Q: I have a very loud and annoying cricket or grasshopper that's been living behind my stove-sink-fridge area, and I want to get rid of it without using any kind of poisons or traps. I was told that, because of the pilot light in the stove, I should not use any sprays or powders since most of them have alcohol in them. What can I buy or make that will get the little one out of there?

Thanks so much.

— S. Noble

A: While I have no problem removing the occasional insect from my home, everyone needs a good bug expert. For me, that person is David Jones, owner of Pride Pest Control. He offered some very interesting solutions to your cricket/grasshopper conundrum.

Blow out your pilot light and pull the oven away from the wall. Jones said sprays typically dissipate by the time you reignite the stove, so there should be no hazard. If you are still a bit wary of taking that route, buy some glue strips from your local hardware store and place them behind the stove and fridge. That should handle your little friend, assuming that an insect truly is the culprit.

“My concern is that it might not be a grasshopper or a cricket,” Jones said. “It might not even be an insect. It could be the fridge or something else making a chirping noise."

According to Jones, the fan on your refrigerator could be the noisy culprit. Make sure your fridge is running properly and that the coils in the back are free of dust. It may be time for the annual maintenance check. My mnn.com colleague Chanie Kirschner recently offered great tips to make your fridge more energy efficient. Make sure to peruse that info as well so that your fridge is (silently) humming along at optimal efficiency.

Next, Jones said, make sure you do a quick check on another likely noisemaker.

“I’ve had calls from people saying ‘a cricket is driving me insane,’ when the problem is really the battery in the smoke detector,” said Jones, who noted that most models are designed to emit a wonderfully annoying chirping sound as a reminder that it’s time to change the batteries. Keep a few 9-volt batteries handy. I’ve found that the chirping usually begins when you are ready to settle in for a long winter’s nap. Better safe than sleepy and annoyed.

Since you are getting your house in order, here are a few other items for your end-of-the-year checklist:

  • Get a fire extinguisher. It helps to have a kitchen model handy, and most insurance companies offer discounts for households that have one.
  • Do an audit of your homeowner's or renter's insurance. Make sure you have enough to cover your property. Recent flooding in Georgia was a rude awakening for residents who thought water damage was covered. In this economy, renters also need to make sure property is insured in case of theft. Do you have a list of your valuables along with serial numbers? If not, it may be time to put that iPhone camera to good use.
  • Get life insurance: Yes, it’s a morbid thought, but an important one, especially if you have small children. Consumer guru Clark Howard offers advice to help you get started. Insurance providers often offer discounts for bundled services such as life and auto coverage.
  • Create an emergency file. Make sure you have the toll-free emergency number — and the account number — for each credit card in your wallet. If you ever have to cancel a card, that file should be easily accessible.
  • Get rid of the clutter: Use this time to purge your household of unwanted and unnecessary stuff. If an item has been taking up space in your garage or storage shed for a more than two years without being touched, it’s time to give it a new home. Freecycle.org, The Salvation Army, Goodwill, pet rescue groups (think old leashes or pet carriers) and other resources are there to help lighten your load.
  • Look over your annual expenses and create a tighter 2010 budget. Analyze bank and credit card statements and then look for ways to cut costs in the New Year. Just one change can help your wallet and the planet.

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