Combating Florida’s Creepy Crawlies this Fall

Combating Florida's Creepy Crawlies this Fall

Halloween is almost here, and it is the season for all things creepy, crawly, and scary.  This includes those icky pests that can occasionally make living in paradise slightly less idyllic. If you’re newer to the Sunshine State, you may not be aware that love bug and fire ant season strikes the area twice per year.  This usually occurs in the spring and early fall.  Below are some ways to deal with these annoying and potentially harmful insects.

LOVE BUGS:

  • Insect spray on your door: Spray your entire door with an all-natural insect spray. This will keep them off your door and potentially kill them as well.
  • Blow them away with a fan: Turn up the ceiling fan to keep them from flying inside the house. This tactic may be even more effective if you also have an exterior fan on your porch or lanai.
  • Light some mosquito candles: Light a bunch of mosquito repellent candles inside your house or in your porch to drive them away.  Just be careful not to create a fire hazard and to extinguish all candles prior to leaving the home or going to bed.
  • Make your own insect spray: Did you know you can make your own insect spray?  This is a hugely popular Pinterest suggestion.  Mix warm water with a citrus-scented detergent, like an orange or lemon dish soap.  Add a splash of mouthwash to the mixture, and then shake it well. Put in spray bottle and start spraying your plants and the walls of your house with it. Bugs will leave these areas alone.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner: Sucking them in with a vacuum cleaner is probably the easiest way to get rid of love bugs!  Use this in confined areas to control swarming and piling.
  • Maintain your lawn: Love bug larvae grows in thatch. Thatch is the layer of organic matter that occurs between the green matter and the soil surface of your grass.  You’ll need to mow your grass regularly, cutting off only the top one-third of grass to reduce possible breeding grounds for love bugs.

Additionally, motorists should be aware that these pesky bugs can cause both cosmetic and mechanical damage to a vehicle.  When you think of lovebugs, you likely think of them smeared all over a front bumper or grill of your car or truck. If not cleaned within a week, the fatty tissue from the insects can eat through a car’s finish when left in the sun.

To get them off your car, try these ideas:

  • Wax your car: Some car waxes are specially formulated to reduce the effects of splattered insects. Wax your car right before the start of love bug season (or as soon as possible) to reduce their negative effects.
  • Run your car through the car wash every 3 to 4 days. The spray wax used in the tunnel will extend the life of the hand-wax, allowing it to last up to 90 days before re-applying. Plus, you’ll most likely want to run your vehicle through the carwash on a regular basis to get those acidic bugs off your paint!
  • Dryer sheets. Try wiping your bumper and other love bug covered areas on your vehicle with dryer sheets.
  • Some suggest using WD-40 or cooking spray on your car:Use a thin layer of cooking spray on the front and side mirrors of your car before you drive. This will help make removing the insects much easier. After driving, immediately get a water hose and flush down the splattered insects from your car…the sooner you get them off, the better!

FIRE ANTS:

It has been said that fire ants are particularly intrusive and most active during the fall and spring seasons.  Because fire ants are social, their colonies can be rather large.  During the heat of summer and cooler temperatures of winter, fire ants will dig deep into the ground and hibernate.  Fall and spring is the season where fire ants wake from hibernation and quickly and aggressively begin foraging for food.  Because fire ants have a short time to gather food, they can become a problem as they invade your home in search of food. With fall at our door, you may have already begun to see fire ant activity.

Best Time of Year to Treat Fire Ant Infestations:

Most people will assume it is better to control fire ants while they are hibernating, however, this is a common misconception.  For one, most pest treatments can’t penetrate the ground that deeply and it is more effective to treat fire ants when they are most active.  Additionally, the fire ants are now closer to the surface, which is imperative if you’re going to effectively eliminate them.  When it comes to controlling ants, your main target is the queen.  You can kill any forager ants that enter your home but if the queen survives, she can and will reproduce and the forager ants will continue to enter your residence.

Fire Ant Treatment:

With the arrival of the fall season, now is the time to begin laying down ant bait.  Locate the foraging trails and place bait in the center of their path.  You can try using a borax-based bait such as TERRO® Ant Killer or TERRO® Liquid Ant Baits, that the worker ants can bring back to their colony.  Most studies have shown that the worker ants will take the bait within the first few hours the bait has been laid.  Bait is one of the best methods to control fire ants since the queen often will consume the bait that can kill or slow down the reproductive system.  As with other pests, seal your windows and doors as much as possible to prevent points of entry.  You’ll also want to keep any plants and vegetation away from the base of your house.  Inside, you should keep the kitchen tidy and ensure food and spills are cleaned up.

For more pest control information, please click here to read our previous blog post on “Six helpful tips to avoid household pests”.