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Ask Angie’s List: How can I control late summer pests?

Summer means barbecues, hikes and some all-around fun in the sun, but the season also invites a host of pesky pests ready to crash your summertime soirees. Summer also brings about prime breeding time for some of the most annoying bugs, such as ants, mosquitoes, ticks and stinging insects. Here are some tips to keep the biggest party crashers away all season.

GETTING RID OF BUGS

Those summer picnics, outdoor barbeques and happy family events usually mean lots of food going in and out of the kitchen. Ants don't make a secret of their invasion, either; you'll often see those lines marching back and forth to the best food source, and those can indicate a much larger colony nearby.

Good kitchen hygiene is the best practice to keep ants out. Keep food in sealed containers, and minimize how long it's left out for events like picnics. Seal up possible entry points, such as small cracks in your walls or under windows. Clean carefully with soap and water, which will kill the chemical trails they follow. Place lines of diatomaceous earth along those entry points or right outside your home. This substance is safe for your home, but dehydrates ant exoskeletons, so they'll go to great lengths not to cross it.

Mosquitoes only need half an inch of water to breed, so the most effective tool to combat them is to eliminate water sources. Look for any standing water outside after rainfall, including bases underneath flower pots, children's toys, old tires and recycling bins. Change bird bath water twice a week.

Ticks are among the most unwelcome summer pests due to the diseases they carry, including Lyme disease. Ticks are most widely found east of the Rocky Mountains and on the west coast, but they exist in some numbers all across the nation. To keep ticks off your body, use insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET. Wear long pants, long sleeves and a bandana or hat while hiking in wooded environments, and tuck in your socks.

In your yard, ticks are most likely to hide in long, tall grasses and overgrown plants.

STINGING INSECTS

Stinging insects such as bees or wasps reach their prime active period in the second half of summer.

Make sure your garbage cans are sealed, and wear shoes when you're outside. Store woodpiles as far from the house as possible. They present a very attractive home for stinging insects and other pests.

Check around your home for fixtures that may need repair. Broken panels or siding, gaps in soffits and other crevices are great homes for a wasp nest. Rodent holes and burrows tend to attract wasps as well, so fill them in with dirt.

If you find a wasp nest or beehive, removing it is not a DIY job. You need to call professional help. A bee removal service can safely relocate the hive. Whatever you do with a beehive or wasp's nest, make sure the location is then repaired to avoid attracting more pests.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.

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