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Eliminating Summertime Pests

Common pests don’t have to ruin your summer fun. Here are tips for keeping the top five pests—mosquitoes, ants, wasps and hornets, spiders and ticks—out of your home.
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As summer approaches, most of us feel an urge to get more active. Unfortunately, that tendency applies to pests as well as people. There’s a strong relationship between warmer weather and the explosion of bugs that seems to occur in the summer months because insects are cold-blooded.

“The warmer the weather gets, the more optimum it is for their growth,” says Stoy Hedges, an entomologist and director of technical services for Terminix, the country’s largest pest-control company.

According to the National Pest Management Association, the five top summer pests are mosquitoes, ants, wasps and hornets, spiders and ticks. Here is advice on keeping them out of your house.

Photo courtesy of National Pest Management Association/Gene White.
Photo courtesy of National Pest Management Association/Gene White.

The number one rule to controlling mosquitoes is to get rid of standing water around your house because that’s where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Any water that sits for seven days or longer can breed mosquitoes, so make sure you change the water in bird feeders and kiddie pools.

“Even soda cap lids can hold thousands of larvae,” says Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. Keep your gutters running clean, and drill holes in the bottom of tire swings. (Swimming pools are exempt because the chlorine in them kills the larvae.)

Also, make sure your screens fit securely and are in good repairs, and don’t leave the doors, including garage doors, open.

It is true, by the way, that mosquitoes seem to swarm around some people and pretty much leave others alone, Hedges says. All blood-feeding insects are attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide and a chemical substance released by living organisms called a kairomone. “Some people give off a little more body heat or kairomones,” he says.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ants show up in your house looking for food or water, or to avoid bad weather, such as flooding. The best way to keep them outside where they belong is to caulk any cracks, crevices or small holes, says Frederique DeLame entomologist for Combat ant baits. Keep all vegetation, including mulch, at least a foot away from your house and trim back any shrubs or tree branches that touch the house.

Also, fix water leaks and insulate cold pipes and appliances that produce condensation. Don’t over-water house plants, and keep pet food stored in airtight containers.

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