As the weather warms, homeowners everywhere begin their spring cleaning. Simple tasks such as bringing the outdoor patio furniture outside can help to chase the winter blues away. While most of spring cleaning focuses on aesthetics, there are steps homeowners can take to prevent pest invasions and damage.
Now is the perfect time to inspect homes and fix small issues, such as filling cracks and crevices. Even the smallest crack can lead to problems in the long run. If not fixed, these cracks can grow larger with time and provide the perfect entryway for home invaders, such as ants.
Spring, along with warmth, also sees the appearance of stinging insects, such as yellowjackets, wasps and hornets. Identification and prevention of these pests are important for the safety of your family.
Common Stinging Insects
Yellowjackets are small predatory wasps that are usually black and yellow in color (although, some species are black and white). They are commonly misidentified as “bees”. Yellowjackets, in contrast to honey bees, have yellow or white markings, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies, do not carry pollen nor have the flattened hairy hind legs to carry it. Yellowjackets can also sting repeatedly, making them a painful threat to humans.
Bald Faced Hornets
Bald faced hornets are relatives of the yellowjacket, and get their name from their black head and white face. An infestation of these hornets is clearly visible, as they build nests that are suspended above the ground, and will swarm. Colonies will contain between 400 and 700 workers, making it the largest in its species. They can be aggressive, which poses a threat to humans who may wander too close to their nest.
The best known honey bee is the Western honey bee which has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. While honey bees are stinging insects, they do not pose much of a threat to humans unless provoked. They are only able to sting once before losing their stinger.
The NPMA recommends the following quick and simple, yet valuable, pest-proofing tips:
- Seal up cracks and small openings along the foundation of the house.
- Eliminate any sources of moisture or standing water.
- Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
- Keep kitchens clean by wiping counters and emptying the garbage frequently.
- Keep all food stored in sealed containers.
- Avoid leaving pet food dishes out for long periods of time.
- Keep trash containers clean and sealed, both indoors and outdoors.
- Replace any broken or torn screens in windows and doors.
If you come across any pests in your spring cleaning, contact a pest professional for removal.