SOURCE: Rise

August 15, 2013 05:00 ET

Preventing Pests in Every Season

Weeds and Insects Don't Have an Offseason -- Neither Should Your Commitment to a Pest-Free Home

MISSION, KS--(Marketwired - Aug 15, 2013) - (Family Features) Seasons come and go, but pests are active and potentially pose damage to health and property all year long. Protecting your family and home isn't a seasonal chore, but with the right proactive approach it doesn't have to be a daunting one either.

Many make it too easy for pests to become unwanted roommates or neighbors. When making your seasonal housekeeping list, add pest prevention to changing your smoke detector batteries, rotating ceiling fan blades and deep cleaning.

Whether you have mice looking for a cozy place to settle for the winter, or mosquitoes scouting out standing water in the summer, use the following approaches to prevent pests from intruding on your family and home each season of the year.

Don't "Fall" Behind
Fall is the time to inspect your property and protect it from pests looking for a winter home. Take an integrated approach to identifying, monitoring and preventing potential problems. The following tips will help with cooler weather preparation:

  • Rake fallen leaves and clean out gutters as pests can congregate in fallen foliage. As an added benefit, this may help improve your home's curb appeal. Numerous studies link landscaping and well-maintained lawns to property value increases of 11 to 15 percent.

  • Don't transport firewood more than 10 miles away from your home. Invasive insects, such as the emerald ash borer, can hitch a ride and begin new infestations within their surroundings.

  • Enjoy picnics or tailgating events, but keep all open food in sealed containers to prevent attracting ants, mice and other insects and rodents.

Lock It Down in Winter
Just like us, pests are looking for a warm home and good food as they hunker down for the winter months. Perform the following preventive activities around your home to keep your family safe and sound all winter long:

  • Use caulk or concrete to repair all cracks, crevices and leaks no matter how small. Mice can fit through cracks as thin as a pencil.

  • Check for bed bugs who may be hitchhiking in your suitcase while traveling for the holidays. Bites can be painful, irritating and may cause allergic reactions.

  • Cover mattresses and pillows with dust-proof, zippered covers tested and rated for dust mites. Sheets and bugs can trigger asthma, cause dermatitis and transmit disease.

Spring Cleaning
Warmer weather awakens weeds, insects and other pests, so incorporate pest prevention measures as a part of your spring cleaning. The following are easy ways to protect your home as temperatures begin to rise:

  • Trim trees and brush, creating enough room to comfortably walk between your house and your shrubs. Branches can create a bridge into your home for pests and wildlife.

  • Clean up yard debris that may have accumulated throughout the winter months, such as dead plants, weeds and fallen branches, as it can provide a place for pests to reside.

  • Take a proactive approach to protecting your yard from pests through the strategic use of approved and registered products. Consider a perimeter yard spray as the temperatures warm up to prevent unwanted pests, such as ticks, from creeping in to your family's play areas. Always read and follow label instructions before using products or hire a licensed lawn and landscape professional.

Summer Protection
Poison ivy and pests, such as ticks and mosquitoes, are especially prevalent during the summer months and can cause Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and severe skin irritation. Follow these tips to keep your family and pets safe during the active months of summer:

  • Reduce your contact with mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis by covering up with long sleeves and pants, especially during dawn and dusk hours when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Apply a repellent to your skin and clothing before you go on any outdoor adventure to deter ticks that can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Inspect and properly remove ticks in hard to see areas that are attractive to them, such as inside the belly button, under arms, around ears, in hair and on the back of knees.

  • Remember "leaves of three, let it be" to help identify poison ivy, oak or sumac, which can cause severe skin irritation and allergic reaction. If you find these weeds in your yard, do not use a mower or weed cutter for removal, which will cause it to spread. Instead, carefully treat the weeds yourself or contact a lawn care professional.

INSPECT and Protect Your Home
The best approach to pest management is an integrated strategy that balances prevention, sanitation, maintenance and treatment. The following are six easy steps from the Debug the Myths INSPECT acronym to identify and protect your home, lawn and, while you're at it, your family and pets, too.

IN = Investigate
Investigate your home and yard for clues that pests may be present. You never know where they may be lurking, so keep your eyes open.

S = Study
Don't trust your instincts. Study up on the common pests in your area. Learn more about the pests causing problems and the damage they can cause.

P = Prepare
Plan how to most effectively solve your pest problems. Proper planning includes understanding the safe and correct way to execute any pest control approach.

E = Eliminate
Now it's time to put your plan in place. Start by eliminating pests' access points into your home and eliminating habits that may be attracting these uninvited guests.

C = Clean
Maintaining a tidy home and lawn is essential for discouraging pests from calling your home theirs.

T = Treat
Proactive and preventative treatment is key to keeping pests under control. Properly treating for problems proactively or at the first sign of infestation will keep your home pest-free.

To learn more about preventing pest problems in your home, visit www.debugthemyths.com or follow the conversation on Facebook.com/debugthemyths and Twitter @DebugtheMyths. To see a helpful video visit http://youtu.be/mW3voSgK_wc.

About Family Features Editorial Syndicate
This and other food and lifestyle content can be found at www.editors.familyfeatures.com. Family Features is a leading provider of free food and lifestyle content for use in print and online publications. Register with no obligation to access a variety of formatted and unformatted features, accompanying photos, and automatically updating Web content solutions.

Contact Information