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Nobody likes a pest, especially the creepy, crawly kind. But they exist, and, unfortunately, too many of us make it easy for pests to take up residence right alongside the family.

To help you remember the most effective way to deal with pests, use this acronym - INSPECT. It stands for:

- Investigate. Take a serious, strategic approach to discovering potential pest problems in and around your home.    - Study. After identifying potential problems, study the potential cause or consequence of these problems.    - Prepare. Plan how to most effectively solve your problem. Changing habits to include covering your dryer vent, and only eating in the kitchen can help prevent pests from taking up residence.   - Eliminate. Eliminate pest entryways into your home by caulking cracks and trimming trees and shrubs.   - Clean. Maintaining your home and lawn are essential for discouraging pests from calling your home theirs. Eliminate opportunities for pests to find food, water, and nesting and hiding places.    - Treat. To protect your home and family, properly treat pest problems with the appropriate pesticide product to effectively manage the problem.

While pests can be in any part of your home, here are some of the more common rooms you'll find them in, and what you can do to keep them out.


Common Pests: Bed bugs, dust mites

Bed bugs can live anywhere in any home. They tend to concentrate in mattresses, box springs and bed frames, but they can also be in curtains, inside furniture drawers, and in cracks in the wallpaper. They can even hitch a ride on clothing or in a backpack and be carried to and from school.

Bed bugs can live for a year or more without feeding, and can withstand temperatures that range from nearly freezing to almost 113∞F. Managing a bed bug infestation is difficult and requires professional help, which can include close inspection and monitoring, and possibly removal of all infested materials.


- Check mattresses, headboards and box springs for signs of beg bug droppings, eggs or live nymphs.
- Regularly inspect backpacks for signs of bed bugs.
- If you suspect a bed bug infestation, contact a licensed pest management professional for an immediate inspection.
- Cover mattresses and pillows with dust-proof, zippered covers tested and rated for dust mites.
- Frequently change bed linens. Wash bedding and stuffed animals once a week.
- Vacuum areas frequently.
- Ask a pest management professional for help treating for dust mites.


Common Pests: Spiders, silverfish

Spiders like to lurk in corners, cabinets and drawers, as well as clothing and behind curtains. If you have a persistent spider problem, it's most likely that you also have other pests that are serving as a steady food source for spiders.


- Remove webs with a broom or vacuum. Destroy any egg sacs you find. Check around windows, in corners or other out of the way spots.  - Check for leaking water lines under the sink and in the shower/tub area.  - Clean faucets and shower heads.  - Supplement cleaning with proper insecticide treatment. Treat around baseboards, in cracks and crevices and other likely hiding places.  - Eliminate sources of water. Fix leaky faucets, and don't let water stand in the tub or sink. - Replace or repair moldy or wet wood in the bathroom. - Reduce humidity in the bathroom by running a fan or opening a window while you shower.   Kitchen

Common pests: Ants, roaches, rodents

Insects and rodents look for food anywhere they can find it - cabinets, pantries, floorboards, areas where pet food is stored. These pests contaminate food and carry disease.


- Maintain clean, clutter-free spaces.  - Wipe up spills and pick up crumbs immediately. - Keep stove vents and drip pans clean. - Store food in air-tight and pest-proof containers, or in the refrigerator or freezer.  - Don't leave your pet's food and water dishes out overnight.  - Check for water leaks under the sink and refrigerator.  - Keep trash and recycling areas clean, and rinse out food containers and beverage cans before disposing of them. - Baits, sprays and traps are effective ways to manage kitchen pests.   To learn more about preventing pest problems in your home, visit

-- Family Features

Home Selling Tip: Have your front door make a good first impression

The front door is the first part of a house most buyers see, so make sure it creates a lasting impression. suggests painting the door a bright color, planting flowers or installing a decorative path leading to your home. Welcome mats also send a good message that this is a place buyers want to be.

Did you know ...

Poor ventilation in the bathroom can lead to a buildup of excess moisture, which is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Install a bathroom vent fan to push the moist air outside the home to avoid creating unhealthy conditions in the room, as well as fogged-up windows, steamy mirrors, and eventually ruined walls and ceilings.

-- Brandpoint

Decorating Tip: Add some color

Pantone's annual fashion color report helps set the tone for home decor as well as clothing, and the spring 2013 report is out. Its softer-hued palette of Dusk Blue, Lemon Zest, African Violet, Grayed Jade, Linen and Tender Shoots is emboldened by Monaco Blue, Poppy Red, Emerald and Nectarine. Marc Thee, founder of the No. 1 residential interior design firm in the country, also sees a move toward pure color palettes such as cream and sea glass, khaki and white, or neutral with a pop of yellow.

-- Brandpoint

Garden Guide: Winterize your roses

Some gardeners, even in the colder zones, wait to winterize roses until late fall when all the roses are completely dormant. But the weather is unpredictable by mid-fall, and a sudden cold snap could cause serious damage. Tender varieties of roses can be seriously damaged in places where the temperatures dip below 20 degrees. But there's an easy way to protect them with a technique called the "Minnesota tip." It was developed in the 1950s by a Minnesota gardener and involves tipping a rose bush into a trench.

- Prune the bush to 3 feet tall, cutting above outward-facing buds. Remove smaller limbs, leaving three to five of the thickest, most vigorous canes.

- If there are any leaves, pull them off. Aside from harboring disease, leaves can increase drying.

- Tie the canes together using synthetic twine that will not decay over winter. Tie by starting at the bottom with a slip knot and lacing up the plant. Leave a long piece of twine attached.

- Spray the canes with dormant oil spray, which protects them from diseases in the soil. Mix 5 tablespoons of the oil with 1 gallon of water. Or, if you've already made a baking-soda solution (1/3 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water) to spray as a fungicide, you can simply add the dormant oil to that to save time. Coat the canes well and let dry.

- Dig a trench on one side of the plant and loosen the soil around the roots using a garden fork to minimize root damage.

- Add fallen evergreen needles to the trench and mix with the topsoil. The high acidity of evergreens is great for rose beds.

- Use a garden fork to pry under the roots and carefully tip the plant over into the trench.

- Cover the plant completely with the soil that was removed, being careful to leave the long piece of extra twine exposed above the dirt so it will be easier to find later.

- Water the bed to help settle the soil and keep the canes and roots in good shape for the winter.

- Cover with a carpenter's blanket and bags of leaves to keep it in place. Bags of leaves are easier to deal with in the spring than loose leaves, but for small areas loose leaves may be fine and will decompose.


GateHouse News Service