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Make Home Inhospitable for Pests

<i> For the Associated Press </i>

The very names of common household pests--cockroaches, silverfish, firebrats--send shivers up the spine.

They are elusive and seemingly indestructible. Since it is difficult to rid a house of a heavy infestation, it is crucial to control the stray pests and even better to keep your house so clean they never get a leg in the door.

Here is how to recognize and control roaches, silverfish and firebrats:

--Roaches are usually 5/8- to 1-inch in length. Their color ranges from yellowish to reddish brown to black.

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--Wingless and slender, silverfish and firebrats have long, thread-like antennae and three “tails.” Silverfish are usually silvery in color. Firebrats are a mottled gray and brown, sometimes with black lines.

--Silverfish like cool, damp environments. Firebrats prefer hot temperatures. Roaches hide in any dark place. Be alert for these insects around furnaces, hot water pipes, partitions where ducts or pipes pass through walls or floors, basement crevices, baseboards, ovens, drawers, shelves, bookcases, windows and door casings, clothes closets, cupboards, sinks, wall clocks and under shelf paper.

Active at Night

All three pests tend to be active at night and can go long periods without food. They feed on a broad diet of substances high in starch, protein and sugar, including paste, some fabrics, dried meat, syrup, glue, cereals, book bindings, paper and wallpaper glue. Roaches also feed on human food, garbage and soiled clothes.

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The key to keeping pests away is to deny them food, water and shelter.

--Vacuum often. The insects will not thrive if they are frequently disturbed.

-- Air stored clothing frequently.

--Clean bookshelves, basements, storage areas and around furnaces regularly.

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--Store food in tightly closed glass or plastic containers.

--Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.

--Keep counters, floors and cabinets spotless.

--Keep sink areas dry. Wring out sponges and dish towels and keep them where they can dry quickly.

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--Fix leaky plumbing.

--Clean garbage cans regularly and make sure their lids are on tight.

--Fill cracks and crevices; caulk openings around pipes, appliance connections and cabinets.

Infested areas that are out of the reach of children and pets can be treated with diazanon. Apply diazanon behind books and into cracks in the walls and flooring. Spray around baseboards, doors, windows, closets and boxes with household insect spray which contains diazanon, propoxur, malathion or methoxyclor.

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Residual Roach Spray

For an infestation of roaches in the kitchen, take these additional steps: Remove all food and utensils and use a residual roach spray. Puff a commercial boric acid dust into wall openings and under low equipment. Line shelves with fresh paper after the spray has dried. It usually takes four hours. Repeat the procedure two to four weeks later when a new generation will have hatched. Do not treat food preparation areas with any pesticides or poison.

In an apartment building, you can rid your unit of roaches, but they will return unless the other units and hallways are treated as well, preferably by a professional exterminator.

Caution: Before using any insecticide, carefully read the instructions on the container label. Use the insecticide only as directed. Failure to do so could cause serious injury.

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Need help on a home repair or improvement project? Write Reader’s Digest, P.O. Box 700, Pleasantville,. NY 10570-7000. Suggestions and tips will be offered in future columns.


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