Bugs seem to be everywhere. Well, not seem, but they are. According to the Entomological Society of America, there are more than a billion bugs per person in the world. (That’s 10 quintillions if you find yourself in a trivia contest.) Once temperatures start rising each spring, bugs emerge and search for water and food.
What can you do to avoid the onslaught? Missy Henriksen of the National Pest Management Association advises homeowners to “incorporate pest-proofing as part of their spring cleaning and yard clean up routines.” We have a few ideas for you.
Watch the Home Carefully
While roaches are expected to survive a nuclear war, and mosquitoes can fly away from your spray, they can’t magically appear. You should watch for problem areas and address them.
An ant colony will send “scouts” to evaluate your place. Even a couple of ants can mean it’s time to act before the scouts give the OK to the group.
Examine your outdoors. Firewood is a prime spot for termites and ants. Store wood at least 20 feet from the house.
Boyd Huneycutt, the co-founder of the pest control company Mosquito Squad, reminds that mosquitoes rapidly breed in standing water. “Yards with bird baths, play sets with tire swings, tree houses, fire pits and catch basins to recycle water should all be checked regularly, and water tipped,” he suggests.
Also, so that bugs don’t have an easy bridge into your house, keep branches and shrubs well-groomed away from walls.
Block Outside Entrances
All insects originate outdoors. The task before you is to keep them from coming indoors.
“The most important means to eradicate a pest problem is to work from the outside to the inside,” says Peter Stieglmaryr of RK Environmental Services.
Roof shingles, chimneys, windows, vents, and pipes are to insects what the front door is to you. Repair things like torn window screens or loose weather-stripping to close those doors. If you find open spaces near pipes or vents, use steel wool to fill large gaps or caulk to fill small cracks.
Keep Things Clean
Since messes are bug magnets, keeping your home clean is the best way to keep pests away. The kitchen, where crumbs and other potential treats can be found, is especially critical.
Vacuum once a week. If you don’t feel like tossing the trash one day, cover your bins or even seal them.
Did you know cockroaches love the smell of paper and hate the light? Address areas where bugs can congregate, such as stacks of magazines, boxes, or bags.
Keep Things Dry
Water is both a water fountain and a breeding ground for the creepy-crawlies. A sink filled with dirty dishes and standing water is obvious, but anywhere water can pool must be addressed.
If the pipes under the sink or in the bathroom are leaky, or there is moisture in the basement or attic, call in a plumber. A dehumidifier may also be needed.
Cockroaches are constantly searching for water, which is why they have acquired the “waterbug” nickname.