Keep Unwanted House Guests Away With These Summer Pest-Proofing Tips
“Buzz off.” That’s quite likely the universal mantra homeowners hold toward mosquitos and other flying or crawling creepies in their yard or home.
Pests are more than an annoyance: They can be harmful. Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have been on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some bugs, like termites and carpenter ants, can damage your home structurally, and an infestation in your pantry can damage your wallet as it leads to wasted food.
Here are ways to keep these summer nemeses at bay inside and outside the home.
Making your yard inhospitable to pests
Your first line of prevention for keeping pests from entering your home is pest-proofing your outdoors. Here are four areas to tackle:
1. Eliminate standing water.
Mosquitoes, in particular, are drawn to pooling water where they can breed. Keep rain gutters clear and then regularly make sure water isn’t collecting in other places, such as outdoor toys, buckets, plastic covers, plant dishes, and any other spot where water from rain or sprinklers can accumulate.
2. Keep outdoor water supplies fresh.
Sometimes the water in your outdoors is there by design, like in water features, kiddie pools, bird baths, and rain barrels. Keep it fresh and disrupt mosquito breeding grounds by emptying and changing out the water frequently. If you have a pool or hot tub, make sure it’s treated and the water is circulating properly.
3. Pest proof your garden.
Keep your lawn mowed, your plants and shrubs trimmed, and beds weed-free to eliminate appealing pest habitat. Remove debris, such as yard waste and compost, and store firewood away from the house.
4. Protect yourself.
Late summer activities like entertaining or dining al fresco can attract unwanted guests in the form of mosquitoes, flies, bees, and other bugs. You can try your luck with bug zappers and citronella candles, but not much replaces an effective insect repellent. For best results, use one that contains properties suggested by the Environmental Protection Association (EPA).
Eliminating indoor pests
While paying attention to your outdoor environment can help reduce areas that harbor insects, you should also take steps indoors.
1. Create barriers to keep them out.
Make sure branches aren’t brushing up against the house or roof that can provide the perfect “highway” for crawling bugs. Then seal gaps, cracks, and holes where they otherwise might enter. Mend holes in screens so mosquitoes and other winged bugs can’t fly in, and of course, keep the door closed.
2. Clean your kitchen regularly.
Many pests, like gnats and ants, are looking for a free meal, so make sure any food is cleared and stored in a covered container. This includes not leaving dishes in the sink or a trash can out in the open. Also carefully wipe down cabinets, counters, and pantry shelves as the smallest of crumbs or residue can attract a swarm. Take out trash and recycling regularly.
3. Keep your carpets clean.
To avoid nesting activity, vacuum carpet and area rugs frequently and then dispose of the vacuum bag so that eggs and larvae don’t develop. Use the crevice tool to clean baseboards and shelves.
4. Pay attention to pets.
Your pet can attract ticks, fleas, and other bugs so watch for scratching or other signs they have been targeted. Wash bedding frequently and don’t leave food or water out for long periods of time.
5. Try home remedies.
If you do find pests in the house, there are some natural remedies you can try. Trap fruit flies and gnats by filling a jar one-quarter full of apple cider vinegar and placing a funnel on top of the jar. The sweet liquid will attract them and ideally, they will fly into the funnel and be unable to get back out. For ants, some homeowners have found success by sprinkling cinnamon or coffee grounds near nooks and crannies where they might enter, or drawing a line in chalk, which some say they won’t cross.
6. Call in extra help if needed.
Remember that an exterminator is always an option for peace of mind, and many use organic methods and natural substances that may be safer for kids and pets.
On that note, the right home insurance policy can also promote peace of mind. While homeowners policies are unlikely to cover regular pest control, they may play a role if you have secondary damage from pest infestations or certain other conditions.
It’s important to know what your policy covers and make sure you have adequate protection for unexpected damage. With Matic, just a few clicks will let you compare top-rated insurance carriers to find the one that’s right for you.