Breaking up with bad bug habits

Written by: Robin L. Tabuchi, Research Entomologist, University of California, Berkeley.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  Although love is still in the air, a much-needed breakup is on the horizon. I’m talking about breaking up with bad “pest” habits. Follow these tips to kick a sour relationship with everyday pests to the curb.

Kiss pantry pests goodbye.  Ah, the distant memory of the holidays. A time to visit with loved ones, relax and feast on many holiday goodies. If you hosted any sort of holiday party at your house, you likely have accumulated cookies, candies, nuts and other food items. Now is the time to take inventory and clean out your pantry. Make sure food items are properly sealed and stored, inspect for pests, and dispose of expired or infested items. Even unopened food packages can be invaded by unwanted rodents, ants, beetles or moths.

Get up close and personal with gutters. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to overflow in unwanted places. This water can saturate structural wood and create the perfect habitat for termites — not to mention a whole handful of non-pest related problems, such as mildew, mold and dry rot.

Love doesn’t stink; garbage does. Give garbage and recycle bins a good washing especially before the temperatures rise. Buildup from spilled foods and drinks smells really tasty to pests like rodents, ants, flies and wasps.

Let spiders feel the love. While they aren’t beautiful butterflies or cute ladybugs, there’s no need to fear all spiders. Many, in fact, are good company around the house and certainly in the yard because they prey on other arthropod pests. Spiders skillfully construct webs to basically act as sticky traps for unwanted pests, such as mosquitoes and aphids.  Even spiders that don’t construct webs (like jumping spiders) are great hunters that keep pest populations in check.  Become familiar with the common spiders in your area and learn how to recognize the dangerous few (black widows and recluse spiders).

A cross orb weaver spider’s web
A cross orb weaver spider’s web. Photo taken by Robin Tabuchi.
Categories: Pest Management

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