First steps to no pests
By Beth Francesco
Stinging insects, ants, cockroaches, and bedbugs are perennial problems, whether you live behind a white picket fence or in a high-rise condo. Creating an integrated pest management system is key.
“It's basic things — a lot of the stuff your mom used to tell you when you were little,” Henriksen says. “Basic sanitation-oriented steps can go a long way in minimizing opportunities for pests to come in.”
Toss expired or old food into a sealed garbage container. Both can attract pests, who don't mind dining on what you leave behind.
Your pet may like to nibble, but leaving his or her food out all night indoors or out is a pest buffet. Incorporate a feeding routine instead.
Piles of clothes and crammed closets attract nesters. Eliminate extras and stay organized. Pull furniture away from walls and keep bed linens from touching the floor.
Kids are excited for summer, but a wide-open door is an easy entry point for pests. So are any cracks that you may not see once the door is closed. Richard “Bugman” Fagerlund, an entomologist based in New Mexico, says, “If you can slide a piece of paper under the door, and especially if you can see light under the door, pests can enter.” Install door sweeps and caulk crevices.
Fagerlund, who pens the syndicated column “Ask The Bugman,” favors nontoxic approaches. Take advantage of some common kitchen ingredients:
Peppermint, lemon, or citrus oils: Kills mosquitos and other insects. Use the oils, or pot an herb garden, on patios and in the kitchen.
Baking soda: A lethal agent, baking soda destroys ant mounds by sprinkling two cups of powder on a damp mound, then waiting thirty minutes before pouring a cup of vinegar on the hill. Adios, ants.
Powered sugar: Mixed with powdered sugar, baking soda can be powerful roach bait — it releases carbon dioxide that can kill insects when ingested.
Finding a pest professional
Squashing an ant is one step toward managing pests, but it’s not getting to the root of the problem, Henriksen says. Call a pest professional at signs of an infestation: skin sheddings, egg casings, and other “droppings” along windowsills and baseboards.
Ask to see a license. The pest professional industry is licensed, in most states, through the Department of Agriculture.
Ask about association membership. Local, state, and national groups offer training and invaluable information, such as which control methods are working better in different neighborhoods, Henriksen says.
Buy on value, not price. Infestations come with sticker shock, but understand what you’re buying. If a critter can cause structural damage or is hard to root out, the long-term value increases.
Bugs are desperate to vacation in a cool spot in your home, just as summer temperatures rise. Battling these unwanted guests is easy with some back-to-basics thinking.Pest control is an ongoing part of managing your home, says Missy Henriksen, public affairs vice president for the National Pest Management Association. After all, your home and family are your most valuable assets.