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While the Outer Banks is the ideal attractive vacation destination, its warm and humid climate and bodies of water can also make for an attractive environment for pests. With water surrounding both sides of the island, pests such as palmetto bugs, spiders, flies, mosquitoes, midges, and ants can be prevalent around your vacation rental home, as they commonly seek out food, sources of water, and cooler temperatures.

 While many of our homes participate in pest control plans, these pests can still make their way inside of your home.

 In order to reduce the presence of these pests, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights. Lights located under the carport, around the pool, decks, home exterior, etc. are the most common attractors to flying insects
  • Make sure all windows, entry doors and sliding doors are closed
  • Clear away all trash frequently and make sure no food is left out on countertops
  • Empty any containers or buckets with standing water. These sources of water can be breeding grounds for these pesky flying insects.

MIDGES

While midges resemble mosquitoes, they are not mosquitoes and do not carry diseases. Some are known as biting midges. However, those in coastal areas, like the Outer Banks, do not bite. These midges, also known as chironomids, tend to gather in very large, dense masses on the sides of homes, decks, vegetation, and carports, and they are highly attracted to light. You may see a large influx after storms. Since midges prefer still, humid conditions, they’ll try and make their way inside after strong winds and/or a change in wind direction. They tend to gravitate towards high ceilings and lamps and while they typically die in 24 hours, they can survive 3 to 5 days. Pest control of midges has been deemed ineffective by local pest control companies due to the nature of a midge's habitat and life cycle.

 In order to reduce the presence of these pests, we offer the following suggestions:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights. Lights located under the carport, around the pool, decks, home exterior, etc. are the most common attractors to flying insects
  • Make sure all windows, entry doors and sliding doors are closed
  • Empty any containers or buckets with standing water. These sources of water can be breeding grounds for these pesky flying insects.
  • Midges are more active in the early morning hours and night hours, so plan your outdoor activities and leisure around the times when they are not as active.
FAQ's

Why do midges excessively gather around people?

Midges are primarily attracted to mammals, not only humans, because of our body heat and the carbon dioxide we breathe out.

Since pest control chemicals are ineffective, how do we rid our house of midges after they are already inside?

Experts recommend using insect traps to rid your home of already-present midges.

Do other insects, like spiders, not eat midges and assist in controlling their population?

Yes, spiders do eat midges and help control their population. However, the more midges there are for spiders to eat, the more the spider population can increase in and around your home.

Water Bugs/Palmetto Bugs

If you’ve repeatedly stayed on the Outer Banks or another coastal Carolina area, you’ve probably come across large waterbugs, also known as “palmetto bugs”. They prefer dark and damp conditions -- this is why you see them a lot at night on the Outer Banks! Since the Outer Banks are barrier islands, situated between the sound and the ocean, they provide the ideal environment for waterbugs. If rain has been scarce, you may see them trying to infiltrate homes in the area. Conversely, you may come across these bugs under carports or on porches when it has recently rained. This is where the term “waterbug” likely comes from. The term “palmetto bug” is said to originate from the fact that these insects sometimes hang out in palmetto trees in South Carolina, the palmetto state.

Waterbugs are typically large, winged insects, measuring two inches or longer, with a light to dark brown color and markings. Outer Banks residents and visitors will usually see them around the exterior of homes, but they have been known to make it inside as well. We do employ regular spray prevention methods in all our homes. However, while spray prevention does help in reducing how often they are spotted, seeing these large pests is inevitable, and does not mean the homes have unsanitary conditions. If you do encounter a large number of palmetto bugs during your stay, please let us know. We will send out a contracted pest control company or have one of our techs come out and spray.

Here are some things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of encountering palmetto bugs during your stay:

  • Do not leave food out in the open. Instead, put it away in airtight containers after you are finished eating.
  • Clean the kitchen after cooking to remove any leftover crumbs or oils.
  • Take out the trash frequently.
  • Put your pet’s food away overnight.
FAQ's

Do I need to call to have the home sprayed every time I see a waterbug?

No. We perform regular, routine pest treatments. As mentioned earlier, waterbug sightings do not mean homes are unsanitary. They are common on the Outer Banks and sightings will occur.

Why do I sometimes see waterbugs indoors, instead of just around the exterior?

They will sometimes seek shelter indoors when it’s very hot and dry outside or when there’s an excess of rain.

What’s the most important prevention method for reducing waterbug sightings?

Eliminate standing water. Cleaning up leftover food is also important. However, waterbugs can live over a month without food, but not more than a week without water.

ANTS

As you probably already know, there are many different species of ants. These include black ants, pavement ants, fire ants, odorous house ants, carpenter ants, and even massive hoards of super tiny, frantic ones aptly named “crazy ants”. But no matter the species, they all seem to forage for food and water.

If you encounter ants in your home, please let us know. We have procedures in place to remedy ant resurgences. This may include sending a contracted pest control company or having one of our techs come out and spray the home, pending on how frequent the sightings are. Fire ants are no different from most other living creatures -- to survive, they need water and food. Our preventative tips for what you can do are based on controlling food and water remnants on the property.

While we regularly spray for ants, we also recommend the following tips for avoiding any fire ant infestations in and/or around the home during your stay:

  • Clean leftover food and drink spills immediately. Unattended spills are a primary source of ant nutrition. 
  • Place all your leftover foods in airtight containers and put them away.
  • Remove your pet’s food and drink bowls after they are finished.
FAQ's

Do all ants bite?

In short, yes -- nearly all ants bite or sting. Fortunately, most are too small to pierce the skin of humans. But the less than likelihood of always being bitten/stung doesn’t negate the fact that infestations can ruin the peace within a home.

When I’ve stepped on some ants, they give off a strange smell. What types of ants are these?

These are odorous house ants. They’re becoming more common in Outer Banks homes and emit a foul smell, like rotten coconuts, when crushed.

MOSQUITOES

Since the Outer Banks are small stretches of narrow islands with marshy conditions from the sound on one side, mosquitoes can be a problem. Luckily, Dare County has mosquito trucks that perform routine, drive-by sprayings. This is especially useful in the evenings and after it has rained. These trucks put a serious dent in, what would be, a far worse mosquito problem on the Outer Banks. Mosquitoes are at their worst in warmer temperatures when there is a lot of standing water. This makes Spring and Fall the worst seasons for mosquito breeding on the Outer Banks.

Here are some prevention methods to aid in avoiding mosquitoes:  

  • Be sure not to leave standing water in any containers around the exterior of the home (i.e. outside pet bowls, fishing buckets, etc.). 
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
  • Avoid being outside when mosquitoes are at their worst: dawn and dusk. If you must be outside during these times, be sure to wear a CDC-recommended mosquito repellent.
FAQ's

What attracts mosquitoes most to skin?

Various things can attract mosquitoes to skin, including perfumes and scented lotions, high consumption of potassium and salt, sweat, wearing dark colors, high blood temperature, and alcohol consumption.

Are chemical traps and repellants the only way to trap and prevent mosquitoes?

No. There are plenty of DIY mosquito traps that many people swear by, using simple household items. Find them here (https://thehomesteadinghippy.com/diy-mosquito-traps/) and give them a try for yourself!

Does being closer to the beachside, as opposed to the sound side, mean I don’t have to worry about mosquitoes?

No. Mosquitoes can and will still swarm near beachfront rentals, they are just less likely than swarms near sound side rentals. It’s based on the direction of blowing winds. East winds will send swarms, while west winds will push them away.