The bug battle, that is. Like clockwork each spring, pests will find a way to sneak in through the tiniest of cracks and crevices in your home, and you’ll try your best to fight them off.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim.

Taking a just few proactive steps before spring arrives can limit the number of bugs that come inside.

Here are five tips to make your home a bug-free zone this spring and summer.

Bugs enjoy hanging out in water. Any water sources close to the home will attract pests.

“Homeowners should address any roof leaks or other exterior leaks around the home as soon as possible,” says Ryan Palmer, president and staff entomologist for in Sacramento, CA “Standing water in lawn furniture, plant containers and toys can become a breeding source for mosquitoes and harmful micro-organisms.”

Palmer adds that carpenter ants and termites can tunnel through moist wood, as can rodents and other animals.

Tip: Address any water sources before spring arrives. Palmer says this includes assessing any leaks around the home’s exterior as well as consulting with your local pest control sacramento company for a proper assessment of your pest control related needs.

One simple way to is by cleaning your gutters a couple times a year to ensure water flows properly.

2. Keep food where it belongs

Keeping food sources near your home’s exterior attracts insects. Palermo says this includes trash, bird seed, vegetables from gardens and pet foods.

Tip: Palermo recommends keeping bird feeders 100 feet away from your residence, pet food indoors and secured in a container and trash in closed containers. Consider adding fencing or netting around vegetable gardens.

“Common, every day items around a residential property can become active food sources for pests,” Palermo says.

3. Clean up that mess!

Yard debris, such as leaves and branches, can attract insects, especially ticks and biting and stinging insects, Palermo says.

Tip: Clean debris from your yard and also clean under decks, porches, basements and behind shutters.

“These dark, quiet spaces, if left unchecked, can become breeding ground of pest activity,” Palermo says.

4. Seal your home

Cracks and gaps in your home’s foundation are easy entryways for critters.

Tip: Use compound cement or caulk to fill the cracks, holes and gaps.

“Caulk all interior cracks and crevices versus only focusing on exterior openings and penetrations,” Dieringer says. “Employ window screens and close open doors even if the weather has turned nice.”

5. Treat the perimeter of your home

Spraying insecticide is a good line of defense against insects, as it will stop ants, box-elder bugs, Asian lady beetles, stink bugs, bed bugs and other invasive pests. These are common Sacramento, CA area pests that will effect your yard.

Tip: Generously spray pesticide around the perimeter of your home as a last resort.

Harm Pesticides Cause For Your Health

We all ingest lots of chemicals, one way or another. We breathe them, we drink them, and we eat them. The most troublesome are pesticides in produce. It makes me uncomfortable to think that while we are eating fruits and vegetables in reality we are also ingesting poisons that can accumulate in our bodies and make us very sick. This is food that supposes to be healthy and good for us!

Even if the most toxic chemicals have already been banned for use in agriculture, pesticides in general are poisons designed to kill insects, weed, small rodents and other pests. The long time effects of these poisons on people are not completely known. Even the minimal risk with these pollutants is too much, when we think we may expose children. We should try to do every effort to minimize our intake of these adverse chemicals.

Education is the key. Knowing which produce contain more pollutants can help us make the right choices, avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least polluted, or buy organic instead. In simulation of consumers eating habits has been demonstrated that changing a little bit the eating practices can lower considerably the ingestion of pesticides.

The results of an investigation on pesticides in produce by the USDA Pesticide Data Program (*), show that fruits topped the list of the consistently most contaminated produce, with eight of the 12 most polluted foods. The dirty dozen are: Apples, Bell Peppers, Celery, Cherries, Imported Grapes, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Red Raspberries, Spinach, and Strawberries.

You don’t like broccoli? Too bad because they are among those least contaminated. In fact the 12 least polluted produce are: Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Sweet Corn, Kiwi, Mangos, Onions, Papaya, Pineapples, and Sweet Peas.

Can washing of produce help get rid of pesticides? Not really. The fruits and vegetables tested by the USDA PDP (*) are “prepared emulating the practices of the average consumer” before testing for pesticides. That is: “(1) apples are washed with stems and cores removed; (2) asparagus and spinach have inedible portions removed and are washed; (3) cantaloupes are cut in half and seed and rinds are removed; […] and (9) tomatoes are washed and stems removed”.

Washing before consuming is highly recommended because helps decrease the pesticide residues present on the surface of the vegetables, but the majorities of pollutants are absorbed into the plant and can’t be just washed away. Some pesticides are specifically created to stick to the surface of the crops and they don’t come out by washing. Peeling can help eliminating some of the chemicals but not all, and a lot of important substances will be discarded with the skin.

So, on one hand we have to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet, and on the other hand we have to reduce as much a possible the intake of pesticides. What to do if you are unconvinced by the claims of the chemical companies that certain levels of pesticides are not dangerous?

We have very few options to defend ourselves: (1) Wash all vegetables and fruit very well; (2) Change eating habits in order to consume more of the produce with low pollutants; (3) Consume a diet as varied as possible; (4) Buy organic foods.

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