It’s a bug’s life

Insect population thriving in Pettis County

By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]

It’s summer, the time when multitudes of visitors descend on the State Fair City, only these are the visitors that are not welcome in any home or venue in Sedalia.

These visitors are the ones that are out at night and even during the day wreaking havoc and ruining many a family barbecue, picnic or even a peaceful nap; they are the flying-winged variety or eight-legged creatures who just don’t know when to leave or not come at all.

“The insect world is alive and doing fine,” said John Atkinson, manager at Son Equity Pest Management. “Because of the mild winter last year and the conditions this spring we’ve been seeing an increase in the number of calls we’ve been receiving on a wide variety of insects and bugs.”

Atkinson said that while most of the nation and world is focused on the mosquito population because of the Zika virus, Son Equity has not received many calls from area customers with concerns about mosquitoes.

“Although the mosquitoes in our state are capable of carrying the virus I know of no reported cases in our part of the state,” Atkinson said. “I think the concerns are greater in the southern part of the state and the United States in general.

“While it is something people need to be aware of and be thinking about, individuals can do a lot to control mosquitoes and prevent the insects from biting,” he added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control website, there are only four confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Missouri and all four have been acquired through travel by the infected individuals.

Atkinson recommended that individuals police their property and flush and clean bird baths and wading pools that do not have a filter at least once a week.

“Mosquitoes are drawn to standing water and anything such as water features in a yard or a child’s pool that doesn’t have filters can harbor the insects and their eggs (larvae), “ Atkinson said. “Gutters that are not cleared can also pose problems as can things like old tires and even tin cans that may be left outside and can collect water after a rain can be breeding areas and should be looked after.

“Mosquitoes like to rest in denser foliage so we recommend spraying shrubs and ornamentals to help control them and citronella candles are a big help too,” he added. “The mosquitoes in our area are most active at dusk and sunrise so those are the times to take extra precautions.”

Insect repellents are one of the first things Atkinson recommends individuals to do to prevent bites. Wearing long sleeves and long pants can help prevent mosquitoes from biting but can also help prevent other insects from using humans as a food source.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls on ticks,” Atkinson said. “The mild winter has meant a higher survival rate of all insects in general and ticks are no exception.

“If you are out in wooded areas, try to walk in the center of the trails away from the more dense areas,” he said. “It’s important to check yourself daily or after each time you’re out in those areas ticks thrive to see if you have any on you, and if so try to save the tick and take it to the doctor if you show any signs of illness.”

Atkinson commented that cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are on the rise everywhere but often it is not reported or verified because people who are ill do not want to go through the entire procedure of blood work and shots to verify the disease.

Signs of the illness include fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. Missouri is one of the higher states reporting confirmed cases of the disease, according to the CDC. In 2010, the last year data was reported by the CDC, Missouri saw 19 to 63 cases per million persons.

Neighboring states including Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma are also some of the highest reporting states for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

It is important to check family pets for ticks as well, Atkinson added.

“We’re getting more calls for fleas and bed bugs, and more than an average number of calls on stinging insects like wasps,” Atkinson commented. “We’re also getting tons of calls about ants, which are really just a nuisance, and a lot more calls for termites, which can do considerable property damage if not treated.

“Bed bugs and fleas can typically be treated with sprays and by laundering clothing and bedding in hot water,” he said. “I tell our customers to run their laundry through the drier because the high heat kills the eggs.”

Atkinson also recommends placing luggage and items made of fabric in a bath tub once you return home from a trip if you can’t launder the items immediately because bed bugs are unable to climb out of a tub.

“It’s really still too early to know what may happen later this summer as far as insects go because Mother Nature can change things really quickly and as much as I hate to say it, my money is on the bugs,” Atkinson said. “If you think about it they have been around for hundreds and thousands of years and they always figure out a way of making it and surviving.

“The best we can do is control them,” he added.

Insect population thriving in Pettis County

By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484

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