As if this summer isn’t bad enough already, the unusual warmth is turning bugs extra frisky.”We’re calling it a breeding bonanza,” says Missy Henriksen of the National Pest Control Association.
Across the country, as a result of record heat, pests from grasshoppers to crickets and ants to bees are arriving earlier and in greater numbers than usual, say entomologists at HomeTeam Pest defence.
“We’re seeing an increase in a lot of different pests right now,” company entomologist Russ Horton says.
Pest controllers are battling grasshoppers in Texas, ants in Florida, and crickets and bees across the country, he says.
“Insects develop more rapidly with higher temperatures,” says entomologist David Denlinger of Ohio State University, who adds that insects did well this past winter given the lack of intense cold.
Through June, the USA was sweating thorough its warmest year on record, according to the National Climatic Data centre.
Insects like grasshoppers and crickets can be a nuisance to homeowners, but they are “very devastating” in the agricultural world, Horton says.
As harvesting season nears, the ongoing hot, dry weather could have insects like grasshoppers feeding in greater-than-normal numbers on crops like alfalfa, tobacco and some vegetables, says Lee Townsend, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky.
“Grasshoppers should be abundant, because the bacteria and fungi that normally provide natural control are not very effective under hot, dry conditions,” Townsend says.
Grasshoppers are already plentiful in New Jersey because of the hot weather, says entomologist George Hamilton of Rutgers University.
And the most annoying summer pest of all, mosquitoes, are enjoying the warmth, despite the record drought.
“Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a quarter- to half-inch of water,” Henriksen says.
Texas and Florida are two spots where mosquitoes are particularly bad, Horton says, because those are two states that have been both unusually warm and rather wet this year.
40-seven human West Nile virus infections, which mosquitoes spread, have been reported so far this year to the centres for Disease Control and Prevention. One man in Texas died from the virus.
Drought can drive insects into homes: Ants, Henriksen says, will come into homes to find water. “If they’re not finding it outside, they’ll come inside,” she says.
If the warmth stays into the fall, insects will continue to do well until the frost comes, Denlinger predicts.
And beyond that, “if we have another mild winter, we’ll continue to see more pests out there,” Horton says.
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