While Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted 6 more weeks of winter yesterday, there is definitely doubt to his prediction considering the abnormally warm winter we have already seen this season. While Georgians are no stranger to weird weather, the spring-like temperatures we've been experiencing this year raises concerns as to what this will bring in the pest management world.
The warm temperatures have flowers blooming early, pollen falling sooner and people already donning shorts, in February. In the pest management world, this means insects that lay dormant over the cold winter hatching earlier and having higher survival rates than in a typical year.
Insects hatching earlier will probably not be the cause of more pests this year. Most insects have a life span of 1 year so while we'll see them earlier this year we'll also see them leave earlier in the fall. However, higher survival rates seen because of warmer temperatures may lead to more insects this year.
Typically winter months cause insects to go underground or seek shelter in warmer places. The warm winter temperatures allow for a higher survival rate for insects and larvae causing much of the population that would have died off in the colder temperatures to survive throughout the winter months into the spring. Most pest management companies suggest renewing a quarterly pest management plan that covers insects and mice for an entire year to prevent infestations later in the year.
Warmer temperatures also mean different behaviors seen in wildlife. With warmer temperatures comes more activity from squirrels, raccoons, snakes and other wildlife. The environment is signaling the beginning of spring, so animals will respond accordingly.
Typically mammals mate in the Spring months, so with a longer "Spring" this year there may be an increased level of rodents and wildlife this year. Be sure to contact a licensed wildlife professional to remove any wildlife problems you may experience this spring.