As summer quickly approaches and you think about your lovely garden plans, you are probably thinking about the need to protect against the natural increase of your encounters with pests. Insects thrive in warmer weather, and some of the most common in New Jersey that you will see a spring and summer influx of are ants, spiders and mosquitoes.
Ants usually strike us as harmless but, there are some in our Garden State of New Jersey that can cause trouble. These include:
- The Black “Odorous House Ant” is the one you see in and around your kitchen and pantry. When crushed they have a strong odor. It is true these little scavengers do not pose a health risk, but they will get into your stored foods. Like us, they love sweet stuff! Seal things tightly and keep containers wiped off.
- Pavement Ants are small dark brown creatures that make themselves at home under concrete. While they are not dangerous, they do manage to present themselves as quite the nuisance when their colonies get so large that they are swarming the pavement of your sidewalk or home. You often need to make a real effort to destroy the colony. They can end up on your porch, or in your home.
- Pharaoh Ants build their nests just about anywhere sheltered and warm. They are small yellow ants with red and black marks on their abdomens. You will find their favorite places to make their nests will be in wall cavities, cabinet voids, behind refrigerators and baseboards, the hollows of curtain rods and the folds of clothes, just to name a few. These little creepers are of common concern in hospitals and health care facilities as they do have the ability to carry and spread viruses and diseases.
These are just a few of the ant species you will find residing in your lawn or garden during any given summer. If you suspect an ant problem of the aforementioned variety or any other, there are a few common, simple steps to try and keep them at bay:
- Keep counters clear of food crumbs and spilled liquids
- Keep sink and dishes rinsed clean
- Remove trash on a daily basis
- Keep trash indoors and outdoors covered with a tight lid
- Store food in airtight containers
- Do not leave dog food sitting in bowls for any length of time
- Remove and prevent standing water inside and outside
- Spray your sidewalks and porch perimeter with a bug deterrent or outdoor ant spray every 6 months.
Taking these steps will make your surroundings less attractive to ants but, to eliminate them completely if they become a real problem, you may l need to hire a professional.
Spiders are another type of insect you will see more of during warmer weather. They will appear in eaves, basements and the corners of your rooms. Most spiders in New Jersey are harmless. The most common are the house spider and the wolf spider. Remember that spiders do help to keep the fly and insect population down a little by catching them in their nests and devouring them. There are only two varieties of spiders in New Jersey that will prove to be harmful. They are known as the “Brown Recluse” and the “Black Widow” but, they are quite rare. Each one has a painful bite that can be dangerously toxic to children or the elderly. Anyone who suspects they have been bitten by one of these spiders, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Then there are Mosquitoes, which are an ever present and overly abundant summer time pest! These winged blood suckers are everywhere but, they amass near water. For them to breed, they need any type of standing water. Because their breeding and life cycles are very short and quick they are almost always being replenished. They also have the proven ability to carry diseases and viruses that they can transmit to humans. The best defense is to eliminate freestanding water from your surroundings since mosquitoes are very hard to eradicate. Standing water if it must be left should be treated with chlorine or some deterrent to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
In our beautiful state of New Jersey, summer is a time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather without worrying about insects or pests hindering the fun. Talk with your landscaper about all your best options for garden friendly methods for reducing the pest population in and around your home this summer.
Our next article will talk about the pests that are attracted to our garden plants, veggies and lawn shrubbery, and how to prevent and treat them.