Bugging Out: A New Tool Can Help You Avoid Pests This Autumn
The Pest Index predicts how much insect activity people can expect to see each day.
Whether it’s the invasive Spotted Lanternfly or just a run-of-the-mill tick hidden in a pile of leaves, these pesky pests can sour outdoor plans. With autumn upon us and many travelers planning to embark on treks to see the changing leaves, household chemical company SC Johnson has teamed up with AccuWeather to create the first-of-its-kind Pest Index — a tool providing users with real-time information on what bugs to expect based on weather in the area. It factors in location, weather and insect behavior to predict what level of pest activity — low, moderate or high — people can expect from both indoor and outdoor insects.
“Just like you plan for sun or rain, it’s important to plan for insects you might encounter in your daily activities,” said Thomas Mascari, bug expert and entomologist for SC Johnson, in a press release. “Mosquitoes, ticks, roaches and ants can put a damper on summer fun.”
According to data from AccuWeather, ticks are expected to be exceptionally present this year in Pennsylvania and beyond. The insects, which can spread Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other ailments, are most active in the late summer and autumn months and will often burrow and hide in leaf piles, so hikers should be cautious.
Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common carrier of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Powassan virus. Ticks typically thrive in tall grass, brush and wooded areas, but deer ticks have been found in every county in the commonwealth and can live in any habitat.
“As tick-borne diseases are becoming more prevalent in Pennsylvania, it is critical to be aware of the risks and be prepared when spending time outdoors year-round, whether that is visiting one of our 121 state parks, hiking our more than 2.2 million acres of state forestland, or enjoying your own backyard,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a press release earlier in the summer.
Mascari suggested a few steps travelers can take to reduce their likelihood of getting bitten by a tick.
- When outdoors, tuck your pants into your socks or boots and wear light-colored clothing. Wear a hat for further protection. Hikers can also use insect repellent sprays like OFF to ward off ticks, mosquitos and other pests.
- When you come in from the outdoors, check your body, pets and gear for ticks and bathe or shower within two hours of returning indoors.
- If you discover a tick, act fast to remove it by grasping it with a pair of narrow-bladed tweezers and get as close as possible to where it is attached to the skin and pull outward in a firm, steady manner. After removal, wash the bite and your hands with soap and water, and apply a disinfectant or an antibiotic ointment to the bite area.