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Hindsight may be 2020, but when it comes to pests in the year 2020, regional pest control provider Ehrlich Pest Control is looking into its crystal ball to help homeowners proactively defend their homes against pest infestation.
With nearly 100 years of experience in protecting people, families, homes, and businesses against pests, Ehrlich’s entomologists used their field experiences and examined trends and company data to determine these six pest predictions for the new year. Along with the predictions, the company is offering some quick tips for homeowners to help keep their homes pest-free in the new year.
Over the past several years, mouse populations have boomed. Blame warming winters for allowing more mice to survive and breed. With more warmer-than-usual weather predicted for the winter of 2019-2020, mice will continue to surge. That’s bad news for homeowners, because these curious pests are invading homes year-round looking for food or safe places to nest.
What can homeowners do? Rodent-proof your home by eliminating exterior gaps of ¼-inch or larger. Repair them or fill them with copper mesh, hardware cloth or metal flashing. “Mice can squeeze through small openings,” Godfrey Nalyanya, Ph.D. and Regional Technical Services Manager for Ehrlich explains. “Gaps under garage doors, door frames, windows, or pipes and cables that penetrate your house are prime entry spots for mice.”
An invasive pest first introduced to Pennsylvania in 2014 from Asia, the spotted lanternfly can cause significant damage to trees and plants. Areas in which the pest has been identified have been placed under quarantine. Unfortunately, the spotted lanternfly is still spreading its geographic range. To date, it has been found in counties in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. By the end of 2020, it will likely be more prolific in these areas and may even spread to neighboring states.
What can homeowners do? Everyone can help in the effort to stop the spread of this pest. If you see a spotted lanternfly, squash it. If you find an egg mass on trees, scrape it off to kill the eggs. Most importantly, report the sighting to your state department of agriculture.
A shifting climate has ripple effects through the pest world, and with warmer weather, experts are seeing more yellow jacket and hornet nests. “Even with freezing temperature, female yellow jackets and hornets can successfully overwinter in structures and manmade or natural voids,” says Jake Walker, an Associate Certified Entomologist with Ehrlich. “As soon as temperatures are warm enough in the spring, they will emerge from their hiding places, ready to start populations earlier in the year.”
What can homeowners do? Since pests can overwinter, they may be out and active at the first sign of warm weather. Keep your eyes open for stinging pests and have a pest control service conducted as soon as you spot activity.
With the popularity of outdoor activities on the rise, warming winters, and the geographic range of many disease-spreading ticks continuing to expand, humans and their pets can expect to come into contact with ticks more frequently. Ticks of special concern include the deer tick or black-legged tick, the Lone Star tick, and the American dog tick. There were nearly 50,000 cases of human tick-borne disease such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, and Powassan virus reported in 2018. Pets can also contract some of these diseases.
What can homeowners do? “Wear an EPA-approved insect repellent when you are spending any time outside,” said Walker. “Wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts, as well as socks, when in areas where ticks are active is also a good idea.” And don’t forget to perform tick checks on yourself and any family members – including the four-legged, furry ones – after spending time outdoors.
If the mosquito season seemed bad this year, it wasn’t your imagination. Get ready, says Nalyanya, because that pattern could repeat in 2020. “If we have a relatively warm, wet winter and spring, the conditions will be ideal for mosquito development in some areas in late spring and early summer,” he said. Areas of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest are predicted to have above-average rainfall, while most of the U.S. is predicted to be warmer than average this winter.
What can homeowners do? With mosquitoes comes the risk of mosquito-borne disease, such as the unprecedented number of cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) reported in 2019. To protect yourself and your family, remove standing water from your property. Also, always wear an EPA-approved insect repellent when spending time outdoors.
Known for their massive colonies and voracious appetites, Formosan subterranean termites are not a new termite species to North America, but they have been largely isolated to pockets of the Southeast, particularly Florida and the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. However, termite experts, including Ehrlich’s Randy Piggott, a 36-year termite industry veteran, have seen some evidence that the termite is expanding its range north. Claims for damage by the pest have also increased.
What can homeowners do? “This termite likes tropical environments, so we don’t believe it will extend too far north,” says Piggott. “However, because this termite can cause such extensive damage, raising homeowner awareness around the need for proactive protection for their homes is critical to prevent costly repairs.”
All of Ehrlich’s experts agree that the best step any homeowner can take to prevent pest issues is to have a proactive pest control plan in place year-round. Even if you don’t think your home is susceptible to pest infestation, new pest concerns could emerge at any time. With these pest predictions in mind, use the start of a new year to evaluate your current pest control plan and ensure that you have the coverage you need to protect yourself and your family from pests in 2020.