With a relatively pleasant spring following a mild winter, Calgary is set for an explosive growth in pests, especially of the insect variety. Mirage Landscaping of Calgary, your full-service residential and commercial landscaping firm, has offered advice on dealing with every manner of backyard pest in previous articles, so we thought we would offer a compilation for the summer of 2015.
Though not nearly as immediately scary as wasps, hornets, or bees, despite killing millions of more people throughout history, mosquitoes are the pest we are most consulted about. From the annoying bites – and our itchy reactions to them – to their whiny buzzing, to their propensity for hovering close and then flying into your ears, nose, or mouth, the common mosquito is the insect we most deal with as landscapers.
Effective mosquito control relies upon using complimentary strategies. The first one is to strictly limit the amount of stagnant water within, and near to, your property lines. Any place where there is even a thimbleful of standing water is a potential breeding site for untold thousands of mosquito larvae. If you have any sources of stagnant water on your property you are advised to eliminate them. If you have a water feature or birdbath that either doesn’t feature flowing water, or does regularly require a change-out, you need to maintain these items or make the water uninhabitable for the aquatic mosquito larvae.
Even if you don’t have obvious standing water on your property, you may still be inadvertently providing a mosquito breeding ground through your watering routine and/or your landscape maintenance frequency. Lawns with longer grass, or with heavy thatch undergrowth, can retain water sufficient for the female mosquito to lay eggs.
Also, watering in the early morning is preferable for controlling mosquitoes than is watering at night. Overnight watering results in moisture being retained in the grass for longer than a daytime watering provides.
Wasps, hornets and bees aren’t necessarily pests, as they are pollinators of varying success, but if they live in your yard they need to be removed sooner than later. Remember that wasps and hornets will as readily build a ground nest as they will one suspended from a tree or your eaves.
To eliminate stinging threats it is essential to locate the nest through careful observation. Before approaching any nest belonging to stinging insects, cover as much of your normally exposed skin as possible.
For tackling smaller hornet and wasp nests, the distance shooting sprays you can buy at DYI stores work adequately. If the nest is underground, you can either bury it with dirt or cover all suspected entry points with small bowls. To prevent wasps and hornets from coming back, make sure your garbage and composting areas aren’t an attractant.
Bees are a special case. As they are totally beneficial, you may want to investigate having them professionally removed by a local beekeeper, who will already have the equipment and expertise to give the hive a change of scenery.
If you see ants in your flowers or garden, the best advice is to leave them be unless they are wrangling aphids. Ants are difficult to eradicate and if they aren’t entering your house or getting all over your outdoor entertaining area, they usually aren’t a pressing problem.
Ants are very competitive with other, less beneficial, insect life. Their nests aerate the soil, and ants deprive more pest like creatures, such as beetles, of local resources that would allow them to thrive.
If the ants have to go, the basic decision is whether to try to kill them off or to drive them away. Baiting ants with an ingestible poison is the classic way of killing them as it makes the ants destroy their own colony via their food chain. Worker ants bring solid food and drops of water to larvae, who can use these resources. In return, the larva makes secretions that the worker ants live on. Baiting destroys this system by killing the larvae.
Organic methods for driving away ants include pouring boiling water into the nest, or introducing a soap and water solution. These strategies usually cannot destroy the entire nest and are more aimed at aggravating the ants into moving on.
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