hometown hero photo

The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to bugs living or dead is purely coincidental.

Many fall seasons have come and gone in my little house on Babble Brook Lane, and I think I have seen everything. We've had several skunks live under our deck. We've had a groundhog under the shed and digging in the garden. We've battled spiders, stink bugs, carpenter ants, earwigs, ladybugs, cockroaches, beetles, and centipedes, by the bucketful. And, I've gotten more wasp stings than I care to dwell on--not to mention the thousands of spider and mosquito bites my poor flesh has had to endure. But today, as I sit here sipping my morning coffee taking in the beautiful orange and yellow leaves of fall, I am aware of something most peculiar. There are no ladybugs piled on my sill. There are no stink bugs crawling on the screen in front of me. And I don't detect a single flying insect inside my kitchen. I should be insane right now. But I'm not. So how did I do it? How did I stop the fall invasion? I did one thing--one very important thing. I changed the way I think about bug control. I wish I could say I came up with this revelation on my own, but it was actually the technician from a local pest company who finally got me on track. Here are the five things I learned that changed my life.

  1. I made my yard less attractive. Bugs and animals are always passing through. By getting rid of the places they like to hide and nest, like: construction material, the wood pile, and cinder blocks, I have less critters in my yard. They also like moist areas, so I put gravel on the patch of wet ground next to the house, and under the entire length of the deck. And, for good measure, I cut the tall grass along the length of my fence.

  2. I got rid of food sources. Food sources come in many forms. Fruit flies like a banana peel, left on the deck railing. Wasps love sweet things, like left over orange juice, or jam stuck to a plate. When I'm done eating breakfast on the deck, I bring my plates back inside now. I also covered the outside trash cans, even though my trash is in bags. Bugs and animals eat rotting food, and lay their eggs in it. I was also told that flying insects draw insects that eat other insects. I replaced all my exterior lighting with yellow--insect resistant--bulbs. This has had a surprising influence on the number of spider webs.

  3. I sealed up the house. My sliding door screen had a small tear in it, so I had that fixed. My door sweeps were okay, but the weather stripping on the front door had slidden down, so I pushed it up to create a better seal. I crawled as far as I could under the deck, used a flashlight to examine my exterior wall, and found a little rotted wood that had been chewed on. I don't have the money to get it fixed right now, so I used a caulking gun to fill in the hole. I filled in another area around a pipe that ran in the side of the house, but everything else looked good. Last, I cover a vent on the third floor with window grade screen. Those vent holes were big enough for something to get through.

  4. I made the insides unrewarding. If bugs or rodents are persistent enough to still get in, I learned some ways to keep them from finding what they're looking for. I sealed all my boxed and bagged food in hard plastic containers. I replaced the rocker lid on my garbage, with a lid that fully seals. I deep cleaned around, and under, the stove and refrigerator. I put dirty dishes in soapy water, rather than stacked in the dry sink. I keep the floors and counters clean, so no crumbs are available. And, I don't leave the cats food sitting out anymore. When it is dinner time, I put his food out for an hour, then put it back in the fridge. I also keep fruit in the fridge now, instead of on the kitchen table, and I haven't seen a fruit fly in a week!

  5. I made my exterior walls and perimeter gross for bugs to sit on. After the house was sealed, I had a professional technician come over and do a treatment on the outside of my house, so those fall bugs will pick someone else's house to crawl on. It's not just that it is nasty to see them crawling over, and around, the front door; I don't want them finding any cracks I might have missed.

It took some effort, and a little retraining, but the bugs are gone--I mean really gone! I think I've seen a couple gnats this fall, and maybe a couple ladybugs, but that's it! Bug proofing my house was the best thing I've ever done. Now I can sit back, sip my coffee, and enjoy the fruits of my labor--as long as I remember to keep that fruit in the fridge until I'm ready to eat it, and to throw it away in a sealed can when I'm done.