5 Common Pests in the Southeast

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Written by Carlee Linden | Last Updated December 2nd, 2019
Carlee Linden is a Content Management Strategist for Best Company. Having majored in Writing Studies, Carlee spends her time refurbishing furniture, watching Netflix, and dreaming of vacationing in Australia.

While you're thinking of vacationing on Florida's beaches or moving to the quiet and dreamy town of Charleston, you should know that you're not the only one who enjoys the sunshine-filled days and warm summer nights.

The long stretches of warm weather and steady warmer winter temperatures in the Southeastern United States creates the perfect home for several pests. According to Marin Asher of Larue Pest Management, Inc., “The southeast is generally warm and humid for much of the year, creating an ideal environment for almost any pest. For roaches and termites, the ground stays at a comfortable temperature, especially the further South you go, allowing them to survive winter nights. Termites and mosquitoes benefit from humidity and high rainfall in much of the southeast. Termites thrive in damp wood, and mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, which can be easily found in our region."

Southern House Mosquito

Mosquito

As their name suggests, the Southern House Mosquito prefers to live in a sub-tropical region, although, they are often found in regions with a temperate climate — where they breed in the summers and hibernate in the winters.

If you live in the southeast, you've probably come across the Southern House Mosquito. The females are active night feeders and will feed on humans, birds, and other animals, while males only consume sugar meals from plants.

Female Southern House Mosquitoes lay their eggs in nutrient-rich stagnant water. Homeowners will often find mosquitoes in their birdbaths, unused plant pots, gutters, and other containers where water pools. A female will lay around 100 eggs, which will hatch about 24-30 hours after they are laid.

Whether you enjoy a night out on the town or an evening barbeque, these pesky insects are the ultimate party crashers. If you want to keep the mosquitoes to a minimum, start mosquito-proofing your property while the weather is still cool.

  • Eliminate areas that will collect water
    • Empty and refill birdbaths weekly
    • Drill a hole in the bottom of a tire swing
    • Clean out pet water bowls
  • Clean out the gutters
  • Repair window screens
  • Repair cracks in your home's foundation
  • Add fish or agitators to ponds or water features to prevent stagnant water

Subterranean Termites

Termites

The Eastern Subterranean Termite is the most common termite found in North America and in 2016 was responsible for about 80 percent of the $2.2 billion spent annually on termite control (in the United States).

Subterranean Termites live in colonies that can contain 100,000 to 1 million termites and they will forage up to 150 feet in search of food.

Most homeowners aren’t even aware that they have a termite infestation due to the insect’s enigmatic nature. Subterranean termites form an underground tunnel system, referred to as “mud tubes,” that reside just beneath or above the soil and enter homes through cracks in the foundation. These mud tubes are covered highways termites use to travel in the open; they can't go through obstacles, so they build a way over or around them.

Termites eat cellulose — the main structural component of a plant cell — meaning any wood material is a potential food source. Termites rarely reveal themselves and infestations often go unnoticed until it's too late. Homeowners can check to see if their home is infested by looking for peeling or blistered wood. Homeowners can also check for termites by taking a screwdriver and a flashlight and checking for holes and weak spots in the wood.

Termites infestations are subtle but over time can end up costing homeowners thousands. Here are a few ways you can help prevent termites from entering your home.

  • Seal any cracks in the foundation
  • Monitor wooded areas of the home (door frames, windows, skirting boards, etc.)
  • Reduce moisture in and around the home
  • Store firewood away from the home

Asian Cockroach

Cockroach

Originating from Japan, the Asian Cockroach was believed to have been brought to the United States in the late 1980s. Making its first appearance in Florida, the cockroach has spread throughout the Southeastern United States.

The Asian Cockroach prefers areas that are moist and covered by shade. However, they will travel in search of food. As with other roaches, the Asian Cockroach is capable of eating just about anything, including crops, pet food, and waste matter.

These pests are active in the evenings and are attracted to bright lights and colors. Unfortunately for homeowners, having the lights on is extremely inviting and they will fly into homes through open windows and doors. Many homeowners mistake the cockroaches attraction to light for aggression and for a long time it was believed that this species attacked people. However, the Asian Cockroach is not aggressive and is merely attracted to lighted areas.

Although the Asian Cockroach prefers to live outside, your home often provides the three things these unwanted insects need to survive: shelter (with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in), food (leftover crumbs from sugary meals are their favorite, although just about anything will do), and water (a constant water supply allows cockroaches to survive for months with no food).

Homeowners can help prevent cockroach infestations by implementing these strategies.

  • Deep clean the home, focusing on areas that are likely to have leftover crumbs or spilled foods (behind the stove or fridge)
  • Fill in any cracks around the home, especially near water sources
  • Install screens on your doors and windows
  • Remove mulch and plant debris on your property

Lone Star Tick

Tick

While you might expect the Lone Star Tick to be a resident of Texas, this arachnid only affects two-thirds of the state. The Lone Star Tick gets its name from the single white spot located on the females back. The male ticks have spots or streaks around their body, but those are difficult to see with the naked eye. 

While the geography of the Lone Star Tick isn’t secluded to the southeast — many times they can be found as far north as Northeastern Nebraska and as far east as Eastern Maine — it is most common in the South.

Homeowners can expect to see an increase in Lone Star Ticks from April to the end of July. According to PestWorld, the larvae need a relative humidity of greater than 65 percent to survive, at least until they can find a suitable host.

Only a few millimeters across, it can be difficult to spot a Lone Star Tick. The CDC revealed that a Lone Star Tick when fully engorged is around the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny.

The Lone Star Tick is more aggressive than other species and is known to travel a great distance to find a host. This type of tick usually makes contact with people and pets by crawling onto vegetation and waiting for its host to brush the plant.

Lone Star Ticks are known to transmit several diseases. Most recently it was discovered that a bite from a Lone Star Tick caused people to develop a red meat allergy, and in some cases an allergic reaction to dairy products.

To prevent a Lone Star Tick bite, hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts should follow expert advice:

  • Take a shower immediately after being outdoors
  • Put clothes in the dryer on high heat
  • Avoid tall grassy areas
  • Remove the tick as soon as you find it (don’t wait for the tick to detach)
  • Consult a doctor if any of the following symptoms present themselves
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Aches
    • Chills
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Fatigue
    • Joint pain
    • Loss of appetite
    • Rash
    • Cough
    • Confusion

Acrobat Ants

Ant

The Acrobat Ants are often recognized by their unique response to being disturbed. Instead of quick, unpredictable movements like the Crazy Ant, the Acrobat Ant lifts its abdomen above its head (much like a scorpion).

Acrobat Ants are light brown or black and are fairly small. Their bodies are segmented and their abdomen is heart shaped. The Acrobat Ant has a stinger, is known to be aggressive, and will attack when provoked.

Homeowners will find Acrobat Ants under rocks, in rotting logs, and under firewood piles. If they do infest a home, they can be found in damp areas such as in the foam sheathing behind the siding.

While Acrobat Ants aren’t usually found indoors, they will travel up to 100 feet away from their nest in search for food. When they do enter a home, they prefer to eat sweet foods and meat, so it’s essential to seal sugary foods.

To prevent an Acrobat Ant infestation, homeowners will need to do the following:

  • Keep sugary foods and meats in tightly sealed containers
  • Seal cracks around pipes, windows, and doors.
  • Eliminate stagnant water and divert water away (as these pests rely heavily on moisture to survive)
  • Trim trees and shrubbery so they are not touching the home
  • Remove dead tree stumps
  • Check attic vents

Summertime is great for spending time with family, friends, and pets. Don’t let a few pesky insects and arachnids ruin the warmer weather for you. Do some research and find a pest control company that will take care of all your bug problems.

*The United States Geological Survey deems the following nine states as a part of the Southeast region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, although a few other organizations will include Arkansas, Delaware, and Maryland.

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