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Record dry weather is sending lots of critters over the hedge

June 03, 2007|Gayle Pollard-Terry | Times Staff Writer

The record-breaking dry weather is driving all manner of creepy, crawly things much closer to humans.

Swimming pools and outdoor ponds are attracting bugs and thirsty rodents. Possums, even raccoons, are venturing closer to human habitation, hoping to find a leaking faucet or open garbage can, vegetable garden or bowl of pet food.

"Bugs and rodents need food and water," said Todd Veden, a technical specialist for Terminex, a pest control company. If they can't find it in their natural settings, they seek it from backyard pools, ponds, birdbaths and pet water dishes, he said. They also feed on birdseed stored in bags or put out for wild birds.

Because of the parched earth during a record-breaking dry season, Veden expects a lot of homeowner calls regarding ants, bees, wasps, fleas, rats and mice.

He recommended keeping sugary foods in sealed containers to deter ants. To discourage rats, Veden suggested trimming trees and shrubs so that they don't touch the house and eliminating firewood and debris piles.

Discouraging infestations requires cleaning spills quickly, keeping food in containers and, in some cases, bringing in professional help, he said.

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