By Robert Lucke
The Hill County Health Department has some suggestions on how to avoid being bitten by wood ticks this time of year. This seems to be a heavier than average tick season, so recreationists should follow as many of these tips as they can. Health Department sanitarian Heidi Bischoff suggested that first, remove all leaves, clean brush and cut tall grass around your home and garden edges where immature ticks often live.
Wear light-colored clothing while hiking and camping so any ticks on you can be easily seen.
Wear long pants and tuck the legs into your socks and boots. Some people tape around the area where socks and pants meet to prevent ticks from crawling up pant legs.
Spray insect repellent on your clothing. That repellent should contain Deet.
Hike in the middle of trails to avoid brushing against grass and leaves where ticks could be brushed onto you.
The Hill County Health Department reports that it has received several calls this year from home owners and renters complaining of roaches.
"Roaches are not usually found in this part of Montana, but they do occur at times," Bischoff said. "The very best way to keep roaches from infesting your home is by denying them access to food."
Keep all food surfaces clean. Store food in sealed containers.
Vacuum and sweep food preparing and eating areas frequently.
Wash dishes soon after eating or at least leave them in the sink with soapy water.
Keep garbage cans covered and remove trash from your house daily. Keep the outside of the garbage containers clean.
Remember that roaches need access to water. You can dry up all their water sources by repairing all water leaks under sinks and around washing machines.
Repair structural leaks in your roof, walls and foundation.
Use bathroom fans to prevent condensation from collecting.
Don't overwater houseplants.
Don't leave any standing water around.
A young roach can squeeze into spaces as narrow as a dime, and adult roaches can fit into spaces the width of a quarter, Bischoff said. Roaches love cluttered spaces. To eliminate roach habitats, caulk to seal cracks and holes around cupboards, sinks, pipes, plumbing fixtures and baseboards. Expandable spray foam can be used around electrical outlet boxes.
Discard grocery bags and cardboard boxes. These items sometimes have roach eggs on them.
Weather stripping can be used around doors for a tight seal.
Tidy up all storage rooms of clutter.
What do you do if all has failed and your home gets infested with roaches?
"A thorough cleaning will need to be done along with an aggressive pest-removal approach," Bischoff said. "Be sure to call a licensed pest removal company if there is evidence of roaches. Those companies are good sources of information and will give you additional advice when you call."
Basic cleaning steps recommended by the Hill County Health Department include the following:
For wet-cleanable surfaces use a household detergent with disposable paper towels. Only dip the towel in the detergent solution once and then discard it after wiping the area. The goal is to pick up the roach debris and dust and not to spread it around.
For vinyl-type flooring use a household detergent bucket and a separate rinse bucket. Be sure to change the rinse water frequently.
A food cleaning solution consists of one cup bleach to one gallon of water. Wait 10 minutes before rinsing the solution to allow the bleach to work. Be sure to ventilate the area when using bleach and wear protective gloves.
If you have many area rugs that can be thrown into the washer, do that. If not, vacuum very slowly in order to pick up the fine roach dust. If you are able, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.