). It’s cold outside; they’re cold. It’s warm outside; they’re warm. Any time spent outside their comfort zone can delay or stop their growth or even cause injury and death.

For most mosquito larvae to develop, temperatures need to be above a threshold that varies depending on the species but is usually about 7-16 degrees Celsius.

Disease

Mosquitoes, like most insects, are outrageously diverse: on this planet, there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes, surprisingly only a few of those species actively hunt humans.

And then, only female mosquitoes feed on blood. The more rational males drink flower nectar.

In Canada and the U.S., we also hear about the danger of the West Nile virus, which is transmitted by local mosquito species, and a decent number of cases can lead to severe health problems, including coma and paralysis.

One of Ontario’s best West Nile infection predictors is the minimum temperature reached in February. If February’s coldest temperatures are colder than normal, more people become infected with the West Nile virus in the summer months.

In tropical areas, people face malaria, yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. These viruses are all transmitted by mosquitoes, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

Protection against mosquitoes

• Avoid outdoors during dusk and dawn, that’s when mosquitoes are typically most active.

• Wear clothes covering the arms and legs if necessary.

• Clean areas with standing waters 

• Make sure all windows are held together tightly. Fix or cover broken windows.

• Apply mosquito repellent 

Ants

Ants are tiny insects but have special capabilities. Over 10,000 recognized ant species exist worldwide. They are particularly prevalent in tropical forests, where up to half of all insects can be found in some areas. Ants occur worldwide, but particularly in hot climates. They range from 2 to 25 mm (about 0.08 to 1 inch). They’re usually yellow, brown, red, or black. They are considered one of America’s most common nuisance pests and commonly known for crashing backyard BBQs; ants can appear abundantly in summer. Although these pests rarely spread diseases, they can be difficult to get rid of and easily take over living spaces, particularly areas where there is food or moisture such as kitchens and bathrooms. These intruders will run wild in the home during the summer, looking for food and shelter.

Why in Summer?

Like many other species, ants hibernate during brutal winter months to escape the cold. They are normally hidden deep under the snow, waiting for the warmer weather to become more involved.

After waiting for the long winter months, buried deep underground, ants can begin to emerge and build new nests. In spring and summer, the nest and queen pass out. These ants will start getting busy and are also likely to be looking for food.

Protection against Ants

Keep your food storage and cooking areas tidy and clean. This also refers to dining areas: you must keep these areas as clean as possible and do not provide easy access to ants for food particles. Specifically, by using sugar and honey, they would be drawn to sweet food.

You’ll also want to ensure your home is insulated efficiently. Address any holes, gaps, or cracks near windows. You can also take the extra step of spraying holes and possible entry points with an ants repellent spray – inside and out.

Fleas

Fleas are tiny, flightless parasites that feed on various warm-blooded animals’ blood and can transmit diseases to their host. While most people think only the family pet has to deal with fleas, they can also feed on humans and are the most common transmitter of severe bubonic plague.

Besides itchy bites, fleas can also spread diseases and potentially affect you and your pet’s health if not managed. Fleas live and feed on animals’ skin worldwide. The fleas are tiny (1-3 mm long), wingless insects with dark brown, flattened bodies. Their thin, flat bodies allow them to pass through body hair to bite and suck their host’s blood. Just adult fleas bite hosts. Female fleas can lay 30-50 eggs a day on their host, and several eggs can fall off the pet and end up in the carpet, furniture, pet bedding, or other areas. In about a week, your room is full of flea larvae. After feeding the adults on dried blood, the larvae spin a cocoon and become adults. That’s why when managing fleas, it’s crucial to concentrate on the pet and living environment.

Why in Summer

In summer, milder temperatures and increased humidity provide optimal conditions for survival and increased reproductive rates for these pests. Eggs, larvae, and pupae enjoy the sunshine, so the fleas appreciate a warm 30-degree and above. “Under ordinary conditions, flea development from egg to adult takes about two months; this period can be reduced to about three weeks under summer ‘heatwave’ conditions.

Protection against Fleas

  • Vacuum

Vacuuming is highly efficient in eliminating fleas from their favorite habitats, for example, carpets, cushioned furniture, floor cracks and crevices, and pets. Vacuuming catches fleas but does not kill them, place some tape over the vacuum cleaner’s end to prevent fleas from escaping from the bag, or move the bag to an outdoor waste bin.

  • Laundry

Wash pet bedding weekly to treat the infestation. Put towels in pet resting areas to make washing easier. If you handle pet bedding that might contain flea eggs, fold it carefully so that the eggs do not fall out and land on the floor or on the furniture.

  • Flea comb

Flea combs are designed to remove adult fleas, flea dirt, and dried blood from your pet’s skin and hair. They are highly successful, and pets also enjoy the process. Focus on the head and neck, but groom your whole pet if possible. Take the fleas out of the comb and drop them into soapy water until they can hop away.

  • Bathing 

A thorough bath using normal pet shampoo and hot water kills adult fleas. Start by rubbing concentrated soap around your pet’s neck before you fill the tub so they can’t escape the bathwater by climbing on the pet’s head. 

Ticks

Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking bugs. They vary in size from as tiny as a pin’s head to as big as a pencil eraser. Ticks have eight legs and are scientifically categorized as Arachnida (a classification that involves spiders). These pests can vary in color from brown to reddish-brown and black.

Ticks need blood meals to complete their complex life cycles. Fossil records indicate ticks have been around for about 90 million years with over 800 tick species worldwide.

Why in summer

Warm weather affects all cold-blooded creatures. Unlike warm-blooded creatures who can control their temperatures, cold-blooded creatures depend on the temperature of the air, soil, or water around them. As temperatures drop too low for their comfort, they slow down and save their energy. When temperatures increase, they become more active.

Protection against ticks

If possible, the first line of protection in preventing tick-transmitted disease is avoiding tick bites. The Disease Control Centers gives some excellent tips for avoiding tick bites:

• Stay away from grassy, brushy areas wherever possible

• Walk in the middle of the trails (remember, ticks can’t hop or fly to get in touch with them)

• Use insect repellent licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency

• Shower and wash your clothes after spending time outside

• Avoid petting someone else’s dog, especially in tick season.

Cockroach 

The Cockroach also called a roach, is one of about 4,600 species of the most primitive living winged insects, appearing today much as in fossils over 320 million years old. The word Cockroach is a broken word originating from the Spanish word Cucaracha. The Cockroach has a flattened oval body, long thread-like antennae, and a glossy black or brown leathery integument. The head is facing downwards, and the mouthpieces point backward instead of forward or inward, as in most other insects. Male cockroaches typically have two pairs of wings, while females are wingless or have vestigial wings in some species.

Why in summer

As mentioned, cockroaches love summer’s moist, warm air. This makes sense because they’re mainly found in tropical locations in the wild. In comparison, these bugs don’t do well in cold weather — that’s why we don’t seem to see them in fall and winter.

As the weather cools, cockroach activity starts decreasing. Many cockroaches will die, but many more will simply seek refuge in a warm, humid place to wait before winter passes. As you might have guessed, this cozy, sheltered place is often within your house. During fall or winter, cockroaches may live, but you may not encounter them due to their reduced activity level.

However, as the weather warms, cockroaches will emerge from the walls, basement, drain pipes, and other sheltered places in your home for food. In the springtime, you can also encounter them in your home.

Protection against Cockroaches 

  • Finish food sources

Cockroaches are scavengers. In an urban environment, roaches depend heavily on human food. Like us, they primarily eat sugar, protein, and carbohydrates. It is very important to eliminate all food sources throughout your home or residence.

  • Clean up

The most effective way to minimize the risk of accumulating a cockroach outbreak, like other pest control types, is to keep kitchens and storage areas clean.

Ensuring work surfaces are free of food debris and clearing any waste and spillage can help deter cockroaches. Cockroaches are most aggressive at night, so removing pet food, drink, and litter trays is also a safe process.

  • Declutter

Cockroaches release a pheromone that signals to others that they’ve found a healthy place to live—removing unnecessary clutter like packaging, cardboard, old newspaper stacks, and magazines.

This will avoid accumulating cockroach dropouts by removing areas for delivery. Removing clutter from your company or home often decreases the space where cockroaches can hide. 

General Prevention Methods From Summertime Bugs

• Get rid of any moisture or water in your house. Any stagnant water can attract mosquitoes.

• Inspect nests, gutters, lamps, etc. Strong surfaces outside your home are perfect places for nesting insects.

• Seal cracks and tiny holes in the base of your home that may have been weakened in winter. This would reduce entry points for small pests to enter.

• Trim back tree branches, shrubs, and plants to create generous space between your greenery and home. This is essential landscaping maintenance to keep up with to avoid pests from inhabiting the plants growing along with your house.

• Clean all areas of your kitchen where food is stored and place foods like cereal and crackers in sealed containers. This reduces the food supply drawn to pests, which will help hold them at a distance.

Conclusion

You may not be able to have a 100% bug free picnic but my taking a handful of steps, you can ensure you have done your best to keep the pesky bugs at bay. Keep some reasonable expectation and understand the bugs that can harm you and the ones that are just pesky pests.

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Dusty Showers has been in the urban nuisance wildlife and pest control field since 1993. Taught by Garon Fyffe, a pioneer in humane nuisance wildlife management, Dusty has a passion for finding humane solutions to human & wildlife conflicts. Dusty was the only individual invited by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in the lat 1990's to help write legislation for legal protection of Florida bats. With an instinct for solving wildlife, Dusty found pest control to be an easy "add-on interest". Dusty started his first business "Animal Instincts Wildlife & Pest Management" in the Tampa Bay, Florida area in 1995. Eventually selling Animal Instincts in 2002, Dusty went on to start Creepy Creatures Termite and Pest Control in 2009, which he still owns and operates today in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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