Southern Louisiana, with its warm, subtropical climate, is a favorite spot for vacationers. It is also a prime destination for insects. They thrive in the moist climate, and the topography provides many places for them to live. Like humans, insects want to be left alone to find shelter, eat food, mate, and raise young. When the worlds of humans and insects collide, though, some biting and stinging bugs will defend themselves, however reluctantly. In certain cases, you may want to consider pest control services. In southern Louisiana, it is a good idea to ask this important question: Will it bite?
In short, yes. However, mosquitoes do not actually bite. Rather, female mosquitoes insert a straw-like mouthpart through and under your skin in order to feed. Your body instantly reacts to a substance the mosquito releases just beneath your skin, and your immune system kicks into action. It sends histamine, which makes blood vessels swell, causing the characteristic bumps you see after a close encounter with a mosquito. Nearby nerves become irritated from the swollen vessels, resulting in an itching sensation.
Not likely. In general, termites feast upon wood rather than humans. Soldier termites, though, can become biting bugs if they feel they are under attack. Therefore, bites from these termites only happen when they are severely threatened. This is a case where it is best to leave these insects alone and hire professional for termite pest control.
Yes. After a tick gets on your body, it generally settles in your hair, armpit, or groin. It will get comfortable and begin to take in blood, growing larger as it feeds. The tick may gorge for days, or in some cases weeks, before releasing its hold and falling off. Once attached, ticks do not roam around, nor does one tick make multiple bites. The best way to know if you have received a bite from a tick is to search your body. Ticks are generally harmless, but they can pose a danger to those who are allergic to them. Some ticks also carry viruses that can cause debilitating illnesses.
Unlikely. Spiders are not aggressive bugs. They only bite when they are feeling threatened. In fact, they do not want to have contact with you any more than you want to with them, and they will only bite in cases of accidental contact, such as a human reaching into a nook where a spider is hiding. Most spiders’ fangs cannot penetrate human skin. More sensitive individuals could sometimes experience localized swelling, redness, and pain should a bite occur when there is inadvertent contact (during the night while sleeping, for example), but many humans would not even notice a bite.
There are more than 3,000 species of spiders throughout the United States, with only three of these considered dangerous to humans. All three of those species are found in Louisiana:
The best rule to avoid these bugs is to look before sticking your hand anywhere. Pay attention to your surroundings. One of the names says it all: recluse. These spiders want to find quiet places, and they only bite if they feel severely threatened. Leave them alone, and they are more than happy to return the favor.
Probably not. So-called stink bugs are vegetable and fruit eaters, and they usually do not bother humans. Like other insects such as termites, they only bite if they feel severely threatened.
Not likely. Cockroaches are generally not biting bugs. They may bite humans only in cases of severe food depletion, and even then they only target people who are sedentary.
Yes. Ants do bite. However, each species has its own type of “attack.” Sugar ants sometimes bite humans in defense, but their bites usually do not cause pain. Carpenter ants, however, can inflict painful bites if they are feeling threatened. Fire ants also bite, but it is their sting that has become infamous. They bite in order to grip their prey securely, then begin to sting. Fire ants can build huge mounds from which they swarm out if disturbed. They have been known to harm and even kill livestock.
No. Bees are not biting bugs but rather stinging insects. Female bees are the ones that can sting. When a honeybee stings, however, it pays the ultimate price: Its stinger becomes embedded in the human’s skin, and the bee dies. Queen bees retain their stingers and can sting multiple times, but they seldom venture out in the open and encountering one is not likely.
Bumblebees are not hostile. When a female bumblebee feels severely threatened, though, it will caution you up to three times before stinging by raising and then straightening its middle legs and displaying its stinger. If you see this, back away from the bee, and it will not bother you. If a bumblebee is driven to sting, it retains its stinger and so does not die.
No. Like bees, wasps are not biting bugs; they sting. Only the females attack humans, and their stingers do not detach, allowing them to sting multiple times during an assault. Like most insects, they become violent only to defend themselves when they feel they are in danger. They will not bite humans, but they can bite prey or objects when building a nest.
No, but some sting. For example, the large American Dagger Moth is safe enough, but its caterpillars are bristly and will give anyone who gets too close an uncomfortable sting. Generally, if in doubt, do not touch.
Insect Etiquette 101
Just like humans, insects in southern Louisiana want to feel safe while they go about their daily activities. Most biting bugs and stinging insects are not aggressive in themselves, as long as you respect their spaces and do not provoke them. In some cases, however, such as termite infestations, you may want to engage pest control professionals to prevent costly damage to your home or business. Other species, such as mosquitoes and ticks, feed on blood and will seek you out. A good rule is to leave insects alone and show consideration for their habitats, and teach children to do the same. The best way to coexist with insects is to carefully look but do not touch, and chances are they will not harm you.
It’s spring again, the time of year when we shake off the winter doldrums and welcome flowers, romance — and insects. Though the last aren't exactly welcome, they're certainly a part of spring in the city. Like their human counterparts, bugs love to emerge after a long winter’s nap for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, that can translate to parties on your patio and luaus on your legs. While New Orleans doesn’t exactly go into the deep freeze the rest of the country faces, our shift in humidity and temperature still leads to a very real increase in bug activity come late March. Preparing for the seasonal uptick involves knowing what you’re facing and then talking to a qualified specialist in New Orleans pest control. Here are some ways to recognize the top spring pests in New Orleans. Figure out if they’re what’s bugging you!
The oak trees of New Orleans are a source of pride. Unfortunately, they’re also the exclusive home to a particularly troublesome spring pest known to New Orleans pest control specialists for its nasty stinging ways. It’s the buck moth caterpillar, and it’s one of the more annoying pests common to spring in the city. These innocent-looking guys are not a problem until they land on you and sting, which they may happen to do more often than you’d expect. These caterpillars are the larval stage of the buck moth, a striking brown and white moth that takes flight mostly during deer season. They lay their eggs around that time in oak trees. By spring, those eggs hatch and out come thousands of tiny, prickly caterpillars.
The trouble comes when those caterpillars fall or crawl out of a tree and land on your unsuspecting shoulder. Their bodies are built with spines to ward off predators. These hollow needles release a poison that stings if it pricks your skin. Avoid their nip by staying out of the oak shade when possible. New Orleans pest control experts say if you do find yourself pricked, use Scotch tape to pull the spines out and sooth the pain with an ice pack.
Heat, moisture and humidity — all the things that make a New Orleans spring sticky are the things that make it heaven for flying cockroaches. These classic pests thrive in just about any city, but New Orleans is especially favored due to its climate and the abundance of old buildings with lots of cracks and crevices in which to hide. In fact, Bloomberg named the Crescent City the most roach-infested in the nation in 2017. Experts say the lack of consistent freezing makes it hard to really put a dent in the city’s abundant population of these skittering creatures.
They love to live in the leaf litter and bark of the live oaks that are abundant in the city, putting them in the perfect position to creep into a nearby house. Once there, New Orleans pest control specialists say roaches can survive by eating anything from paper to glue from stamps. Even spotless homes can be impacted if they have a leak or some other condition leading to a particularly damp environment. Because roach infestation can be so hard to manage, it’s best to contact a New Orleans pest control specialist when you see the first one, rather than trying to handle these critters yourself.
In New Orleans, Formosan termites have taken wood destruction to a level far beyond that of their native termite cousins. These insects are an invasive brand of the standard wood-chomping pest, first introduced from East Asia. Formosan termites thrive in muggy climates like Florida and Louisiana. In fact, they got so destructive in the French Quarter that the federal government sponsored a program to place termite baits and traps throughout the historic district. New Orleans pest control experts say a single colony can contain millions of termites, compared to just thousands for native subterranean termites.
It’s typical to see swarms of these destructive creatures in early spring evenings. If you see them downtown, simply avoid them. However, if you see these pests near your home, it could be a very bad sign. Seal up your doors and windows and make a call to a trusted New Orleans pest control specialist with experience treating these troublesome bugs.
April showers may bring May flowers, but in New Orleans, they can also bring an uptick in those most common warm weather menaces, mosquitoes. The Crescent City has an especially nasty history with these bloodsuckers. In the early 19th and 20th century, yellow fever carried by these insects killed more than 41,000 men, women and children. Nowadays, mosquitoes are linked to West Nile Virus, which they can pass to humans after biting infected birds. Concern also has surrounded Zika virus. This mosquito-borne illness has been blamed for causing serious birth defects in pregnant women who become infected. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, which makes the Big Easy,with its low elevation and abundant swamp areas, an ideal site. Add in the increased humidity and rains with the change of seasons, and New Orleans pest control experts can tell you that you have a recipe for mosquito disaster.
There’s no way to avoid mosquitos entirely, but there are plenty of smart options to minimize their numbers and impact. Remove standing water in containers around your home and address any drainage issues that can lead to pools of water. Make sure to keep open windows screened and limit time outside during dusk and dawn, when some species are especially active. If they are still a major problem, it may be time to talk to a New Orleans pest control specialist to investigate some of the more serious steps you can take.
New Orleans is beautiful year-round, but especially in the throes of spring. Unfortunately, the beauty of the growing season doesn’t curtail the annoyance presented by pests. You don’t have to let insects spoil this time of year. Understanding what signs to look for can help you know when it’s time to call a New Orleans pest control specialist.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.