While you probably don’t need to look out for vampires, there are plenty of other creatures in the world that definitely do exist and definitely do feed on human blood. In fact, there are probably swarms of blood-sucking insects in your own backyard, just waiting for you to venture outside so they can chow down. Unfortunately, blood-sucking pests thrive in the spring and summer, exactly when you want to enjoy your yard. Fortunately, once you identify the blood-suckers in your area, you can (somewhat) easily get rid of them.
Mosquitoes are at once the best-known bloodsucking menaces and the most dangerous. This is because mosquitoes have adapted to live in nearly every environment on Earth; they are nearly impossible to get rid of and insatiable in their lust for blood, which puts them into contact with a variety of diseases that harm and kill humans and animals alike. Most recently, Zika virus has become a mosquito-borne plague across the world, but diseases like malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dengue fever, Chikungunya virus continue to rage as a result of mosquitoes.
No matter where you live, you probably suffer from mosquitoes at some point during the year — but you don’t have to. Professional services like TruGreen mosquito control can effectively identify where mosquitoes are breeding around your property and administer appropriate pesticides to deter them. You should have professionals revisit at regular intervals. Because mosquitoes are so plentiful and so tenacious, this is the only way to kill all mosquitoes in your yard and keep them away for good.
Like mosquitoes, ticks are blood-suckers with a bad reputation for spreading disease. In fact, many of the diseases spread by ticks are quickly deadly; Lyme disease, one of the few tick-borne diseases common in North America, manifests like any cold or flu but can cause devastating neurological problems, including paralysis. Ticks also spread spotted fever, anaplasmosis and tularemia.
Unlike mosquitoes, ticks aren’t everywhere: Ticks prefer moisture, meaning the deserts of the Southwest are largely free from worrying about tick-borne disease. For everyone else, pesticides are once again the best choice for removing ticks from your yard, but there are a few other things you can do to make your backyard less inviting to ticks. For instance, by keeping the yard free of litter and debris, where ticks can hide. You can also discourage ticks from migrating onto your property by building a fence to keep tick-bearing animals out or else by creating a three-foot gravel barrier between wooded areas and your lawn.
Fleas are responsible for some of the most catastrophic plagues in the world — including the Black Death of the Middle Ages. While modern medicine has made many flea-borne diseases obsolete, you still don’t want fleas living in your yard, attacking your pets and causing you significant worry.
Like ticks, fleas need plenty of moisture in their environments, which means they tend to be attracted to lawns. A well-administered lawn pesticide will get rid of ticks, but you can also use diatomaceous earth, which eviscerates most insects that can’t fly. If you have pets that can bring fleas into your yard — like inside-outside cats and dogs — you might want to administer a flea and tick treatment on a regular basis or set up fences that keep them in your flea-free area.
These tiny red bugs are actually the larva stage of a type of mite; they are so small and hard to see that many people don’t realize their yard is infested until they start receiving severe red welts. Unlike the other bloodsuckers on this list, chiggers don’t spread many diseases; in the United States, chiggers aren’t known to be infected with any kind of disease. This is largely because they don’t necessarily suck blood; instead, they dissolve skin cells with their saliva and feast on that.
Chiggers are mostly located in the Southeast and Midwest, living in dense, damp vegetation like lawns and shrubs. Cutting back your vegetation is a good way to expose chiggers and chigger-mites, causing them to search elsewhere for shelter. Pesticides that tackle ants, fleas and ticks will also kill chiggers.
Your blood is too tasty and nutritious to keep biting insects away without the proper precautions. Your best option for keeping blood-suckers away is professional pest control; after that, you need to maintain your yard to prevent creating an ideal home for these nuisances. If you are on top of your yard care, your backyard should become a haven free from the vile blood-suckers and their ilk.