Now that we are more than a week into the month of September, it’s clear that the monsoon season will never come, which makes 2020 yet another unusually dry and hot year for Arizona residents. Since the start of the summer season, less than ½ an inch of rain has fallen in Phoenix, and last year, only a little more than ¾ of an inch of rain had fallen in Phoenix. Considering that Phoenix sees an average of 8 to 9 inches of rainfall annually, the last few years have been remarkably dry even for Arizona. As a result of this year’s excessive heat and aridity, insects of numerous species are currently abandoning their usual undisturbed desert habitat in order to seek water on hydrated lawns and moisture within air-conditioned homes and buildings.
According to Dawn Gouge, a public health entomologist at the University of Arizona, insects thrive in unpopulated areas of the Sonoran Desert, but this summer’s drought and high temperatures have depleted their natural sources of water, food, and shelter. Because of this, insect pests like cockroaches, crickets, and ants are migrating toward irrigated urban and suburban landscapes where the luckiest individuals succeed in reaching cool and moist basements, bathrooms, crawl spaces, and kitchens. Unfortunately, the longer the current climatic conditions last, the more insect pests homeowners can expect to find indoors.
Naturally, only insect pests that have adapted to human settings will manage to successfully secure safe conditions within and around homes, while non-pest insects that have not adapted to human settings will dessicate and die in the desert. Gouge also states that insect pests remain in the desert all year long during normal monsoon seasons, but the lack of rainfall this summer has caused the plants insects rely on for food to dry up and die. Under these conditions, insect pests tend to migrate toward urban and suburban landscapes in large herds that are difficult to keep out of homes with preventative insecticide treatments along entryways. In order to keep seasonal pests from migrating indoors, homeowners should maintain well sanitized homes, pinpoint and seal all cracks, crevices, and other potential entry points on the exterior walls of structures, and make sure to keep indoor moisture levels as low as possible by repairing leaks and reducing vegetation near foundation walls.
Have you noticed an influx of insect pests around or within your home?