Get ready for what may be the buggiest summer ever

By Marjorie Cohen  |
May 15, 2012 - 9:34AM

Those of you who've never bothered to put window screens in your apartment--or apply flea and tick repellent to your urban dog--may want to re-think that.  

NYC's pest control experts agree that as a consequence of our mild winter, you can expect to see more insects inside as well as out--including mosquitoes, ants and water bugs.

Here's what to expect:

Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes won't be here early because they never left. New Yorkers from East Harlem to the Village have seen mosquitoes and reported horrific bites all winter long.

According to Gil Bloom, entomologist and president of Standard Pest Management, some mosquitos “wintered” in New York in underground steam tunnels and building basements.

The problem is already so bad on the Upper West Side that, the West Side Rag reports, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal are convening a Town Hall meeting this Thursday on “The Upper West Side Mosquito Infestation.”

One of the experts who will be at the meeting, Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an Urban Entomologist with NY State’s Integrated Pest Managementoffice, confirms that the warm weather combined with the rain we've just had makes the environment just right for mosquitoes.

At the Town Hall meeting, she's going to help the Upper West Side audience identify the kind of mosquito that's been driving them nuts.  She thinks it may be a combination of the Asian Tiger variety, a very aggressive version that bites during the day, and the common house mosquito that likes to feed at dusk and dawn.

The former came to us from Asia, probably via imported rubber tires and “lucky” bamboo plants. What Jody worries about most are West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes, the ones that like to breed in small, isolated pools of water.

Ticks: Jeff Eisenberg, founder of Pestaway Exterminating, says he's seeing ticks in places he's never seen them before—including in the bushes right outside Fifth Avenue high rises.

Most ticks have probably survived the winter and some have come in on birds who have arrived in the city early because of the mild winter. 

If the birds picked up ticks carried by deer or white mice on their flight in, this could make the possibility of contracting Lyme disease in the city more likely than in the past.

Fleas: Expect more of these because of the mild temperature and the rise in the number of feral cats in the city (the number of feral cats in the city has led to the city's New York Feral Cat Initiative).

Feral cats are the biggest carriers of the fleas that torture us and our pets so when you see that “nice lady” feeding the cats in the park, ask her to stop.

Ants: Exterminators are getting more calls than ever about these pests which are always associated more with country picnics than NYC high rises.  

A friend who found them in her  seventh floor East Side apartment was shocked  -- but she shouldn't have been. Ants are everywhere in city buildings now and difficult to control because they move around so much.

All you need is a pair of mating ants to land somewhere in your building and the fun begins. Tramp ants, called that because of their wandering ways, are everywhere. For some reason Pharoah ants, really, really tiny little things, particularly like high-rise buildings.

Bed Bugs: Yes, they do like the warmer weather and always have so they're happily multiplying at the moment. 

But the good news is that New Yorkers are increasingly bed bug savvy--which means more are treating their bed bug problem before it gets to infestation level.  Exterminators tell us that they still get plenty of bed bug calls but they’re more often for an inspection rather than a full treatment.

This doesn't mean that New Yorkers should forget about the threat—they should just be sure that as soon as they see a creature that looks like it may be a bed bug, they should snap a photo and send it to an exterminator for positive i.d.

Roaches & waterbugs: The German cockroach, the variety we see in the kitchen, which help give restaurants a “C” rating, aren't much affected by the weather. 

But the oriental cockroach and the American cockroach (the gigantic beetle-like guys known as "waterbugs" here and Palmetto bugs in Florida where their p.r.  is better) thrive in warm weather, and may be lurking in untoward numbers right now in a basement near you.

Water bugs can get into apartments through the drain pipe, when water evaporates in the u-bend pipe under the sink, that's when a water bug comes out looking for food and a new home. One way to avoid that happening is to run water through your pipes at least once a week to flush them out.

Although they don't fit into the bug category, another major urban pest that is absolutely flourishing in the current New York weather is the rat. As one expert told us, “It's a great time to be rat in New York City.” Another told us that he's seen them on the 5th and 6th floors of CPW apartments and has a client on Fifth Avenue who had one jump out of her toilet. But that's another story.

Related posts:

What to do about that rat in your toilet

Beyond bed bugs

Bedbugged! column

Finally, a breakthrough in bed bug detection

A new bug to hate, and this one stinks

Ask an Expert: Die, roaches, die


Marjorie Cohen

Contributing writer

Marjorie Cohen is a New York City-based freelance journalist, editor and author of over seven non-fiction books. Her real estate reporting has appeared in amNewYork, Investopedia, and The West Side Rag. Since moving to New York five decades ago for graduate school at the Teachers College of Columbia University, Marjorie has lived on the Upper West Side, with a brief detour to West 15th Street when she got six months free rent in a new building.

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