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) - Kitchens have always been a familiar gathering place in the home. However, in addition to attracting family and friends, common household pests often stake out the kitchen as their nesting grounds due to the abundance of food and hiding places.
As winter is typically the time of year many pests seek food and shelter inside homes, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners that many pests, such as cockroaches, fruit flies, rodents and others can contaminate food, spread bacteria and increase grocery bills from having to replace ruined food.
"Keeping our kitchens clean may not be a foolproof way to prevent any and all pest infestations
, but a few proactive steps can go a long way in ensuring the only visitors enjoying the food are those homeowners have invited," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.
The NPMA recommends the following preventative measures to ensure your kitchen, pantry and home remain pest free:
* Immediately wipe up any crumbs or spills from countertops, tables, floors and shelves.
* Store food in airtight containers, and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles.
* Only purchase food in sealed packages that show no sign of damage.
* Add a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods like flour, rice and other grains -- the pungent scent repels many pantry pests.
* Check expiration dates on baking ingredients before use.
* If you keep fresh fruit on the counter, check it often for signs of over-ripening or decay. As female fruit flies lay an average of 500 eggs on the surface of fermenting fruit, it's best to dispose of the fruit in outdoor trash cans to prevent those eggs from hatching in your indoor trash.
* Run your garbage disposal regularly.
* Don't let dirty dishes pile up and stand in the sink for long periods of time.
* Don't leave pet food and water bowls out for long periods of time.
* Install door sweeps on exterior doors, and repair damaged screens.
* Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.
* Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home and around the kitchen, especially around stove and water pipes.
For more information about common household pests or to find a qualified pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org