Lawn & Garden Time

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Find the best method of treating warm weather insects

Homeowners know that the arrival of spring also marks the re-emergence of insects. While not every insect is harmful, if an infestation grows considerably or if insects begin to move from the outdoors into a home, it may be time for homeowners to call in a professional.

The Entomological Society of America points out that homeowners cannot count on bitterly cold winters to help control the numbers of insects in their yards. Insect ecology is affected by various factors and is not solely dependent on temperature. Furthermore, what occurred one year certainly may not be repeated the next, as homeowners who have had various insect infestations in their yards can attest. One year a yard may be overcome with ants, while the next year it may suffer through an earwig infestation.

The first step homeowners looking to curtail insects in their yards can take is to determine if the insects they see are genuine threats to their lawns. Some bugs emerge and swarm early in the season, but then gradually disappear as spring turns into summer. Other insects may come out of hiding if a homeowner is doing a lot of yard work or construction around a house. Practice a wait-and-see approach to determine if you really have an insect problem or just have stirred up activity.

Homeowners also must decide if it is bearable living with the insects. If insects are not doing any damage or if they can be controlled relatively easily, then you might be able to avoid calling in the professionals. However, if critters like termites and certain species of wood-eating insects are invasive and damaging your yard, you may need to take action.

Anyone concerned with the side effects of pesticides and insecticides can first try to remedy the problem naturally. Sometimes it's just a matter of making a yard less hospitable to insects. Remove leaves and clean up debris close to the house, as these can both encourage infestations. Piles of rotting wood or leftover firewood can be a food or shelter source for a number of insects. Inspect water spigots for leaks and improve suspect drainage on your property, as these things can be welcoming to bugs that like moist surroundings. Remove standing water whenever possible to eliminate spots for mosquitoes to incubate larvae.

Natural remedies also may do the trick. Mint, bay leaves, catnip, and garlic can repel insects like roaches and ants. Citrus can be a natural flea deterrent. Some homeowners have had success planting marigolds around their yards to serve as a natural bug repellent because the flowers produce a scent that many insects find repulsive. Thai lemon grass plants also can be used to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Remember, natural predators, such as birds, bats, spiders, and larger insects, feed on nuisance bugs. Keeping these helpful predators around may be an effective and natural way for homeowners to control annoying pests.

If an insect problem seems out of control or if you need a professional opinion about the damage being done to your home or landscape, consult with an exterminator. Licensed exterminators have the training and expertise to assess insect concerns and create a plan of action that will minimize the risk to inhabitants of your home and nearby wildlife. An exterminator will know what it takes to treat insects and maximize the chances of removing the problem promptly and effectively.

Warm weather is synonymous with many things, including the return of insects. Homeowners may be able to treat unruly bugs on their own, but especially problematic infestations may require the help of experienced exterminators.