Punxsutawney Phil Says An Early Spring!
Hard to think about this just after the sloppy snow and rain we got last night, but…
Besides being my parents’ anniversary, Feb. 2nd of each year means Punxsutawney, PA holds its annual rite of spring and watches (pulls) that poor groundhog, Phil, out of his hole in Gobblers Knob. This year Phil didn’t see anything! So the powers-that-be of Punxsutawney proclaimed an early spring is on the way. Always nice to get good news of a short winter, right? Hey, in truth Phil is only right 39% of the time. Just be sure to remember that for anything good, there is also a balancing “not-so-good”. Kind of a Ying-Yang type of arrangement.
Here in the northeast, an early spring is welcomed (unless, I guess, if you’re a skier or snowmobiler). But with it means an early introduction to a proliferation of mosquitoes and ticks which have spent the past four-five months in hiding, just waiting for the right conditions to begin their life cycle.
Standing water, even in the smallest of amounts, provide a proper breeding ground for mosquitoes. All they need is a few warm days and out they come. Similarly, ticks have “over-wintered” on hosts (think mice, squirrels and birds) or in shelters (think piles of leaves, woods, your garage, basement, etc.)
Here’s a couple of things you can do to help “stem the tide”.
- Identify standing water and eliminate it. Things like tire swings, bird baths…even bird feeders.
- Pick up the yard first chance you get. Throw away old toys.
- Clean out the gutters. Those are a favorite area for mosquitoes.
- When spring is really here for good, cut the lawn, trim the hedges early. Rake up the leaves, clean the yard asap.
- Be sure to check your pets and children (and yourself!) regularly when you come in from being outside. Ticks travel by “guesting”, i.e. hitching a ride on whatever is moving by. And they are super small and therefore hard to spot.
- Clean out underneath decks, porches, etc.
- In April, put out tick tubes or tick bait boxes. These are highly effective methods of getting insecticides out into the tick world in a safe manner. But don’t use it as the only means. This is only part of a proper Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.
- Ticks like tall grass, brush, leaf litter and stone walls. Use mulch and gravel around the perimeter of your home.
- Dry your clothes when you come in from the woods. Ticks hate heat. It kills them. Run clothes through the dryer for 30 minutes on hot and you’ll be sure to eliminate anything that was hiding on you.