Though it may not happen at the same time each year thanks to our wacky Midwest weather, every year without fail winter draws to a close and we welcome spring. As temperatures rise and flowers begin to bloom, insects are drawn out from their overwintering sites and are ready to emerge seeking shelter, food, and a place to breed.
We have in the past provided helpful tips for keeping your home protected against pests in the spring, but today we will go over several specific pests you may see in and around your home this season. This way you will know what you are up against, and when it’s time to call Proactive Pest Management to tackle your home pest control needs!
Box Elder Bugs
Feeling the sun against your face is great after a long cold winter! But we aren’t alone in this enjoyment–many pests, including box elder bugs, are attracted to sunny warm areas like where the sun hits your house and warms the siding and windows all day. As the sun sets they try to go into windows, siding, and screens to stay warm overnight.
These bugs are easily identified by the red lines on their back and wings, which fold over into an X shape when they are not in flight. They are named for their preferred tree of choice, the box elder, but will also nest in maple and ash trees. They grow up to half an inch long. While they do not sting or bite, they are still a nuisance to homeowners.
These shiny green beetles are an invasive species that damages hundreds of plants and trees, but it is not only the iridescent adults that you have to worry about. Most of their life cycle is spent in the grub stage, and during this time they eat grass. In the spring, they are still in their grub and larval forms eating grass, but as summer hits they become winged adults who eat larger plants and trees. Our services are effective against adult Japanese beetles, but homeowners who struggle with these beetles should reach out to their lawn care company or local hardware store for a grub control product which, when combined with our services, will more effectively reduce Japanese beetle populations.
Usually between 5 and 7 inches long including their tail, mice are a common sight in Illinois. They like to find warm places to live, like your wall voids, to stay warm through the winter. As the weather warms up, mice become more active and though they breed year-round they do so in earnest in the springtime. Since a single female mouse can have between 5 and10 litters with around 4-6 pups in each, a few mice can rapidly become a much larger problem! With their ability to spread disease as well as the damage they can do to homes, it is best to contact us sooner rather than later to get these critters under control.
Sometimes difficult to initially identify due to their small size, ticks become a lot more obvious once they have begun to feed on you or your pet. If you spot an eight-legged creature that is mostly round with an oblong head, odds are you are looking at a tick. Ticks are at their most aggressive in the spring as they emerge from their dormant winter states. You may see them around your yard more frequently if you fall behind on upkeep–leaf piles, tall grass, and untrimmed bushes are all places where ticks like to lay in wait to hop onto a host. If you are fortunate enough to spot it before it latches on to feed, simply brush the tick off, and try to wear long layers if you will be in areas with tall grass. If you have a dog, try to stick to trails without long grass as well, as a dog’s underbelly is at the perfect height for a tick to hop on. If you do find a tick that has embedded itself in you or your pet’s skin, use tweezers and pull gently but firmly to prevent any mouthparts from remaining embedded in the skin. Are you tired of being tick food? Our mosquito spray which runs April-October is also effective against ticks!
In Illinois, one of the only things we can look forward to about winter is its lack of these annoying and deadly insects! That’s right–mosquitoes are not only the deadliest insect, but also the deadliest animal in the world because of the diseases they transmit to humans. In other countries, dengue fever and malaria claim hundreds of thousands of lives a year, and here in Illinois we have West Nile virus among others. Mosquitoes can hibernate, and eggs laid late in the season can still hatch in the spring, which explains the uptick in mosquito activity we see at this time of year. And as weather warms up, mosquitoes begin breeding again, using shallow pools of water to lay their eggs and allow the larva to develop. Eliminating standing water on your property helps reduce mosquitoes, but if you find yourself being bitten constantly, consider our spring-fall mosquito spray to reclaim your yard!
Ants are a common pest for homeowners to tackle, and depending on the species, colony size, and how long it has been established, they can be difficult to get rid of on your own. This is partly because they are also very social creatures, so once scout ants find food the rest of the colony gets word quickly and will soon appear. There are many common ant species you may see in and around your home.
One of these are carpenter ants, which are larger than most ants and a dull black where many ants are shiny. It is a good thing they are easy to identify, because they can do structural damage to homes over time. If you see winged swarming ants around your windows or see small piles of sawdust in your home or on your deck, this is a good indicator that there is already a carpenter ant colony either outside or within the wall voids.
Another less damaging but still annoying ant is the sugar ant. This is a name given to several smaller species of ants that prefer sweet foods, and you may see them on your kitchen counter. If they are outside on the sidewalk, you may be looking at pavement ants, who have adapted to need less vegetation so they can live under pavement or concrete slabs in homes.
As the weather warms up, spiders emerge from their winter hiding places and begin laying eggs. There are hundreds of different types of spiders in Illinois. You may see orb-weavers in your garden, cellar spiders in your basement, or wolf spiders inside or outside. Though there are two venomous spiders in Illinois–the black widow and the brown recluse–both of these spiders are not usually deadly to healthy adults, though it is a good idea to visit your doctor if you think you have been bitten by either of these spiders.
Spiders are not social creatures and prefer to lay in wait in corners of rooms or out-of-the way places, and many types of spiders spin webs to trap their prey. Have you ever wondered why a spider doesn’t get stuck in its own web? The reason is that they spin two types of silk that alternate within their web, one type being sticky to catch prey and the other being smooth so the spider can climb along it easily.
Crashing picnics and barbecues as long as humans have been enjoying themselves outside, these shiny banded insects can be aggressive and have a painful sting that can cause severe allergic reactions in some individuals. Wasps can be either solitary or social depending on their species, and there are over 30,000 species worldwide. Here in Illinois, you may see species like yellowjackets, hornets, and paper wasps. Paper wasps and yellowjackets have yellow and black stripes, and hornets have black and white stripes. These insects forage for food to bring back to their nests, and all become aggressive if they believe their nest is threatened. You can also tell them apart by their nests. Paper wasps get their name from the papery-looking substance their nests are built out of, and are often found in the eaves of your home.
Hornet nests also look papery, but they are larger and look more like a football or baseball. Yellow jacket nests can be harder to spot, as they can make their nests underground or inside homes, and this is unfortunate because they are the most aggressive about defending their nests.
Protect Your Home This Spring With ProActive Pest Management
This is the time of year for spring cleaning, and that applies to pests as well! Every pest on this list is covered under our general pest service, with quarterly visits that strengthen your pest-proof barrier and free re-treatments for anything that makes it through in the meantime as part of our Proactive Protection Guarantee. Give us a call at (630) 451-8101 to speak to a member of our friendly customer service team Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and enjoy a pest-free home this spring!