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Numerous arthropod pests become problematic once the spring season arrives in Massachusetts. Some of the most common include brown marmorated stink bugs, biting flies, termites, ants, mosquitoes, gnats, and of course, ticks. While a few arthropod pests can be problematic for homeowners all year round in Massachusetts, most are only problematic during certain times of year, and in certain geographic areas, and several are mainly outdoor pests only, while many others are mainly indoor pests.

With the exception of ticks and mosquitoes, the three most frequently cited arthropod pests in coastal areas and in wooded areas located near lakes and rivers where hiking trails are prevalent, tend to be black flies, greenhead flies and yellow jackets. Black flies are most common in eastern Massachusetts, and although they do not usually invade homes, they inflict initially painless bites that draw blood. Black flies are most problematic during the late spring and early summer, but luckily, they do not spread disease. Greenhead flies, also known as horselfies, are most problematic for North and South Shore beachgoers during the hottest summer weeks in June, July and early August. These flies do not spread disease, but their bites may trigger dangerous allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Hikers in wooded areas are particularly vulnerable to allergic reactions caused by yellow jacket stings, but these dangerous wasps construct below ground and aerial nests in residential yards throughout Massachusetts. Yellow jackets become most dangerous during the fall when rural populations abandon their nests and move into residential areas where they constantly swarm in search of human food sources. These yellow jacket migrations into residential and urban areas occur due to the decreasing availability of their usual insect food sources in their natural rural environment. The sudden appearance of swarming groups of yellow jackets in neighborhoods throughout the state explains why the fall sees the highest number of envenomation cases. However, mosquitoes and ticks are easily the most dangerous arthropod pests in Massachusetts, as mosquitoes transmit West Nile and EEE, and deer tick bites caused 38,000 cases of lyme disease between 2008 and 2016 in the state. Residents all over Massachusetts are vulnerable to mosquito and tick-borne disease, while the latter is of the greatest threat to residents living near wooded and grassy areas.

Have you ever found a tick embedded in your skin after venturing into your yard?