Springtime is a time for dealing with pests

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., May. 26, 2011
- Contributed Photo

For many people – or at least those who don’t suffer from seasonal allergies – spring is about the best time of the year. But as people begin to enjoy the return to the outdoors once again, they also encounter the return of insect pests.

Some of the minuscule bug-like intruders are simply a nuisance. Others can be frightening to children and adults. Still others are only occasionally visible, but might be quite a bit more destructive. Here are a few of the common ones you will begin to see, and suggestions for dealing with them.

Ants are often a curiosity, but rarely a bother outdoors. If you find that outdoor living areas are overrun with little ants, the recommended remedy is a concoction of boric acid and a sweet or fatty substance such as honey or butter. Dab it on a piece of cardboard, and set it in a location that is attractive to the ants but away from people traffic patterns. Give it time to work. The ants will carry the toxic mix back to the nest, and it should eradicate the colony. There are commercial traps that use the same concept. Avoid the use of pesticides or insecticides that are likely to wipe out any crawling creature that comes into its path. Such remedies may be more treatment than your problem requires.

If you are a friend to nature, and don’t necessarily want to kill the insects off, then using a remedy that will repel insects might be more your style. Natural spices such as white pepper, sage and eucalyptus are reputed to force insects to do an about-face. Saturating a length of string with oil of eucalyptus forms a boundary that many insects will not cross. Of course, wet weather may wash away your insect repellent, and they may return.

Carpenter ants are not as benign as the tiny garden variety. Carpenter ants are big and black. They will cause damage, and you should be on the watch for these insects. Round holes in the siding or window frames adorned with sawdust-like material is a pretty sure sign they have gone to work on your structure. Treat the holes with an insecticide, and plug them up.

Wood bees will also cause some damage to your buildings and wooden structures. They, too, will bore symmetrical holes, and leave a trail of dust. A wood bee looks a lot like the benign bumblebee, but the body is black, not yellow. You may find multiple holes. Apply insecticide well into the hole, and then plug the hole well. If holes appear elsewhere, repeat the process.

Honeybees can be identified by their orange and black furry bodies. They are generally not a nuisance. But honeybees just might take up residence in your home, if they need a cozy place to set up their hive. They don’t cause damage, but their honey might attract other insects. If you spot these small bees going in and out of a hole or crack in your house, consult with a qualified company or individual that will help you deal with the issue. They just might be able to remove the hive to another location.

Wasps and yellow jackets present a little different case. Like the honeybees, they won't generally bother you, if you don't bother them or threaten their nests. People are more likely to employ insecticides that will squirt a long stream at the nests from a safe distance. That's one way to deal with the nuisance. But if these wasps are not around your normal traffic areas, you might do just as well to leave them alone. As an alternative, you can make or buy a trap that will cull the population. These use a sweet food to attract the critters into a jar-like container. Since they can't find their way out of the trap, it will become their final resting place.

Different types of insects like wet or damp environments. To dissuade them from invading your space, clean up dead plant debris, such as leaves and old wood that you may have left lying around the foundation of your home. Keep your firewood stacked well away from the house. Also, pull any mulch in gardens away from the foundation and stairs. This will create a buffer zone that insects are unlikely to cross.

Make sure your screens fit tightly, and repair any holes. Also look for cracks and loose joints around the foundation, sills, siding and windows. Fill them with caulk, eliminating them as possible entryways into your home.

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