Spring can come earlier for some regions due to their geography. Wide open areas like the Hutt Valley and parts of the Wairarapa are going to experience the pest issues first and in some cases will experience it worse than others. In areas that are more sheltered and closer to the hills spring develops a little slower. This doesn’t mean you are safe from pests, they will still come as soon as the microclimates in your area catch up with the others.
Before we can look at what is coming, we need to consider our current situation. Although we have had some cold nights and frosty mornings this winter has been rather mild with plenty of dry sunny days. When the winter is miserably wet and cold it stops pests breeding, which is not the case this year. This year we have seen plenty of young rodents throughout the winter and even a few nuptial flights from ant colonies. Fruit flies which are usually a summer pest have still been showing up in homes. Some wasp nests have also survived long into the winter. While the breeding rates are not as high as they are in the spring the growing pest numbers through the winter will lead to bigger populations when the real breeding starts.
The first pests we will notice in the spring are ants. Their colonies will surge in size quickly with the extra workers born this winter. White-footed ants are going to be the main species we see as they will be in full swing scavenging every bit of food they can to support the rapid growth of their colony. Spring is an ideal time to treat ants. Ant treatments work best when there is high nest activity and the numbers in the colony are still relatively low. Being extra vigilant making sure there is no food left around for the scouts to find will help reduce the chance of ant trails forming inside.
Rodents too will make a brief appearance, mostly making a lot of noise in the cavities of our homes and searching our kitchens for food. As the temperature heats up the rats and mice will head outdoors to live and breed. This is a good time to get rid of rodents, reducing their population before they get a chance to breed.
Spiders become more active with the warmer days, especially nomadic spiders like whitetails which will be roaming a lot more to feed on the abundance of bugs that come with spring. They will also begin to prepare for their upcoming mating season.
Cockroach movements increase as well as they too benefit from the warmer spring weather. Whilst cockroaches are most active at night, they will often be caught out in the early morning high on a wall or curtain. Both cockroaches and spiders will enter your home and appear in a similar way, both can be easily repelled with interior treatments. Forgetting to shut your windows at night will invite these pests inside.
The cold of winter has slowed the movement of fleas a lot. Fleas don’t go through a true hibernation and many will die off, but the strong will hide out and feed at very low rates. Come Spring fleas will come out of hiding and resume their normal feeding and breeding habits. Having floor surfaces treated with a residual spray and treating the family pets for fleas will be a big help here in eliminating fleas before they get to plague proportions.
The change in temperature will trigger flies to hatch from pupae and for species like cluster flies they will emerge from their hibernation. Often cluster flies will spend the winter in dry structural cavities of houses like the roof space. They will first crawl out of any gap they can see light through, recessed light fittings and extraction fans being common access points into the living space for cluster flies. More common species like the lesser house fly will show up a bit later in spring, these are the annoying ones that buzz around the centre of a room for hours before landing and like all flies will start spotting on walls, door frames, and light fittings leaving an unsightly mess. Again, spring is a great time for preventative residual treatments to control flies throughout summer.
A lesser known creature to which we wouldn’t normally refer when talking about pests are bumble bees. Bumble bees are hardy creatures and appear even while the mornings are still frosty. These little guys are actually hard-working, being very important for pollination of food crops and are best left alone.
What can we expect from all this? Pest populations are going to be higher heading into breeding seasons leading to more sightings, more invasions, and ultimately more damage and nuisance. Now is a great chance to be proactive here and get ahead of them as spring is one of the best seasons for preventative treatments. Stop the pest’s dead in their tracks and look forward to a pest free summer.