Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Expected Pest Trends for 2011

A Happy New Year to you all.

2011 has started with warm and moist weather which encourages breeding of insects and spiders. January and February are usually the peak time of the year for problems with pest insects and spiders both in the home and garden.

I am able to monitor searches on the Internet and visits to the Kiwicare website along with the sale of all Kiwicare products both to our retailers and off the retail shelves. This information along with long term weather predictions and historical trends provides me with information that I use to predict trends in pest abundance in New Zealand.

Here are my major predictions for 2011:
  • Cockroaches - Warm damp weather is ideal for cockroach survival and breeding. I expect a greater than usual problem from pest cockroaches particularly in the North Island.
  • Ants - High temperatures make ants more active but heavy rainfall can have the effect of drowning nests. Ants such as Argentine Ants and Darwin Ants are continuing to spread across the country. Over the next two months I expect to see increased problems with ants in the hot parts of the country except where flooding occurs. There will also be many more parts of towns where ants are a problem where they have not been before.
  • Spiders - You may already have noticed more spiders and spider webbing around your home, garden and car. Increased insect activity provides more food for spiders in general and more spiders means more food for White Tail Spiders. I expect to see a boom and bust of White Tail and other spiders.
  • Bed Bugs - The steady rise of bed bug problems around New Zealand will continue, but increased awareness of the problem and new solutions such as NO Bed Bugs Total Solution Box and luggage protector will help to reduce the spread.
  • Cluster Flies - Cluster flies began clustering in homes and other buildings early last year (early March), I expect a long summer this year and clustering to not begin until mid-April.
  • Aphids - Aphids such as greenfly have already had their peak. They prefer new spring growth to feed on but the higher levels of soil moisture encourage some plants to continue new sprouting. The aphid boom we have already had has encouraged beneficial insects such as ladybugs that feed on aphids. These will help to keep aphids under control for the rest of the summer.
  • Fleas - Fleas love warm damp weather and there has already been an early spike in flea numbers. I predict fleas to be a big problem for pets and pet owners building up to a peak in February. Be pro-active; treat your pet and your pet's sleeping area now; they will thank you for it.
  • Borer - This is the middle of the borer flight season and is the time to treat inaccessible areas such as roof voids and sub-floors with Borafume fumigators to knock out adult beetles before they can lay eggs in your wood. I expect this to be a normal borer year but remember borer damage is cumulative, each year makes borer affected wood weaker.
  • Wasps - Wasps build up numbers through the summer months. When colonies are small they do not cause much concern, but later in the year when colonies may have several thousand wasps each, they can be the plague of gardens and homes. Wasp numbers tend to cycle through the years and last year was not particularly bad. In rural areas where honey dew is available from the scale insects on native beech was numbers can explode in a short period. Heavy rain tends to wash the honey dew away so in areas where rain is frequent it may serve to keep wasp numbers relatively low. On the other hand the warm weather encourages both insects on which wasps feed and wasp activity. I expect wasps to be a major problem where rainfall is low.
  • Rodents - If we get a long summer and mild autumn the seasonal influx of rats and mice into our homes and other buildings searching for food and shelter will be late (perhaps not until early April) but it is likely to be a sizable invasion following  a longer than usual breeding season and bumper seed and fruit availability in autumn to keep numbers high.
  • New pests - Although New Zealand has tight controls to prevent the entry of organisms that would be pests here, no system is perfect and it is likely that some new pests of significant nuisance and/or economic importance will find their way in. Red Imported Fire Ants have been found several times in NZ but have on each occasion so far been identified rapidly and eliminated. Similar pro-activity is required for the protection from new pests of all sorts. If you see something that you have not before, contact MAF Biosecurity or Kiwicare for help in identifying the pest.
Have a great 2011 and stay vigilant and free from pests.

Two guys were discussing trends on sex, marriage, and values.
Dave said "I didn't sleep with my wife before we got married, did you?"
Pete replied, "I don't know, what was her maiden name?"

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