California is in yet another year of a drought. This past winter was one of the driest on record and most of the state is currently in a moderate to severe level of drought. We often hear how the drought affects the farmers, crops, and our lawns, but one subject that isn’t usually brought up is pest control. So, how does the drought affect pests and pest control?
Drought affects the animals.
Insects need water to live just as much as we do. They usually get their daily water from outside sources such as plants, sprinklers, drip systems, etc.
Unfortunately, the drought has significantly reduced these water sources and insects are migrating inside to find water, meaning you might be seeing an increase of insects in and around your home. Your home is already a very inviting environment for pests – providing them with food, water, and shelter. Now with the drought taking away more and more of their food and water sources, they are more likely to end up in your home.
The drought also affects larger animals. Rats and mice will try to move into your home to find a better source of food, water, and shelter. Raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and even bears are moving out of the mountains and wilderness and into the city to find better sources of food and water, meaning you are more likely to see them around your home and they can possibly become a nuisance.
Bees survive on pollen and nectar. Wildflowers aren’t getting the rain they need to grow and bloom, so bees can’t find food in the wild. They are migrating into urban areas where homes have flowers blooming to provide them with the food and water they need. Once they find a place to stay, they will set up a new hive, possibly in the walls of your home!
CA Drought and Pest Control
The California drought also affects how we do our job. Drier yards make it harder for pest control technicians to properly treat for gophers. If the soil around their systems is dry it is more likely to collapse on the bait when placing it, rendering it ineffective. The system is also likely to collapse when probing to find the correct spot to place bait.
Ants specifically are going to be more prevalent when you water. More of them are going to come out of their nests to collect as much water as they can while they wait for the next water opportunity. When you turn on your sprinklers you might see a lot of ants coming out near the sprinkler heads. Some pest control products are also water activated or water assisted for best coverage, less water means those products are less effective.
What can you do?
We would love to help keep your home pest-free, but there are also some steps you can take that would help.
First, make sure your landscaping isn’t attracting pests and giving them a place to live. Make sure any plants and bushes are at least 3 feet away from your home and that any lower branches are removed to keep them away from the ground. This will prevent insects from being attracted to your home by removing a hiding place and food and water source.
Make sure all trash is cleaned up and is in a closed trash can. Garbage is a huge source of food for all pests, from insects to raccoons and even bears. Keeping your trash can closed will prevent them from getting to the food source.
Check around your home for spots where pests can get in and close them off. A rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter and mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime! It doesn’t take much for these creatures to make your home their home. Closing off holes will prevent rats and mice, as well as insects, from coming in.
Clean up and remove any dying or dead plants, leaves, grass, etc. Many insects are attracted to dead organics for food. Keeping your home free of dead plants will force these insects to find another place to find their next meal.
What can we do?
New watering guidelines in LA dictate you can only water your home twice per week. If you have regular gopher service, we recommend calling to find out your pest control schedule to make sure you water the day before. This will help ensure the ground is moist enough that it doesn’t collapse when the bait is being placed, ensuring the bait is effective.
If you see more ants when you water, we recommend a monthly general insect and ant spray. A one-time spray is only effective for approximately 3-4 weeks. Unfortunately, it looks like this drought may last longer than that and a monthly ant and insect spray will protect your home from the ants that come rushing out when you do get the chance to water.
Together we can work to get through this as we have in many years past. If you are seeing more pests on your property, feel free to reach out! We are always Happy to Help!