It’s January in the age of climate change and pests or pest control are not likely topics that people are discussing. But they should be. Partly because of what winter used to represent, and partly because winter, and it’s curious bedfellow – unseasonably warm winters - are simply throwing us curveballs week after week. Sometimes several times a week. Recent snowfall has disappeared barely leaving a trace of its bitter cold existence just a few days ago.Sunday you’re removing snow and salting walkways, two days later on Tuesday you’re removing Cluster flies randomly showing up in windows throughout the house. So what does it mean for pests like mice, rats, spiders and flies when Mother Nature prematurely sounds her alarm signalling spring in January?
Unseasonably warm winters mean insects that go dormant for the winter stay active. It means insects will breed earlier than usual, supported by accelerated life cycles; also due to warmer temperatures. Ticks, for example, are likely to start the phone ringing sooner than anyone would want due to their resiliency and a biology that supports activity in months most of us relax our tick prevention efforts. (Remember, treat your pets and your home year round for year round protection.) While we cannot control what mother nature does as she drops two-feet of snow in October, or as you walk the dog in shorts January 14th (it was 68 degrees), you can protect your home and family from pests year round and be prepared for the unexpected twists and turns the weather is going to throw at you.
Mild winters also mean more rodent activity. Rodents that moved into structures in the fall for warmth, while happy with their new surroundings, could mean that rodent populations increase instead of decreasing as they should in colder months. More importantly, populations can quickly surge in the spring bringing ticks, fleas and other parasites that rodents carry along for the ride. Not a good scenario for pets or humans alike.
So if you’re noticing the odd fly or ants sporadically throughout the winter, or if the mouse activity you suspected suddenly ceases to make itself known, brace yourself. Spring’s true measure of pest activity now begins with winter’s puzzling display of climatic oddities.