As spring descends on Alabama, so descends a wide array of pesky lawn and yard pests.

Spring pests can range from harmless and mildly annoying to possibly destructive. 

Ants, white grubs, termites, flea beetles, millipedes, slugs and stink bugs are all common pests that are difficult to control.

According to Xing Ping Hu, an entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), stinging bugs are also prevalent this time of year. 

“Along with these pests, at this time of the year, we see various wasps and bees buzzing around,” Hu said. “Spring is the time for them to look for food and for queen wasps to build nests.”

Bumblebees and carpenter bees are also around this time of year. Contrary to popular belief, you can be stung by a carpenter bee. As with bumblebees, female carpenter bees are the only ones capable of stinging people, although stings will only occur if they feel provoked. 

Honeybees and Yellow Jackets are the most common stingers and are best left alone unless you attempt extermination. 

There are many things people can do to keep these pests out of their lawn or yard. They can often be avoided by simply keeping debris out of the yard or planting pest-repellent plants. However, other times traps can be useful.

“One way to keep your yard pest-free is to clean up debris, remove compost/leafy piles and rocks that encourage ants and soil-dwelling pests,” Hu said.

Planting and maintaining pest-repelling plants is also a viable method for dealing with springtime pests. Thyme, lemongrass, mint, lavender, basil, and chrysanthemums are among many common insect-repelling plants that could be easily potted or planted around a home. 

Termites may not bite, but they can wreak havoc on your house, storage units and any wooden structures on your property.

Any wood-to-ground structures can be at an increased risk of developing a termite infestation. Avoiding having a wood-to-ground structure is one of the main preventive steps a person can take to block a costly and time-consuming termite problem. 

Sealing gaps, avoiding excess moisture around your home and storing firewood and mulch away from structures are other common steps for preventing termites.  

Stink bugs are also a significant pest during the spring months. While they may not bite or sting, once stink bugs infiltrate a home, they can be an unbearable nuisance. 

Stink bugs are one of the few things that get more annoying after you kill them. Unless they are prevented or disposed of properly, their foul odor can be a lingering presence during the spring and summer months. 

According to Hu, prevention is the best way to combat these would-be home invaders.

“They can be found in large numbers on the outsides of buildings or inside near doors, windowsills, and other entry points,” Hu said. “They do so to search for wintering sites.”

Stink bugs will find any crack or crevice in your house. Once they get into an attic or wall, they will inevitably find their way into your living spaces; at which point, the only option is to kill them. But be forewarned, killing these irksome insects will cause them to release their namesake, and the odor can linger for an hour or longer. So, despite the temptation to crush, impale, burn or otherwise butcher this menace, a vacuum cleaner is the best way to dispose of them without incident.

The steps to preventing the encroachment of stink bugs will also be beneficial in avoiding other spring and summer pests as well. Mice, rats, cockroaches and various other vermin will be prevented from invading if the proper steps are taken.

Hu suggests a few simple steps to help block the intrusion of stink bugs.

- Using silicone, foam and steel wool to obstruct any points of entry into the home.

- Installing weather seals on every exterior door.

- Removing all debris, vegetation, pine straw and mulch from around the house.

- Using a pesticide that is approved by a pest control specialist.  

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