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Exterior of a white house with a chair by the front door.
With spring finally here, a few key measures undertaken now will keep critters under control for a pest-less summer.

Bug off

We're pretty lucky here in New Zealand. While residents of other countries worry about venomous creepy-crawlies, our main bugbears (pun intended) are annoying rather than life threatening – but annoying they most definitely are. To reduce the plague of pests, follow these tips to defend your home against insects before the season of barbecues begins.

A bug zapper hanging up.

Who are the culprits?

“The main summer pests are flies, mosquitoes, fleas, cockroaches and crickets,” says Peter Barry, technical advisor at Pest Management Association of NZ. Flies head indoors because we tend to cook with our windows and/or doors open during the warmer months. “This attracts filth flies that can travel long distances,” he says.

Mosquitoes like it warm and wet, so still or stagnant water in warm weather provides ideal breeding conditions for them. Fleas on pets can drop their eggs onto carpets or furniture, and cockroach numbers increase now too. “They come in with produce (German cockroaches) or from outside (American, Gisborne and bush cockroaches), as they are attracted to warmth and light,” says Peter. David Brittain, technical support manager at pest expert company Kiwicare, says ants can also be a big concern. “Flies may enter the home in numbers of a few tens, but ants can invade in thousands.”

A dose of prevention around the exterior

As a starting point, David suggests checking around the exterior of the house for places where insects could breed, and for anything that would attract them. “Look for blocked drains, make sure the compost heap is aerated and not too wet, and never place cooked food in a compost heap,” he says.

Another preventative measure, David suggests, is to check for sap-sucking pests such as aphids, scale or mealybugs on plants close to the house, as these produce honeydew that ants and other pests love to feed on. To keep mozzies at bay, Peter says, “Regularly empty flowerpot trays or buckets that have collected rainwater, to prevent mosquitoes breeding – or pour an oily substance on the surface to keep them out of the water.” Consider cutting back thick foliage, too, as this is also a favourite breeding spot. 

To prevent flies, “Keep the doors closed when cooking inside the house, especially meat or food with strong aromas,” says Peter. Consider having doors or windows fitted with flyscreens, keep food wrapped or contained and benches wiped clear of food debris to avoid tempting hungry trespassers.

A person installing a flyscreen on an exterior window.

Be aware, be safe

Even with preventative methods, bugs will still manage to break into your home, but there are a few weapons in the arsenal to banish them. Identifying your pest is key to finding the most effective method to get rid of them. “The Kiwicare website problem solver will help you identify the pest and provides you with the best solutions,” says David.

Where possible, non-chemical methods of insect pest control should always be tried first; these can include sticky paper or sticky traps, many of which come with a pheromone attractant, or insect zappers, which you can hang outdoors. “However, insecticides for control of pests in the home have been approved for use and are a safe and effective way for controlling insect pests in conjunction with the non-chemical methods,” says David, adding that exterior treatments with insecticides such as Kiwicare's No Bugs Super and No Spiders Total Protection can be enough to deter and control flying and crawling insect pests that might invade the home, as well as keeping outdoor entertaining areas relatively bug free. Options for use indoors include No Bugs Indoor, which contains natural pyrethrum.

Tip: Look for places where pests may be able to gain entry to the house and seal them up if possible

Tell those bugs to bug off

To keep your house bug free pop into your local Bunnings to pick up your preferred pest control products.

Photo credit: Brigid Arnott, Getty Images and iStock.