You’ve probably heard the news by now that El Niño is back. This weather phenomenon where ocean temperatures rise in the Pacific brings warmer temperatures and reduced rainfall to Australia. While many of us will welcome the warmer weather after a long winter, the return of El Niño also means the return of unwanted pests that thrive in hot and dry conditions.
If you’re a gardener or farmer, you need to prepare now for the onslaught of pests that will be showing up over the next few months. Aphids, spider mites, thrips and fungus gnats love the hot weather that comes with El Niño. Their populations can explode, destroying crops and infesting gardens. With rainfall already low, crop damage can be severe when pests are added to the equation. Now is the time to implement prevention methods like row covers, proper irrigation and ventilation and routine monitoring.
Even if you’re a homeowner or renter, El Niño provides the ideal living conditions for creepy crawlies to hit alarming numbers. It’s in your best interest to create a comprehensive pest control system to ensure your home doesn’t become swamped.
The threat of pests shouldn’t deter you from planting and enjoying your garden this season. With some diligent management, you can have a thriving and productive garden despite the return of El Niño. Be proactive, take some simple steps now to control pests in an environmentally friendly way, and you’ll be rewarded with homegrown fruits and vegetables all season long.
What Is El Nino and How Does It Impact Pests?
El Niño is a weather pattern that brings warmer ocean temperatures to the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. In Australia, we feel the effects of El Niño primarily in the east. The extreme dry heat contributes to droughts and bushfires, particularly in the southeast regions. Though rain is scarce during this time, when it finally comes, it pours and can contribute to overflow and even flash flooding.
What to Expect From Insects
The hot, dry conditions created by El Nino can help the life cycle of many insects, allowing populations to boom. Aphids, spider mites, thrips, and mosquitos and fruit flies thrive in the humid weather. Their numbers may increase exponentially, seriously damaging plants. Scale, mealybugs, and fungal gnats also prosper in the damp environments provided near water sources or homes.
The Pests Expected to Thrive During This El Nino Year
This El Niño year, prepare for some familiar pests to thrive and cause trouble in your garden. While El Nino tend to reduce rainfall, when it does come, it’s torrential. With more overflow from rainfall and waterlogged soil, several pests breed at a rapid rate.
These sap-sucking insects reproduce rapidly in warm weather. You’ll find colonies of aphids attacking new growth on plants, especially roses, azaleas and vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Control them with a strong spray of water, insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Hot and dry conditions are perfect for spider mite outbreaks. Look for the tiny spider-like pests spinning webs and feeding on the undersides of leaves. Blast them off with a hose or apply predatory mites, spinosad or neem oil sprays.
Rodent populations will likely boom this season, leading the pests to feed on plants, bulbs, roots and crops. Use humane traps or bait stations around the yard and garden. For gophers, install wire mesh barriers.
Don’t forget, more insects in your garden means more beneficial ones too! Ladybugs, lacewings, parasitic wasps and predatory mites will be active controlling pests. Avoid broad-spectrum pesticides which kill the good and the bad bugs alike. With close monitoring and the right control methods, you can limit damage from El Niño-fueled pests and still have a healthy, productive garden this season.
How Homeowners Can Prepare for Increased Pest Pressure
With El Niño conditions returning this season, homeowners can expect increased pest pressure. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
Seal up any cracks or holes in foundations, siding, roofs, and attics.
Insects and rodents can enter through openings as small as a few centimetres in diameter. Use caulk, weatherstripping, door sweeps or repair damaged screens to eliminate access points. This will help keep pests out of your home.
Clear standing water and debris from gutters, downspouts, and yards.
Standing water breeds mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. Remove any standing water from pet bowls, birdbaths, gutters, tarps, toys, etc. Trim plants and shrubs so they are not touching the exterior of the house. Stack firewood, lumber, and compost up off the ground.
Store food in airtight containers and clean up food waste.
Food scraps and open containers will attract ants, cockroaches, rodents, and other pests looking for a meal. Wipe up spills, take out the rubbish regularly, and avoid leaving pet food out overnight.
Inspect the attic, basement, garage, and crawl spaces for signs of pests.
Look for droppings, chew marks, nests, or the pests themselves. The earlier an infestation is detected, the easier it will be to eliminate. You may want to set out bait stations or traps as a preventive measure, especially in areas where pests may enter or nest.
Talk to a professional exterminator about a pest control plan.
Cure All Pest Control can inspect for vulnerabilities in the home’s structure or install a barrier treatment. Having a regular exterminator service schedule may help avoid serious pest issues, especially in high-risk years. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Taking proactive steps to pest-proof your home and yard will help you avoid unpleasant surprises this El Niño season. Maintaining vigilance and addressing any issues quickly can save time, money, and frustration in the long run. With some foresight and preparation, you’ll be ready for whatever pest problems come your way.
Tips to Prevent Pest Infestations During El Nino
With El Niño conditions come an increase in pest populations that can wreak havoc in your garden. Here are some tips to help prevent the most common pest infestations this season:
Inspect plants regularly
Make a habit of checking on your plants at least once a week. Look for any signs of damage or spots, holes in leaves, webbing, droppings, or the pests themselves. Early detection of an infestation is key to controlling it. Some pests to be on the lookout for include:
- Aphids: Green, red or black soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap.
- Spider mites: Tiny red or yellow spiders that spin fine webs and feed on leaves.
- Mealybugs: White woolly insects that suck plant sap.
- Scale: Hard or soft bumps on leaves, stems or fruit that secrete honeydew.
Practise good garden hygiene
- Remove garden debris like dead or dying plants, leaves, and weeds where pests can hide.
- Pick up fallen fruit under trees.
- Repellents such as neem or citrus oil can be applied as a protective barrier.
- Use row covers, netting or fencing to physically keep pests out.
Apply insecticidal sprays
For heavy infestations, you may need to use pesticides. Choose selective, organic sprays that target the specific pest in your garden. Spray plants thoroughly, especially the undersides of leaves. Reapply as directed to break the breeding cycle.
El Niño weather can persist for many months. Continue monitoring your garden regularly even after treating for pests. Reapply controls or switch products if pests come back or develop resistance. With diligent prevention and rapid action, you can avoid major damage in your garden this season despite increased pest pressures. Staying one step ahead of these unwanted visitors is critical to success.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator for Severe Pest Issues
When pests become severe and persistent, it’s best to call in the professionals. As an El Niño brings hotter and wetter weather, pest populations can explode and infestations can quickly get out of hand. Don’t delay if you notice these warning signs:
If pests are causing damage throughout your home or yard, it’s time to call an exterminator. Things like holes in walls, chewing on wires, destroyed plants, etc. These types of large-scale destructions require heavy-duty pest control measures to eliminate.
Certain pests like rodents, cockroaches, termites, and mosquitoes can transmit diseases or trigger allergic reactions. If you or a family member experiences symptoms like rashes, respiratory issues or food contamination, call an exterminator right away. Your health and safety should be the top priority.
Difficult to control
Some pests are challenging to get rid of using do-it-yourself methods. If you’ve tried various sprays, baits, and traps with no success, it’s best to hire a professional. They have the proper training, equipment, and pesticides to eradicate even the most stubborn of infestations.
Pests like termites, carpenter ants, and wood-boring beetles target the wood in homes and can severely damage the integrity and value of a property if left unchecked. As soon as you notice sagging floors, holes in wood, or frass (insect excrement), call an exterminator to assess and remedy the situation before major repairs become necessary.
In severe or persistent cases of pest infestations, hiring an professional exterminator is really your best course of action. They have the expertise and resources to eliminate the pests, find the source of the problem, and help prevent future infestations. Your home, health, and sanity will thank you!
So there you have it, with the return of El Nino this season, you can expect some unwanted visitors in the form of pests. The hot weather will create ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas, and rodents, especially if there’s water near your home. Make sure you take precautions to pest-proof your home by fixing any cracks or holes leading inside, clearing standing water, storing food in airtight containers, and using natural repellents like citronella or eucalyptus oil. If you do spot any pests, act fast by setting traps or bait stations and eliminating access points to avoid an infestation. While El Nino may bring some challenges, by staying vigilant you can outsmart these seasonal pests. The key is to be prepared for what this weather pattern may have in store. Forewarned is forearmed, so keep your eyes open and stay one step ahead of these pesky critters this season.
If you’re struggling to keep up with the pests invading your home, Cure All Pest Control is here to help. We are trusted by more than 10,000 residential properties in Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast to fulfil all their pest control needs. Find out more about our many pest control services available, or contact us for more information.