As summer approaches, pests are never far behind. But predicting how thick the populations of unwanted insects or other animals will be and how much they will affect people's lives isn't easy.
One obstacle: Not everyone agrees on what the worst pests are.
Insects can annoy anyone at any time, and it seems that the insect doing the annoying at the moment is always the biggest pest, said Tim Gibb, a clinical professor in the entomology department at Purdue University and an insect diagnostician. Because people interact with insect pests differently, it is hard to come up with a 'most irritating' list.
Because certain insects can damage structures, food and crops, they are considered serious pests. Most people, however, do not encounter them directly, so they consider human nuisance or biting insects to be most problematic, he said.
Among those biting and stinging insects, he said, Mosquitoes and ticks are the most dangerous because they can spread diseases that maim or kill people. On the nuisance side stinging wasps and bees, biting flies such as horse or deer flies, termites, ants and cockroaches are probably the top of the list.
All of these are present every year and populations are often dependent upon springtime weather conditions not winters. For example, because mosquitoes breed in water, precipitation amounts, frequency and timing are all critical for their populations to surge. We only know these factors as or after they have occurred.
According to Billy Roark of Bug Free Pest Control in Fort Wayne, many people would think bedbugs are one of the most dangerous irritants.
But bedbugs don't carry diseases like many other pests, said Roark. Fleas, mosquitoes, roaches, ticks and rodents can carry disease and many other health conditions. In fact, the Health Department doesn't even consider bedbugs a health hazard.
Asked how prevalent any of these creepy-crawlers were expected to be this year, Roark said the weather conditions were a huge factor on this question.
Gibb was more specific about a 2017 vermin forecast.
I am seeing what appears to be a higher-than-normal population of ticks in Indiana this year, said Gibb.
We also know that newly-introduced pests will have higher populations than in the past.
Greg Harrell, of Hometown Pest Control in Fort Wayne, said bedbugs are the plague of his company.
They are the No. 1 call we get these days, said Harrell. They're extremely difficult to get rid of. The reason why is because they have developed resistance to most of the pesticides we have today. Heat seems to be the best choice. The equipment is costly and prices reflect that.
I would caution people not to fall for (over-the-counter) treatments because they are completely useless, so they shouldn't waste their money but instead have the work done by a reputable professional.
All pests can be controlled with client cooperation and professional pest control treatment, said Roark, who agreed that bedbugs were by far the most numerous calls to his company. He described one story from among his customers' experiences.
An elderly couple visited many doctors (allergy and dermatologists) and were prescribed meds for a skin issue, only to discover they had bedbugs. Their symptoms went away upon extermination.
Alison Roark, secretary of Bug Free Pest Control, said that it was normal to see bedbugs during treatment.
This is a three-visit application process, and some bugs will die off quicker than others, depending on when they cross the applied material, said Ali.
You can cut down on bites by sleeping in long sleeves and long pants. The bedbugs walk through the applied liquid material and that's what starts the dying process. Typically, the bugs are not on the center of the carpeting. They are more on the perimeter of the room and in furniture, although they can be in other places such as corners of the rooms and ceilings. They are attracted to carbon dioxide your breath and that's what draws them out from their hiding places, resulting in their crossing over the material to feed.
Your paper-product items (books, photos, etc.) should be in airtight bins or plastic bags tied at the top (and) can be stored in the freezer from 5-7 days to completely kill off the bugs. Clothing should be hot-washed and dried in the very hottest temperatures, put in trash bags and then can be put back AFTER the first application. Don't put your electronics in the freezer; they are fine where they are.
Since these little bloodsuckers only feed on blood, they have no interest in food, unlike other pests. If you see little black spots on your sheets or tiny blood stains, it is possible that you have bedbugs!
On other pests, Billy Roark offered some tips.
Make sure homes are sealed for rodents, have pets treated for fleas. Cleanliness is huge for roaches and rodents, and eliminating high grass and standing or stagnant water for mosquitoes, said Roark.
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