Spring pests and nuisances are returning. Some are annual — others only swarm every 17 years. Read tips from The Family Handyman about how to deal with each pest in the best way. First tip: Tackle the problem as soon as you can.
Remember that these insects are actually harmless. The will not sting or bite you, so be gentle in return. Some shrubs or saplings could be damaged, but the deed, similar to pruning, could actually be good for your plants!
Dealing with cicadas
If you are in an infested area, use a snow shovel to remove cicadas from your property, and consider getting ear plugs if the swarm’s mating calls bother you. Don’t worry, they won’t be around for long.
While it is easier said than done, the best way to deal with yellow jackets and bees is to get rid of their nests on your property. It is better to take of this in the spring before the nests get too big. Watch the wasps’ movements closely to spot where they fly into the wall of your house.
Buy an insecticide specially formulated for killing bees from a hardware store or nursery.The best time to spray is at night when the bees are less active and inside the nest. The Family Handyman recommends wearing protective clothing, including face protection, to guard against potential stings.
Beware, you can get a hole in your roof or siding from these birds attacking wooden shingles. Woodpeckers are protected under federal law, so it is illegal to hurt them.
Getting woodpeckers to move on
Your best option is to harass the birds into leaving. Shiny lights and reflections sometimes scare woodpeckers away, as do owl decoys. If this doesn’t work, try to shoo them away with a broom. Just be persistent to convince the birds to move on.
Cluster flies breed outside during the early spring. They then find their way indoors around windows, doors, and siding. They are attracted to light and warmth. Try to prevent them coming indoors. Caulk cracks around the foundation, siding, exterior trim and other potential entry points. If that doesn’t work, spray an insecticide formulated for flies around the outside of your doors and windows, eaves, and cracks in the siding.
Mowing to the ideal cutting height, identifying the weeds before planning the attacks, controlling broadleaf weeds with the least amount of herbicide possible, killing perennial grass weeds one by one, controlling crab grass with a “crab grass preventer’’ in the spring, and remembering not to fight weeds where grass won’t grow are all ways to deal with weeds. Find out more from The Family Handyman.
First figure out where these ants are coming from. Look for a trail or a pattern in their appearance. The best way to control the ants in the house is to kill them in their nest.
Dealing with ants
The Family Handyman recommends that if you find the nest outdoors, apply an ant insecticide directly to it. If the nest is inside a wall, drill a
-inch hole and squirt an insecticide inside. If you can’t find the nest, use ant bait. They work but can take weeks to kill all the ants. Check what your ants are eating. Some brands of bait work for sweet-feeding ants; others (like ant traps) attract protein feeders. If one type of bait doesn’t work, try the other, or put out both at the same time.
Houses with nooks, gardens, and overflowing goarbage all attract raccoons. Light, water, noise and chemical repellents may work in the short term, but raccoons eventually learn to ignore them. The best way to discourage these pests is to make your house, garden and trash cans inaccessible.
Dealing with raccoons
Cut back overhanging tree branches and brush so raccoons can’t get onto the roof. Add chimney caps, or replace them if they’re damaged. Cover fish ponds with netting. Don’t leave pet food outside.