No one likes pests. They might give you the creeps or the chills, but they can also do some serious damage to you and your property. Here in Maine, we are no strangers to pests! While some are completely harmless, others can really wreak havoc if left to their own devices. Here are four that you should make sure you watch out for this year.
Between mid-May to mid-June or later, there’s a flying terrorist that can leave you with aching, stinging welts on your skin: Black Flies. Because they love the woods and breed in moving water, like streams or rivers, Black Flies are especially prevalent throughout Maine. Oddly attracted to dark colors, these little flying pests can really be a bummer on an otherwise great summer day.
To protect yourself:
- Cover all exposed skin
- Wear lighter-colored clothing
- Use insect repellent
When it comes to insect repellent, DEET is the way to go. If you want a non-toxic repellent, try Picaridin. You can even try one of the all-natural options: vanilla extract, lavender essential oil, or sap from a young pine branch. If you are bitten by a Black Fly, it’s recommended that you turn to After Bite, or you’ll suffer the painful consequences.
Hiding in the shadows are lurkers that can carry Lyme disease and the Powassen virus. Ticks are not to be trifled with. While Lyme disease can be treated if caught quickly, it can also lead to a lifelong battle with chronic Lyme disease. And Powassen virus might be rare, but it’s incredibly dangerous.
Ticks are most likely to be an issue in the spring and summer months. You’ll likely find them in wooded areas, places with dense grass, bushes that have overgrown, or piles of leaves. If you do find a tick, you should do the following:
- Remove the tick carefully with tweezers, being sure to not snap off the head which will likely be burrowed into your skin.
- Keep the tick you’ve removed so it can be examined, if necessary.
- Contact your primary care physician. They may want you to make an appointment to come in.
- Wash the area with soap and water thoroughly.
- Apply an antiseptic solution to the area.
It’s far easier to prevent a tick bite than it is to remove a tick or battle Lyme disease. To keep yourself and your family safe, keep these tips in mind:
- Wear lightly-colored clothing
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, especially when hiking
- Tuck your pants into your socks
- Use insect repellent with DEET
- Check yourself thoroughly whenever you’ve spent time outdoors
While these pests won’t do much bodily harm, they can do some serious damage to your property. Carpenter ants thrive in areas where wood is frequently burned, making Maine prime real estate.
The biggest issue with an infestation of carpenter ants is that they can bore tunnels and systems, called galleries, through wood. Since many homes are framed and built using wood, this clearly could be a serious concern. Aside from the structural worries that you should have, the damage caused by carpenter ants is difficult and expensive to fix.
Worst of all, spring is the top swarming season for carpenter ants. Not only do these little guys crawl and burrow, but they can also fly. If you notice flying carpenter ants swarming within your home, that’s a good sign there’s a mature nest somewhere in your property. This is when you absolutely need to call in professionals, like Ants Plus.
Possibly one of the closest things to vampires that we have in Maine are mosquitoes. These bloodsuckers breed in standing water and are most active after dusk and before dawn, putting a real damper on summer nights around the fire or camping. As much as these flying menaces love tall grass, they love dark colors even more.
As annoying and maddening a mosquito bite can be – the incessant itching, an ever-present reminder of the annoying little pest – known cases of West Nile and EEE virus in the region make it all the more important to protect yourself.
- Wear long pants and long sleeves
- Use mosquito netting when you can
- Use insect repellent with DEET or a comparable alternative
- Empty anything with standing water:
- Kiddie pools
- Outdoor furniture
- Keep your grass cut short
If you plan on spending time outdoors this summer, consider using a carbon monoxide emitter like those made by Mosquito Magnet. These are by far your best defense while enjoying a cool Maine summer’s eve. Bug zappers won’t be effective. Citronella candles, while effective, are only good for small areas and only work if there isn’t a breeze.
As you protect yourself, your family, and your home this Maine summer, you’ll be able to still enjoy the outdoors without the fear of an illness or the discomfort of a bite. The key is knowing how to protect yourself and what to do when you’re bitten. If you have any concerns after a bug bite, contact your primary care physician immediately.
Worried your home might have an infestation? Call Ants Plus today to find out how we can help get your pest problem under control.