Some Like it Hot

The summer is definitely hot here, and it has been particularly brutal this year. Several heat records have already been broken across central Alabama, and heat indexes routinely surpass 100 degrees. For those working outside, this heat can not only be a burden, but a dangerous health concern as well. Just remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. If you start to feel sick, do not hesitate to take a break and sit down in the A/C to cool off.

Although it can be a discomfort or danger to us, the heat and humidity can serve as a ‘wake up call’ to some pest species to emerge and begin their activity for the year. This is why our busiest months are typically late spring and early summer. A classic example of a summer time pest are mosquitoes. Although we refer to this time of the year as ‘Mosquito Season’, there is no set time or month that mosquitoes will begin to emerge. Instead, mosquito activity is regulated completely by temperature.

Most mosquitoes overwinter or hibernate as eggs, which stay viable in the cold of winter, and emerge once the water in which the eggs were laid warms up. Some species can overwinter as adults, by waiting out the cold in tree holes or other forms of shelter. Once the weather is warm enough, the eggs hatch, and the mosquito life cycle continues. Although mosquitoes prefer the heat, you will most likely not find them out in the sun during the hotter parts of the day. This is because direct sunlight is so intense that it can quickly dehydrate and kill them.

Therefore, mosquito activity is worst in forested and shaded areas, or around bushes where they can hide from the sun. The longer an area is shaded during the day, the more time mosquitoes have to be active, and more activity translates to more bites. When mosquitoes are active can also depend on the species of mosquitoes. Ades or Asian Tiger mosquitoes tend to be daytime biters, while Culex mosquitoes tend to bite closer to dawn and dusk.

Another pest we observe becoming more active as the weather warms up are yellow jackets. The queens we see this year were actually born last year. Once the cold weather sets in they seek shelter to overwinter until the weather warms up. When temperatures begin to rise again, they emerge to begin constructing brand new nests from scratch. At this point in the year, an undisturbed wasp nest could become very large, as over time the queen produces more and more workers to help in the construction and upkeep of the nest.

In general, the warmer the weather is, the more pest activity we will see. This is because insects, like reptiles, are cold blooded. Their body temperature is regulated by the air temperature. Insects move and grow the most effectively when the air is warm. This is why the spring and summer are our busiest months; the air is warm and the insects are active. So remember, even though there’s a lot of work to be done this time of year and many customers who need our services, be sure you stay cool this summer.

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