Summer brings lots of things. Some of them we love, like warmer temps, longer days, and weekends at the lake. But it also brings things most of us could do without, like humidity, road construction, and bugs. While we can’t do anything about most of summer’s downfalls, we can do something about the bugs.
Learning the basics of how to keep bugs away can make your summer more enjoyable and can even prevent large extermination bills and extensive repairs due to insect damage. There are simple things you can do at home to keep the bugs at bay.
How to keep bugs away
There is no single solution for all insect types. Bed bugs on window sills may require a different treatment approach than something like a termite infestation, but there are things you can do to prevent many of the most harmful and annoying bugs from taking up residence in your home. Focusing on your landscape and your home’s entry points is the key to pest control, so let’s learn a little about how to keep bugs away.
Keeping bugs out of your yard
Unless you’ve already got a serious infestation problem, bugs are going to come from the outside. Keeping your yard tidy will minimize the number of bugs buzzing around your home. This should decrease bug traffic, leaving you with fewer bugs to contend with.
Trim and clean your yard
An overgrown lawn can yield resentful looks from the neighborhood, but it can also harbor bugs. Keeping your lawn trimmed increases the sun’s drying power against the ground and minimizes the dampness that bugs need to thrive.
If you have debris scattered about, those clumps can contribute to additional insect problems. A decomposing pile of leaves retains moisture and provides plenty of food for an insect horde. Clean them up. Your yard will look more inviting to guests and less inviting to pests.
Minimize standing water on your property
Many bugs lay eggs in water, and none is nearly as undesirable as mosquitoes in outdoor gatherings. Lots of summer bugs are minor nuisances, but mosquitoes take the cake as the quickest way to ruin an otherwise beautiful outdoor evening. They invade your personal space, bite, and they can spread disease. Keep them from breeding in your yard.
Make sure you aren’t keeping anything that will retain rainwater around the property. If you must, be sure to empty them regularly to eliminate their breeding grounds and reduce the number of mosquitoes you have to endure throughout the summer. If you have a bird bath, consider a solar fountain. They keep the water moving and keep mosquito larvae out. They also add visual and audible interest to your landscape.
Get out and do some gardening
Plants and flowers are some of the great upsides of summer. They give us shade, and they look and smell great. Some plants smell pleasant to people but act as natural repellents against pests. Fragrant foliage like lavender and citronella brighten the breeze as it blows past. Consider adding some insect-repelling plants to keep bugs away.
While you’re out there getting your hands dirty, you should consider trimming back the bushes and weeds that are up against your house. Leaving a buffer of even a couple of feet between your house and the nearest plant life can create enough distance that many bugs won’t make the journey to your windows and doors.
Keeping bugs out of your home
Once you’ve controlled the breeding grounds that surround your home, it’s time to shift your attention to how to keep bugs away from the house itself.
Keep your home clean
Not that you need an explanation as to why you should keep a clean house, but here we are. Insects need a food source to survive. Keeping your home free of food scraps and organic clutter means your home is less hospitable to bugs. Food scraps on the countertop that you barely notice could provide a substantial meal to a tiny bug.
In addition to wiping down your counters and keeping food in airtight containers, window cleaning should be part of your insect-repelling routine. Many bugs like the humidity present around windows, so keep them clean and watch for entry points.
Seal up points of entry
Bugs have to get into your house from somewhere. Since few of us inspect the outsides of our homes on any kind of a regular basis, we don’t notice the sometimes obvious entry points insects used to enter our homes.
Inspect the exterior thoroughly, and seal up any cracks or holes with waterproof caulking. It’s a cheap and easy way to tackle small openings and prevent further damage and a much more expensive fix down the road.
Service old windows and doors
Speaking of sealing up entry points, an excellent place to start your inspection is with your windows and doors. We all like to let the breeze flow through to beat the summer heat, so we leave our windows and doors open. This openness to the elements can also leave them open to bugs.
Tiny gaps or cracks are all many small bugs need to mass migrate into your home. Make sure to seal any cracks in your aging windows with caulk. Also, replace any screens that might have gathered a few holes or tears along the way. Once you’ve sealed the window and made sure the screens are in good working order, there’s another thing you need to be aware of, and that’s house settling.
As houses age and settle, some of the first changes you’re likely to notice are that your windows and doors are no longer square. As the house settles around them, they develop gaps in the corners. Those gaps open your home to noise, drafts, and bugs. If the settling is too severe, your house may require a full interior and exterior window sill replacement. Getting things back to square will keep pests out, not to mention drafts and sounds.
Your doors are susceptible to the same issues as your windows. You’ve got to eliminate the gaps and cracks. Adding a door sweep and new weather stripping to your exterior doors can block the gaps that would otherwise allow bugs into your home.
What are the natural ways that can help protect windows and doors from insects?
If you see tiny bugs on window sills around the house, you may want to apply a natural insecticide to protect your windows and doors from becoming an insect gathering spot. One thing people use with great results is orange oil. Orange oil kills a number of different bug species, including ants, flies, and termites. Be careful where you apply orange oil, though, as it can adversely affect beneficial insects like bees and other pollinators. You can dilute your own solution or buy products that are prediluted and ready to use.
What kind of windows can we use to protect ourselves against insects?
The specific type of window you have isn’t nearly as important as how well it’s sealed and how well the screens keep bugs out. If you’re getting tiny black bugs in house near window screens with large gaps in the mesh, those screens may not be sufficient to keep smaller bugs out. Replace your screens with a finer mesh if that’s the case.
Are there certain chemicals I can use to clean insects from windows, and do they leave stains?
If you’re dealing with window sill bugs, most window cleaning supplies with ammonia should do the trick. They’re very common, and you probably have some in the house already. They can both kill insects, and the scent of the ammonia in them will actually repel many bugs, preventing them from returning.
Sealing windows without breaking the bank
If your house has old windows, but you aren’t looking to get into a replacement or refurbishment right now, you can still keep the bugs and drafts out. Start with the caulk. If that isn’t enough, you can consider adding some window inserts to seal the windows from the inside. They fit your windows precisely and seal the elements out. They’ll even help control your energy costs.
Knowing how to keep bugs away is only half the battle. Keeping your home clean and sealed is how you’ll win the war on bugs.