Summer has arrived, and with it the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Backyard barbecues and opening your house to fresh, warm breezes are hallmarks of what should be a carefree season. But insect pests could put a damper on your fun.
Insect pests have one thing in mind when they crash your outdoor summer parties: food. Some pests, such as mosquitoes, are only interested in feeding themselves; others, such as ants, are also driven to feed their many hungry relatives. To win the war on pests and enjoy a peaceful summer, follow these tips:
TAKE BACK YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
Picnic crashers, such as flies, ants and mosquitoes, are especially annoying. Re-claim your yard by taking a few precautions.
- Remove yard debris from around your home and outbuildings on a weekly basis. Some pests, such as black widow spiders, take up residence in dry, debris-filled areas.
- Locate garbage bins away from your home and outdoor dining spaces, don't overfill them, and make sure all lids are tightly closed. Schedule garbage pick-ups weekly.
- Inspect roof shingles and fascia for signs of deterioration, and repair as needed. Some pests, such as termites, are attracted to rotting wood.
- Remove standing water from items in your yard, such as buckets and furniture covers. Fill in low spots in the landscape with soil, as water can pool in them. Even small amounts of water create breeding grounds for mosquitoes. By eliminating stagnant water, you can greatly reduce the mosquito population in your yard.
- Ensure that the water in your swimming pool and/or fountain circulates. Mosquitoes won't lay eggs in moving water. Change birdbath water every two to three days to remove any mosquito eggs.
- Avoid leaving food exposed for long periods of time during picnics. Cover dishes with lids or aluminum foil to detract troublemakers, such as flies and ants, and promptly store remaining food once everyone has eaten.
- Clean your barbecue regularly, as food on grill grates attracts pests. Loosen caked-on food prior to scrubbing the grills by soaking them for an hour in a solution of hot water, ¼ cup dish soap and ¼ cup baking soda.
SHIELD YOUR HOUSE FROM PESTS
Pest invasions in the home are common during the summer months when the doors are opened frequently and many pests breed and multiply. To make your home less inviting to insect invaders, take these steps:
- Keep bulk food products stored in sealed glass or plastic containers, and place garbage in bags within sealed trashcans.
- Don't leave pet food out.
- Wipe food from tables and counters after eating, and sweep crumbs from the floor.
- Seal cracks around exterior doors and windows with caulk, and replace damaged weatherstripping. Also repair any holes and tears in screens, and install sweeps on doors to keep crawling insects at bay.
- Fill spaces around pipes, vents and utility line entry points.
- Trim tree and shrub branches that are touching your house, as pests will use trees and plants as highways for entering your home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.
PEST-PROOF YOUR VACATION
When heading off for your summer vacation, the last thing you want to worry about is pests. In addition to using the above home protective methods, ensure that your house stays pest-free while you're gone by throwing out any garbage prior to leaving. Also, refrigerate fruit that may rot in your absence, and ensure that houseplants aren't sitting in saucers of standing water.
While traveling, keep an eye out for troublesome pests, such as bed bugs, which have made a comeback in recent years, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.1 The last thing you want to do is accidentally bring any of these irksome pests home. So, carefully check your accommodations upon arrival. Look for bed bugs on and around mattresses, box springs and bed frames, and check the edges of carpeting.
Bedbugs resemble wood ticks — they are brown, flat, wingless insects, 1/4- to 3/8-inch long. If you think you've sighted these pests, remove yourself and your belongings from the premises immediately and request that the area be inspected by a pest-control specialist.
CREATE A PROTECTIVE BARRIER AROUND YOUR HOME
For added piece of mind, protect your yard and home from pests with high quality products. Pesky ants succumb to Amdro Ant Block Home Perimeter Ant Bait, taking the bait back to the nest and killing the entire colony. When a variety of pests are a problem, Amdro Kills Ants & Spiders can kill up to 50 insects and spiders. Even more wide-reaching is Amdro Quick Kill Outdoor Insect Killer. This ready-to-spray product kills more than 500 lawn pests.
You and your family deserve to enjoy a pest-free summer. When you follow these combat tips, troublemakers get the message that they're not invited to your yard and house.
1. Dr. Stephen A. Kells and Jeff Hahn, “Prevention and control of bed bugs in residences," University of Minnesota Extension, 2015.
Amdro, Ant Block, Kills Ants and Amdro Quick Kill are trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.