According to Atlanta-based pest control leader Orkin, the above-average winter temperatures could mean that pests will come out earlier than usual and in greater numbers.
“The mild winter weather could have a ripple effect on pest activity,” said Jim Warneke, Orkin’s Southeast division technical services manager. “Insects stay in a hibernation-like state during the winter since cold temperatures slow down their metabolism and reproduction cycles. But with the season’s above-average temperatures, we could have larger numbers of ants, termites, roaches and mosquitoes this spring.”
Many homeowners consider ants to be one of the most serious pests. There are more than 10,000 species worldwide, with about 50 of those in the United States. Ants can infest homes by coming in through the tiniest of cracks, and controlling them is difficult because they leave an invisible pheromone trail for others to follow once they find a food source. There are three main categories of ants: nuisance, health (such as fire ants) and structural (such as carpenter ants).
“Another common sign in the spring is a group of ants with wings which can be confused with termite swarms,” said Warneke. “It’s a common misconception because of their similar appearance. Correctly identifying an ant infestation determines the best treatment method.”
When the temperature rises above 60 degrees, termites often swarm inside homes before moving outdoors to search for food and water. Termites are found in every state except Alaska and thrive in warm and humid climates.
“Termites get moisture from the ground or use moisture found in a home or building from leaks or condensation,” said Warneke. “Moisture, combined with increasing temperatures, makes springtime conditions ideal for termite activity.”
Signs of an infestation can include termite swarms, mud tubes and piles of discarded wings. After the termites swarm—usually during warm spring days—they can shed their wings and leave behind piles of them. Termites are attracted to light, so swarms are typically found around lighting fixtures and windowsills. Mud tubes act as protective tunnels and provide moisture for the termites. The mud tubes are about the size of a pencil and usually run vertically on the inside or outside of a building’s foundation.
In addition to entering a home through cracks and crevices, vents and pipes, other items like grocery bags, boxes and purses can transport cockroaches and their eggs. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, if you see one during the day, that means they were likely forced out by overcrowding—a possible sign of a severe infestation.
Cockroaches are filthy pests. They pick up germs on their legs and bodies and can spread disease, contaminate food and cause allergies and asthma. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roaches can also carry organisms that cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever and viral diseases.
“Roaches burrow in mulch or bark for the winter,” said Warneke. “But since the ground temperature has been warmer, roaches probably stayed near the ground’s surface, and we could possibly have larger numbers this spring.”
The farther south you are, the earlier the mosquito season will start, and the longer it will last, thanks to warmer temperatures. Mosquitoes are more than nuisances at picnics and outings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever and the virus that causes encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.
“Prime mosquito-biting times are dusk and dawn, so be sure to take the proper precautions,” said Warneke. “Spray an EPA-approved insect repellent on exposed skin and wear long sleeves and socks if possible.”
Mosquitoes only need a little bit of water to breed and survive, making them very hard to control, so Warneke advises to remove any standing water from gutters, birdbaths or flower pots.
Warneke recommends the following tips to help prevent ants, termites, roaches and mosquitoes from being attracted to your home:
- Remove all unnecessary food and water sources.
- Seal cracks and crevices around doors and windows.
- Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately.
- Keep gutters clear, and direct water from downspouts away from your home.
- Thin vegetation and do not pile mulch or allow soil to accumulate against your home’s siding. This could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and access for ants, roaches and termites to enter your home.
- Pay close attention to dirt-filled porches and crawlspaces. Termites could have easy access to wood through cracks in foundation walls or if wood is in contact with the soil.
About Orkin, LLC
Founded in 1901, Atlanta-based Orkin is an industry leader in essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects in the United States, Canada, Europe, Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia, the Mediterranean and Africa. With more than 400 locations, Orkin’s almost 8,000 employees serve approximately 1.7 million customers. The company serves homeowners and numerous industries, including food and beverage processing, foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, retail, warehousing, property/facilities management, schools and institutions. Orkin is proud to be recognized by the National Pest Management Association as a QualityPro and GreenPro-certified company, addressing not only our customer’s pest control needs, but also their concern for protecting the environment. Learn more about Orkin at http://orkin.com. Orkin is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins Inc. (NYSE: ROL).
CAUTION CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This release contains statements that constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements about the Company’s belief that an early termite season could occur. Actual occurrences could differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements because of various risks and uncertainties, including without limitation, climate and weather trends. All of the foregoing risks and uncertainties are beyond the ability of the Company to control, and in many cases the Company cannot predict the risks and uncertainties that could cause its actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements. A more detailed discussion of potential risks facing the Company can be found in the Report on Form 10-K of Rollins, Inc. filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the year ended December 31, 2010.