As the flowers begin to bloom and the weather takes a turn for the better, homeowners will start to make to-do lists to help them tackle their spring cleaning. While dusting and sweeping are par for the course, our spring cleaning advice is for homeowners to make sure to also incorporate proper pest-proofing into their deep clean during the spring. Although summer pests may seem like just a nuisance, warm weather invaders like flies and termites can pose serious threats to people and property alike. To ensure your home is properly prepared for the season ahead, see below for the pests that could pose problems during the summer and how to keep them out for good.
Our Spring Cleaning Advice for a Pest-free Home
Ticks pose serious health threats to humans and animals, as they are known for transmitting diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme Disease. These pests typically hide out in tall grass or shrubbery and alongside roads or trails waiting for a host to walk by, so be sure to keep your yard well maintained and mowed. It is important that you remove a tick as soon as it is spotted on your body to reduce your chance of contracting a disease. You can lessen the chances of bringing ticks into your home by wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, as well as insect repellent with at least 20 percent DEET.
While fleas are known best for irritating pets like cats and dogs, these annoying pests can also bite and transmit diseases to humans. Fleas can cause allergic dermatitis and can transmit the rare bubonic plague as well as tapeworm to pets. Our spring cleaning advice for keeping fleas out of your home and off your family and pets is to maintain a clean home by frequently vacuuming and washing bed linens regularly. Outdoors, yards and lawns should be kept well-groomed since fleas prefer to hide in tall grass. Fleas typically travel upon rodents, so eliminate any rodent harborage sites such as overgrown shrubs or trees. Pet owners should perform flea checks after pets have been outside, bathe and groom them regularly, and visit a veterinarian annually.
Termites begin to swarm in early spring when the weather gets warmer, putting homeowners at serious risk. In the U.S., termites cause more than approximately $5 billion in property damage each year. Subterranean termites are known to cause the most damage with their saw-toothed jaws, while Formosan termites are the most aggressive, able to quickly reproduce and wreak havoc. Look to reduce humidity and moisture buildup around the home through proper ventilation of crawl spaces, attics, and basements to avoid attracting termite swarms. Additionally, storing firewood at least 20 feet away from the home and keeping mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation of your home is a good way to keep termites out. To get a better picture of the destruction these pests are capable of, check out NPMA’s Tiny Termite House project.
More than 20 different ant species are known to infest homes, schools and businesses. Although ants may seem like just a nuisance, they pose real threats such as food contamination and costly property damage. Our spring cleaning tip is to keep ants out this spring by sealing cracks and crevices that allow entry into your home. Prevent ants from getting into the kitchen by disposing of trash regularly and keeping all sweets in closed containers. Additionally, eliminate moisture or standing water near the home and keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house, as ants often use these as highways into the home.
House flies contaminate food surfaces by spreading disease organisms picked up on their legs and mouths when feeding on trash, feces and other decaying substances. These common pests are known to transfer over 100 different pathogens, including typhoid and salmonellosis. House flies and fruit flies can cause major headaches but are easily prevented with vigilant sanitation. Keeping kitchen counters clear of food and regularly removing trash in a sealed tight bag is the best way to prevent flies. Make sure to repair any visible rips or tears to mesh screens around the home, and apply any as needed to windows and doors to prevent fly entry.
Cockroaches pose serious health risks, as they’re known to spread illnesses such as E. coli and Salmonella, and can also trigger asthma and allergy symptoms. If you find one cockroach in your home, it’s likely there are many more hiding in the cracks and crevices. Just like many other pests, cockroaches are attracted to moisture and food sources. Vacuum frequently and store your food in airtight containers to keep cockroaches out. In addition, seal any cracks or crevices around the home and eliminate moisture buildup in attics, basements and crawlspaces. Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
Bed bugs are one of the most common pests homeowners encounter, according to pest professionals. In fact, the National Pest Management Association’s 2018 Bugs Without Borders survey found that 97% of pest control professionals treated for bed bugs in the previous year. Although bed bugs do not transmit any diseases, their bites can become red, itchy welts and an infestation can be difficult to control once it takes hold. Be sure to properly inspect all furniture for tell-tale blood spots and shell casings, paying special attention to the seams of your mattress. Additionally, inspect areas where your pets sleep for any signs of an infestation. If you’re returning home from a spring vacation, make sure to inspect your suitcases outdoors before bringing them inside. Also, wash and dry all clothes on hot cycles, even those that have not been worn.
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Terry Teague - President of Extermital.