LITTLE ROCK--Ants, spiders, crickets and other insects are searching for a warm place to spend the winter, and your home may be just what they're looking for.

"Insects are cold-blooded, so they need heat to stay active," says Gus Lorenz, entomologist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. "When it's cold, insects have to wait until the midday sun warms everything up before they can move around."

Lorenz said the best way to keep insects out of your house is to "put up barriers. Make sure your doors and windows are tightly sealed. You can also spray one of the residual insecticides labeled for home use around your windows and doors."

Lorenz said existing stocks of Dursban and Diazinon can still be used, "but we're quickly reaching a point where those products will no longer be available. Luckily, there are some new insecticides labeled for home use that work well, including the line of Advanced Home Care products.

"Demon and Viper are wettable powders. They can be mixed with water and sprayed around doors and windows. They give longer residual activity."

Insecticides can be both safe and effective if they're applied according to label directions.

Lorenz said the cooler weather will slow down mosquitoes, but it won't eliminate them. "Mosquitoes overwinter as adults," he said. "Any deer hunter can tell you what happens on a warm Indian summer day. Mosquitoes come back out in force."

Mosquitoes are more than a nuisance. They're disease carriers. There have been cases of encephalitis in Arkansas this year, and two birds were found with West Nile Virus.

Lorenz said mosquitoes can breed in small amounts of water, so it's critical that homeowners clean out, drain or eliminate sources of standing, stagnant water such as clogged gutters, bird baths, animal water bowls or old tires.

"Studies have shown that most mosquitoes don't travel more than half-a-mile from where they breed, so eliminating standing water around your home can make a big difference," said Lorenz.

He added that mosquito numbers will dramatically decrease after the first frost.

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