Summer's unwanted guests & how to get rid of them
Summer means warmth, sunshine and outdoor activities, but the season also brings out the bugs.
What type will you have to deal with? That depends on the climate, geography, population density, and native plants in your area. For example, some regions may experience higher populations of mosquitoes, while others may be more prone to cockroaches.
Discover 16 of summer’s most annoying insects and tips to keep them out of your home.
To keep ants from invading your home, be sure to keep your house clean and tidy by wiping up spills and crumbs, taking out the trash often and storing your food in sealed containers. Remember to put screens on your doors and windows too! If you end up with an infestation, try using ant bait, traps or even insecticide sprays or powders to get rid of them. Just follow the instructions carefully and keep these products out of reach of kids and pets.
Bed bugs are tiny, reddish-brown, blood-loving bugs found in beds, furniture and clothes. If you find bites on your body or bloodstains on sheets and pillowcases, take action immediately to prevent them from multiplying. Vacuum your home and wash bedding and clothes in ultra-hot water. Follow that up with furniture steaming and insecticides, and consult a pest control expert to make sure it's done properly.
Carpenter bees burrow into wooden surfaces to create their nests. Males guard the entrance, but it's the females that you need to be wary of since they can sting multiple times if provoked. To get rid of them, seal up any cracks or openings in your home's exterior with wood putty or caulk, and consider painting over wooden surfaces, especially if they are old or brittle.
Carpet beetles are similar to bed bugs, but instead of feeding on human blood, they go after wool, silk, leather, feathers and pet hair. And they can do serious damage to rugs, curtains and upholstery. Make your home less hospitable by storing clothes and bedding in airtight containers or garment bags — and up your vacuuming game. Plus, before bringing in second-hand furniture or clothes, carefully inspect them for signs of bugs.
Cockroaches look for food and water. To keep them away, keep your home clean, and never leave dirty dishes out overnight. Also, seal spaces where walls meet floors to keep them from sneaking in — especially if you live in a multi-unit building where neighbors are less tidy. If you spot roaches in your home, don't panic! Pick up OTC traps or insecticides at your grocer.
Fire ants — known for their aggressive behavior and ability to sting repeatedly — are a real problem in our southern states. They usually nest outside, so to keep them at bay, keep your yard tidy by mowing the lawn and raking up dead leaves. If a swarm makes a home at your address, try spraying their nest with insecticide! They'll be pissed, so wear protective gear.
Itchy bites on your ankles? Dark specks zooming around in your pet's fur? You might have a flea infestation. Quickly treat your pets with flea medication, then vacuum your home thoroughly, paying extra attention to areas where your pet sleeps. Empty the vacuum bag or canister outside, not inside. Next, wash all bedding and fabrics in hot water and use flea sprays or foggers if necessary.
Hovering fruit flies can become a major problem if left unchecked. To avoid them, keep fruits and veggies in the fridge, seal your garbage and compost bins tightly and don't leave orange peels or banana skins lying around. If you end up with more than an occasional fruit fly, fill an open jar with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and dish soap. Works every time!
Houseflies carry diseases and can spread them to you by bouncing around from the trashcan to dog poop to the food on your plate. Yuck! The best defense? Screens on windows and doors! But if you find yourself dealing with a housefly invasion, try using sticky fly traps to get rid of them.
Not only are mosquitos annoying — especially when you're sleeping — but they can also spread diseases like Zika, the West Nile virus and encephalitis. To keep these bloodsuckers at bay, get rid of any standing water where they breed, dump out buckets and flower pots, and make sure gutters are clear. Again, use screens on windows and doors. And when outside, cover exposed skin or use insect repellent.
Moths can quickly devastate your wardrobe. There's nothing worse than putting on an ugly holiday sweater months later and discovering that it's filled with holes. Protect your clothes by keeping them in garment bags or boxes. And vacuum carpets and furniture often. It's also a good idea to hang moth repellant in closets and dresser drawers!
Silverfish love damp areas like bathroom tubs and kitchen sinks. And they have a voracious appetite for paper, glue and fabric, so book lovers beware! To keep silverfish at bay, keep your home clean and dry. Fix any leaks you find and use a dehumidifier if necessary.
Spiders can help control other bugs, but some can be dangerous and their webs unsightly. Regular dusting and vacuuming — along with blocking spots where the creatures can get in — can help keep spiders out of your home. So will dimming exterior lighting — which attracts insects that attract spiders. There are 3,500 types of spiders in the US, so learn if the ones in your area are harmless or venomous — like brown recluse or black widow spiders.
Termites wreak havoc by munching through lumber and drywall, costing US homeowners over $5.5 billion in property damage yearly. And they never sleep, so they're ruining your home around the clock. If you live in an area where termites are common, have a professional exterminator check your home once a year to catch any problems before they get out of hand.
Ticks will gladly hitch a ride on pets or clothing to gain access to your home — and your blood! While not all ticks spread diseases, you'll want to protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants, using tick repellent with DEET, keeping yards trimmed and proactively protecting your pets. Home infestations are rare if you check yourself for ticks after being outdoors.
Wasps, yellow jackets and hornets are attracted to sweet and sugary things, so keep food and drinks covered when outdoors. If you find a nest on your property, leave it alone — they're aggressive if threatened and their painful stings can cause allergic reactions. To keep them out of your home, install screens on windows and doors, and if one does get inside, don't swat at it: instead, try to get it to land and cover it with a glass. Then call a pest control pro.