The Bugs of Summer
A long-term drought shakes up the insect world, here’s how to deal with it.
By Richard “Bugman” Fagerlund
CC by Hamed Saber
We are having a serious drought in New Mexico, and it isn't going away anytime soon. This excessive dry weather is going to affect a lot of the animals and insects in the mountains and deserts. Right now grasshoppers are showing up in large numbers in the far Northeast Heights of Albuquerque and on the Westside. Because of the dry weather, most of their normal food is not growing or is drying out, and they haven't got the food they need. Insects also need water, so they are attracted to urban areas because we irrigate. Consequently, grasshoppers and many other insects are moving into our living areas. Most of these insects are not pests and will have no impact on our lives. Other animals will probably show up more often as well.
However, we can't be entirely unconcerned. Subterranean termites, which are already found all over the urban area, are going to be more attracted to homes, particularly homes on slabs. When you turn a rock over, the ground is damp. It is also damp under the slabs of homes. In normal weather, termites can be anywhere in a yard, but when it is so dry, they will move their colonies to damper areas, including under homes. Then the workers will go out looking for cellulose (wood) to eat. If they are under a house, they may come up through expansion joints between the slab and the foundation, or a crack in the slab or where pipes penetrate. So what do you do? My suggestion is, because of the drought, if you are in an area that has high termite activity normally, then you should consider getting your home treated now as termites are very likely present under your slab. One reason is it would be cheaper now then it will be in five or six years. Also, if you are buying a home in a high termite area, you may want to insist that the home is treated for termites before you buy it, even if there is no visible evidence at the time of sale. In a situation like this, maybe the buyer and seller could split the cost.
Is there any good news with the drought as far as bugs go? Yes, a little. Carpenter ants won't be doing much damage in homes, if any at all. They require moist wood to chew into, and they are major pests in the Pacific Northwest, the upper middle states and the New England area. These areas are more humid, and carpenter ants require some humidity to damage wood. They can do some damage if there are plumbing problems in walls, but the damage they do in New Mexico is minimal compared to other parts of the country. With the drought and severe dry conditions, it will be less likely they will do any damage at all.
However, we can't be entirely unconcerned. Subterranean termites, which are already found all over the urban area, are going to be more attracted to homes, particularly homes on slabs.
You will see more cockroaches and other pests as they need water, and if they can't find adequate moisture outside, they will come in your home looking for it. There is no need to spray pesticides all over the place for cockroaches. You can use Niban Bait, which is made from boric acid, inside your home and outside, and it will effectively control roaches without killing a lot of beneficial insects or hurting dogs or cats. You can get Niban online at pestcontrolsupplies.com.
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