by Oscar Falconi
Implementing most of the following suggestions can result in a substantial and permanent decrease in the number of insects in your home at any time, especially if you can get your neighbors to do the same. The range of travel of insects is surprisingly small and neighbors who help each other can really help themselves, too.
1. Don't kill spiders! They'll capture great numbers of insects or they'll die trying. Even in a near bug-free home many insects are caught in their webs. If you don't like that spider in the bedroom, just capture it in a glass and move it to some other place in your home or yard. Every insect killed by a spider is one less insect to mate and multiply and annoy you.
2. Get rid of ALL your indoor plants. They merely attract bugs, and are a great source of unwanted humidity.
3. Don't leave even a speck of food around. Get those food crumbs off the tables and counters, out of cupboards and toaster, and off the floors.
4. Get those dirty dishes off the table, out of the sink, and washed up, or in the dish washer, right after every meal.
5. Get your garbage out of the house as soon as possible. The insects will smell it lots sooner than you will. Placing garbage in well-tied plastic bags, in covered cans, out of the sun, will defeat those ubiquitous bugs and animals.
6. Insects seek animals! Their dirty hair, body smells, urine, feces, and their generally filthy habits, are a great attraction for all sorts of insects, especially flies & fleas. So, get rid of all animals, particularly your house pets! Ask dog-walkers to foul their own place, not yours! A third of all dog-owners have worms in THEIR OWN intestines !!
7. Without animals around, you'll find the stray cat or two claiming your yard as their territory. This could be OK since cats are excellent mousers and can keep your gopher and field mouse population well down. A slow bird may get caught now and then, but that's only Nature removing the unfit. Also, the cats may have fleas - but fleas much prefer dogs, and that, together with the cat's incessant self-cleaning, leaves this as just a minor problem. To avoid fleas (and allergic reactions), don't touch the cat, NEVER let a cat, nor any animal, into your home, and don't feed cats - let them eat mice.
8. Also, don't feed birds in the summer - let them eat insects.
9. Using the microwave instead of the oven will decrease smells and keep the kitchen cooler, dryer, and cleaner.
10. Eliminate all places where puddles can accumulate for any length of time, indoors or out. For instance, old tires are great breeding grounds for mosquitos.
11. Solve all water problems, such as leaks, dry rot, and damp areas. Check under the house, too. Make sure all rain water drains AWAY from the house and foundation. Gopher tunnels can move great quantities of water to the wrong places. Termites thrive on moisture, so repair leaking pipes and remove all water damaged wood (usually around toilets, sinks, tubs, and showers) which termites and fungus prefer due to its softness. Eliminate any wood-to-earth contact, and clean up any loose wood from around or under the house.
12. To really help with the mosquito problem, try to get your neighbors to eliminate puddles and solve their water problems, too. In fact, give them a copy of this article.
13. Keep your home as dry as possible. Cook under an exhaust fan. Don't fold up damp towels and dish rags. Open them up fully to dry quickly and avoid stale smells that would soon attract insects.
14. After a shower, open the window and shower door (or curtain) for quick drying. This will also discourage algae.
15. Avoid watering plants near the house. The closer you water, the closer the crawlies will come. Ants, cockroaches, termites, and all insects, MUST have water!
16. Grow garlic near the house, but grow artichokes, tomatoes, fruit trees, and all insect-attracting plants, as far away from the house as you can.
17. Eat, sell, give away, discard, or bury any fallen fruit from your trees. Insects are attracted to decaying fruit.
18. Compost heaps? Get rid of them! These piles of hot garbage will attract every insect and rat in the neighborhood!
19. It is said that eating garlic and taking a potent B-Complex supplement will repel mosquitos.
20. Take down most of your screens! They keep insects IN as well as out. The only screens you'll need are those on open windows facing neighbors with animals, with uncovered garbage, or with water problems. A lighted room with an open window will also require a screen at night.
21. Screens are great barriers to free air flow and are little better than closed windows. Also, small or baby insects often get through the screen to the light. So, it's better to keep the windows to lighted rooms closed at night. Don't worry about the insects accumulating on the outside of the window. Let them bang their heads against the glass while lots of bugless air is coming through the screenless open windows of unlighted rooms. Next morning these bugs will be off chasing the sun and will disappear as if by magic!
22. The occasional insect will of course enter your home, but will quickly notice the lack of animals, food, and water and soon be on its way. Thus the active killing or repelling of insects using poisons, fly paper, bug bombs, electric zappers, ultrasonic devices, or fly swatters is unnecessary. And, you'd surely lose many of your treasured spiders, thus doing more harm than good.
23. Mosquitos, however, are another matter. They're attracted by the heat radiating from YOUR body. Not only that, but YOU are their food and their bites are uncomfortable and distracting and can be dangerous. That's why it's so important for you and your neighbors to solve all your water problems. Mosquitos may be the only insect worth the trouble of actively hunting down and swatting.
24. After you take your unnecessary screens down, you'll soon find that insects tend to come in certain windows and leave from certain others. This can be due to prevailing winds, or to the orientation of your house to the sun's path, or to smells emanating from your kitchen or garbage, or from those of your neighbors. You can play these windows to your advantage by closing the bug-in windows and opening the bug-out windows.
25. Turning on outdoor lights at night will attract bugs from all unlit rooms whose windows are open, BUT will also attract insects from your neighbors. Play this one by ear. You might temporarily turn on outdoor lights only if you have some insects you wish to attract out of the house.
26. If you must have an all-night outdoor light, a yellow bug-lamp may somewhat discourage a few of those messy, mating insects that tend to collect around night lights. Consider installing a motion-sensing device (less than $20) that turns on the light for just a few minutes, only when necessary, nearly eliminating the bug attraction, and paying for itself many times over in electricity savings!
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