What’s Bugging Florida? Roaches, Ants, and Fleas, says Orkin

New survey also shows that most homeowners do not treat or prevent pest problems properly

Cockroaches are at the top of pest control leader Orkin’s list of problem pests in two of Florida’s largest cities – Tampa and Orlando. The list ranks pests according to the number of new pest control customers requesting pest-specific services in 2014. The list of pests is as follows:

  1. Cockroaches
  2. Ants
  3. Fleas

“Florida cities have the optimal conditions for the top two pests on this list – cockroaches and ants,” says Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. “Both rely on moisture and heat, two factors which are consistently present in both of these cities. Add in a food source in the home – like crumbs – and it is no surprise these pests are invading homes.”

Orkin’s service data mirrors a recent national consumer survey in which nearly half (46 percent) of respondents indicated that cockroaches are the pest they are most concerned about, followed by ants (28 percent) and fleas (20 percent).

Cockroaches:

“Cockroaches are not only a very common pest problem for homeowners, they’re also a major health concern,” Harrison said, adding that “they can spread disease, contaminate food, trigger allergies and even asthma – and they have a remarkable ability to survive without food or water for long periods of time.”

Despite the frequency of cockroach sightings, only one-third (33 percent) of respondents surveyed said they would take sufficient action to prevent cockroaches by eliminating accessible food and water sources. In addition to those findings:

  • Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would react to a cockroach by stepping on it, but only 25 percent would set a DIY trap or bait station.
  • Fifty-two percent indicated they would use over-the-counter sprays to get rid of cockroaches.

Simply killing or removing the pests that have invaded the home is insufficient. Without taking the proper preventative measures, a nuisance can quickly become a full-blown infestation. To help prevent cockroach infestations in the home, consider the following tips:

  • Seal all cracks and crevices inside and outside the home. Adults can squeeze through cracks as thin as a quarter, and young cockroaches need a crack as thin as a dime.
  • Remove all potential food sources (crumbs and water spills) and shelter (cardboard boxes, grocery bags, etc.).
  • Monitor all dark, warm areas of your house for signs of cockroach activity: feces, oily or musty odors or oval-shaped egg cases. These areas include attics and basements, spaces behind furniture and appliances, under refrigerators and stoves and in cupboards or cabinets.
Ants:

To get rid of ants – the second most common pest in Orlando and Tampa – 44 percent of respondents said they would set out bait stations, 38 percent would simply crush the visible ones, and 20 percent would lay down a line of spices (such as cayenne pepper, cinnamon or salt) at entryways.

“Salt and other spice-related remedies are a DIY myth,” Harrison said. “They may slow down the flow of ants invading at a specific entry point, but they won’t solve the problem.”

Insecticide sprays usually fail to control ant populations because they only affect a small part of the colony, which rarely includes the queen and workers; as long as those members survive, ant colonies continue to expand and thrive.

To keep ants away, consider the following tips:

  • Remove and minimize moisture, which ants need to survive. Fix water leaks around pipes and anywhere on the roof. Make sure gutters and downspouts direct rain away from the house.
  • Remove food particles in the kitchen and other places where you eat. Keep floors and cabinet tops clean. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Clean the dishwasher and other appliances regularly. Empty and clean trash containers.
  • Seal locations where wires, conduit or pipes enter the house. Keep tree limbs pruned so they never overlap or otherwise touch the house because ants can use branches to “trail” into the home.
  • Move mulch and landscape debris at least 1-2 feet away from the foundation.
  • Remove any tree stumps, fallen logs or tree limbs. Store firewood outside and as far from the house as possible.
  • Use a vacuum to remove ants found either inside or outside the home.
Fleas:

Homeowners surveyed seem most prepared to prevent fleas, the third most common pest complaint. Nearly half of the survey respondents (45 percent) say they do take measures to protect pets and 43 percent vacuum to get rid of fleas. Fleas are often introduced into a home via pets or other mammal hosts. To prevent fleas:

  • Vacuum regularly, especially where pets sleep.
  • Routinely check pets for fleas and work with your veterinarian to determine appropriate medicines and treatments for pets.
  • Eliminate fleas in the yard by working with a trained pest professional to treat areas that offer a perfect environment for fleas: moist soil shaded from direct sunlight.

Orkin used real-time treatment data to create a Pest Radar so homeowners can see how seasons affect pest activity around their homes and across the country.