With people outdoors across Pennsylvania sharing their surprise on social media that ticks are active even when there is snow on the ground, the National Pest Management Association warns that pests like ticks and rodents are still a serious threat to the public Represent health.
“It’s a common misconception that pests go away once winter is over,” said Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at NPMA. “Pests like ticks and mosquitoes have learned to adapt to excessive snow and sub-zero temperatures and are able to weather some pretty harsh conditions only to pop up en masse in the spring as if nothing had happened.
“Those who are less resilient, like mice and rats, have found their own ways to survive the winter. They invade an estimated 21 million US homes every year until the temperatures get warmer.”
The NPMA recently released its semi-annual list of the ten largest U.S. cities’ vector sectors at greatest risk of increased vector pest pressures for the remainder of winter and into spring.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are two of these 10 cities.
Here is the tip for Philadelphia from the NPMA: “With above-average autumn temperatures and irregular winter weather, warmer days during the rest of the season despite previous snowfall can cause ticks to become active in search of blood meals.”
And for Pittsburgh: “After a warm fall, record rainfall and cold weather during the rest of the winter can lead rodents to look for nesting sites indoors.”
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The other 8 cities in the top 10 are Baltimore and Washington, DC, ticks; Chicago and New York, mosquitoes; and Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa, rodents.
According to the NPMA, rats are the number one health and home pest problem among Americans, closely followed by mice.
In January, Twitter engagement on the subject of rodents in the basement and in the kitchen rose by 76 and 41 percent, respectively.
Ticks are not easy at home, but they also pose a significant health risk in the winter months. No matter how cold it gets or how much snow accumulates, these pests only need temperatures of up to 50 degrees, even for just one day, to keep them alive to become active.
“If you decide to go for a walk in the woods once the temperatures thaw, you should remain vigilant in your pest protection efforts to guard against tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease,” said Fredericks.
If you spend time outdoors, the NPMA recommends wearing long pants and sleeves if possible, and an insect repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET. Avoid wearing fragrant perfumes and choosing light colored clothing to help identify ticks. Before going indoors, thoroughly inspect clothes, skin, and pets for ticks and remove them promptly to limit exposure to tick-borne diseases.
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To limit pest encounters, the organization suggests removing stagnant water sources in and around the home. This includes securing leaky pipes and clogged drains, as well as sealing entry points such as cracks or gaps where plumbing and utility lines enter the structure. Make sure all gutters and downspouts are clear of debris as the water retention provides ideal conditions for pests to breed.
Keep food in airtight containers to prevent pests such as rodents from entering and dispose of the trash regularly. Clean up crumbs and spills, and vacuum frequently to remove attractive food sources.
For more information on NPMA’s list of vector sectors or information on proper pest prevention, please visit PestWorld.org.