Learn how to pest-proof your home from mosquitoes, fire ants and ants with expert tips from Tom Kraeutler and Greg Baumann.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Welcome to the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast presented by Orkin . I’m Tom Kraeutler and one of the greatest joys of summertime is the ability to enjoy outdoor living spaces with friends and family, but that joy of a summer picnic or a barbeque in your backyard can be quickly ruined when mosquitoes and ants attack. We’re going to attack that question in this edition of the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast with the help of Greg Baumann. Greg is the Vice-President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin, and someone that I’ve relied on for many years to help with issues like that. Greg, thanks so much for being a part of this program.
GREG BAUMANN: It’s a pleasure to be here, Tom.
TOM KRAEUTLER: I’ve got a list of things I’d like to cover with this edition, starting with the only two places in the world that are safe from ant infestations and those would be?
GREG BAUMANN: The North Pole and the South Pole.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So, unless you’re going to do a picnic at the North Pole or the South Pole, you pretty much are going to have to deal with ant infestation , so why don’t we start right there? You know, it is a great time to get out early and enjoy being able to eat outside, for example. But, you know, it is the time of year when we love to get out and eat outside. But how do we separate ourselves from the insects when we’re doing that if we can’t have a screened in enclosure?
GREG BAUMANN: Well, remember, we’re actually going into their environment now. You know, sometimes they come to our homes and we don’t like it. Well, we go into their homes now when we’re going to be sitting outside and so we just have to understand that ants are going to be part of what we have to deal with out there. There are thousands of species and about 50 species we’re concerned with in the United States.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Well, are ants something that you want to try to manage the population of in and around your house? Or are they so beneficial that just have to kind of learn to live with them?
GREG BAUMANN: Well, ants can be beneficial in some respects but when they get into our living space or working space or our recreational spaces, totally unacceptable. And so we want to keep the populations down around our decks, down around our patios or any of the recreational areas.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah and I was going to ask you about that. So, we want to create sort of a pest free zone around those eating areas. What kinds of steps should consumers be taking?
GREG BAUMANN: Well, we have to consider the type of ant as well. Probably the typical pest ant that’s going to want to invade our picnics or want to invade our parties are going to be ants that are just out looking for food. And so what we’re going to do is identify the ant and decide whether a treatment is necessary. At Orkin, we can go out, identify the ant, decide, okay, maybe we’re going to do a treatment because you’re going to have a big function here on Saturday. It’ll reduce the population.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah, so strategically, you could do treatments like you mentioned. If you got a big event, a big barbeque, a wedding, anything that you’re kind of having a big party for outside, you can actually hire a pest control professional  to kind of do the advance work on that and try to keep that area as clean and possible from insects.
GREG BAUMANN: That’s exactly right. A lot of people ask us, “Hey, I’m having a party next week. Can you come out and take care of any outside pests that might bother us?” And we can reduce the population. You can never eliminate them, but you can reduce the population.
TOM KRAEUTLER: All right, another insect that’s very bothersome in the summer when we’re outside enjoying activities is the mosquito. There are clothes today that actually are treated with repellants, aren’t there? Is that a good way to try to keep yourself bite free?
GREG BAUMANN: That’s exactly right. There are clothes that are out there. In fact, when we went to Haiti to work on the mosquito populations we were able to use some treated clothing. But, more often than not, it’s probably just smart just to cover up when mosquitoes are going to be more active, which is dusk and dawn. Depending on where you live, there might be some out during the day. And there are also some materials that can be repellants, like Deet, which is an EPA registered product that was applied to the skin. But only apply it to the skin that’s going to be exposed. Some people like to put it all over their arms, then cover up their arms. That’s count-productive, and it’s also not good for them.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah, it’s interesting that you mention that, because if you read the fine print on the repellant canisters, it’ll say just that. You put it on exposed skin, but if you were to put a jacket over that skin, then you’re really using it in a way that’s inconsistent with the label directions.
GREG BAUMANN: And there’s no reason to.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah.
GREG BAUMANN: No reason to.
TOM KRAEUTLER: And let’s also talk about, you mentioned Deet, and of course, that’s my favorite repellant, and I just find it’s far more effective than just about anything else out there. What do you think of the, is it picaridin and oil of eucalyptus and the other type of repellants? Do you think that Deet is just so much better, that we really should stick with that? Or what’s your two cents on it?
GREG BAUMANN: Yes, some of those products are going to have limited effectiveness, but EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend Deet.
TOM KRAEUTLER: And I got to tell you, Greg, as a former professional home inspector, used to inspect the areas of swampy areas, we’d get those green head, the biting flies, super aggressive. The only thing that would keep those away from you was Deet. And they would attack the moment you opened your car door until you walked 20 feet or 30 feet to the house. They were right on you unless you had Deet, so I find that to be the most effective personal repellant. But besides putting personal repellants on, to try to eliminate mosquito populations  around your house, there are some things that homeowners can do to make sure those mosquitoes are not breeding, correct?
GREG BAUMANN: Well, that’s exactly right. I mean, you have no control over your neighbors. You have no control over the woods that you don’t own behind you, or even the local pond. But you want to reduce water and that’s one of the key points. Reduce water around your house, and it’s going to be standing water, such as in gutters that are not sloped properly so you have standing water inside the gutters. But another thing people don’t think about is kids’ toys.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Right.
GREG BAUMANN: You know, that little truck out there collecting water. These can all be havens for mosquitoes, and mosquito breeding.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah, you really have to be vigilant, but the thing is if you add mosquito prevention and ant prevention to your sort of list of pre-summer to-do’s, so that you try to eliminate the areas that are – that these insects can nest in, and you eliminate some of the moist areas and you eliminate the standing water, and you do preventative treatments before you have events, you can make your summer a lot more comfortable when it comes to eating outside and having those nice, pleasant picnics.
GREG BAUMANN: And that’s exactly right. The key is to try to make it inhospitable for the pests.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Good advice. Greg Baumann, the Vice-President of Training and Technical Services for Orkin. Thank you so much for being a part of the Money Pit Pest Prevention Podcast and making our picnics that much more pleasant over the summer ahead.
GREG BAUMANN: Thank you.
TOM KRAEUTLER: And if you would like more information about how to identify pest problems in your home, visit Orkin.com. The Orkin.com site is full of useful information to help identify and eliminate insect problems in and around your house. And it also has a very interesting pest library. Very helpful because you can look up any pest you come across, as well as locate an Orkin pest control pro to help you eliminate those pests once and for all. It’s all online at Orkin.com. Orkin, pest control down to a science. I’m Tom Kraeutler. Thanks for listening.