Insects are by nature outdoor creatures. Their natural habitat is not inside your kitchen cabinet or garage – its outdoors. Insects like the monarch butterfly and ladybugs are beneficial and a true wonder to behold. However, some backyard insects are not to be tolerated.
Mosquitoes, stinging insects, and other backyard insects, along with ticks, are a few of the culprits – and they can quickly ruin any outdoor fun. Clark, your neighborly termite, lawn care, and pest control expert, wants you to know that, if not properly addressed and controlled, these backyard bugs can take the party indoors and become an issue in your family’s living space.
Why are bugs attracted to our backyards?
More than anything, pests are attracted to the outdoor human activity that backyards host. With ample grass and tall weeds, a yard can provide blood-sucking pests like ticks and fleas easy access to hosts, meaning pets and people. Fleas can also end up in the yard by hitching a ride on rodents and other wildlife, as well as on picnic blankets, shoes, and clothing.
Eaves and overhangs, as well as the underside of decks and porches, provide ideal sheltered locations for stinging insects like yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets to build their nests. Additionally, these pests are attracted to exposed food and open garbage cans, along with sweet-smelling fragrances like perfume, cologne, and even some lotions and sunscreens.
Yards can host ticks in search of hosts – and yards close to wooded areas are at an even greater risk for tick encounters. These same yards can used by mosquitoes for reproductive purposes; they breed in areas of standing water, needing only a half-inch of stagnant water to reproduce. Many items in the backyard provide ideal mosquito breeding grounds, including bird baths, baby pools, grill covers, and potted plants.
Mosquitoes and ticks
Some of the most common outdoor pests are mosquitoes and ticks, and they can infest any yard, especially those near wooded areas. These bugs primarily feed on humans, and are sure to make an appearance at any backyard barbecue. Capable of spreading debilitating diseases such as West Nile virus (mosquitoes) and Lyme disease (ticks), they pose a far greater threat than just their bites.
A number of stinging insects, such as yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets, can wreak havoc on any outdoor activity. According to the National Pest Management Association, stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room every year. These pests can build nests in a variety of places around the house, such as overhangs, eaves, the underside of porches and decks, in trees and along fence lines, and in ground nests around the yard.
There are more than 700 ant species found in the U.S., so it is not surprisingly that a homeowner may stumble upon an ant hill or two in the backyard. In California, Argentine ants are the most commonly encountered species, and these ants build nests beneath plants and sidewalks. In parts of southern California, red imported fire ants may be encounter in backyard landscaping. Fire ants will sting if their nest is disturbed, and the sting can be quite painful – so don’t be too aggressive in kicking that ant mound in your backyard.
Fleas are attracted to warm-blooded hosts, and typically make their way to yards in search of people and pets. They can also transport themselves on rodents and other wild animals, quickly making their presence known upon arrival. Although they have a short lifespan – about 100 days – females can produce up to 400 to 500 offspring during that time.
Backyard pest prevention tips
- When spending time outdoors, apply an insect repellent containing an EPA-registered ingredient, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Consider wearing long clothing and tucking pantlegs into socks, especially if spending time in higher grass.
- Prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard by eliminating standing water and routinely changing the water in birdbaths and kiddie pools.
- Seal and cover any trash containers with tight lids, making sure to place cans far from primary entertaining spots. If you are cooking out in the yard, keep yellowjackets, wasps, and hornets away by covering all food when outside.
- Keep shrubbery trimmed and mow the lawn on a regular basis, as overgrown brush and weeds can house and hide bugs like ticks and mosquitoes.
- Seal exterior housing cracks, install screens on windows and doors, and inspect both pets and people before coming inside to keep these pests outside where they belong.
If you have questions or concerns about backyard pests, call or text (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or drop Clark an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, I’m Clark, and thanks for helping me keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.