As summer approaches, Erek Gonzalez, a local pest control service manager at Reliant Pest Management Houston said technicians at the company are expecting to handle at least 16-17 jobs a day – compared to the 10 or 11 they had during the winter months.
This rise in demand for exterminator services is due to the increase of insect populations that occurs as the weather gets warmer. Higher temperatures combined with moisture that comes from rainfall, creates the perfect breeding ground for these pests, according to Molly Keck, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist.
“Most insects in general are doing really well this year, and will continue to do so,” Keck said. “I suspect we’re going to see a lot more, because we’ve had fairly cooler temperatures in the spring, it hasn’t heated up so hot and we’ve had a lot of rain.”
Gonzalez said insects that thrive in these conditions in Houston include mosquitoes which are all around, cockroaches and termites usually found in residential areas and millipedes that are often a problem on job sites or developments.
“Because the city is expanding, new subdivisions and suburbs are always popping up everywhere,” he said. “So, a year before a space might have been a forest that was full of activity for bugs and if you bulldoze it over, those eggs are still in the ground and then they hatch when the season comes back around.”
Although Keck has not received many calls from concerned pet owners yet, she said fleas are also a pest people can expect to find on their dogs and cats in more of the mid-to-late summer months, "Maybe you’re spending more time outside your home going to parks and different places where your pets might be picking them up,” she said.
According to Keck, in urban residential areas insects are mainly coming into houses as a way to shelter and get away from the warmer temperatures outside. Although residents may think their houses are sealed up tight, even the largest of insects can get into a tiny crack or crevice that a quarter could slip through.
“When it gets hot outside, they’re (the insects) just like us, they’re looking for moisture and they’re looking for cooler temperatures; they can usually get in through the garage door and into the house,” she said.
Homeowners should look for wet spots in their laundry rooms and kitchens or any water damage around their house as these will attract the pests looking for water. Insects – particularly cockroaches – will also go inside residences to find food sources, like trash cans or other containers and spaces where it is typically stored, Keck said
Erek Gonzalez said termites in particular collect in areas of houses where there is damp wood or water damage.
Photo by Reliant Pest Management Houston
Gonzalez said if insects are detected on a property – whether residential or commercial – he first suggests seeing if there is anything about the environment such as finding a crack in the foundation or moving something that would detract the pests from staying.
Especially if the resident is in an apartment complex or duplex because any chemical spray used will result in drift – droplets of the mixture that are either suspended or spread throughout the air – that is difficult to control where it goes.
If this does not work, bait applications can be used in smaller spaces when handling certain insects, such as cockroaches.
At a house, exterminators or pest control specialists can spray the chemicals that make the pests go away; however, these treatments are generally more expensive. They tend to cost an average of $250, but are often the most effective method, according to Reliant Pest Management.
Gonzalez advises those who may want to avoid the costs of the treatment by doing it themselves, to first ask an expert for approval of their plan. Putting too much of any chemical could create a resistance in the insects that may survive it.
And if the problem appears serious enough, to leave it in the hands of a professional – as most are at least able to provide advice and guidance during a consultation, at a cheaper cost.