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Spring and summer are prime time for pests. When they come out after sheltering for the winter, it can be an overwhelming sight! Getting rid of bugs can be challenging, but fortunately, you can take a number of steps right now to prevent ants, roaches, rodents and other pests from invading your living space this year.

1. Maintain proper kitchen hygiene: Nothing attracts pests as efficiently as the smell of free food. When you leave food out or bags, boxes or Tupperware unopened, you might as well be ringing a dinner bell for intruders! Keep food in air-tight containers and make sure trash is stored in bins pests can’t easily reach.

2. Eliminate standing water outdoors: Standing water provides a bountiful ground for mosquitoes to lay eggs and reproduce. All but one of a mosquito’s four life stages require water to survive. Search out sources of standing water and eliminate them. Even a bottle cap filled with water can become a mosquito breeding ground!

3. Trim back your vegetation: Tall grasses, shrubs and bushes make great habitats for insects and rodents. Bushes that have grown right up against your wall or windows offer pests a particularly efficient route inside your home. Trim these back to separate them from your home and take care to clean up grass clippings and piles of leaves, which also become sources of pest breeding. Store woodpiles as far away from the house as possible.

4. Look out for entry points: Cracks and gaps in your home’s foundation, or around windows and doors, are easy entryways for critters. Use compound cement or caulk to fill them in and keep the pests out. Keep an eye out for any soil that’s in contact with your siding, which can invite in carpenter ants and termites. Also be aware of any point where soil or mulch is graded toward your house, which can cause decay and water pooling, giving pests breeding grounds and entry points into your home.

5. Clean up after pests: Many insects, particularly ants, follow scent trails left behind by scouts. If you notice where ants are coming in, not only should you seal up the entrance, but you should also carefully clean the area with soap and water to eliminate their trails. Places lines of diatomaceous earth along those entry points or right outside your home. This substance is safe for your home, but dehydrates ants’ exoskeletons, so they’ll go to great lengths to avoid it.

6. Repair your exterior: Broken elements outside your home make great hiding places for pests. Check around your home for fixtures that may need repair. Broken panels or siding, gaps in soffits and garage door linings and other crevices are great homes for wasp nests and entryways for rodents.

7. Hire a professional: If an insect or rodent infestation gets out of control, look to an expert for help — and don’t wait too long to do it. A good exterminator professional will not only get rid of the invaders but address the sources that allowed them to get inside in the first place. Your first insect control visit will likely cost around $150-$300, but a full extermination can add up to a few thousand dollars depending on the specific pest and the severity of the infestation.

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