It’s Springtime and you know what that means, flowers, blossoms, and greenery everywhere. It also hearkens the return of allergy season as well as the seasonal return of many insects. And isn’t that everyone’s favorite part of spring?
Even if spring is your favorite season, it’s time to brush up on the allergens and bugs that can affect your family, pets, and home.
Common spring allergens affect millions of people every year. The symptoms of spring allergies include congestion, a nasal drip, throat itch, throat pain, sneezing, chronic sinus headaches, a cough, runny nose, itchy and watering eyes, as well as other effects like hives. Most often the culprit of spring allergies is pollen and mold.
Pollen and Mold
Pollen is a fine powdery substance comprised of grains that produce male gametes. It’s produced by the stamens of flowers and when it reaches the pistil of a flower will fertilize it to create new seeds. Bees, mites, and other insects are attracted to pollen that is sticky and full of proteins that make nutritious. Anemophilous, or wind-loving, plants are the producer of pollen that is among known common spring allergens.
Wind-loving plants spew large amounts of lightweight pollen that stays in the air for a long time and is easily inhaled. This can irritate the sensitive mucus membrane layers in the nose, eyes, and throat. Pollinosis, an allergy to pollen, is very common as many plants, trees, and grasses produce airborne pollen. Hay Fever is a more specific allergy to pollen produced by grasses.
Molds are a type of fungus that grows in multicellular structures instead of being a single-celled organism, like yeast. There many, many different kinds of molds. The most common molds that cause allergies are alternaria, aspergillus, cladosporium and penicillium. Many molds can be found in damp, dark, and/or steamy parts of your home and can be hazardous to your health. Allergies to mold are quite common and are often caused by mold releasing the spore necessary to reproduce. Just like pollen, those spores irritate the mucus membranes of your nose, throat, and eyes.
Allergies in Animals
Pollen and mold allergies can be expressed in pets as well as humans. Dog’s often present allergies on their skin, so look for reddened irritated skin, excessive licking, over-grooming, bald or thinning patches, itchy, smelly ears, and face rubbing or scratching. Many of the techniques used to reduce pollen for humans can be used on dogs such as regular bathing, ear washes, and paw washes.
Common spring allergens are also seen in cats who usually have similar symptoms to dogs. However, cats may also suffer from sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes, red spots, or blotches, especially near the ears, and other skin issues. Cat owners need to be much warier of how Fluffernutter grooms as cats are self-groomers and may harm themselves by over-grooming areas where allergies are presenting.
Birds may also have allergies to pollen and mold which will cause scaliness, itchy skin, itchy eyes, redness of the eyes, and cere. The cere is the upper covering of the bird’s beak, which may become red, or itchy if they have allergies.
If you’re looking to prevent pollen and common spring allergens from causing allergy symptoms, there are a lot of preventative steps you can take to try and lessen the effect. If none of these things helps you, your family member, or pet, call your family doctor or veterinarian for more help.
- Wash your Air conditioner filter once per week: The filter of your air conditioner can be removed and washed easily unless your central air. To remove the filter, clean it thoroughly, and put it back in at least once a week to help cut down on the number of allergens you’re getting inside the house.
- Take of Outerwear as soon as you get inside: Your outerwear may be covered pollen. To reduce the amount of pollen entering your home remove shoes, jackets, and hats as soon as you get inside.
- Don’t go outside in the morning to workout: Pollen counts are highest between 5 am and 7 am so it’s best to stay inside during those hours.
- Avoid recently mowed lawns: While you may love the smell, there is often a
lot of pollen stirred up by mowing. Keep your distance avoid common spring allergens.
- Use an air conditioner instead of opening windows: Open windows might be cool but they also allow pollen inside your home. Keep your windows closed and us an air conditioner or a fan to cool down if you can.
- Wear sunglasses: Sunglasses can help prevent pollen and other common spring allergens from entering your eyes and irritating them.
- Wear a mask: A mask can help prevent inhalation of pollen and fewer allergies. While it’s a perfect solution without the right mask, a regular mask will work to keep out many common spring allergens.
- Rinse Your Sinuses with Salt Water: Use two teaspoons of iodine-free sea salt and rinse gently to prevent water from going into your ears. This can help clean the sinus es and prevent sinus infections.
- Wash your eyes: Eyes are easily irritated so perform eye rinses with eye drops one to three times a day to help prevent irritation, redness, and itching.
- Take A shower after coming inside from outdoor activities: Pollen can stick to clothes, skin, and hair so if you spent the day outside or a large period outdoors, shower as soon as you get home. This will keep common spring allergens off you so you can breathe easier.
- Use an Air Filter: If you have extreme allergies consider buying an air filter. If you decide to do this, make sure to use HEPA filters which will remove 99.97% of the particulates in the air. This will help everyone breathe better.
- Take Allergy medication: Finally, purchase over the counter allergy medication to control common spring allergies.
- Make sure your child can access their medication: If you have a school-age child make sure their school knows about any potential spring allergies and that your kid may need medication throughout the day to keep them well. You might have to see a pediatrician to get permission for specific medications.
Bugs and Pests
Spring also brings an abundance of awakening creepy-crawlies to be on the lookout for including ants, spiders, boxelder bugs, wasps, fleas, and ticks.
Many varieties of ants can invade your home in winter and fall to hide until springtime while others overwinter in the ground as larvae. When spring comes, they wake and invade. For the most part, ants are harmless, though there are few species that you may need help taking care of.
The most common ant species are Argentine ants, which have no natural U.S. predators. They create massive, multi-queen colonies and may require an exterminator. Carpenter ants burrow into wood to make their nests and are often the large black ants you’ll find your kitchen. Both crazy and fire ants are rare outside the southern U.S. Crazy ants to move strangely and can bite but don’t have stingers. Fire ants are one of the worst pests to find in spring, not only will they eat your plants, crops, and seeds but they are extremely aggressive and will bite. Littel black, Odorous, and pavement ants are the most common pests to get in spring as they tend to form colonies in any crack or crevice they can find. However, only pavement ants can bite.
No matter what kind of ants are in your area you can prevent spring invasions by making sure there are no cracks or holes in your foundation, siding, or roofing. Pay special attention to fixing any damaged wood on your home. Be sure to move old logs, compost, and garbage cans away from your home. Make garbage cans and recycling bins are cleaned regularly. These are good rules for keeping most pests out of your home. You may also want to check your attic and basement for ants and other pests that have already entered your home. Just before careful other hazards like asbestos.
Spiders sleep through winter by hibernating just like large mammals like bears. Though they are usually the victims of frightened people everywhere, they play a huge role in keeping other pests like flies, gnats, and mosquitoes, at bay.
However, sometimes you might just have too many spiders. If you do, remember the most spiders are essentially harmless. Try to catch and release any spiders you can outdoors where they catch other pests and feed birds, lizards, frogs, and more.
Boxelder bugs are the small black and red pests you find in fall that get absolutely everywhere. These pests often in Maple or Boxelder trees and are often interchanged with similar-looking but very different bugs like juniper bugs, June bugs, and stink bugs, all of which are very different pests. Despite how annoying they are, they’re relatively harmless to you and your home.
First, wasps are not bees. Bees are almost always completely harmless and should be taken back out of your home or left alone. Bees are going extinct and are the main ways crops and flowers are pollinated. They are essential for human survival and should be left alone.
That being said, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are not only pests but are aggressive and mean. They will often sting multiple times and chase you down if you run. Some hornets can even quit venom into your eyes. Pests of all kinds can become victims of wasps and can even be killed if stung in enough numbers. If you get stuck by more than one hornet, wasp, or yellow jacket you should go to an urgent care center.
Most wasps die in winter, leaving only a small percentage of mated females which will overwinter either underground, in a nest or in a man-made object. She will lay her eggs which by spring will bee juveniles seeking food.
Do not attempt to remove wasp, yellow jacket, or hornet infestations without help from qualified pest control companies. Please identify the insect you plan on squashing or exterminating before you do it so you don’t harm any bees.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are real problem pests for both humans and pets. Fleas are transmitted via other animals that have fleas, mostly wild animals. The flea eggs slide off of animals easily and when the fleas have grown into pupae they can live for a very long time until your pet comes along. The adults emerge when they feel vibrations and soon as they emerge they latch on.
Ticks live in grass and brush where climb onto the tips and jump down onto you or your pet. They don’t reproduce inside like fleas so indoor pets will likely never become infected. Fleas and ticks carry tapeworms and many diseases that be very harmful. Keeping your pets clean and using flea and tick medicine from your local pet grooming store should be enough to keep these pests at bay.
You rid yourself of these pests by carpet cleaning once a month throughout the spring and summer. You may also want to vacuum out any mattress or bed your pet regularly uses.
Springtime is wonderful, everyone loves warm sunny days. However, allergies and pests can be a real problem. Make sure you and your pets are protected from common spring allergens and pests today.