Just because it’s fall it doesn’t mean that insects are a thing of the past. Lurking in the lawn can be some real nuisances that, besides being annoying, are hazardous to the health of family and pets.
Carpenter ants, termites, mosquitoes, ticks, hornets and yellow jackets are just a few of the insect intruders that can not only ruin a person’s day outdoors, but also the structural integrity of a home. Most of these bugs are attracted to the same things, moisture and darkness. By having routine inspections, keeping foliage trimmed and eliminating moisture when possible, the risks of infestation can be controlled, according to the experts.
“Ants are attracted to moisture, so anything that involves water or leakage around skylights, door frames and window frames … that’s where they will make their nest,” said Bob Nardy, owner of Southampton-based Nardy Pest Control during a recent telephone interview.
Carpenter ants build their nests in moist and rotting wood, carving tunnels through the wood to connect different chambers of the nest. Although they do not eat the wood like termites do, they can cause even more damage, according to John Bennett, the president of Southampton-based Premier Pest Control.
“Number one is carpenter ants, they infest any kind of structure and do a lot of damage to wood, almost like a termite but more destructive than a termite,” he said during a telephone interview. “Areas of moisture in a roof, or a skylight, if you have rot in the house most likely you will have carpenter ants. The tell-tale sign is 10 or more crawling around the house, it’s an indication you have a nest in the structure.”
Mr. Bennett said his company offers a program of monthly inspections checking for ants and other pests to prevent a major issue from occurring. He said some clients have had to learn the hard way, incurring as much as $10,000 in damage to their homes before coming to see a professional.
March and April are the height of the ant season, Mr. Bennett reported. He added that through the inspection process, nests can be detected and instead of over-spraying the whole house, the treatment can be specific to certain areas. There are also no- or low-chemical solutions.
“We do offer organic products—organic baits, sugar and protein, which eliminate ant colonies without a pesticide application. Treatment can be localized to a nest, but inspection is the important part,” Mr. Bennett advised. “With your inspection process we close any openings, cable wires through the wall to the house, oil tank lines that go in and aren’t sealed, keeping gutters properly maintained as far as leaf and water buildup … cut down as much accessibility to the structure as possible.”
Although ants are not always thought of when it comes to insect nuisances, two bugs definitely have had an effect on anyone on the East End: ticks and mosquitoes. Brian Kelly, the owner of Southampton-based East End Tick Control, said that the last few years have been especially tick-ridden. This year, he reported, was by far the worst.
“It’s one of the worst years we’ve seen in 16 years,” Mr. Kelly said during a telephone interview.
And Lyme disease isn’t the only thing that ticks can spread, he warned.
“The Lone Star tick is really bad this year, Mr. Kelly said. “There is a disease being transmitted by the tick that causes a red meat allergy. A few people have already called in with the issue of being allergic to red meat this summer alone, it’s real and it’s out there.”
The climate this year was perfect for ticks to thrive, he continued. There was plenty of early rain, it was moist when it needed to be and there was no hard frost in the early spring, all conditions that add up to a perfect tick breeding season.
“Ticks like it cool, dark and damp, it’s their prime habitat,” the tick expert said.
Although it is impossible to completely eliminate ticks, there are some steps to help reduce their numbers and to prevent them from having prime habitat. Even now, in the fall, when the threat is diminished—but not completely eradicated.
“Keep the lawn well manicured, cut back on watering, don’t over-saturate, let sunlight in. We install owl boxes, owls eat mice and mice carry ticks, it’s something that’s cool too, screech owl boxes,” Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Nardy also advocated pet- and people-friendly sprays, such as the one his company uses.
“For ticks we use a safe product … made of rosemary oil, wintergreen oil, geranium oil and peppermint oil, it’s called Essentria,” he said.
Pests may be a problem, but they can be controlled. Even now, when the summertime is over, it’s important to be vigilant, as insects can be a threat in practically any season.