Summers seems to be a particularly challenging time of the year to keep your home free of insects but arming yourself with information and effective solutions can help prevent and combat infestations.
The National Pest Management Association projected that termites, cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes and other insects would thrive in regions nationwide this season.
While a pest problem can cause embarrassment and concern, there are ways of dealing with insects that can help you manage the problem even without harsh chemicals.
Have you been spotting more bugs than usual around the house? Cockroaches and flies, for example, can be vectors for diseases, so you will want to manage the problem as quickly as possible for health and safety.
Here are a few basic steps and things to know that will help you find a solution.
- Inspect your home for insects. Walk around your home, inside and out. Make sure your window screens are in good repair. Look for cracks and gaps in the foundation and around windows and doors. Seal any problem areas with caulk or use hardware cloth or mesh.
- Identify the type of bug you are seeing in the house. Figuring out what kind of bugs you have in the house and how they are getting in is the first step in determining what needs to be done in order to eliminate it.
- Seek help from skilled professionals if you have an infestation.
Things to know
Flies tend to breed in trash, or sinks that accumulate matter. Empty your trash, and scrub all the cans.
Sometimes beetles live in stuff like pancake mix or flour. Some live in spices, particularly chili powder. If you see small red or brown beetles in your pantry, check your flour and spices for signs of activity.
To get rid of roaches, an exterminator is probably your best choice. If you can’t wait for the exterminator to get to your home, you can buy sticky traps and place them in strategic locations within the home. However, they're only effective if you place them properly. If only 5 percent of the roaches survive the attack, they will completely repopulate in just a few months.
Ants are unique amongst insects because their behavior is key to solving the infestations. They leave a trail that makes it easier for other ants from the colony to find their way to food. Sweeping or mopping isn’t enough to eliminate the scent. To wash away the trail, use a solution made from 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 cups water and 10 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil and help eliminate house pests. Vinegar and water won’t stop ants that are already nesting indoors. You’ll need to kill them with ant bait.
The spiders commonly found in houses live in yards and gardens around residences. Spiders are repelled by strong scents, so if you’re less than keen on these arachnids, add 15 to 20 drops of peppermint essential oil to a spray bottle of water and mist it around the house. You can swap out peppermint for tea tree, lavender, rose or cinnamon.
Rodents can be difficult to keep out of buildings. Mice, for example, can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime and rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter. They have an incredibly weak vision but a strong sense of smell. Peppermint is known to be a successful natural remedy that works when trying to repel mice. According to Victor Pest, peppermint is a menthol that is very potent and can irritate their nasal cavities.
Are fruit flies invading your kitchen? Female fruit flies lay an average of 500 eggs on the surface of fermenting fruit. The National Pest Management Association also recommends disposing of fruit in outdoor trash cans to prevent those eggs from hatching in your indoor trash. You can also put out a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a few squirts of dish soap. The fruity vinegar scent attracts the flies and the dish soap pulls them down into the water where they drown.
What to do
So, what are some simple, safe ways to prevent bug infestations and manage existing ones? Consider these tips to keep bugs in check this summer:
• Clean up the kitchen. Although you might not see food debris anywhere, those six-legged critters will be sure to find them. Get rid of crumbs around the kitchen or anywhere else you eat around the house. Regularly sweeping and wiping down counters can help.
•Seal gaps. Look not only for larger gaps in your attic or garage, but watch for small, unsealed gaps where electrical lines and pipes enter your house. Bugs, mice and other pests love small gaps like the dryer vents.
• Keep food sealed and stored properly. The right containers will not only keep pests out of your food, but out of your trash. Store pet food in a lidded metal trashcan, as mice cannot climb the slick, vertical sides of the can. Dispose of garbage in sealed receptacles to keep out both bugs and unwanted animals.
• Dry up damp areas. Bugs are not only seeking food, they are also searching for water and can sense drips from pretty far away. Leaks in the water system must be repaired. Remove standing water to prevent mosquito (and other bug) breeding around the home.
• Never bring in unwashed, used furniture and other objects. Before introducing such items into your home, inspect them carefully.
• Repair torn windows screens, mosquito nets and similar barriers. They protect your house against summer pests, but only when they provide complete protection.
• Set up a line of defense by keeping windows, doors and garages closed as much as possible, and by placing chemical-free traps where needed.
• Inspect your landscape. Trim overhanging tree limbs that might provide an insect or rodent on-ramp to your home. Cut vegetation so it’s at least three feet from your home. Don’t allow soil or mulch to build up around the foundation. Siding shouldn’t touch soil or mulch, and firewood should be stored away from the house.