How to prevent ants

Ants are social insects that live in colonies made up of one or a few queens, and many workers. There are two common types of ants found in homes in all areas of the world - the sugar ant and the carpenter ant.

Sugar ants primarily live in the soil but may enter the home in search of foods with high sugar content. Carpenter ants will either bore out areas of wood, or find existing holes in wood to use as their home. Carpenter ants are considerably larger than sugar ants in their size, often being confused for black termites.

Preventive measures

Infestations in the home are likely the result of ants gaining access to the foods they need for survival. Both sugar and carpenter ants need a certain amount of carbohydrates and protein to live. Ants are able to find these nutrients in trash containers, and where food is left uncovered.

The following tips can help prevent ant infestations:

Wipe up spills and food droppings to eliminate the ant’s food source.

Keep foods such as fruits in the refrigerator and sweets in airtight containers.

Seal openings or gaps around doors and windows. Check screens for tears or large gaps.

Pet food often attracts ants so it needs to be stored in air-tight containers.

Empty trash bins regularly and clean them with bleach.

Video: Home Maintenance to Keep Pests Away

Video produced by: Eldon Lindsay

How to kill cockroaches

Cockroaches are crawling insects that tend to spread fear in many people when mentioned. Often referred to simply as roaches, these insects are believed to live in dirty home settings. This is a myth as roaches can live in any environment where they can hide and have access to food. Homes with a lot of clutter are at a higher risk of infestation as roaches often go unnoticed for longer periods of time.

Cockroaches have been known to live for months without food, but they cannot survive for long periods without water. They breed rapidly if proper measures are not taken to control their existence. Cockroaches are found in almost every region of the world minus polar areas and altitudes above 6,500 feet in elevation.

While cockroaches tend to be found in early spring and summer, infestations are often reported late into the summer. You may find cockroach nests in crevices and under objects throughout the home, especially in cupboards; however, they usually do not go behind the walls or baseboards. The majority will be found living in kitchen spaces and other areas where food is easily accessible.

Cockroaches may seem harmless, but they can transmit harmful microbes into the home that have been linked to respiratory ailments such as asthma.

Preventive measures

While it is true that cockroaches can invade even the most sanitary environment, there are certain steps homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of infestation.

Control clutter. This will help to eliminate hiding spots for the roaches, and make it easier to spot them.

Eliminate the food source. Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they occur. Make sure all food packages are properly discarded and removed. Keep food items sealed in airtight containers. Do not leave fruits, vegetables or candy dishes lying around.

Pet food is often a major attractant for roaches. Keep food dishes clean and remove any remaining food after meals.

Place bait traps in areas where cockroaches hide. Roaches love to hide underneath furniture and appliances and inside cupboards.

Use a vacuum to remove cockroaches and their droppings. Place them in a plastic bag and freeze them. This will help to control the population.

How to prevent mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are small, fly-like insects that are members of the Culicidae family. They are best known for the itchy mark they leave after piercing the skin.

It is estimated that more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes live throughout the world. They will thrive in any climate with warm temperatures and high levels of moisture. Mosquitoes are one of the few insects that lay eggs in water, and they will use anything they can find as a birthing site. Any place where warm, stagnant water collects can be a potential breeding ground.

Mosquitoes feed on plant material and nectar, and females require blood for the production of eggs. They use a long pointed proboscis to extract blood from humans and animals. The itchy spots that appear after a bite are the body’s immune response to the antigens in the mosquito’s saliva.

Mosquitoes pose some danger because they can transmit viruses and disease-causing parasites. Infected mosquitoes have been known to transmit diseases like yellow fever, malaria and West Nile virus. Some people worry that mosquitoes can transmit HIV, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, “when an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previously bitten person's or animal's blood into the next person bitten.”

Preventive methods

The best defense against mosquitoes is to limit the places where they breed. There are many steps homeowners can take to reduce the number of mosquitoes around their home.

Monitor water bowls for pets, fountains, bird baths, drainage ditches or other areas where stagnant water may collect. These are the areas where mosquitoes lay eggs.

Check outdoor faucets and garden hoses for leaks and surrounding pooling areas. Remove any unnecessary items where water collects.

Keep weeds and grass trimmed and away from tree bases, property edging and other areas where moisture can build up.

Check all screens in the home for tears or gaps.

Stinging insects

For most people, the idea of stinging insects in the home is more than a nuisance; it emits a feeling of fear. Wasps and bees are common in warm climate areas that have pollens, vegetation and adequate levels of moisture.

Wasps, bees and other stinging insects are important to the environment because of their ability to pollinate trees, flowers and other plants. However, they can also pose serious health risks for many individuals. These flying insects have barbed stingers which produce venom. People who get stung, or are inflicted with the venom can face serious allergic reactions. For people who are allergic to bees, a single sting could prove fatal.

Preventive methods

The best way to safeguard your loved ones from stinging insects is to prevent them from living around the home.

Fill in cracks and gaps in areas such as the siding joints, end caps around corners of the home, roof perimeters, window and door frames and utility boxes. Many insects use these spaces for hive building.

If water is placed outside in fountains or birdbaths, place a few tablespoons of vinegar into the water to repel bees and other insects.

Minimize the amount of flowering plants and vegetation in close proximity to the home as they will attract bees.

If honey bees are prevalent in the area, set up a honeycomb hive as far away from the home as possible for the bees to utilize.

Fill in holes and burrows in the ground that are enticing to borer bees and stinging insects that nest under the ground.

How to prevent fruit flies

Fruit flies certainly can be pesky, especially in the summer.

There are lots of reasons why fruit flies hang around. As the name suggests, they are attracted to fruit and vegetables. They also love grimy drains and garbage disposals, dirty dishes, garbage and recycling bins.

If fruit flies are swarming in your home, first make sure they’re not phorid flies or fungus gnats. Fruit flies have red eyes.

Find and eliminate where they’re breeding, which is decaying, organic matter. As the name suggests, they are attracted to fruit and vegetables. While fruit flies don’t live long, a female can lay 500 eggs at a time. Once they hatch, the new flies can start reproducing more flies within 12 hours. Inspect and remove any infested food. Bananas are the worst! Keep fruits and veggies refrigerated or in sealed containers or plastic bags until you get these critters under control.

One safe-to-use home remedy is an apple cider or vinegar trap. Place the aromatic liquid in a jar or bowl, add a few drops of dish soap and cover the container with a plastic wrap. Poke several small holes in the wrap. The smell of the liquid will attract the flies. They’ll enter the container through the holes and will fall into the liquid. They won’t fly out.

Preventive measures

Clean and sanitize trash cans and recycling bins including surfaces beneath bags. If possible, take your trash outside at least daily. Rinse and repeat.

Keep kitchen sinks, drains and disposals clean and free of food at all times.

Clean all counters, floors and hard surfaces of any residual food or juice and sanitize.

Use a drain cleaning product containing active enzymes. Following the label, clean all your drains.

Check for torn screens or other points of entry and be sure to keep those sealed, including around window A/C units.

Clean the condensate pan under your fridge.

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