Tips for Easy Living

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Keep pests away from entertaining areas

Outdoor entertaining is one of the joys of nicer weather. People routinely gather on the patio or around the pool when the weather warms up, and such recreational activities can foster companionship and reduce stress. However, if nuisance animals and insects are sharing entertaining spaces, these pests can quickly put a damper on the festivities.

While it may seem impossible to keep an outdoor entertaining area completely pest-free, there are ways to keep such unwanted intrusions manageable.

Identify common pests

Yard pests vary depending on geography, so the first step is to figure out which pests are native to your area. Mosquitoes can be found in many locales, but certain insects may be exclusive to specific regions. For example, palmetto bugs are native to moist, tropical areas, such as the southeastern United States.

In addition to insects, squirrels, moles, raccoons, and other rodents may also descend on a property. Neighborhoods that abut natural ecosystems or infringe on wild animals' habitats may see a wider array of animals  encroaching on entertaining spaces. Deer, bears, coyotes, and certain bird species can present their own brands of trouble. Homeowners new to an area may have to experience a learning curve to determine which pests are common to a certain area, as well as which seasons bring which creatures.

Try natural repellents first

To minimize damage to the environment and to protect local wildlife, homeowners should exhaust natural ways to repel pests before resorting to less eco-friendly methods. Animals can be kept out of a yard with fences and other barriers, such as thorny bushes. Many pests are deterred by smells or certain structures in a lawn or garden. For example, inserting chicken wire into a garden bed may be enough to repel burrowing animals. Certain insects, such as flies and mosquitoes, find the aromas of citronella grass, basil and marigold offensive. Surrounding a property with these plants can create a natural bug repellent. Lavender and rosemary are other aromatics that may deter pests. Blood meal and soap solutions can repel deer and other wildlife that may feed on garden plants.

Pests attracted to food can be kept at bay with frequent sweeping or hosing down of the patio. In addition, maintain a  clean grill and store trash in tightly secured receptacles.

Consider more traditional alternatives

If natural repellents do not work, you may need to rely on more traditional products to repel insects and other pests. Beetle traps lure beetles with an inviting scent before the beetle gets trapped in a bag and cannot exit. Traps for wasps and flies follow a similar premise. Bug zappers are largely viewed as an inhumane option but can be highly effective. Unfortunately, these zappers also attract and kill beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies.

Chemical repellents also are available. Stores stock pesticides that will rid plants of damaging insects. These repellents also may be used around the patio to make the area inhospitable to insects and other pests.

Contact an exterminator

If the problem is simply too difficult to manage on your own, then you might need to contact an exterminator, who can spray the perimeter of the home for bugs and can also be called in to safely trap and remove nuisance animals. An exterminator may also have detailed knowledge of protected species and which habitats can and cannot be disturbed.