by Paul Schattenberg, Texas A&M AgriLife Communications
AUSTIN – With the weather warming and spring just around the corner, Central Texas residents can soon expect a pest proliferation and “exclusion” is the best way to prepare for it, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“We’ve had a relatively bug-free winter and it’s been a nice respite, but with the recent rains and more consistent warm temperatures, we can soon expect to see lots of insect pests that have been overwintering reemerge in force,” said Wizzie Brown, AgriLife Extension entomologist for Travis County.
Brown said now is the time to get ready for a bug boom, and the best way to prepare is by excluding the pests through removing potential sheltering and breeding areas and securing your home from their approach.
She said soon Central Texas residents should be seeing a resurgence of termites and fire ants, as well as other less pernicious pests, such as doodle bugs, people generally prefer not to have in or near their homes.
“One of the best things you can do is prune trees and shrubs away from your home, including any branches that touch or hang over your roof,” she said. “And if you have any materials stacked next to your home, such as firewood, bricks, stone or landscaping materials, this would be a good time to move them farther away. You’ll also want to make sure to remove any yard debris.”
She said another way to exclude insects is to install or replace weather stripping around loose-fitting doors and windows.
“If you can see daylight around the edges of windows or doors from the inside of your home, then it’s a good bet insects can get inside from there,” Brown explained.
She also suggested blocking any weep holes in outside walls that have a brick or stone façade with copper mesh and to use an expanding sealant to fill in cracks and crevices on the outside of the home, as well as places where pipes or wires enter the home from the exterior.
“Repair or replace any damaged window screens and clean gutters of any debris,” she said. “And use mesh wire to block any access points in the attic,”
Spring is also when mosquitoes reappear, she said, so it would be a good idea to remove or secure anything that can capture water and provide mosquitoes with an attractive breeding site.
“For example, if you have a rain barrel for capturing and storing water for later use, put a tight mesh screen over the opening to keep mosquitoes out. And, as with other pests, removing yard debris, especially anything that can catch and hold water, is a good way to prevent problems.”
Brown also suggested that homeowners scout early and on a regular schedule to catch pests when they are small in size and numbers.
“Pests are easier to manage when they are small and have smaller populations,” she said. “Using a small amount of pesticide at the outset may keep you from having to use a larger amount later in the season. That makes both good economic and environmental sense.”