Spring pest control: DIY or call a professional

The arrival of spring weather brings with it an influx of insects and rodents. Though they vary in type, depending on the region, they're still a problem most homeowners face. Some are more than just a nuisance; left to their own devices, they can do serious damage to homes.

Think about ants, more of a nuisance than a danger, said Dan Huie of United Pest Solutions Inc. in Seattle. "People call them either sweet-feeding ants, or moisture ants, things like that. They're the small little black ants that just cause headaches for people all over their homes."

Stinging insects also thrive in the spring, said Phil Coulson of Custom Care Pest Services in Boise, Idaho.

"Things go seasonal," Coulson said. "In the last 30 days or so, things are starting to warm up and we're seeing emerging wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. We're getting calls for spiders and ants that are popping up."

There are a few common denominators that homeowners can address on their own to minimize pests being attracted to their homes. To start, trim branches and shrubs that could reach the home.

"That is basically a highway for insects coming from trees and tree limbs," Coulson said. "Bagging and removing leaf litter from the ground also helps. Insects survive the winter by clustering underneath leaf litter that's been there all winter long."

Soil and mulch that is piled high enough to reach siding also is a gateway for insects to make their way inside the home, Huie said. Keeping garbage cans and pet food containers covered with lids also can reduce the temptation for pests to linger.

"You also want to do a good perimeter check and make sure there are no openings on the exterior of your home that are larger than about the size of a dime, to keep mice out," Huie said. "Rats require something about the size of a nickel to a quarter, so just make sure the house is very well-sealed."

Homeowners dealing with insect and rodent issues can have more effective treatment outcomes by establishing regular service. Most pest control companies offer quarterly treatments that range in price from about $80 to $120. Often, these companies offer a guarantee to come back in between treatments and treat for free if homeowners continue to experience issues.

Before hiring a pest control company, check that it holds the proper licenses for your area.

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