The summer insect increase and what you can do about it


Video produced by Max Molyneux and Khushhal Bhatia

More Kiwi homes will have some unwanted visitors this summer, with a number of regions seeing increases in ants and other pest insects.

In Nelson alone, the Tasman District Council says there's been a 12 percent increase in the number of homes overrun by the Argentine and Darwin's ants.

But they're by no means alone. Pest control companies spoken to by Newshub in Auckland, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin have also been busier with ant-related callouts.

Meanwhile, more houseflies are making Bay of Plenty their summer home this year, and bed bugs will also be a problem around the country including Auckland and Dunedin.

The increasing influx of insects has been helped by an abnormally mild winter - normally a time where insects and bugs die off or become dormant.

But there's nothing to fear - there are some home remedies you can try and some practical things bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste suggests to keep the pesky critters out of your hair and house.

"From Christmas onwards, you'll get those flies coming to you because they smell your roast, your turkey, and all the kind of stuff and they say 'that meat - that's my job, here's my business card', they come and fly straight into your kitchen and have a go," Kleinpaste says.

What to do about them:

Flies like sheltered spots to hang out, so give them an alternative to being in the house - like a dense hedge. Houses with leafy gardens typically have fewer flies inside.

Failing the diplomatic solution, you could also try putting apple cider vinegar in a jar with a funnel at the top or a lid with a hole big enough for the flies to get into. They'll come for the smell, but they'll be trapped once they get a taste of it.

"With ants, they're always after something to eat because that's the whole idea of having a colony like that. If you spill stuff in the kitchen, especially up north - bingo - you'll get ants.

"Keep the house clean because they will put their business card on your kitchen bench and say 'I'll clean this kitchen for you real quick. We've done it for three-and-a-half million years'."

What to do about them:

Clean up after yourself. You can also use bait stations around the property, but you'll need a few - one every two or three metres. The ants take the tainted bait back to their nest which kills off the colony.

A mixture of white vinegar and water can stop the ants in their tracks temporarily. The common explanation is that it removes chemical scent trails ants use to get around and they also hate the smell.

"The very easy way is to stop breathing because [mosquitoes] are attracted to carbon dioxide."

What to do about them:

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so get rid of any on your property like in buckets and blocked gutters.

Use a bubble machine - the internet seems to swear by it. Aside from being fun, the shield of bubbles keep mosquitoes away, possibly because of the soapy solution.

But by far the best thing to do to keep other insects and bugs at bay, Kleinpaste says, is to not hate spiders and to keep the garden's biodiversity.

"If you don't like insects buzzing around you, keep your spiders happy and alive. I know some people say 'I don't like spiders' but tough bloody whatever."

Spiders eat more insects and bugs than people might realise, he says.