There are several types of bugs you may find in your home, unwanted pests that have taken up residence or come to be a nuisance. Some require exterminators, while others can be removed with a few simple steps.
Why do insects enter our homes? Often they're attracted by food. Little crumbs that we don't see can be a feast for an insect. Sometimes they're looking for shelter or a source of water. Some insects even consider our homes their dinner.
Ants appear in the spring, and are attracted to any food crumbs, as well as water and sources of shelter. If there is sand beneath the foundation of your home, ants may set up a colony beneath it. Some ants will also seek out rotting wood to build nests. Most of the time, though, it's just a single ant that's out looking for food who crawled under a door or through a hole in a screen.
To discourage their presence, be sure to have clean floors so they don't have a food supply. Put away food promptly and take out garbage often. Clean counters, tables and surfaces of lingering crumbs.
If you notice large numbers of ants coming from a particular area of your home, it's time to track down the nest. Check around the foundation for telltale mounds of sand, or look for ants crawling around exposed wood. Check the trees around your home, too; if there are branches rubbing against windows or the roof, they could be serving as a bridge for these pests.
You can mix boric acid with flour, sugar or cornmeal, and sprinkle the combination around infested areas. The ants will carry the substance back to their nest, eat it and die, taking out the nest as well.
Mosquitoes appear during the early summer and linger until the first killing frost. In warmer parts of the United States, they can be a year round menace. Mosquitoes spread blood-bourne illnesses, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus.
Mosquitoes who get into your home are either flying through open doors or crawling through holes in screens. It's not unusual for a mosquito or two to get in, but if you see a lot of them, start looking for an open window or a damaged screen.
Mosquitoes need standing water to breed, but they don't need a lot of it. While they prefer ponds, mosquitoes can breed in buckets, cans and old tires; in short, anything that can hold water. You'll never be able to keep every mosquito away from your home, but you can cut down on the population by getting rid of any standing water, or containers that could hold water.
These pests lay eggs on garbage, rotting food, animal waste and compost. They'll eat anything and can spread bacteria to food.
You can expect a housefly or two to get into your home every summer. Swatting them doesn't work, because they sense the air movement long before the swatter can get them. A better plan is to mix 1/3 cup of dishwashing liquid with a gallon of water and keep it in a spray bottle. Spray the flies, and they'll drop to the floor.
Keep an eye out for large populations of flies around garbage barrels and other areas of your home. You'll need to get rid of garbage or animal waste if flies become a problem.
Silverfish are shiny, gray, long, wingless bugs that like damp areas and starchy food. They will eat books, flour, cereal, magazines, wallpaper and starched clothing. As with houseflies, it's not unusual for a silverfish or two to find its way into your home. If you see a lot of them, start checking around your house for rotted wood, which is a favorite shelter.
To get rid of them, mix 1 cup ground oat flour with ½ teaspoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon boric acid powder. Put this bait and some crumpled paper in the bottom of some shallow containers near their hiding spots. Replace any rotting wood so that they aren't tempted to come back.
The most loathed house pest, roaches love dark, humid areas and come out to eat whatever crumbs, glue, paper and pet food are available. The better you are at sweeping up crumbs, the less likely you are to have a problem with roaches.
Seal wall openings around water pipes with duct tape to keep roaches out. Keep an eye out for rotting wood at ground level as well.
You need to act fast if you see roaches, as they breed rapidly and can quickly infest a home. Mix ¼ cup shortening, 1/8 cup sugar, 8 ounces boric acid powder and ½ cup flour and stir together. Add enough water to make a dough that you can shape into balls. Put these balls near places where you have seen roaches, such as under the kitchen sink and behind the fridge. Don't put the balls near places where food is prepared. If this doesn't work, call an exterminator.
Termites get their food and shelter from the same place: the wood in your home. Most termite infestations begin with wood that is wet or that has dry rot. Colonies will migrate from dead logs or trees in the yard and establish themselves in the walls of your home, sometimes causing severe structural damage.
Termites look a bit like ants, except they're white, light yellow or light brown, and have a two-segmented body with a head attached to a large abdomen. You're likely to see termite holes in wood long before you see the termites themselves. Wood that has been attacked will become brittle and in some cases powdery.
If you think there are termites in your home, it's time to call an exterminator. Once they're gone, replace damaged wood with pressure-treated wood, which repels termite attacks.
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