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Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006 01:51 pm

More cricket-catching ideas

Readers suggest cats, duct tape, and glue traps

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Untitled Document A recent item on dealing with an infestation of crickets in a basement brought so many ingenious tips from readers that the subject seems worth a follow-up. My favorite tip comes from Bruce. “I had an infestation in my previous home,” he says. “Just suffered with them until someone suggested taking a young cat in for a couple of weeks. That was six years ago and I still have [the cat], but the crickets disappeared. I don’t know if crickets have a communications network, but it seems from my experience that when a cat is on the premises, they pretty much stay away.” (I have seen our own cat spend hours stalking large insects). Steve Johnson suggests an efficient and inexpensive method, but it might not be suitable for the squeamish. “Simply take 6-inch strips of duct tape,” he says. “Place as many as you choose around the basement [sticky side up]. Each morning you will find the crickets captured on the tape. Simply throw them out and replace with new tape. It works like a charm.”
Pam Warford says she had crickets in a storage room and simply began keeping a light turned on in the room at all times. “The crickets disappeared and the electrical cost was negligible,” she said. Courtenay Welton replaced her metal-frame basement windows, which apparently had some gaps around the edges where crickets could enter, with vinyl-frame thermal windows. “After that, we had many fewer crickets and a much warmer basement in the winter,” she says. Eric used glue traps of the type designed for mice — again, not for the squeamish. “It’s not the most humane thing, but neither are poisons that kill them,” he says. Laura Britton describes her experience with an electronic sonic device used against insects such as crickets and roaches. She says she had an infestation of roaches in the dishwasher area of her kitchen and installed a sonic repellent there. “It did chase them out (of the dishwasher area),” she says, “but it chased them into the rest of the house, compounding the problem.” She says she concluded that sonic devices would have to be spread throughout an entire house to be effective. She finally got rid of the roaches “after a combination of relentless pursuit and the use of boric acid mixed with cocoa,” she says.
Dear Gene: I have heard that there are special tools available to fix squeaky floors through carpets. Where can I get these tools?
The equipment is available from Improvements (www.improvementscatalog.com; item 110189, about $30). The kit contains 50 special screws that can be driven through the carpet and flooring into the joists underneath, plus special tools and instructions. After the screws are driven, the heads are broken off so that the screws are not visible. You will also need a power drill/screwdriver.
Dear Gene: Our house has stained wood siding that has developed a fungus or mold in some areas. We had it pressure washed previously. How can we keep the mold from forming?
If the areas getting mold are shaded, it could help to prune back trees or shrubs to get them more sunlight. Beyond that, your best bet is proper cleaning. Pressure washing is not always best for wood siding, unless it is expertly done, because too much pressure can damage softer woods. I suggest using a special mold and mildew remover such as Mildew Check or Jomax. These products are sold at many home centers and are relatively easy to apply. Follow directions on the container, but the usual technique is to apply the cleaner with a garden-type sprayer, then rinse with water from a hose.
Dear Gene: Some of the new asphalt shingles on the roof over my deck are a slightly lighter color than the others. I am thinking of darkening these new shingles with paint. Is that a good idea?
I certainly wouldn’t paint the shingles, for a number of reasons: I doubt that you could match the color, asphalt is a poor base for paint, and I believe that the paint would deteriorate quickly in the extreme heat and moisture common to roofs — leaving you with a messy maintenance problem. Instead, take a small sample of the darker shingles to roofing dealers in your area to see whether it can be matched so that the light-colored shingles can be replaced. If you can’t get a match, the most practical solution is to shingle the entire deck roof with a color that comes closest to the shingles on the rest of the house.
Send questions and comments to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com or 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
Copyright © 2006 Gene Austin
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