No matter what time of year, pests are unwelcome guests. In many parts of the country, though, it’s summer when they become, well, pests. Keeping things under control can vary dramatically by region, state and local areas, but here are some tried-and-true steps you can take – inside and outside of your home – to keep your home pest-free this summer.

Inside your home

  • Check and update screens. Even a tiny hole signals a “welcome” sign for pests. Make sure screens for every openable window, and doors leading outside, are in good shape with fine mesh. Add weather sealing along frames and edges.
  • Install a door sweep at exterior doors to prevent bugs from crawling under and in.
  • Seal cracks and utility openings. Inspect for any cracks in walls. It’s a good idea to move appliances and furniture to check, too. Then fill with caulk or spray-foam insulation. Similarly, seal (or screen) any utility openings.
  • Close doors. It seems obvious, but many doors are not self-closing. Try to install automated closing devices on all doors leading outside.
  • Check for slow leaks. A slow drip on a water pipe can attract thirsty pests.
  • Cover crawl space vents with thick, tough wire mesh. You can do this with working chimneys, too; just make sure to remove the mesh before you start using it in the fall. Unwanted wildlife and rodents can enter all too easily. 
  • Employ strong food-safety practices. It can be hard with kids, but work to store ALL food (and trash) in airtight, secure spots. Limit eating to the kitchen and dining areas, and clean regularly. If there is no food around, pests will go elsewhere.
  • Be neat. Pests like all sorts of hiding places. Keep your home decluttered and organized, remembering that bugs are especially attracted to attics, basements and any damp places.
  • Keep an eye on anything you bring into your home. Insects often come inside via a shopping bag, a pet or even a piece of luggage. 

Outside your home       

  • Regularly mow the lawn and keep gardens neat. Bugs, animals and rodents flock to overgrown areas.
  • Trim trees and bushes. Trees and bushes that come into contact with your house provide pests with an easy highway into your home. Create a barrier between mulched areas and the foundation of the house, too.
  • Encourage bug-loving birds (and bats). Bird houses and even small bat houses provide homes for these bug eaters. Planting flowers can help, too, since they will attract birds and bats.
  • Take appropriate measures with your trash, recycling and compost bins. If you live in an area with any wildlife potential, invest in tightly sealed lids. Keep your bins clean, too, to ward off pests attracted to smells and leftover trash.
  • Eliminate wood piles. Or, if you need to store wood in warmer months, keep it at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Eliminate areas of stagnant water. It attracts everything from mice and voles to mosquitos.
  • Clear gutters and make sure water drains away from the house.
  • Turn off exterior lights, especially near doors and windows. Plenty of bugs are attracted to light. If you keep lights on for security, consider timers to turn them on and off at appropriate times.

Even if you take all these steps, it’s virtually impossible to completely bug-proof a house. If you spot problems, call a pest-control professional immediately. It’s almost always faster and less expensive to take care of an issue early on. In many parts of the country, homeowners schedule a regular inspection to stay ahead of any problems. Professionals have the expertise and experience to eliminate, and prevent the pests that plague your area.

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