The Seasons and Their Common Pests
While many pests thrive year round in Southern California’s warm climate, spring time is the most common time of year for all pests and infestations because typically higher moisture levels and warming temperatures support their habitats, making spring the time of year when most species reproduce the fastest.
Like plant life, many pests die off in autumn as winter sets in, but not before many of them lay their eggs in a safe place to incubate until spring time. As a general rule, most pests are most problematic in spring time and least problematic in late fall and winter.
When pests take refuge indoors, they can survive all seasons and reproduce year round. In SoCal where winter conditions stay warm enough, many pests can be a year-round problem both indoors and out. Here’s a breakdown of the pests you can expect to find seasonally, keeping in mind that they’re all a problem in spring.
Ants. Ants are most often seen around the home in springtime, but they are present on your property year round. During the winter months, ants retreat to their nests to lay their eggs in higher quantities. The highest number of eggs hatch in spring. Winter is the time to stop ants, before their eggs hatch and they become a problem. If you have ants around your home each spring, you can count on it happening again next year too, so take the winter months to exterminate them.
Cockroaches. Cockroaches are attracted to water and rotting food, so in nature they thrive in spring when it’s wet and fall when organic matter is decaying. In our SoCal homes they appear any time of year that they can find damp, dark conditions and decaying matter to feed on. Keeping your kitchen sparkling clean is one way to curb roaches, but it’s not always realistic. Roaches resist many common chemicals and poisons and usually require professional extermination.
Earwigs. Like roaches, you’ll find earwigs in the Southern California region throughout the year, as long as they can find a damp place to hide. They thrive in spring the most, however, when their eggs hatch and there’s plenty of moisture. Earwigs are harmless, but most people don’t like finding them inside or outside the home.
Indoors, limit moisture, keep items like wet towels off the bathroom floor, and keep your bathrooms well ventilated. If you find earwigs outdoors—they like to hide under logs and rocks in shady areas—try transferring them to your garden where you may have seen another common springtime pest that they like to feed on: aphids.
Wasps. Wasps begin building new colonies in spring when a single female or queen is able to fertilize hundreds of eggs using sperm from males that she stored inside her body over the winter. Each queen usually constructs a small paper nest to house her young initially, but the colony takes over once summer hits and they begin building the nest at a much faster rate.
Mid-summer is the time when most homeowners notice one or more wasps nests around their home’s exterior. Wasp colonies that aren’t destroyed or relocated will produce new queens that will hibernate in the area over the winter and begin new colonies the following spring. Once you have wasps’ nests around your house, you can expect to see more each year.
Termites. Termites build their nests underground, inside trees, and in mounds, so their nests can be difficult to find. The most common place they build their nests in residential areas is inside tree stumps, so make sure all stumps are removed from your property, starting with those closest to your home.
Termites are flying creatures until they shed their wings after mating in late summer. Look for their wings, in addition to piles of “sawdust” around your home’s exterior walls, as signs of a termite infestation.
Rodents. Rodents aren’t typically as much of a problem in homes during summer as they can be in fall when they begin moving indoors to seek shelter and start a nest for winter. Rodents are often nocturnal animals that remain well hidden, but if you have them in your home you’ll see their droppings in the mornings and hear them inside walls at night. Rodents spread disease, reproduce quickly and require a special kind of extermination because they have to be removed from the premises, dead or alive.
Fleas, ticks, crickets, and spiders: While all these common San Diego pests are abundant during summer, you may find them seeking refuge in your home over the winter when they need heat and shelter to survive. These pests don’t usually become a problem unless they begin reproducing indoors, which can be challenging if they can’t find a mate.
Fleas can survive the winter living on the warm bodies of your furry friends, but a flea collar or regular flea treatment will keep them at bay. Adult ticks can survive for a year without food, so if you find one of these nasty pests indoors, send him to the sewer. If you see crickets or spiders in your home during winter, it’s best to simply relocate them outdoors before they reproduce.
Photo Credit: Thomas Ripplinger