It wouldn’t be fall without a trip or two to the local pumpkin patch to pick and carve one of your very own in advance of your favorite fall holiday. But guess who else loves pumpkins? Rats and other pests!
With an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the US every year, rats are about to get another boost. And with Halloween just around the corner, families need to be careful when putting one outside their home.
Rodents such as mice and rats enjoy nibbling on pumpkins, especially if they're cut open to reveal the soft and delicious fruit and left outside. (Squirrels, chipmunks and javelina also love to snack on them!) Outdoor pumpkin decorations lure rodents close to your home, which increases the risk of an infestation on your property. To avoid an issue, make sure pumpkins are swiftly disposed of before they create a new problem.
Another lover of pumpkin is the ubiquitous fruit fly. A pumpkin doesn't have to even start rotting before fruit flies show up to feast. However, as the pumpkin slowly rots, more fruit flies will appear and infest the surrounding area. They not only cover the pumpkin but also fly around the space, annoying anyone who comes near the fruit. These pests will also lay eggs in the fruit and increase their numbers as the pumpkin rots. If your pumpkin is near the entrance to your home, these pests will likely fly inside every time you open the door.
Squash bugs are also attracted to pumpkin. They look similar to stinkbugs and feed on the leaves of squash plants. Though they prefer to eat squash leaves and vines, they'll gladly consume pumpkin fruit if no other food source is available. These pests infest gardens and will also invade homes through open windows and doors or random cracks and crevices.
Pumpkins rot slowly over time, attracting these unwanted pests that feed on the fruit. Because the pumpkins often are placed by the front door, that gives the pests numerous opportunities to come inside your home. In order to reduce pests around your pumpkins, here are a few steps you can take:
- If you see blemishes or feel soft spots, the pumpkins have started to rot. It’s time to remove them from the front yard.
- If you're carving them for Halloween, wait until the final week before the holiday.
- Light your jack-o'-lantern with a glow stick. Inserting a candle in the pumpkin increases the rotting cycle.
Halloween decorating should bring joy to families, not pesky critters. If unwelcome rodents or other flying creatures are ruining your fun, call a pest control professional to rid your home of infestation.