Holiday Season (AKA: Pests are thankful too!)
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the US. A day when Americans stuff their stomachs with stacks of sumptuous foods. Pests are also thankful for that food and want to share. Here’s a couple of Thanksgiving staples and the pests that may want to be part of the banquet:
Turkey – That roasted bird had to come from somewhere and it likely came from a poultry farm. Rodents are a big problem in poultry facilities. Not only do they eat the poultry feed, but they can also eat the eggs and kill chicks. The adult birds can be stressed out and lay fewer eggs. Rodents carry ectoparasites like mites, lice, and ticks that can negatively affect the birds. They are also known to spread many diseases around poultry facilities, the biggest one being Salmonella.
Potatoes – Mashed, scalloped, fried, or however you like them, potatoes are prime hosts for small flies. Fruit flies are attracted to potatoes that may have started to turn bad and are softening up. The tiny flies lay their eggs, the maggots eat the liquified parts and become adults in as little as five days. In her short lifespan, a female fruit fly may lay 500 eggs! Of course, fruit flies will also go after the apples for the apple pie, the sweet potatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables.
Bread – Maybe a nice loaf of French bread, whole wheat, or cornbread. Stored product pests like flour beetles are going after the dry ingredients like flour, cornmeal, and even the broken grains in a whole grain loaf. Flour beetle adults have lived up to one year; that’s a year of eating, infesting, and repopulating in that food source. Don’t forget about the Indian meal moths that also like dry products like the crackers for your cheese plate, the raisins for your cookies, and the nuts for your pecan pie.
Green beans – My personal favorite is green bean casserole with those French fried onions on top. Thrips and aphids also like green beans. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you bring home some of these unwelcome guests from the market, they can potentially spread to your houseplants and start feeding and damaging them. Always wash your produce when you bring it back from the store.
Cranberries – Not even cranberries are safe?!?! There are many insect pests that get to cranberry plants and the fruits in the field. The cranberry fruitworm is one of those. Adult moths lay eggs on the developing berries and the “worm” (actually a larva) tunnels in and eats it from the inside, leaving just a shell before exiting and moving on to the next one. Most larvae will exit the fruit when they are ready to diapause for the winter, but there may be a few that get harvested before that happens. (My mom always told me the way to tell a good cranberry from a bad one was to see if it bounced when you dropped it. That seems like a lot of work…)
Leftovers – I’m one of those people that like the day-after leftover turkey sandwich with all the toppings better than the Thanksgiving dinner the night before. There are other pests just waiting for those leftovers too. German cockroaches will take advantage of any dropped food underneath the refrigerator, or behind the stove, or in the trash bin. They are not picky eaters and will happily feast on all the leftovers you leave them in those dark, protected areas. They especially like appliances because the motors keep it warm and the food spilled is rarely cleaned up. They also can spread pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli.
Whether you are planning on cooking a big feast, getting takeaway, or going with a simple meal, remember that pests can be part of it. Food processing sites, grocery stores, restaurants, and homes can all be susceptible to pest problems. If you are wondering about the efficacy of your pest program, contact us. The pests won’t be all that thankful, but you will!