RALEIGH — If you enjoyed our mild winter, you are paying for it now. We are having a summer of swatting and scratching.
You can blame El Nino -- or even the lingering effects of Hurricane Fran, but the bugs are booming this year. Exterminators advise that you can't stop them, you can only hope to contain them.
Because the insect population appears to be exploding right along with the human population, it's a good time to be in the pest control business in the Triangle. Most exterminating companies are running about two to three weeks behind on their appointments.
"Where the trees were last year, there are houses this year, says Jim Lynn of Surety Exterminating Company. And obviously those insects will find a new source for their home."
Local entomologists say mosquitoes, ticks, and spiders are out in force this summer.
Lynn says excessive numbers of ants and wood roaches have already made themselves at home.
Asked what he blames for the surge in the bug population, Lynn said, "The biggest situation I think of is about the eight or nine years of mild weather we've had through the winter. That's probably the biggest factor right there. The next thing would be the excessive rains we've had in the spring."
Although hot, dry conditions have prevailed in recent weeks, lingering moisture keeps the bugs crawling
To combat the many-legged creatures, Lynn recommends removing the breeding source. Move mulch several inches from your home. Eliminate standing water, which mosquitoes love. By getting rid of old tires (the water collects in the bottom) and by turning empty flower pots, garbage pails and other containers upside down, rain will run off rather than collect. Open crawl space vents to keep air flowing. And keep your exterminator's telephone number and, for that matter, insect repellent, handy.
Keep in mind that this is a not a situation where you need to spray pesticide all over your house.
Sometimes bait traps or borax crystals along the baseboards will work much better to kill ants and their colonies.
For health reasons, make sure you check yourself and your children for ticks after being outdoors. And check dark and damp places for spiders. One surprising note in all this: exterminators say this hasn't been an overwhelming year for termite swarms -- at least not yet.