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Spring pests

In most areas of the country spring is welcome — except for the bugs whose activity goes into high gear right now.

"There's a natural population of pests coming out now looking for food and moisture," said entomologist Bob Young, a division service manager for the pest-control company Terminix.

They're also looking to breed.

For crowd control, look to keep the area around your home as dry as possible, he said. Some ideas:

  • u Extend downspouts. Make sure they are 2 to 5 feet away from the building.
  • u Minimize use of mulch. It may look nice but it traps moisture.
  • u Make sure no living plants touch the building. Pests live even on beautiful plants and find their way indoors if plants on which they live are not pruned back.
  • u Tidy up any clutter — rubbish and debris scattered around, garbage, crumbs, hair — both outdoors and indoors. Don't leave piles of firewood near the house.

If you live in a city dwelling, moisture provides breeding sources for cockroaches, the perennial enemy.

Inspect your rooms and seal up openings around walls and floors, to foil movement of rodents and insect pests.

"You can do things to control what you bring in," said Young, who is based on Long Island, N.Y.

For example, bugs travel around with people, in packages and shopping bags. If you're traveling or returning from a vacation, "Don't put your luggage on the bed," he said.

Wherever you live, now is the time for a check to make sure you have good-fitting screens on windows and porches. And look at the lighting outside or inside near your windows: "Light attracts pests, especially white light," he said. So change the color of light at vulnerable spots. Use sodium vapor light which has a yellower cast.

On the Net: www.terminix.com, which includes a home risk assessment