To most people, spring is all about the temperatures rising and the outdoors once again becoming a pleasant place to visit and get active. But with the rise in temperature means a rise in wildlife activity, and that includes insects.
Some insects, like butterflies, are wildlife people look forward to seeing. But others are creatures that people could do without.
Some insect pests are going to become more active with spring, but if you want to keep their presence in your life and outdoor activities to a minimum, there are some things you can do to keep them away.
Lyme disease can be a serious and debilitating illness, but unfortunately, it’s all too easy to contract thanks to a bite from an insect known as a Deer Tick. Ticks are not like fleas; they aren’t very mobile, and can’t jump the impressive lengths to a host that a flea can. Instead, ticks must wait patiently on a blade of grass for an unsuspecting victim to “wade through” the grass on the way to somewhere else, then hitch a ride, as the grass makes contact with the larger organism.
If you’re “going into the bush” in heavily forested areas, with tall blades of grass, take appropriate precautions. There’s no way you’ll be able to inspect every blade of grass you walk past for the presence of ticks, so where a repellant with DEET as one of the ingredients on any exposed skin, or another product, like Bite Block™ if you’re nervous about the presence of DEET on your skin.
The majority of flies are more a nuisance than anything else, getting in the way or, if you’re not careful, flying into your mouth, since they’re often attracted to the carbon dioxide that mammals exhale. Only one type of fly, the horse fly, can be a more aggressive nuisance, since this species actually bites on living things and feeds off them.
The easiest way to avoid the nuisance of flies once they become active in spring is the timing of your activities. Flies are “lazy” in the sense that they wait for the best conditions to become active, so evening activities and very early morning activities aren’t going to have much of a fly problem. During the afternoon and early evening hours, however, they can become a real issue. Long sleeved clothing is generally enough to protect yourself from flies when they become more active.
This is more of a concern for Americans living the southern, drier, hotter states. Fire ants are recognized by the reddish/light brownish shade of their exoskeletons, a very stark difference from the normal black ants most are familiar with seeing. The reason fire ants hold their name is because their bites linger, with a sting and itch that persists.
Fire ants are relatively easy to avoid if you keep an eye out both for them and for their mounds. Unlike other ants which dig underground, fire ants create mounds up to two feet in height. So if you see these in an area, that’s not a great place to stop for a picnic. Keep moving!
While not as big a threat in spring as they will become in summer, mosquitos will start making their appearance once things warm up. Mosquitos are, of course, regarded as pests for two big reasons; their bites hurt, resulting in an itch and welts that persist for days, and they are a “vector,” that is to say a transmitter of diseases.
If you want to avoid Dengue Fever, West Nile fever, or even possibly Zika virus, make sure to use a repellant with DEET. Try not to sweat or get too hot around mosquitos as the smell of sweat and the heat your body gives off are attractive to them.