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Eco-friendly tips to protect homes from pesky bugs

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:33 am

(BPT) - Cool weather signals homeowners to finalize outdoor chores and cozy up for the long winter ahead. It also signals pesky insects to head indoors seeking food sources and warm, safe places to hibernate. What can the smart homeowner do?

Experts say the record-breaking summer heat has created a bumper crop of bugs. Ohio State University entomologist David Denlinger predicts, 'If the warmth stays into the fall, insects will continue to do well until frost comes.'

Home Invaders

Unwelcome invasive pests like silverfish, spiders, earwigs, flies and ants are typical party crashers once temperatures fall.

In the late '90s a new pest appeared on the scene: the brown marmorated stink bug. First spotted in Pennsylvania, stink bugs are now in 38 states, destroying gardens and landscapes and overwintering in homes.

'In September and October when plants are harvested and food sources dry up, stink bugs switch gears and seek shelter indoors,' says Dr. Qing-He Zhang, lead scientist and director of research at Sterling International, makers of eco-friendly RESCUE! insect traps. 'It's important to break the lifecycle now so they don't survive over the winter months and attack your garden and landscape in spring.'

To protect your home from unwanted pests, industry experts share these simple eco-friendly tips to keep pesky insects at bay.

1. Clean up brush and keep mulch and firewood piles away from the house to avoid creating habitats for critters and insects.

2. Seal cracks, crevices and holes with caulk or weather stripping around potential entry points and seal around pipes and utilities. Repair loose roof tiles and screens. Inspect windows and basement foundations and repair loose and crumbling mortar.

3. Clean cupboard shelves of loose grain, starch-based and sugary food and place food in sealed containers or plastic bags.

4. Check where stink bugs hide: warm, dark spaces like baseboards, exhaust fans, ceiling tiles and drapes. Pick stink bugs off by hand with a tissue and flush them down a toilet or drop into a bucket of soapy water. If you vacuum, be warned. When threatened, stink bugs emit a foul odor so dispose of the bags immediately.

New traps help battle stink bugs without the need to touch them. Zhang explains, 'Once you see the bugs clinging to the side of the house or screens, this is a signal that they are ready to get indoors to hibernate and more may be coming towards the home. The RESCUE! Stink Bug trap uses non-toxic pheromone attractants that lure stink bugs from a radius of 30 feet, intercepting them before they reach the house.'

The RESCUE! Stink Bug Trap can also be used indoors with an LED light attachment. It works best when stink bugs start waking up from hibernation - usually January through April.

5. If ants are your problem, try herbs. Briscoe White, herb expert and owner of The Growers Exchange, says bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves repel ants outdoors and indoors. Sprinkle dry crushed herbs around points of entry, cabinets and windowsills to create a natural barrier. Plus, peppermint and spearmint are excellent deterrents against both ants and moths.

For help battling bugs, visit www.rescue.com for how-to videos, info and a list of retailers near you.

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