Bugs — an integral part of our ecosystem, a disturbing part of our kitchen. Sure, we’ve all heard the benefits: Spiders eat other bugs, for instance, and moths eat sweaters you probably should have donated in the 90s. But, good intentions aside, bugs are uninvited, unwelcome and just downright creepy. And unless they’re paying rent, they should find somewhere else to crawl around and rub their villainous hands together.
Important note: Keeping all bugs out of your home is about as realistic as never dropping cookie crumbs on the rug. Insects are like mini Houdinis; they can get through spaces that are invisible to the human eye. What’s more is 95% of them are harmless to humans and household pets — unless you live in the jungle. So, if you take the time to do some bug-proofing and you still see the occasional ant, don’t be discouraged. If you see a tarantula, however, run out of the house and be discouraged later.
Here are five helpful tips to keep infestations to a minimum:
1. Seal up the cracks.
Doors, windows, holes in the wall — sounds like a no-brainer, right? That’s because it is. An open space is the path of least resistance, and any living creature will opt for it. The most common places for these are under doors, at pipe connections and anywhere large appliances are plugged in. Grab a flashlight and a couple of hours, and do a thorough check of the home’s interior. Holes can be patched up with caulking, spackle or expanding foam or stuffed with steel wool or gauze. If you keep windows open in the warm weather, make sure there are no holes in screens. If so, re-screening frames is inexpensive and easy.
2. Keep piles of things away from the house.
Bugs love damp and dark piles of just about anything, like firewood, leaves or anything that you swept into a pile behind your garage with the grand hope of bagging and removing. But you already knew this, which is why you hold your breath every time you pick something up in the garage.
More breaking news: Cleaning food particles and wiping down surfaces is a deterrent to insect occupancies! But while most of us clean our common areas on a regular basis, some places get neglected. Under the kitchen sink, for example — especially if you keep a trash receptacle there. Or an end table, where you set your coffee cup every morning and quite possibly have spilled a few drops. Take a moment to think of everywhere food might travel, and then walk the same path with a hand vacuum and a wet towel.
4. Keep a dry home.
Not so dry that your skin starts chipping off, but dry enough so as not to attract home invaders. Water and humidity are like a day spa for bugs. Hidden roof leaks can account for unwanted water collections, while certain types of foundations and climates allow for above-normal moisture levels. Best course of action? Make sure your home is leak-free, and invest in a couple dehumidifiers. The recommended humidity range is 40%–60%.
5. If you must, bust out the spray.
For some, this is a last resort. For others, it’s a matter of ethics. If you’ve tried the above steps to no avail, or if you just want to cut right to the big guns, there are several indoor-outdoor bug sprays that are safe and last for months. For interiors, just clear out any pet foods or other items that could be affected, and then spray a four-inch coating along the room’s floor and baseboard. The same applies to exteriors. Spray along the foundation and the ground. The areas will be safe to occupy after 45 minutes.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.