Preventing an insect infestation is far easier than eradicating one. Here are some ideas on how to keep insect pests from invading your home.

1. Stagnant water is a haven for mosquitoes. Adults lay their eggs on the water’s surface, and the larvae hatch out and live in the water. Then they mature and fly out of their watery home and bite warm-blooded creatures of all sorts, especially humans! And mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, too, such as West Nile virus and encephalitis.

It takes only a teaspoon or so of stagnant water to harbor dozens of mosquito larvae. So, check thoroughly for pools of water of all sizes around your home. Spread out and dry plastic tarps (their wrinkles and ridges hold pools of water), dump water out of potted plants and their trays, empty your watering can after each use and store it and other empty containers out of the rain.

2. Fruit flies can be a great annoyance in the summer months. To avoid them, keep your sink clean and don’t let dirty dishes sit for long. Store bananas in zip-top plastic bags or in the refrigerator.

3. Ants love sweet foods, but they will invade not-so-sweet foods as well. So will various other small insects. Make sure your food is sealed in airtight containers to prevent their entry. Also, ants are said not to cross a line of cinnamon. Sprinkle ground cinnamon in areas where ants may gain entry. Ants are also repelled by cucumber – spread your cucumber peelings where ants are marching to repel them.

4. Moths in the pantry can do as much damage as in the clothes closet. Corn and wheat flour are particular favorites. Once again, seal grains in zip-top plastic bags or store them in the refrigerator.

5. Once established, fleas are extremely difficult to get rid of. Keep your pet bathed regularly, preferably with flea shampoo, to discourage fleas. Also, use a flea comb on your pet daily. That way, you can remove these pesky little bugs before they get established.

While you are using the pet comb, have a small, zip-top plastic bag nearby. When you capture a flea in the comb, put the head of the comb down into the plastic bag quickly, then use your free hand to pull flea and fur out of the comb from the outside – flea and fur remain encased in the bag. Using the handle of the flea comb, you can crush the flea from outside the bag. Repeat until you are satisfied that you’ve combed out most of the fleas.

Herbal flea collars are another alternative for those who prefer not to put insect poison on their pets. Herbal collars are excellent at repelling fleas and ticks, but not so great at eradicating an infestation.

6. The aptly-named bay leaf is an excellent, overall insect deterrent. Try placing a few bay leaves in the zip-top bags you have your flour in, or place them along your pantry shelves.