What To Do About Summer’s Biting Pests

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STATE — “The fun of summer, being outdoors, enjoying barbecues, or just catching some sun on one’s backyard patio is going to mitigated by a legion of mosquitoes, ticks, and other common insect pests, along with a host of others who pose real health hazards,” says Leonard Douglen, the executive director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.

Noting that the mild winter has prompted entomologists to predict an unusually large mosquito population this year, Douglen suggested that people should try to avoid being outdoors at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active. “I recommend using an insect repellent on exposed skin containing DEET if you or your family members are going to be outdoors,” says Douglen.

Other measures include eliminating standing water on one’s property such as in flowerpots and other receptacles, on swimming pool covers, or just large puddles. In addition, repair or replace torn screens on windows and doors “and remind kids to always keep the screen doors closed.”

“If one lives in an area experiencing a significant mosquito problem,” says Douglen, “some members of our association provide fogging and other abatement services that can quickly knock down the mosquito population.” While New Jersey has long had a mosquito abatement program in place, “it’s worth keeping in mind that mosquitoes still transmit a number of diseases such as the West Nile disease, dengue fever, encephalitis, and even malaria.”

The Centers for Disease Control report that there were 700 cases of West Nile disease in 2011 that resulted in 43 deaths. “The other diseases are far less common,” says Douglen, “but West Nile disease symptoms include fever, headache, body aches and can include a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. One should seek a physician’s examination to address these symptoms.”

The other insect threat that comes with summer activities is ticks. “Their populations are expected to be quite high this year,” says Douglen, “and for anyone who spends time outdoors they pose the threat of Lyme Disease.” Here again, using an insect repellent is recommended. Douglen advises that “Homeowners can reduce the tick population by cutting the grass to a low level and removing weeds, woodpiles, and debris.” Other measures he recommends include insect repellent, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors. “Parents should routinely check themselves and their children for ticks after being outdoors.”

A variety of stinging insects are part of life during the summer and they include Yellowjackets, wasps, hornets, and bees. “Do not disturb their hives,” says Douglen. “If you want to have a hive removed, you should definitely call on pest control professionals who are trained and equipped to deal with this problem.” Stinging insects send more than a half a million people to the emergency room every year and pose a particular hazard for young children and the elderly, especially for those with allergies.

“Beyond insect problems, there are problems such as the raccoon population,” says Douglen, “and homeowners should take particular care to have secure garbage containers and to make sure they cannot be tipped over. Scattered garbage will, in turn, attract ants and other insects.”

“While there are a variety of off-the-shelf pesticides for homes and gardens,” says Douglen, “the best protection is afforded by pest control professionals and a thorough inspection of one’s home and property will ensure that common summer insect and rodent problems can be avoided.”

All New Jersey pest management firms are licensed and certified by the Department of Environmental Protection. Membership in the New Jersey Pest Management Association is an important indicator of high standards, continuous training, and the assurance that the best practices are used.

The New Jersey Pest Management Association was founded in 1941 and maintains a website at www.njpma.com.

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