After record-breaking rainfall last spring and summer, along with hurricanes Alberto, Florence and Michael pummeling the southeast with unprecedented amounts of water and lingering moisture, The National Pest Management Association's biannual Bug Barometer® is predicting a spike in "major pest populations in the Lower 48 this fall and winter," according to weather.com. A seasonal forecast that measures pest pressure and activity the US can expect to encounter in different regions of the country, the Bug Barometer® is based on several factors:
- Weather patterns
- Long-term weather predictions
- Biological behavior of pests
More moisture-loving pest activity expected
According to entomologists at the National Pest Management Association, a wetter than normal spring, summer and fall, in addition to erratic weather patterns, will likely result in increased pest pressure across the continental United States. "With most of the country still damp from summer and fall, and winter forecasts predicting even more precipitation, said chief entomologist," Dr. Jim Fredericks, "expect an increase in activity from moisture-loving pests such as mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches, stink bugs and rodents." Fredericks went on to say the drought in the Southwest may cause an increase in rodent activity, as well. "Rodent populations will become public enemy number one as they seek shelter indoors and are in search of steady sources of food and water," Fredericks said.
NOAA ‘s 2018-2019 Winter Outlook
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Winter Outlook predicts a mild winter this December through February, also indicating a "wetter-than-average" season in the mid-Atlantic states and across southern states, with above-average precipitation in southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Drier than average conditions will likely prevail in the north and western parts of the country. A round-up by region could look like this:
- The Northeast - A wet and hot summer followed by a wetter winter could cause ticks to stay active longer. Stink bugs and lady beetles may thrive in the wetter conditions and rodents will try to move indoors as temps drop.
- The Southeast - Inundated by flooding caused by three hurricanes and a wetter than usual summer and fall, mosquitoes will increase in numbers and varieties. Excess moisture is also predicted to prolong termite and ant activity.
- The Midwest and the Great Lakes - After summer flash floods and a warm and wet winter, northern parts will contend with mosquito populations flourishing in the fall, while the southern, drier areas will battle ants coming indoors in search of food and water.
- South Central - Excessive rainfall in parts of Texas should result in increased mosquito activity in the fall, while the drought in parts of the region over the summer will see increased numbers of rodents and ants heading indoors for water and food this fall and winter.
- North Central - Increased cockroach and ant activity likely in northern parts after flooding in summer and a wet winter, with more rodents expected to seek shelter indoors for winter.
El Nino and Arctic Oscillation
Driving the long-term outlook, NOAA points to the "70 to 75 percent chance" of El Niño developing. An ocean-atmosphere pattern caused by warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, El Nino typically means a wetter-than-average winter in the "southern US states and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the North," NOAA's outlook says. While the US may experience a weak El Niño this winter, other factors may come into play that will affect our winter weather. Arctic Oscillation, a weather pattern that can shift the jet stream further south during its negative mode and further north during its positive mode can make a difference in the amount of wintry precipitation the Midwest and eastern states see during the winter. NOAA says that "Arctic Oscillation influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the southern US and could result in below-average temps in the eastern part of the US."
Meanwhile, in South Florida
In South Florida, due to the expected weakness of this winter's anticipated El Niño event, the probability of a wetter than normal winter is predicted to be less than 50 percent. This is good news for South Florida residents, who are no strangers to mosquitoes, termites, and ants. To get ready for increased mosquito activity, diligently apply insect repellent with DEET and wear appropriate clothing when outside, especially in the evening and early morning hours. If you can, avoid extensive outdoor activities during these times, as well. On your property, eliminating standing water and replacing or repairing all window and door screens can also help ward off mosquitoes. With vector-borne disease diagnoses on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control, South Florida residents should take precautions against mosquitoes and ticks.
Termites, rodents, and ants
If it seems like you are in a constant war with termites and ants in South Florida, it's because you are. These guys just love South Florida living. Ants often invade homes looking for higher ground after heavy rains and searing heat. Reproductive Termites swarm after rains in the spring so warm, wet winter weather may encourage the formation of new colonies, earlier than usual. Damp and water damaged woods are always an open invitation to termites to come on in and feast on the wood in your home. Rodents come indoors to get out of the rain and cooler temps.
Contact a professional, such as Hulett
Your South Florida home needs the protection of a qualified pest control professional. Hulett's Healthy Home program creates an extermination barrier around your home and property using targeted environmentally responsible techniques and materials, with our customized, IPM approach to pest prevention. Trust your home health to Hulett. Locally owned and operated, Hulett has weathered over 50 "winters" in the battle against persistent pests in South Florida, just call Hulett!