Insects can’t generate their own heat like warm-blooded animals, so they must obtain it from external sources. They have developed a number of strategies for surviving through the winter, including overwintering and migration. One of the most common overwintering strategies for insects in temperate climates is to move indoors during the winter. This typically occurs when the weather cools at night, depending on the species. The most significant insects requiring winter pest control in the Los Angeles area include mosquitos, carpenter ants, bed bugs and fruit flies.
Most native mosquitos in southern California belong to the Anopheles genus, which has about 460 species. The Western malaria mosquito (A. freeborni) is one of the most common in this area and is so-named for its ability to transmit malaria. The female of this species is relatively large and has a brown body with spots on its wings.
The breeding grounds of the Western malaria mosquito are typically near large bodies of open water, but they disperse up to several miles during the fall. The female hibernates during the winter, often seeking out attics and other isolated areas of heated buildings. These hibernating bugs wake up in late January to early February and will be hungry for a blood meal at this time. These mosquitos will feed particularly aggressively for a few weeks to nourish their eggs, especially during the late afternoon and early evening.
Southern California is also being invaded by the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which is native to tropical and semi-tropical regions. They’re smaller than the Western malaria mosquito and have an even lower tolerance for cold, making them especially prone to seek shelter during the winter. In addition to yellow fever, A. Aegypti also has the potential to transmit other diseases such as the chikungunya, dengue, West Nile and Zika viruses.
Carpenter ants include any species in the Camponotus genus, with the black carpenter ant (C. Pennsylvanicus) being one most common in California. In addition to seeking warmth, these ants often enter homes in the winter when foraging for food and water. When a scout finds a source for either of these items, they lay down a trail of pheromones to attract others, which soon results in a trail of ants traveling to and from the food or water source. Carpenter ants are a prime candidate for bug control because they may also build nests in damp wood, which can cause significant structural damage.
Bedbugs include any member of the Cimicidae family, which contains about 90 species. The common bed bug is the most common of these and is well-adapted for warm temperate climates. This species enters a semi-hibernative state when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, often seeking out mattresses, clothes and luggage.
Fruit flies belong to the Drosophilidae family, with the common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) being the most well-known species. They are very common in southern California since they feed on fruits and vegetables. Fruit flies are often attracted indoors by the smell of fruit and lay their eggs in rotting fruit.
If you’re in need of assistance in dealing or have questions about ways to eliminate pests, give your friends at American Rat Control a call.