In the last two years, normal life has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s one thing that’s not going away anytime soon: rodents. Get ready for the year of the rodent.
Entomologists share their predictions for 2022 to help defend homes and businesses against infestation.
- Rodents are thriving
For the second year in a row, rodents will be on the rise across the country. From rats to mice and many species in between, rodents are resourceful and have found ways to survive even the harshest of conditions. During the shutdown, rodents took residency in empty buildings and have continued to reproduce across the country.
“Mice and rats are still kings,” said Entomologist Godfrey Nalyanya. “We’re seeing a large increase in both mice and rats, and the populations are increasing as buildings remain empty. The rodents are forced to look for food, and there have been many more sightings.”
Several other factors will allow the rodent population to continue to boom including warm winters, which allow for a longer breeding season. Wildfires and flooding also force rodents – as well as other wildlife – to find new homes. Increased construction also drives rodents into new areas, including homes.
“It’s a great opportunity to rodent-proof your home,” said Nalyanya. “Repair any gaps on the exterior of the home, like around windows, pipes and doors. Rodents can squeeze through small holes as they are looking for somewhere warm and with food.”
- Bed Bugs will be hitchhiking
As travel ramps up post-pandemic, there is one thing that is guaranteed: Bed bugs will rear their ugly head across the country.
“It’s no surprise that as people begin to travel again, bed bugs will be a hot topic of conversation,” said Entomologist Eric Sebring. “Bed bugs can survive months without a blood meal, and as people are entering hotels and public transportation again, these pests are hungry and will be much more active.”
With the labor shortage around the country, many hotels are providing less-frequent cleaning of rooms. Bed bugs can often be missed in these cleanings and can hitchhike, traveling via luggage, clothing or personal belongings.
Homeowners and businesses such as hotels, colleges, hospitals, senior living facilities, retail stores and libraries have experienced problems with bed bugs as well.
“When traveling, inspect the bed by pulling back the sheets to examine the mattress,” said Sebring. “Check the luggage before packing and unpacking, and look for signs of living or dead bugs the size of an apple seed or black fecal smears.”
- Protect yourself and your pets from pests
Pests don’t just target humans, they can also cause issues with pets. As the warmer weather drives people to spend more time outside, these pest pressures can cause annoyance and many health issues.
Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are on the rise across the country, carrying illnesses such as West Nile, eastern equine encephalitis, and yes, even heartworm in pets.
“Mosquito populations are increasing, in part due to the changes in weather,” said Entomologist Jim Brixius. “With rain, flooding and mild winters, we’re seeing mosquitoes have the opportunity to reproduce year-round and migrate toward new areas.”
Protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes by removing any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one teaspoon of water. Also, wear EPA-approved insect repellent while spending time outside. Treating your yard with a mosquito treatment is also a good way to protect pets and your family.
Ticks: With the anticipation of a warmer winter across the country, and people spending more time outdoors, it’s important to be vigilant about ticks. Ticks are responsible for transmitting several diseases, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, to humans and pets.
“Ticks are small and often hard to detect,” said Entomologist Oleg Latyshev. “The milder winter can allow for longer reproduction periods, which leads to more ticks. These small insects are found in grassy areas and in the woods, so it is important to inspect yourself and your pets after spending time outdoors.”
Cover as much skin as possible while outdoors, wear long pants, long sleeves, closed-toed shoes, and tuck pant legs into socks. Light-colored clothing will also help any ticks you pick up stand out. Consider mosquito and tick service for lawns to safeguard around the home.
- Safeguard your home from termites
Another year, another reminder that termites are probably lurking in your neighborhood. Unfortunately in 2022, termites aren’t going anywhere.
“With a milder climate and heavy rains, termites have the opportunity to spread,” said Sebring. “We are seeing issues earlier in the year, and I don’t see termites slowing down any time soon.”
Termites feed 24 hours a day and cause nearly $5 billion in property damage each year. Most home insurance policies do not cover damage done by termites, so it’s important to safeguard homes and businesses to control and prevent future infestations with professional treatments.
- Newsworthy Pests
We’ll be hearing more about these pests in 2022 – and for years to come:
If you hate Large Cockroaches, be prepared. “We’re going to see larger species of cockroaches because of the mild climate,” said Sebring. “With a wetter climate as well, cockroach populations will intensify.”
Cockroaches can transmit diseases indirectly by contaminating food or surfaces and can trigger asthma and allergies.
The best way to prevent cockroaches: clean up food and beverage spills, don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight and make sure that any leaks, such as under the sink, are fixed.
If you haven’t heard about the Spotted Lanternfly, buckle up. This invasive pest will continue to spread throughout the Northeast and parts of the Midwest and Southeast. Originally found in Pennsylvania in 2014, the pest can cause significant damage to trees and plants.
“The Spotted Lanternfly is going to continue to spread across the country, especially as the supply chain picks back up,” said Nalyanya. “As it once was confined just in Pennsylvania, we’re seeing more sightings further south and west. It’s vital to search for signs of the pest as it can be devastating for agriculture and a pain for homeowners.”
The egg masses look like a smear of mud on trees and outside of homes. It’s important to scrape the egg mass off, put it in a bag with rubbing alcohol and throw it away, and then call the state department of agriculture.
The “Murder Hornet” is sticking around in the headlines. Also known as the Asian giant hornet, the largest hornet species in the World has been causing anxiety with homeowners for a few years.
“There have been a few nests found in Washington State,” said Sebring. “Where there is one, there will be more.”
The chances of being stung by the Murder Hornet are low, however, the sting can be dangerous as the venom volume is high, causing more pain. Hives are primarily built underground or in hollows in trees. If you suspect it is an Asian giant hornet or any stinging pests, call your pest management provider to assess the situation as soon as you spot activity.