Too buggy too early, indeed.
The mild winter raised red flags for farmers long before the first day of spring – plenty of pests thrived and were tampering with their crops.
Turns out plenty of homeowners have also been coping with creepy things.
Angies List, which allows members to offer consumer reviews, said searches for pest control companies on its online site were up 48 percent in March compared with the same month a year ago. Angie Hicks, founder of the rating service, grew up in Fort Wayne.
Weve talked to highly rated pest control companies who tell us their phones are ringing off the hook – thats a full two months before the bugs usually arrive, Hicks said in an April 13 news release.
The early unwanted guests include ants, bees and wasps, spiders, clover mites, gnats, lady beetles and stink bugs. Next up, experts predict fleas, bees and winged termites, commonly known as swarmers, Angies List said.
Gary Patton, owner of Swat Team Pest Control in Columbia City, said last week his March call volume more than doubled compared with March 2011.
I was actually on vacation in Florida in March and my co-worker called and said you need to come back; we cant keep up, said Patton, who escapes the Midwest to enjoy the Florida Keys during the slower winter months.
This year, Patton said he cut his stay there by about a week.
Nick Miracle said calls to his home-based Fort Wayne business – Miratek Pest Solutions – jumped about 20 percent last month.
I mean its been such a big difference from last year, Miracle said. Its been great for our business.
Ants in particular have been active, but Miracle gets calls for other pests including cockroaches.
Miracles plan of attack varies depending on the pest and the extent of the problem. Many of his customers have already tried do-it-yourself eradication before they pick up the phone looking for his expertise and arsenal.
Miracle and John Long, owner of Bug Free Pest Control in Decatur, said people may be better off calling professionals.
People think they can save a lot going with do-it-yourself, and ultimately they can create more problems, Long said. If youre going to do something yourself, read the directions first before you make any applications.
Professionals work like a bug detective, Long said, and are trained to look for long-term solutions.
Do-it-yourselfers might be successful in breaking up a colony of pests, but sometimes the survivors simply repopulate elsewhere.
They say most people wait for the groundhog to see its shadow. This year, we were waiting for the ant to see its shadow, said Long, who calls ants the No. 1 pest in the country.
Aprils temperatures have been closer to normal than in March, when the Fort Wayne area saw more than a week with record-high temperatures that reached into the upper 80s.
At least a few nights this month, temperatures have dropped into the 30s and 40s. But thats far from the type of long winter freeze that can help snuff out pests.
Joe Mishak, area supervisor for Aardvark Pest Control, said his April sales through mid month were still running 25 percent ahead of the same month a year ago.
He anticipates the revenue boost will be sustained this year.
Ants may be the big adversary now, along with spiders, but Mishak also suspects the mosquito population to swell in the coming months.
Its not going to stop, its going to continue, he said. The difference is that (the pest invasion) started much earlier.