By now, allergy sufferers are feeling the full effects of very mild winter and early year, summerlike conditions. Sneezy, runny noses, itchy and watery eyes are abundant in homes, schools and offices across the U.S. Beyond allergies, there's another issue we alluded to a couple months ago – insects.
_February saw repeated record high temperatures across the nation, and with this coming hot on the heels of a warmer, wet winter for much of the country, conditions are ideal for insects to flourish. But aside from ants invading your pantry and carpenter bees feasting on your deck, there are some specific pest problems to look for and hopefully prevent.
_Bed Bugs – The warmer temperatures can actually reduce the amount of time it takes for a bed bug egg to hatch, from 1-2 weeks to a little as 6 days. Warmer temps also mean more people are out and about, traveling and potentially picking up these little vampire hitchhikers (bed bugs) and bringing them home.
_The best thing you can do is remain vigilant. Bag and store luggage and clothing outside until it can be unpacked and inspected. Wash clothing in hot water to kill any bed bugs that may be hiding in your clothing. While staying at hotels or motels, do a quick inspection of the room prior to unpacking, paying attention to tell-tale signs of bedbugs (small dark spot which can be bedbug droppings and blood spots on the mattress, sheets or furniture). If you find something, report it and look for a new place to stay.
_For more information on bed bug prevention.
_Ticks and Fleas – Nearly all insects love warm, humid conditions, and ticks and fleas are no exception. Not only do these little blood suckers bite, but ticks can carry a variety of diseases. Before coming in after being outside, check yourself for ticks. Pay particular attention to your pets. They can very easily pick up ticks and fleas. Regular bathing and brushing are two very easy ways to prevent and detect and possible tick or flea problems your pet may have.
Mosquitoes – Like ticks and bedbugs, mosquitoes also feed on your blood and can transmit disease and viruses. While some areas spray insecticides to mosquito populations down, this can release harmful toxins into the air and water. Around the home, be sure to drain containers or anywhere water can puddle and become the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. And when looking for a suitable repellent, look for cintronella and other citrus extracts in the ingredients. Both are powerful, natural insect repellents.
_Chances are good that it's going to be a very buggy summer, but this doesn't mean it has to ruin your time outdoors. With some very basic precautions you can enjoy the sun and outdoors with less worry about ticks, fleas, bed bugs or mosquitoes.