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The space invaders of summer

Purdue Entomologist provides tips to keep your home free of unwanted pests this summer

Summer brings many beautiful things to our surroundings, but the change in seasons also brings pests looking to enter our homes. Grzegorz Buczkowski, associate professor of entomology with a specialty in  urban industrial and pest management, provides some helpful tips on keeping your Midwest home free from these summer invaders.

The pests of summer:

“Insects in the home are a common thing that most people will encounter in the summer months,” Buczkowski. “Knowing the basic way they act and how to respond is important to keeping your indoors pest free.”

Buczkowski identifies four main insects that are most likely to invade homes in the Midwest during the summer months: ants, termites, wasps and mosquitoes.

Carpenter Ant Carpenter Ant
House Invading Ants House invading ants
Mosquitoes Mosquitoes
Wasps Wasps

Prevention & early intervention are key:  

“The best way to keep the pests at bay is through prevention,” Buczkowski said.

He provides some easy tips to keep insects outdoors this season:

  • Keep vegetation trimmed away from the house. Insects will often enter through overgrown vegetation that is touching the home.
  • Keep mulch away from the home. Many insects will nest within mulch, so use rocks in the flowerbeds near your house to deter insects from entering your home.
  • Limit water sources way from the house. Keep fountains a good distance from the home, empty watering cans near your home, position sprinklers so the water is not hitting your home.

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM:

Buczkowski explains it is important to keep things in perspective with insects inside the home, “Remember that some insects in the home during the summer will be unavoidable. Many people will overreact if they see a few ants indoors, but this response is not necessary,” he says.

He encourages people to fully assess the situation before responding.

“It is important to regularly evaluate places where these common insects may be, including places that contain food and water indoors such as a pantry and under a sink.” Buczkowski notes that if you see regular activity, it is time to pursue treatment options.

TREATMENT OPTIONS:

Buczkowski encourages people to remember that some insects in the home are easy to mitigate and several treatment options are available, “If you notice patterns of activity or in destruction from pests that is a sign that it is time to take action for treatment.”

  • Natural treatments: These can be really effective if you spray the ants directly, but there is little residual benefit. Also, if you spray a surface and it’s exposed to sunlight and or rain, these products will lose their efficacy.
  • Household treatments: Many “do-it-yourself” treatments can be effective in indoor store-bought treatments. He recommends following all safety protocols listed on the product and storing out of the reach of children. 
  • Insecticides safety: An important fact Buczkowski wants all consumers to know is that modern insecticides are safe for all vertebrates including humans and pets. This has been an important change in the pest industry over the years.
  • When to call the professionals: If you have repeated issues with destruction or a high number of the insect activity in your home, Buczksowki recommends having a professional pest control company come out every three to four months to do a perimeter or foundation spray outdoors.

His final tip for summer?  Try to keep your cool.

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing, just wait. Many of these pests will come and go. I get them on occasion in my own home, and they usually disappear. Often, with these common pests, we can spend lots of time and money worrying about something that will take care of itself.

- Grzegorz Buczkowski, associate professor of entomology with a specialty in urban industrial and pest management

The pests of summer

buczkowski-photo.jpg 

Buczkowski identifies four main insects that are most likely to invade homes in the Midwest during the summer months.

Carpenter Ants

These are large, black ants, either winged or wingless, measuring up to  one-half inch long. They construct their nests in hollow trees, logs, telephone poles, posts, porch pillars, and other timber used in homes. Their trademark is a small pile of coarse sawdust beneath their nesting site.

Treatment Tip: These can be destructive to your home. If you see signs of carpenter ants, you should call a professional pest control company.

House Invading Ants

These ants will often will come indoors looking for food and water. 

Pavement ants are small, ranging from one-sixteenth to one-tenth inch in length.

Treatment Tip: Generally, these can be controlled with natural or household products that can be purchased from most stores. Bait stations are one treatment option that is generally effective.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are well known as annoying, biting pests and vectors of disease-causing agents to humans and other animals. Mosquitoes can pose a health risk to those in the home.

Treatment Tip: Prevention is the best measure. If you notice you have breeding near your home, try to mitigate standing water or call a professional to spray your property.

Wasps

Wasps build colonies that are annual (exist for one season only), and a nest is used only during the season it is built. Thus, the presence of a colony one season does not mean a colony will exist in the same site the following season. It is important to note that some people are highly allergic to wasps, so the safe and prompt removal of these pests is very important.

(Examples: yellow jackets and paper wasps)

Treatment Tip: Removal of a wasp’s nest is the primary way to safely remove their threat. This can be done at times through the safety of at home products or by calling a professional pest control company.

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