Warm winter could mean big bug problem

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Insect experts are warning there could be a big bug problem this spring and summer.

The warm winter in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia could mean more annoying pests in your yard and home.

Christine Sasser and her kids took advantage of the warm weather Thursday, enjoying their lunch outside. But the mother of three knows the pesky bug season is right around the corner.

"We don't like bugs, but we live in Florida, so we know it's part of living in Florida and part of the Sunshine State," Sasser said.

The warm weather has been a breeding ground for bugs, and because there hasn't been much of a freeze to kill them off, insects like mosquitoes could quickly spring into action.

"We do our spraying outside to protect the kids and family, but for the most part, if I see something I try to get it," Sasser said.

Marah Clark is an entomologist for the city of Jacksonville. Her job is to track mosquitoes. Right now, she says the insects aren't an issue, but it could change.

"Warm weather, add rain to it and that is an instant mix for mosquitoes," Clark said. "It just depends on how much rainfall there is and how much people water their yards."

George Richardson, of Peninsular Pest Control, says termites are already starting to swarm and reproduce, which is earlier than normal. The good news, he said, is there are a number of inexpensive ways for you to protect your home.

"Make sure the mulch doesn't accumulate up too high around the house," Richardson said.

Don't pile bricks or wood up against the side of your house making it easy for termites to get inside. Watch out for any abnormal mud found on your walls. It could be sign of termites tunneling in.

And as for other insects, keep your gutters clear of water or dead leaves and get rid of any standing water around your property.

"Anything that can hold water can be a breeding source for mosquitoes," Richardson said. "So a garbage can lid can hold enough water for mosquito larvae ... so you want to make sure you empty those."

If you're planning to re-mulch this spring, bug experts say to get rid of all the mulch and take it out of there before you put the new stuff down. That's because it's already a breeding ground, and when you put the new mulch down, make sure it's no more than three inches high.

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