Bugs to watch out for this summer

SAN DIEGO – Summer is in full swing, meaning residents of San Diego County are “out-and-about,” including some not-so-friendly neighbors: insects.

The County’s Vector Control Program published a list of bugs to watch out for — including ways to protect yourself.

Ants

While most species are harmless, take caution around red harvester ants and southern fire ants — both of which will bite. Cover food and repair cracks in windows and doors to prevent ant invasions.

Bed Bugs

Small, flat and brown – these tiny insects are four to five millimeters in length. Bedbugs can be spotted by small dark spots or stains on your mattress. To prevent bedbug bites, avoid second-hand mattresses, seal cracks in home infrastructure and examine hotel or motel rooms.

Bees and Wasps

Rarely do they sting when unprovoked. While bees die after one, wasps can inflict multiple. They may also severely damage grapevines and vineyards, known as Pierce’s disease. Call a pest removal company if you identify a hive.

Lice

Lice typically burrow in hair and skin, spread by physical contact through brushes, hats and other clothing. Use medicated shampoos and ointments if you contract lice.

Mosquitoes

These blood-sucking insects derive from lagoons, streams or other water sources. San Diego County has 26 different types of mosquitoes with at least eight known to carry diseases. Be wary at dusk and dawn – peak times for the native Culex known to transmit West Nile virus. The invasive species Aedes, also poses a threat during the day and may carry diseases such as Zika. To prevent breeding, the county advises residents to monitor or dump all standing water sources including pools, fountains and flower pots.

Scorpions

These nighttime predators feed on small insects, lizards and rodents. Local scorpions are non-life-threatening, with strikes mimicking feelings of a bee sting. However, seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.

Spiders

Spotting a spider should not cause alarm, however a few species may pose danger. The black widow is known for its notorious red hourglass stamp on the abdomen, while the brown widow is tan with a series of white stripes. Both lurk in dark, yet common spaces such as backyards, playgrounds and gardens. To avoid coming in contact, wear shoes outside, shake out clothing and assess outdoor objects before touching. If bitten, seek immediate medical attention.

Ticks and Fleas

Commonly found in vegetated areas, ticks latch onto skin and suck the blood of their hosts. They can be identified by their tiny, flat, eight-legged stature. Although tick-induced diseases are not common in San Diego County, they may carry Lyme disease and fever illnesses. Similarly, fleas are found on wild rodents. To avoid these critters, wear bug-spray, covered clothing and stay within trails on hikes. Be sure to leash pets and treat them with flea control products.

For more information, visit the San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health and Vector Control Program.

Brooke Reotutar contributed to this report.