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Front Page - Friday, July 26, 2019

Five sure-fire methods for annihilating bugs in your house

Summer brings out the creepy crawlies. Ants march one-by-one toward your kitchen, fruit flies swarm your ripe farmers market peaches and wasps send you and your guests scrambling from the barbecue.

But don’t panic. You can kill bugs in your house naturally – and without expending too much effort – as long as you follow these expert-approved do’s and don’ts from the National Association of Realtors.

Ants in your pantry

Keep ants out by sealing their entrance. These pesky crawlers seek out any “sugary or sweet substances, crumbs on your countertop and food spillage on your floors,” says Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., a board-certified entomologist and director of technical education and training at Rentokil North America Pest Control.

Ants lay a trail of pheromones to food their family can follow. Cut off their food supply by keeping your space spotless, i.e., wipe up spills and clear the crumbs from the bottom of your trash bin.

If you spot their tiny parade, Troyano says to grab a tube of sealant and follow the ants until you find their itty-bitty entrance.

Combining sugar and borax is another DIY method that hurts more than helps. While borax will kill the ants, it’s also an irritant that can be toxic to pets. Plus, the sugar “might end up attracting ants that wouldn’t have been there in the first place,” Troyano says.

The roach brigade

Ban roaches by super cleaning or calling a pro. These nasty crawlers are “nocturnal and secretive in nature,” says Troyano. What’s worse, they travel in groups.

“If you spot one, it’s searching for food because the other roaches are eating the rest,” she says. “Roaches hide so well in such tiny cracks and crevices and niches, ... it’s very difficult to get them all.”

While store-bought roach traps and bait can help, to truly kill an infestation, you must remove any food sources and hire an exterminator.

Wasps – the worst warm weather pest

Stop wasps by killing them and removing their home. Wasps are difficult to prevent and a pain to kill – literally, as you might suffer a sting or two in the process.

Backyards are most commonly home to either yellow jackets or paper wasps. During winter, the queens tuck away in the yard, wood piles or other small holes, and they emerge when the weather warms in search of a home for their next colony.

To kill a single wasp or an entire nest, Troyano recommends aerosol insecticide. If you’re concerned about toxicity – these sprays typically include pyrethrins, which can cause respiratory problems if used incorrectly – hire an exterminator.

If you’re brave enough to tackle a nest yourself, only do it at night, when all the wasps are back and sleeping. Stand as far away as the spray allows (most work from 20-plus feet) and wear thick, full-coverage clothing. Also, plan your escape route before spraying.

Of course, hiring an exterminator is safer – and necessary in some cases. Yellow jacket wasps like to build nests beneath siding. Some homeowners might be tempted to starve them out by plugging the entrance, which is a terrible mistake.

“Yellow jackets are chewers,” she says. “They’ll chew through the other side of their nest to get inside your house.

“Every year, we get calls from frantic people because they see a soft, wet hole in their drywall, and they’ll poke it, and yellow jackets come spilling out,” Troyano says.

The buzz on mosquitoes

Control mosquitoes by removing their breeding grounds. Check birdbaths, storm drains, potted plants – any place water can collect – and then dump any you find.

Mosquitoes need only one or two weeks to breed, so hurry!

Can’t dump it out? Treat standing water with larvicides that kill bugs before they start biting. But look out for products containing Bti (not methoprene), which is toxic to fish, causes vomiting in some dogs and can irritate your skin.

To keep them from attacking you when you’re relaxing on your back porch, simply blow them away – literally. A simple fan will do the trick (but a ceiling fan would be way cooler).

Fighting fruit flies

Trap fruit flies with vinegar. Summer brings these frequent fliers in droves, and nothing seems to keep them away.

The best way to keep your home fly-free is by cleaning your garbage disposal or trash can and putting all your food in the refrigerator immediately.

Cleaning the produce bowl daily and removing any food with broken skin can stave off flies, but Troyano says putting everything away is the only failsafe. Even after a thorough scrubbing, you still might find a few little guys hovering in your kitchen.

A homemade trap, created by placing a small amount of cider vinegar in a jar and covering it with plastic wrap punched with a few holes, can help end the flies’ last stand.

If these tips don’t help control your pest problem, tell your Realtor. Realtors build relationships with exterminators and other service providers who can help homeowners enjoy their investment. That’s Who We R.

Greater Chattanooga Realtors is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors. Greater Chattanooga Realtors services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net or call 423 698-8001.