Even though summer means fresh air and barbecuing with friends in the backyard, those outdoor activities also mean way more exposure to bugs. To keep you home and the area surrounding it insect-free, follow this advice from the professionals.
Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, so eliminate as many sources as possible: Toss empty soda cans and bottles, drain planter saucers and clear gutters. “All they need is half of an inch to breed, so watch out for kiddie pools and bird baths too,” TV host and spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association Bob Vila warns. You should also cut grass and weeds short and keep screens in good repair so they can’t get in to nibble on you.
Houseflies thrive in the hot summer months. Outside, they lay eggs in garbage, soil, lawn clippings, sewage, water, animal waste and rotting food. To prevent them from overtaking your home, remove any litter from your yard, don’t leave doors ajar and seal all your food.
“The ant population is easier to dispose with pesticide cans and a number of remedies that are natural,” Vila says. One solution: Sprinkle boric acid or borax powder around entrances and along any visible trails and then keep your kids and pets away from the treated areas. Inside your home, dust infested areas with boric acid mixed with an equal amount of flour, cornmeal or sugar (again, put up temporary barriers to keep pets and small children from touching the powder). The ants will carry the grains back to the nest, feed on them and die.
These nuisances congregate around trash cans, food and drinks. Nests, on the other hand, are often made around buildings, under eaves or in bushes and attics. To get rid of nests, buy a commercial product, which you spray directly into the nest at night. If that doesn’t work, don’t remove a nest yourself. “There are professionals that specialize in eradicating the problem,” Vila says, which he recommends as a much safer approach.
Roaches come out at night to feed on crumbs, paper, glue, pet food and even wax. Good clean-up is key. They won’t linger if there’s nothing to eat. Use duct tape to seal wall openings around water pipes to stop the critters from traveling.
These bugs seek out food sources that are high in starch, especially books, magazines and wallpaper. They’ll also munch on flour and cereal, starched clothing and some synthetic fabrics. Reducing paper and properly storing clothes and pantry items will make your home less appetizing for them. To find out about dust mite extermination, click here.
These bloodsuckers are out in force during the summer, so check your pets and yourself often. To keep fleas at bay, bathe and comb your pet and wash bedding frequently. “Most people who have dogs are cats are aware of how important it is to put a flea collar on them,” Vila says. You should also vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture regularly. If fleas are out of control, talk with a vet and call the exterminator ASAP.
Ticks need to be removed immediately because some carry Lyme disease. Using a fine-point tweezer, grasp the tick as close as possible to where it is attached to the skin and pull it out. Try to pull off the entire tick. Then wipe the area with alcohol and wash hands with soap and water. Put the tick in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer. If you should develop a bull’s-eye mark on your skin, a fever, muscle aches or joint pain, take the saved tick to your doctor so that it can be used in the diagnosis. If you can’t get the tick cleanly out of yours or your pet’s skin, head to the doctor.
If you leave your bananas out to ripen, you’re no stranger to these little guys. Thankfully many home remedies work well at trapping them once an infestation hits (see how to make a trap in the video below), but to keep them out for good, you need to keep fresh produce always sealed.