Tucson isn’t the most comfortable place in the summer, so you probably don’t have much company at that time of year. But when it heats up, you’ve got some uninvited house guests that you might not even know about.
From March through the end of November, bugs and rodents would rather be inside where it’s cool instead of outside – just like you. Here’s a partial list of who’s at the party – and how to get them to leave.
Bed bugs are back. An April 1 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirms that the blood-sucking bed bug is making a comeback. The research shows an increase of up to 500 percent in reports about the wingless, reddish-brown insect, which hangs out on your mattress and waits for you to go to sleep before nipping at your skin. The reason: More of them are hitching a ride in and out of countries on the luggage and clothing of international travelers. Plus, they’ve become resistant to traditional treatments, so they don’t die off easily.
You’ll know it if you have them because you’ll wake up with welts on your body. Don’t fret, though, because the new research shows that they’re more of a nuisance than a danger and apparently don’t cause any diseases.
You can try to get rid of them by replacing your mattress and setting sticky traps for any that jump off. Or you can vacuum your mattress and zip it into a plastic cover. Check your fabric upholstery and carpet, too.
Dust mites are still mighty. These microscopic mites don’t carry diseases, but if you’re allergic to dust, you’re probably allergic to dust mites. Their favorite food is dead skin cells, and you shed yours at a rate of one-third of an ounce a week. So they live in the places where you spend the most time: your bed and your favorite sofa. A used mattress can contain 100,000 mites.
They also live where it’s hot. Where we live, it’s hot!
Get rid of the dust in your house and you’ll get rid of much of your problem. Also, zip mattresses into airtight plastic mattress covers; wash your sheets, pillows and blankets – and your child’s fabric or stuffed toys – at least every other week in super-hot water; crank the air conditioner to above 70 degrees; and change the filter every single month.
Roaches make your nose run. You know you can be allergic to cats, dust and pollen. Did you know cockroaches cause allergies, too? They also can trigger asthma.
Once you see a roach in your kitchen – especially at night – it’s likely there are nearly 1,000 more around the house. They like to live under the kitchen sink and in closets.
And they’ve become so resistant to bug spray that you’ll probably need to call a pest-control company to get rid of them. Plus, if you try to kill them with chemicals, you could aggravate your asthma.
Once they’re gone, keep them out. Inspect everything you carry into your house, including grocery bags and suitcases. Take out your garbage every evening. And fix plumbing leaks around the house.
Crickets are gourmet food for spiders. If you don’t want scorpions and black widows in your house, get rid of the crickets. That’s what these predators like to eat, so they’ll follow them right into your house, usually through the baseboards.
If you treat the crickets, the scorpions will die, too, after they eat them. You can spray insecticide around baseboards, but don’t overdo it. If you need serious chemical treatments for bugs, call a pest-control pro to do the job.
Your best bet: Keep the crickets out by using expansion foam and caulk to seal the gaps and cracks around windows, doors and your home’s foundation so they can’t squeeze their way indoors.
Rosie Romero has been in the Arizona home-building and remodeling industry for 35 years. He has a radio program from 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays on KNST-AM (790). For more do-it-yourself tips and for Arizona’s most-trusted contractor referral network, go to rosieonthehouse.com or call 888- ROSIE-4-U during the show. The Rosie on the House column appears every Friday.