The arrival of fall brings several changes with it. Kids head back to school, mild September days give way to cool evenings, and of course, football season begins.
As I was enjoying the first weekend of football with friends last Sunday, we left the patio door open to at least create the illusion that we were enjoying the beautiful weather outside while glued to the TV. That lead to several unexpected guests joining us. Throughout the course of the afternoon, at least 10 stinging insects made their way inside to our spread of food and sweet drinks. There was no doubt that the pests were out in full force.
So why exactly are stinging insects so active and seemingly more aggressive later in the year when they have been around throughout the summer?
The answer is actually quite simple. As queens stop laying eggs and their nests decline; stinging insects become more interested in our (human) food. Collecting sweets and carbohydrates becomes important for survival of the queen through the winter months. Unsurprisingly, some pests can become aggressive around humans as they gather whatever they can. With populations that could potentially be in the thousands, stinging insect colonies have no shortage of workers to collect for the queen.
The best way to protect yourself from the increase in stinging insect activity is to take measures to not attract them at all. Don’t leave food or drinks sitting out and be sure to clean up immediately. It’s best to have a garbage container with a lid to keep the stinging insects away. If a pest is getting to close for comfort, wait for it to fly away or slowly move away. Swatting at it will only make matters worse.
Back-to-school shopping is a rite of passage for students and their parents. The depression of summer’s end is quickly offset by the excitement of new clothes, notebooks, pens and art supplies. Whether you’re preparing to send your son or daughter off to their first day of kindergarten or move them into their first dorm room, bed bug prevention should be part of your back to school preparations.
An already notorious pest in hotels, bed bug infestations are on the rise in many types of dwellings, including school and college settings. 47% of respondents to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky had treated for bed bugs in college dorms and 41% had reported bed bug infestations in schools and daycare centers.
There is no need to panic, though. Batzner recommends the following tips for students in grades K-12 to avoid bringing bed bugs home:
Parents should regularly inspect their children’s belongings for hitchhiking bed bugs
If the school has reported an infestation, consider housing all related items in a sealed plastic bin
Wash and dry cloth items returning from school in hot temperatures
Ask school administrators whether they have bed bug detection and elimination plans
College students should also take precautionary steps to protect against bed bugs, especially those living in dormitories:
Fully inspect suitcases prior to re-packing for a return to school, especially after any summer trips
Before putting sheets on the dormitory bed, inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners and box springs for telltale stains or spots
Thoroughly inspect the entire dorm room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas and chairs
Inspect any secondhand furniture for bed bugs before bringing it into dorm rooms or off-campus housing