Tips to Keep Spring Bugs Out of Your Home
Springtime brings warm weather, flowers and blooming trees, but it also brings bugs! "We've all kind of come out of our wintry relaxation time and they're really coming out just as we are!" says National Pest Management Association's Missy Henriksen. "They're looking for food, they're looking for water and they're looking for shelter, and our homes are really the perfect place for all of those things." She urges homeowners to take precautions, especially this year. "With the bad winter we've just come through and with all of the moisture that came," explains Missy, "it's going to be a very, very bad pest season." Get Missy's tips for preventing a variety of pests from making your home theirs:
Stinging Insects: Bees, Wasps, Hornets
• Risks: "Five percent of Americans are allergic to insect stings and that equates to over 12 million people," Missy says. "Over 1/2 million Americans each year find themselves in the emergency room because of some kind of an insect sting. So, we really want to do our part to make sure we are minimizing the opportunity for those creatures."
• Prevention: "You can't get rid of them, so you want to do things to minimize the likelihood that they're going to appear in your homes," Missy says. Walk around the outside of your home to see that caulk and weather strips are in tact so that nothing can get in. Scan the property for beehives or hornet's nests, especially in light fixtures. "They have lots of little crevices and lots of little inviting areas that invite bees and wasps." If you find a hive, it should be removed. "If it's a larger colony that's forming, if you're not sure how your family is going to react from any potential stings that may be coming from there, you might want to call in a professional."
• Risks: "They can certainly do a lot of damage to our house because they are eating 24 hours a day, seven days a week - they are doing a lot of structural damage. In fact, over $5 billion in property damage every year is done by termites," Missy explains.
• Prevention: If you keep flower beds outside your home, be sure to keep mulch 12 to 18 inches away from the frame of your house, because the mulch can attract termites. "They eat wood and they eat on the cellulose that's in wood, so any of the bark mulching you see here, definitely a warming environment for them to welcome them in. They think the feast is right there for them!" she says. Termites also are attracted to water and moisture, making gutters another potential home. "You want to take a minute and look at your outside gutters, your drainage system, make sure everything is pointing away from your house. You want to make sure you're not putting any standing water, any pools of water right around them, otherwise they're going to have their food and their water right there in the entrance way."
Ants and Roaches
• Risks: Ants are the number one nuisance for homeowners While ants are a nuisance when they congregate around your kitchen or bathroom, they don't pose a health risk. "Roaches are definitely a health related pest. They carry different bacteria that can transmit E. coli, they can transmit salmonella, 33 other kinds of bacteria as well ... One of the biggest problems with cockroaches is that the allergens that they create can cause asthma attacks, especially within children."
Check for leaks under sinks and outside your home in the drainage areas as water is attractive to ants and roaches.
Clean up crumbs wherever you eat and make sure to wipe any syrup or sugar that may spill in cabinets and on counters. "Particularly if children are doing their own cooking if they have poured some delicious syrup on their pancakes or waffles," she says. "They put it right back in [the cabinet], they think they're doing a good job putting that away, but they have neglected to wipe off the surface. It's very attractive for pests, ditto with honey. Also if you've got sugar, you may want to consider putting it in a sealed container."
Feed pets at specific times instead of leaving their food for hours. "It is a definite attraction factor for pests. It's almost like you've put down a buffet for the bugs and said, 'Come on in and enjoy yourself!' So if you do have a dog that likes to eat throughout the day, you might have to teach them to eat on a more regular meal plan, because you’d want to keep the food off of the floor and keep the bowl cleaned and washed out on a regular basis."
Vacuum rugs on a regular basis.
After a vacation, spend a few minutes inspecting your suitcase to be sure you didn't pack a bug with your souvenirs. Vacuum crevices in the bag and look carefully at your outfits. "It's always a wise practice to take out all of the clothes that you've taken on your trip, even if you haven't worn them, and wash them in hot water."
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