Summer presents an ideal time for insects to breed, and that’s bad news for your lawn, your home exterior and your house in general. Ants, mosquitoes, ticks and stinging insects are particularly active in the summer months. Fortunately, you can take some steps to protect yourself and your family.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?
You can take many actions on your own to stave off pests. Store woodpiles as far away from your house as possible, and make sure garbage cans are sealed. Woodpiles and garbage offer ready homes for pests. Tall grasses and outdoor overgrowth also attract pests, especially ticks. Keep your yard clear of debris such as grass clippings and leaf piles.
Mosquitoes breed in water, and they don’t need much. Half an inch of water is enough to spread mosquitoes, so eliminate outdoor water sources. Children’s toys, old tires and outside recycling bins can give mosquitoes enough water. Change bird bath water twice a week, and check the bases under outdoor flower pots (a commonly forgotten water source.) Even a bottle cap full of water can breed mosquitoes.
Check your gutters and clean them regularly. Water can easily build up, and debris in gutters attracts all kinds of pests.
Keep an eye out for broken panels or siding, gaps in soffits, and exterior crevices, which are perfect homes for wasp nests. Make sure all your windows, doors and screens are in good working order, so no unwanted creature can fly in.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING PROFESSIONALS?
If you’ve got an insect infestation, you’ll probably need help from a pro to get rid of it. When hiring, make sure they hold the state and local licensing required to do the job. When you hire, look for someone with a proven track record in exterminating that type of pest.
Check to see if they use Integrated Pest Management practices, which are endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ask detailed questions about how they’ll handle the extermination process, including how their chemicals might impact the health of your children or pets. Also inquire about how they’ll both eliminate the pests and get rid of the source of the infestation.
You can expect to pay between $100 and $250 for most pest control treatments.
WHAT KINDS OF SCAMS SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR?
Because many people are unfamiliar with the details of pest control, and because you’re usually in a tight spot when you call such a service, scams abound in the pest control world. Keep an eye out to protect yourself.
Make sure the technician working in your home is properly licensed. Most states require all employees who spray pesticide in the home to hold an individual license, in addition to the company itself being licensed.
Never hire anyone who comes to your door offering a free pest inspection. Oftentimes, they’ll deposit corpses of dead bugs or otherwise “discover” an infestation you didn’t know about, and then reel you in with expensive treatments.
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.
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