Many people move to Raleigh for the mild and short winters. These winters, combined with hot and humid conditions the rest of the year, create the perfect breeding ground for a number of insects.
Backyard pests, including the ones that bite, can scare us out of our backyard and into the house. It’s even worse if you suffer allergic reactions to the bites and stings. Knowing what to watch out for, and how to help get rid of these pesky insects, is vital in keeping you and your family safe. Here’s a list of the worst backyard pest in Raleigh and how to control them.
Any environment that’s moist and humid will experience the onslaught of mosquitoes. Raleigh is a mosquito magnet and the perfect spot for these backyard pests to both breed and thrive. Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance. They’re the deadliest creature on the planet, spreading diseases such as West Nile virus and malaria. At the very least, getting a mosquito bite causes itching for days.
Help keep your backyard free of these bloodsuckers by eliminating standing water in your yard. Bird baths, children’s toys and even uneven ground levels can harbor enough standing water for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Mosquito traps are a good investment since they can kill hundreds of bugs in a single night. Natural guards, like citronella candles work. Even better? Plant insect repelling plants such as lavender, mint and rosemary. The scent of these herbs really bugs bugs.
While some of the worst backyard pests are native to the Raleigh area, fire ants are an unwanted visitor that has outstayed its welcome. These pests hitchhiked aboard a cargo ship from Brazil. You’ll know that you have them in the backyard when you see dome-shaped dirt mounds in the yard. Fire ants are reddish-brown and can grow up to one-third of an inch long. North Carolina is being swarmed with these pests, and currently, 71 counties in our area of the state are seeing infestations. If you step on one of their mounds, you’ll see an onslaught of them come out to bite and sting you. could be deadly for small pets and young children who are allergic to the stings.
They’re also attracted to motorized equipment and electrical boxes and can cause thousands of dollars in damage. You can spray the hills with insecticidal spray or use a bait that will kill the ants and their queen from within the mound. You’ll need to continue applying the bait all summer.
Most flies around the country are just annoying pests. However, our part of the country has the added issue of biting flies. These flies not only hover around trashy areas, they’re out for blood. Black flies are quite dangerous in our area due to their swarming capabilities. A swarm can quickly cause a lot of damage to both pets and family members.
A smaller version of biting flies is biting midges, also called no-see-ums. They’re tough to spot but easy to feel. Biting midges love the warm weather and always seem to show up in time to ruin that backyard party.
Your best defense is insect repellant. Wearing light colored and long-sleeved clothing also helps discourage the flies from seeing you as a target. Yard and garden insect sprays help, but only for a few hours. Since they hover around garbage, keep your yard free of trash and debris.
While mosquitoes and biting flies bug us, they usually leave the garden alone. A gardener’s worst enemies include aphids, Colorado potato bugs, and azalea lace bugs.
These yellow and green bugs blend in with the leaves and stems of your plants and suck the sap out of the leaves and fruits. You can get rid of them by introducing ladybugs and lacewings into your garden. Petunias will also repel these pests.
Colorado potato bugs
These critters look a bit like ladybugs but are extremely destructive to your petunias, potatoes, and tomatoes. Planting cilantro nearby and using a neem oil spray can help keep these bugs at bay.
Azalea Lace Bugs
North Carolina is home to more than 30 species of lace bugs, and most are not considered pests. The azalea lace bug is the exception since it attacks our native azalea plants. You’ll know you have a problem when you start to see white or silver spots on the leaves. You want to spray the plant with an insecticide at the beginning of spring, just as the females are laying eggs.
These are just a sample of the backyard pests that can ruin your garden and your time outdoors. Plan ahead, and treat your lawn and garden before the worst of the pests arrive in Raleigh.
Do you have questions about lawn care and gardening in Raleigh? Visit our Raleigh, NC, lawn care page.