One of the great joys of summer is heading outdoors for festive picnics and barbecues. But unwelcome guests of the insect variety can quickly spoil the fun. Ants and mosquitoes are particular threats to the health of your family and friends, so make sure you know how to keep them away from outdoor and indoor living areas.
The only places on earth where you won’t find ants are the North and South Poles, so that means homes everywhere else are potential hosts to these pests, especially during warmer months. In addition to crashing your picnic or barbecue, ants head indoors in their search for a cooler, drier environment and better living conditions. There are about 50 ant species in the U.S. that can infest homes, bringing with them nuisance, health threats and potential structural damage.
Ants are adaptive, with some species willing to travel over 750 feet from their nests to find food. To prevent ants from wandering into your yard or home, reduce the conditions that they read as invitations, particularly those involving water or sugars. Clean up spilled food and drinks immediately, keep food stored tightly, and rinse out cans before putting them into the recycling bin. Your pet’s food can also be a draw, so pick it up at night and avoid feeding pets outdoors. Structurally speaking, seal all cracks around windows and doors, keep gutters and downspouts clean, and locate plants away from your home’s foundation.
Once they find their way into your life, ants can be difficult to control, and different species won’t respond to control efforts in the same way. It takes a trained pest management professional to identify the invading ant species, locate their nests and track their foraging trails. From there, a pro can design a plan for effective ant removal.
Not only are mosquitoes a major hassle, they’re also among the world’s most dangerous insects. Some species can transmit viruses like West Nile and those that cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. About 200 of the more than 3,000 mosquito species are buzzing around North America this summer, with plans to stick around through the fall.
All mosquitoes need is a nutrient-rich water source—as little as two or three inches deep—to breed and survive. Their lifecycles may be as brief as 10 to 16 days, but mosquitoes’ rapid reproduction means health threats continue as long as they have a home. Keep them away from yours by emptying any standing water in birdbaths, flower pots and gutters, and thin out vegetation near exterior walls. Also make sure door and window screens are in good repair and fit tightly, and upgrade outdoor light fixtures with the yellow bulbs that are less attractive to wandering mosquitoes.
Whether you’re hosting an outdoor bash or enjoying a spur-of-the-moment picnic, have EPA-approved insect repellent on hand and apply it to exposed skin. Long sleeves, pants and socks offer extra protection, and you can also wear clothing treated with materials that repel and control mosquitoes. Prime mosquito biting hours fall between dusk and dawn, so make sure you’re prepared during evening parties and early-morning hikes.
Keep your summer celebrations pest-free
If you’d like to learn more about how to prevent uninvited insect guests, visit Orkin.com. You’ll find a range of useful information to help identify and eliminate insect issues, including a pest library where you can look up any insect you’ve spotted in or near your home. You can also locate a local Orkin pest control pro to help eliminate those insects, and arrange for a free pest control estimate.