BUZZ OFF BUGS

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Ahh…summer! It’s finally here! It’s time to uncover the grill, sweep off the patio, and gas up the lawn mower. But wait, there’s more to do to ensure you enjoy hours of summer fun in your yard: protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects that hope to take up residence on your property. That’s right, it’s time to take preventative steps to safeguard you, your family and guests from the health threats posed by summer’s pests.

Threat: Mosquitoes

We used to think of mosquitoes as little more than annoying, itch-inducing buzzers. However, in recent years, the public has become increasingly aware of the health threats they pose with West Nile virus, Zika, chikungunya, and Dengue at the top of the list. It is particularly troubling for many to learn that the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species most associated with Zika, bite throughout the day and not merely at dusk and dawn like many other mosquito species.

Safeguards:

  • Use insect repellent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using products  that contain DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or picaridin.
  • If you will be outside for extended periods of time, consider wearing long sleeves and pants.
  • Eliminate sources of standing water. Mosquitoes need just a ½ inch of water to breed.  Be sure to empty flowerpots, children’s toys, fire pits, recycling bins, or any other water receptacles.
  • Contact a professional to apply preventative mosquito treatments to your yard.

Threat: Ticks

Ticks are another pest that collide with people – and their pets – when the weather is warm. There are about 90 species of ticks throughout the United States, each presenting unique challenges including various health threats. The viruses most often associated with ticks include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. 

Safeguards:

  • Insect repellent with at least 20% DEET can be effective in preventing ticks. Permethrin is also effective.
  • Make sure plants and shrubbery are trimmed and well maintained as ticks welcome harborage in overgrown grasses and greenery.
  • Talk with your vet about preventative controls for your pets.
  • If you been in areas where ticks may be present, shower soon after coming indoors and check for the presence of ticks on your body.
  • If you live in an area where ticks are problematic, talk with a professional about ways to minimize threats in your yard.

Threat: Fleas

Fleas have been long associated with devastating outbreaks of the plaque, though today, they are more commonly associated with the incessant itching they cause. Some fleas, such as the cat flea, do transmit the plague and murine typhus, particularly in the southwestern United States. Pets are particularly vulnerable to coming into contact with fleas when they are outdoors.

Safeguards:

  • As fleas are often carried on rodents and other nuisance wildlife, keep them out of your yard by sealing garbage cans and eliminating convenient food sources like pet food left outdoors.
  • Prune overgrown vegetation and trim grasses.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about preventative medicine for your pets.

Threat: Red Imported Fire Ants

Anyone who has been stung by fire ants will tell you, it hurts!  These pain-causing pests are found in the southern United States from Maryland to Texas and on the west coast as well. 

Safeguards:

  • If you see a fire ant nest, which looks like a mound, do not disturb it. Contact a lawn care professional for help. 
  • If you have active infestations of fire ants, seal cracks and crevices around your home to prevent them from coming inside.

Summer is the time to marvel at many insects in nature as fireflies, dragonflies, ladybugs and others grace us with their welcoming presence. The presence of other insects, however, calls for education, protection, and preventative action.  For more information on how to protect your family from summer's unwelcome insects, contact a lawn care expert.