You may have already started thinking about your New Year’s resolutions and plans for the coming year. At Ehrlich, we’re already thinking about 2018, too. Specifically, about what pest problems our clients might face next year – and we’re ready to make a few predictions.
Although no one can tell what the year may bring, our entomologists and experts have been busy looking at the science to determine what could happen. Here are five things to keep an eye on as 2018 comes to town.
1. Meet the tawny crazy ant (if you haven’t already)
In the early 2000s, this tiny ant species was discovered in small pockets in Texas. Since then, it has spread along the Gulf Coast and Florida and is beginning to move its way north, by natural migration and in landscaping materials and potted plants.
This ant nests in extremely large numbers, in what entomologists call “supercolonies” – you might see them by the thousands. They have been known to infest electrical equipment, causing shortages. They are also displacing native insect species, and have even been reported to “irritate” songbird populations as they swarm on trees.
2. Seasonal and weather fluctuations will impact pest activity
Over the last several years, traditional seasonal patterns have been changing. In many areas, warmer seasons are lasting longer, colder seasons have remained mild, and extreme weather events have increased.
These fluctuations can disrupt normal pest life cycles and breeding, and cause pests to emerge earlier than they typically would, and in larger numbers. Ticks, mosquitoes, stinging pests, and rodents could all be affected.
“If it’s been warmer, wetter, or drier than usual where you live, or if your area has undergone a significant natural disaster or weather event, pest activity may also be a bit unusual,” says Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., an entomologist with Ehrlich.
3. Expect more ticks…and more tick-borne diseases
It’s not your imagination: you’ve heard more about tick-borne disease recently. Tick populations are growing and spreading to new areas due to a number of factors:
- Increasing land development has pushed animals on which ticks feed closer to areas where humans live, making it more likely that ticks will encounter humans.
- Milder winters have prevented ticks from dying off in large numbers, meaning there are more ticks (and more ticks breeding).
- Natural spread of certain species of ticks to new areas, such as the Lone Star tick, moving from the Southeast into more Northeastern and Midwestern states.
As tick bites increase, there will be more cases of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Powassan virus, Bourbon virus, and more.
4. Mosquitoes will be plentiful
The coming year’s mosquito activity will be affected by what has already happened this fall and summer, along with the temperatures and precipitation that will occur this winter. The general consensus: mosquitoes will be active in 2018.
“It was a wet summer in the Northeast, and hurricanes brought significant additional moisture to the Southeast throughout the fall,” says Dr. Troyano. “If we get the snow and rain predicted by weather experts along the East Coast this winter, that will create lots of moisture and standing water – the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”
A mild winter will amplify mosquito issues, making them active earlier in the year and in larger numbers.
5. Bed bugs will continue to appear in public places, increasing your risk
As bed bugs have become an established pest in North America, the chances of them showing up somewhere you or your family visit have increased. In addition to hotels, bed bug infestations have been documented recently in schools, healthcare facilities, offices, retail stores, movie theaters, libraries, and even on public transportation.
Bed bugs can hitchhike on luggage, backpacks, clothing, purses, and more. All it takes is one hitching a ride on a personal item of you or a family member for a problem to develop in your home. Be vigilant about checking your personal items for these appleseed-sized pests and contact a pest management professional immediately if you think you may have a bed bug issue in your home.
As 2018 draws near, it might be time to think about your home and how these potential pest issues could impact you. Do you have adequate coverage to keep your home protected? Your Ehrlich specialist will be happy to answer any questions you have and provide you with more information on services that can amplify your current plan. If you have questions about pests at all, contact us today.