With warmer weather beckoning us outside, it's important to remember that it's also time to create a barrier between yourself and its denizens, lest you end up with the burning welt of a wasp's sting or worse, pest control experts warn.
Keeping a well-groomed yard and preventing animals and insects from getting a foothold in your home is key, said Luis Pabon, technical director for Catseye Pest Control.
If you don't, "It's going to make it unpleasant ... to spend time outdoors, whether it's reading a book or enjoying a cold drink," he said.
Heather Lackey, owner of Carson Creature Catchers, issued similar warnings, with one addition: Don't feed the animals.
"I can't stress enough not to feed the wildlife," she said. "It doesn't help them; it hurts them by teaching them to become reliant on humans."
Further, it creates a "hole" for wildlife to fill, and the critters can bring disease with them, she said.
They both advise keeping your home free of debris and other places for critters and insects to hide or build nests. And if you have fruit-bearing plants or flowers, keep them under control, they said. Both provide food sources for the unwanted.
"If you're going to have flowers around your home, don't put them where you're going to be sitting or by the front of your home because they can attract the stinging and biting insects that make those places less attractive for you to do spend time," Pabon said.
And leaving food out can attract ants, he said, which pose a bigger problem than just the colony that grows around the source: It will leave residual pheromone trails for replacement colonies to follow even after the first one is eliminated.
Lackey also suggested that homeowners check their property for missing screens or other entrances into places that critters such as raccoons could call home.
"Don't give them an opportunity, because it's much easier for raccoons to get into an attic or in a crawl space than in a hollowed-out tree because predators won't follow them there," she said.
She also suggested keeping your pets' vaccinations up to date because if Animal Control finds out your unvaccinated dog or cat got into a scrape with a raccoon, your pet will be automatically impounded as a precaution, she said.
"It can be the difference between your dog's life and death," she said.
In the end, both recommended keeping to plans to minimize food sources and hiding places to make your home less attractive to unwanted guests. But if you do find yourself with more-than-temporary roommates, it can be best to call a professional that knows how to best deal with the pest.
Tips for avoiding insects and wild animals
• Keep your yard clear of debris to minimize hiding places
• Avoid giving pests food sources they can rely on, such as bird feeders or unkempt fruit trees.
• Make sure your home is patched up to avoid giving wasps and rodents places to nest.