Are you noticing more roaches, ants and mice in your home these days?
Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension integrated pest management specialist, said it’s because we are home more, paying more attention and providing more opportunities for critters to come inside.
“Environmental conditions also play into rodent, ant, and cockroach activity. When we have adverse weather conditions, then they seek out areas where they can be cozy, just like we do. Homes also can provide things needed to survive — food, water, and shelter,” Brown wrote in an email to RA News on Wednesday.
Also, there may simply be more crumbs, more doors opening for longer periods of time, and more overall reason for roaches, mice and ants to show up.
Pest control companies are receiving more calls.
One company in Central Texas said new-customer calls are up 20% this year.
“Treatments for all the three pest types have increased compared to last year, and Texas outpaced the nation’s demand growth, especially for ants,” wrote Judy Black, board-certified entomologist and VP Quality Assurance and Technical Services for Orkin, a leader in the pest control business, in an email on Thursday.
Black says this time spent at home because of the pandemic corresponded with the change from spring to summer, a time during which pests are more active due to the increase in temperatures.
Here’s what you need to know about preventive measures for mice, ants and roaches and about safety for individuals and those with children.
Most of these animals should be living outside, although there are some species of ants and cockroaches that are indoors only, Brown said.
A good way to manage them, Brown explained, is to keep the populations outside where they belong by excluding the home so they cannot enter. Keeping these animals outside could include trimming back trees and shrubs that touch or overhang the home, or sealing around pipe and wire openings, Brown suggested. Also make sure that screens are in good repair, and replace weather stripping around doors and windows when needed.
If you can see daylight around a door when it is closed, insects can get in, Brown wrote. Also fix any water leaks from sprinkler systems, faucets or air conditioning units.
“Do not leave pet food out overnight, store pet food and bird seed in sealed airtight containers. When animals do not have the things they need to survive, then they will die or move elsewhere,” wrote Brown.
Black says prevention is an ongoing process that involves mitigation steps and continued assessment, not a one-time treatment. “Since most pest problems begin outside the home, many homes receive routine treatment only on the outside,” Black wrote. “This prevents most pests from getting into the home. If a family sees a pest indoors, they can request indoor treatment.”
Mice enter homes through gaps and holes found in walls and foundations, particularly around garage doors. “We encourage homeowners to use this time in September to inspect their homes,” Black wrote. “With fall on the horizon, it’s important to know infestations tend to begin in autumn due to the dropping temperatures.” Mice proliferate quickly and populations may exceed 200 specimens within a matter of months, Black explained.
As for ants. Poor sanitation is the primary cause of ant infestations says Black. “Leaving dirty dishes in the sink, food residue on countertops, crumbs on the floor and trash not frequently emptied provide food sources for meal-seeking ants.” This can become a major problem if ants establish colonies in walls, lawns, or under home foundations.
Cockroaches are attracted by their need for food, moisture and a temperature-friendly environment that provides protection and shelter, explained Black. Sources like pet food dishes, dirty drains, dishwashers, trash cans, etc. should be maintained, cleaned and/or stored properly, Black advises.
Here are more tips on defending your home against pests during the pandemic.