(RNN) – As spring slowly makes its way across the country, dormant critters begin to emerge, showing up in our homes, yards and gardens. Insect pests can be anything from a nuisance to deadly, so it's important to know how to keep them at bay.
The most common pests that Americans battle, starting in spring, include ants, roaches, termites and silverfish. As we move into the summer, more insidious pests like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets make their way into our lives.
What can you do about seasonal pests?
First you should consider Integrated Pest Management, which is a method of pest management that can help you combat pests with minimal use of chemical control methods.
Working to prevent infestations is ideal, whether or not you follow IPM. Keeping the inside of your home clean and tidy is helpful in keeping pests at bay. Ortho recommends cleaning around kitchen appliances and wiping down the baseboards in your home. Rinsing out containers that held food or beverages before tossing them in the trash should also be part of your anti-pest routine.
Since some bugs are attracted to water, you should fix leaks around the plumbing in your home, clean your gutters and make sure water directs away from your home's foundation.
Clutter gives pests a place to hide and breed, so the EPA recommends getting rid of any piles of papers, magazines, cardboard and the like that you might have around your home.
Outdoors, it is helpful to remove rotted trees, shrubs and other organic material from around the home. Get rid of any standing water and change birdbath water weekly. Repair holes in window and door screens to keep pests outside.
Our pets can bring in unwanted guests, too. Be sure to check your pets and their bedding for fleas and ticks, and if you find any, treat accordingly.
The most meticulously-kept home can still fall victim to an invasion of insects and you have to take action. When it comes to controlling pests, there are different methods of pest control you can choose from.
One kind is biological control, which is the use of natural enemies, including predators, parasites and pathogens to control a pest population. This is commonly used outdoors to counter non-native pests.
Dragonflies, for example, are an excellent natural enemy to many types of pests, including mosquitoes, termites, deerflies and horseflies.
The second method is organic control. Many people want to fight pests without the use of chemicals and there are a number of ways to do so.
Sticky traps are one way to combat pests without using any chemicals. Certain insects are attracted to particular colors. Yellow is the most common color for this type of trap, but you can choose the correct color for the type of pest you are targeting.
Some insects are repelled by the scent of certain plants. For example, you can use crushed, dry mint, ground cinnamon or cloves to repel ants. The odor of basil and citronella repels mosquitoes.
Diatomaceous earth is useful for many types of pests, including silverfish, roaches, and ants. It works by essentially drying out the insect. However, the diatomaceous earth must be dry to work. It's useless if it gets wet.
Finally, there is chemical control. Chemical pest control is the most popular form of pest control because it is a quick and efficient way of ridding your home of bugs.
Insecticides can kill bugs or inhibit their growth or reproduction. There are two general types of insecticides, broad spectrum and targeted insecticides. Broad spectrum insecticides kill bugs indiscriminately, so both the unwanted pests and beneficial insects will be affected. Targeted insecticides kill only a specific kind or family of bugs.
Broad spectrum insecticides will kill both pests and beneficial insects, so it's best to stick with targeted pesticides whenever possible.
When using chemicals to combat bugs, it's important to know that insects can become resistant to insecticides. If a small portion of bugs survive treatment with a particular type of insecticide, they can pass that resistance to their offspring. When that particular insecticide is used again on that insect population, more of the bugs will survive and eventually, that product will no longer prove effective on the pests.
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