The last thing any homeowner wants to deal with is pests. A household pest is any insect or animal that is commonly found in a household structure that can cause destruction to the property or to your health. While the occasional critter can make its way inside, routine occurrences indicates the likelihood of an infestation. Fortunately there are some DIY pest control tips you can use at home to help prevent these pests from taking over. Here are a few of the most common household pests and how to prevent them.
Most ants don’t cause any structural damage to your home (with the exception of carpenter ants). They are, however, the #1 nuisance pest in the United States. Ants are difficult to control because their colonies are so large. These pests typically come indoors in search of food and water and can usually be found near these sources in your home – especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Prevent ants by:
- Keeping your home clean.
- Wiping countertops daily.
- Cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Cleaning appliances regularly.
- Emptying trash daily and keep trash containers clean.
- Keeping food in sealed containers.
- Getting rid of overripe fruit.
- Repairing leaky pipes.
- Keeping gutters clear.
- Keeping shampoo and soap containers sealed and clean.
- Sealing any exterior holes, gaps, and cracks.
- Trimming back trees and shrubs from the house.
- Clearing your yard of debris.
- Using screens on doors and windows.
Birds are not usually considered nuisance pests but their nests can obstruct common areas of your home and their droppings can contaminate or damage other areas. Birds usually enter your home in search of food and shelter. Prevent birds by:
- Using saltwater vs freshwater in fountains and water features.
- Not leaving pet food out overnight.
- Keeping grass mowed and hedges trimmed.
- Dismantling nests IF they are actively being built (bird nest removal laws prevent touching nests that are already built or occupied).
- Sealing exterior gaps, cracks, etc. as birds can use these to access attics.
- Hanging strips of aluminum foil from trees or other high places to deter birds.
- Installing predator decoys (like owls and snakes) to scare off birds, moving them frequently.
Cockroaches are dangerous to humans as they are known to carry serious diseases and trigger both allergies and asthma. These pests multiply quickly, making them very difficult to control. Roaches will come into homes in search of food, water, and shelter, with them often found in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Prevent roaches by:
- Cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Throwing away or storing leftover food at night.
- Cleaning surfaces nightly.
- Rinsing food cartons before throwing them away.
- Emptying trash nightly.
- Storing food and pet food in airtight containers.
- Not leaving pet food and water out overnight.
- Using plastic storage rather than cardboard.
- Getting rid of old newspapers and magazines.
- Sealing any exterior gaps and crevices.
- Using weatherstripping.
- Using stoppers or metal baskets in sink drains.
- Repairing leaks.
- Caulking around tubs and sinks to seal them.
- Hanging wet towels up after use.
- Keeping kitchen sponges dry and not storing them on the counter.
Termites are known as silent destroyers, eating wood from the inside out and going undetected for long periods of time. Common signs of termites include swarms; mud tubes; discarded wings; discolored drywall; peeling paint; wood with a hollow sound when tapped; squeaky floorboards; doors and windows that stick; damaged wood; loose tiles; and buckling floors. Prevent termites by:
- Using concrete foundations when building your home.
- Covering exposed wood with sealant or metal barrier.
- Keeping soil around foundations dry.
- Keeping gutters and downspouts clear and functioning.
- Filling cracks in cement foundations.
- Filling in gaps around where utilities come into your home.
- Fixing leaks immediately.
- Keeping vents unblocked.
- Keeping landscaping trimmed away from the sides of homes and foundations.
- Not storing firewood next to the house.
- Getting an annual termite inspection.
Rodents are common household pests and include rats, mice, squirrels, and raccoons. Rodents can cause significant damage to your property by chewing through electrical wires and insulation. They can also contaminate food and spread disease. Prevent rodents by:
- Using metal trashcans with tight-fitting lids.
- Storing pet food and birdseed in glass or metal containers with sealing lids.
- Picking up fallen fruit and birdseed from the ground.
- Removing standing water from bird feeders.
- Storing firewood away from the home and elevating it.
- Storing boxes in the garage off the ground.
- Storing food in containers.
- Cleaning up crumbs nightly.
- Sealing exterior openings.
- Keeping gutters clear.
- Screening attic vents.
- Screening windows and doors.
Centipedes and Millipedes
Centipedes are arthropods with 14 or more body segments and one pair of legs per segment. Millipedes are also arthropods but they have 2 pairs of legs on their body segments. Neither of these pests are considered dangerous and don’t cause damage or spread disease. They can, however, be annoying if they infest in large numbers. Both of these pests thrive in moisture-rich environments. Prevent centipedes and millipedes by:
- Repairing leaks.
- Removing standing water.
- Removing moisture-holding ground cover or mulch that is close to foundations.
- Storing firewood away from the house and elevating it off the ground.
- Inspecting firewood before bringing it in the house.
- Sealing doors and windows that are low to the ground to prevent entry.
Although there are a few venomous spider species in our area, most spiders that make their way into your home are harmless (and even beneficial by eating other pests)! Prevent spiders by:
- Sealing exterior cracks and crevices.
- Screening doors and windows.
- Vacuuming up spiders and eggs found in your home.
- Brushing down webs with a broom.
- Decluttering your home.
- Vacuuming and dusting frequently.
- Keeping shrubs and plants trimmed back from the sides of the home.
- Keeping mulch a few inches away from foundations.
- Using plastic rather than cardboard storage.
The key to household pest control is prevention. By taking these steps early, you can head off an infestation before it starts. If you have a problem with any household pests, contact your local pest control company for a free evaluation and comprehensive treatment plan.
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Pest control starts at home. By establishing a good line of defense on the home front, you’re less likely to need to mount an offense against those pesky pest invaders. Prevention is key to keeping a small pest problem from becoming a full fledged pest invasion. Here is our guide to home pest control:
Step 1: Maintain Your Landscaping
The fewer pests you have outside your home means less of a chance they will make their way inside your home. Make your yard less hospitable for pests to reduce the likelihood they will move indoors. Keep tree branches and shrubbery trimmed back so they don’t touch your house. This helps eliminate “bridges” they can use to get inside. Mulch is also excellent for sheltering unwanted pests. Consider using a cover that is less attractive like rock. Clean out leaves and other debris from gutters or install gutter guards to help prevent standing water.
Step 2: Inspect the Outside
The best way to keep pests out is to find out how they can get in and eliminate these points of entry. Routinely inspect the entire exterior of your home for gaps, cracks, and crevices. Check foundations, loose siding, missing shingles, and gaps around utility lines (especially pipes, wiring, and cable). Seal any openings you find with either copper mesh, steel wool, sheet metal or mortar. Try not to use expanding caulk because some pests can still chew through this (think rodents!). Keep an eye out for signs of termites including mud tubes, damaged wood, or cracked and bubbling paint. Repair fascia and rotted roof shingles. Replace weather stripping and make sure to repair loose mortar. Use screens on windows, attic vents, and chimney openings.
Step 3: Choose the Right Lightbulbs
Bugs tend to be more attracted to standard mercury vapor lightbulbs. Consider replacing your standard lightbulbs with high pressure sodium vapor or halogen bulbs instead. What the bulbs are made of aren’t the only thing you should consider. Check the color of the lightbulbs, as well. Bulbs with pink, yellow, and orange tints are less attractive to pests.
Step 4: Take Out the Garbage
Garbage attracts pests like rodents, roaches, and even ants. These pests are also attracted to yard waste which can provide them with both a source of food and a nesting site. Use garbage and recycling cans with tight-fitting lids. Make sure to clean both the garbage cans and the area where they sit on a regular basis. Clean up any spills and leftover debris that these pests can feed on. Keep your deck, patio, garage, and yard clear of leaf litter, clippings, and standing water. Rinse all the food off anything you are recycling before putting them in the bin. Store your cans outside whenever possible.
Step 5: Check the Interior
Inspections shouldn’t be limited to outside the home. The interior needs to be inspected regularly, as well. While inspecting, make sure to look under, inside, and behind cabinets, the refrigerator, and the stove for signs of household pests. Look for gaps around pipes, vents, and cables and in the trim. If you find any gaps, seal them up, especially if they are 1/4″ in size or bigger. Check for moisture under sinks and repair leaky pipes, Use a dehumidifier in crawlspaces, attics, and basements.
Step 6: Empty the Drains
Drains in the sink, tub, shower, and floor can hold moisture and accumulate debris and gunk. This not only attracts pests but also provides them with the ideal environment to breed in. Inspect and clean all your drains on a regular basis, including those in the laundry room and basement.
Step 7: Establish a Cleaning Routine
Establishing a regular cleaning routine helps keep your home clean, making it less attractive to pests. Keep food stored in containers with tight fitting lids or resealable bags. Never leave open food out overnight. Keep the pantry cleaned out regularly to get rid of spoiled food and other items. These steps will help eliminate pantry pests. Wipe down countertops daily and keep ripe fruit in the fridge. Wash dishes or load the dishwasher nightly and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight. Sweep, vacuum, and mop on a regular basis, as well. This not only disturbs the areas that pests may frequent but also helps eliminate crumbs and debris that can serve as a food source.
Step 8: Remember Your Pets
Pets aren’t immune to pest problems. Not only can pests hitch a ride inside on your pets, but their food and water also serve as attractants. Keep your pet’s food and water bowls clean and clean up any spilled food and water immediately. Launder your pet’s bedding in hot water every week. Store pet food in a sealable container. Per your vet’s recommendations, use appropriate flea and tick prevention as needed.
A small pest problem can escalate quickly; but with this handy guide to home pest control, you can take the necessary steps to prevent a pest infestation. If your pest problem has gotten out of control or you want a little extra help from a pro, contact a professional pest control company for a complete inspection and treatment plan.
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Millipedes (“thousand feet”) are one of the most common pests found after rainstorms. These moisture loving creatures are usually tan or black in color with segmented bodies and dozens of legs. They have small antennae and large mandibles and are often mistaken for centipedes. Because they seek moisture and humid environments, they are most often found outside in your yard where they burrow and hide in small spaces. They can also be found indoors near patio doors, windows, and in basements. If they are found indoors it is usually because they have wandered inside by mistake.
Millipedes will eat plants and small insects. They usually eat decaying matter or plants that are already dead so they are generally harmless to healthy plants; they will, however, eat young seedlings. Millipedes don’t bite, sting, or transmit diseases to humans. They are considered by many to be beneficial to have around as they eat decaying matter and help control populations of smaller insects.
If you do feel the need to keep millipedes out of your home, there are several natural options you can try for both repelling and eliminating these pests. Here are a few of our favorites:
DIY millipede traps are pretty easy to make plus you don’t have to be there to check it! Put the piece of fruit inside the bottle so that it sits in the bottom. Grab a piece of vinyl tubing (about 6 inches in length), a plastic soda bottle, some caulk or tape, and a piece of ripe fruit. Try to get a piece of tubing that just fits snugly into the lip of the bottle. Slide the tubing into the bottle so that about 2 inches of tube is inside and seal it with the caulk or tape. Lean the bottle on its side, making sure that the tube doesn’t touch the edges of the bottle. Millipedes will crawl into the tube to get to the fruit as it starts to rot and not be able to crawl back out. You can place several of these traps anywhere you see millipede activity.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to get rid of millipedes is to manually remove them. Try not to just squish them with your foot as they will give off a foul odor similar to stinkbugs. You can use a broom and dustpan to sweep them up and dump them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them; or you can just vacuum them up with a vacuum cleaner or shop vac and dispose of them outside.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth is a crystalline powder substance that can be used for a variety of pests. The crystals in this natural product pierce the hard exoskeletons of pests, causing micropunctures all over their bodies. This then dehydrates and slowly kills the pests over time. DE can be sprinkled around room perimeters, under appliances, under door gaps, on sliding glass doors, around foundations, in houseplant soil, and under fences. DE is safe to use by and around humans.
Boric acid is similar to DE. It also cuts up the pests as they crawl across it, causing them to slowly dehydrate. It also upsets the digestive system of millipedes, causing it to work faster than diatomaceous earth. Boric acid should not be used in areas with kids or pets.
Essential oils are more effective as repellents rather than insecticides. Tea tree oil and peppermint oil are the two most common for use against millipedes. Essential oils should always be diluted with water before use. Apply the oil mixture around entry points like windowsills, door gaps, basements, vents, foundation cracks, and crawlspaces. You can also apply them outdoors in any areas millipedes may be, as long as it is shielded from rain.
Like essential oils, cayenne pepper works best as a repellent rather than an insecticide. Cayenne pepper also works for other pests besides millipedes. You can buy whole cayenne peppers and grind them yourself or buy the powder. Sprinkle the pepper in any areas where millipede activity is spotted. You can also sprinkle it around foundations and entry points to your home.
Like any pest, prevention is key to heading off infestations before they get out of hand. While the above methods are great for existing millipede problems, keeping them out of your house in the first place is the most natural remedy of all. Try these millipede prevention tips to help keep millipedes away.
Millipedes are attracted to moisture so keeping your home dry will help make it less attractive to them. In kitchens and bathrooms, wipe up any excess moisture from handwashing, dishes, etc with a towel. Use less water when possible and don’t turn faucets on full blast. Seal or cap any containers with liquid in them. Try to wash dishes all at once instead of throughout the day. In basements and garages, wipe up any excess moisture that accumulates. Try to clean up water spills immediately. Dry cars, boats, tools, and equipment outside. Store any wet equipment outdoors. Use a dehumidifier if necessary. Outside, clear out any clogged gutters or install gutter guards. Keep water away from your foundations. Fix any damaged drains, sloping tiles, and unlevel ground. Repair sprinkler systems. Practice good pool maintenance. Avoid overwatering your lawn and try to water early in the morning so the moisture has time to dry out before nightfall. Adjust your sprinklers to prevent pooling.
Remove any mulch, leaves, grass, hedge clippings, boards, firewood, boxes, stones, etc. from around foundations. If you can’t remove them, try to elevate them. Keep grass mowed and plants pruned. Don’t overfertilize your lawn. Secure your trash and compost. Keep your floors clean and dry (this eliminates both food and water sources for millipedes). Caulk any cracks or crevices in foundations and around wiring and plumbing. Make sure weatherstripping and thresholds are in good repair and fit tightly. Caulk around doors and windows and expansion joints where sidewalks, patios, sunrooms, etc. are next to foundations.
While millipedes aren’t harmful (and are even considered beneficial by some), they can be a nuisance if you find them in your home. If you have an issue with millipedes or any other pest, contact your local pest control company for a free evaluation and appropriate treatment plan.
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When it comes to household pests (like spiders, ants, roaches, and termites), there are several options for pest control to choose from. Should you use do it yourself pest control? Should you call a professional pest control company? What is the difference? What are the pros and cons of each? Here we break down the advantages and disadvantages of DIY vs professional pest control.
The key to effective pest control is proper identification. Appropriate treatment depends on the species of the pest, how far the infestation has spread, the size of the home, climate, and many other factors. DIY pest control products have labels with directions and warnings that are fairly simple to follow. Professionals, however, have the knowledge and training on industry trends and groundbreaking products that may not be readily available to household consumers. They know key indicators to look for and can provide quick assessments and effective treatments.
Cost is one of the biggest factors that influence DIY vs professional pest control treatments. While do it yourself products are typically less expensive than commercial products, they can end up costing you more in the long run. Most homeowners don’t treat a pest problem until they spot them; unfortunately by this point the infestation is usually already established. This could end up costing significantly more in treatment and damage repair costs than a professional service would. Professional pest control services can be more costly initially but save you over time through prevention.
DIY products are certainly convenient – you just head to your local hardware store and pick up what you need. Professional services have to be coordinated around their availability and your schedule, sometimes requiring you to be at home for the service.
Using chemicals of any kind can pose a hazard to yourself, your family, and your pets. DIY products can contain chemicals that the average consumer may not be familiar with. This can pose a threat to your and your family’s health. With a professional service the risk on the homeowner is taken away. Green pest control options are also available which are safe for both you and your pets.
The ultimate goal of any pest control treatment is effectiveness – you want it to work. With DIY methods, you usually only treat the areas where you see an active problem. These products are effective for small pest problems but typically aren’t strong enough or don’t last long enough for significant infestations. Pests are also highly adaptable and can become resistant to many chemicals used in these products. Professional pest control treatments use the most up to date methods and products. They can also treat areas where infestations have spread that you may not see such as inside walls, in attics, and crawlspaces.
DIY product guarantees will vary depending on the store or manufacturer. Most pest control companies will offer a service guarantee where they will come back and treat in between scheduled visits if a problem arises at no extra charge to the consumer.
As previously mentioned, most DIY products are designed to be used for an active problem. Oftentimes, these products aren’t used until after an infestation is already established. With a professional service, visits are set on a scheduled basis whether there is an active pest problem or not. This allows the technician to use preventative measures when infestations are gone to keep them from flourishing in your home.
When you have a pest problem, the main concern is getting it taken care of quickly and effectively whether that is through DIY methods or a professional service. Every situation is different and the main concern is the appropriate treatment for each individual situation. If you suspect you have a pest problem or would like a quote on services, contact a professional pest control company.
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A household pest is any undesired animal that has a history of living, invading, causing damage to, eating food from, acting as a disease vector for, or causing any other harm to a human habitat. While most are considered a nuisance, household pests become dangerous when they pose a risk to health, property, or lifestyle. Household pests aren’t just limited to insects; they also include arachnids, rodents, and wildlife.
While household pests can be found year-round, some are more common in the summer months. Here are 8 of the most common summer household pests and how you can prevent them.
Mosquito season peaks in the summer months. The warm weather and humid environments accelerate their life cycle so they are able to reproduce in large numbers during this time. You are most likely to see mosquitoes when you have standing water on your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water and the hot, humid climate in summer is ideal for both breeding and to find food sources. Mosquitoes are dangerous to humans as they carry pathogens that can cause serious diseases like Zika and West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes can be prevented by:
- Avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk
- Wearing clothing that covers arms and legs
- Eliminating areas of standing water
- Repair or replace torn window screens
- Apply insect repellent
Ants hibernate in the winter and come out in full force over the summer. They have to forage in the summer months to feed their growing colonies and to build up their reserves for fall. Ants are usually seen indoors in the summer because they are searching for food and water as these can become scarce for them.
Ants can be prevented by:
- Keeping your home clean, especially the kitchen
- Not leaving pet food and water bowls outdoors
- Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house
- Sealing cracks and holes in your home’s exterior
Fleas are prevalent in the summer months, although they can be found on pets year-round. Pets will indicate the presence of fleas by scratching and biting when they come in from outdoors.
Fleas can be prevented by:
- Treating pets for fleas with preventative medication
- Vacuuming frequently, especially in areas that pets frequent, and disposing of the bag immediately
- Treating your yard with outdoor flea spray
- Washing pet bedding and toys weekly in hot water
Ticks are problematic to humans and pets because they spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Tick bites increase in the summer because people and animals are spending more time outside. The US is also seeing an increase in ticks because of the combination of mild winters and an increased population of deer and rodents which are known to carry ticks.
Ticks can be prevented by:
- Using tick preventatives on pets
- Wearing long sleeves and closed toe shoes when outdoors
- Avoid areas with high grass or woods when possible
- Eliminating debris and wood piles from your property
- Wearing insect repellent
- Checking yourself and your pets for ticks immediately after coming in from outdoors
- Removing any ticks found immediately
Termite swarming season is in the spring but these newly established colonies grow exponentially in the summer. Termites can go long periods of time undetected, causing significant damage to your home. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of termites so you can catch them early.
Termites can be prevented by:
- Eliminating wood to soil contact around foundations
- Creating a 4 inch barrier between wood mulch and your home
- Keeping plants a few feet away from your home
- Making sure storm drains point away from foundations
- Fixing leaks and eliminating any other sources of excess moisture
- Having an annual termite inspection performed
While most people view grasshoppers as just a nuisance pest, they can be devastating to gardeners and farmers. Grasshoppers can devour an entire field of crops in just a few days. Grasshoppers surge in large numbers in the summer months and are most prevalent in dry, hot summers. Grasshoppers can also cause damage to non-farmers as these are one of the only pests that can chew through screens.
Grasshoppers can be prevented by:
- Plant flowers that deter grasshoppers (lilac, crepe myrtle, verbena, sage, juniper)
- Plant vegetables that don’t attract grasshoppers (squash, peas, tomatoes)
- Introduce predators by making your garden attractive to birds
- Use floating row covers on crops and plants
- Consider natural products that kill grasshoppers without harming other animals or plants (Nosema locustae or Beauveria bassiana)
Flies invade your home in the summer months to escape the heat. They only reproduce during the hotter months and reproduce even more prolifically when they get indoors. Flies will stick around well into the fall months.
Flies can be prevented by:
- Keeping windows, doors, and vents sealed
- Using garbage cans with tight fitting lids
- Taking the garbage out when it is full
- Storing food in airtight containers
- Not leaving dirty dishes out
- Not leaving grass clippings in the yard
- Turning off outdoor lights at night
Stinging insects mate in the spring and their populations grow during the summer months. Hornets and yellow jackets are especially common in the summer because they have to establish new nests each year. These are usually found under decking or under piles of leaves. These stinging insects are potentially dangerous for people with allergies. Yellow jackets and bees can also get into the walls of homes, causing significant damage.
Stinging insects can be prevented by:
- Wearing shoes when outdoors
- Keeping trash cans tightly covered
- Eliminating dirt patches on your lawn
- Avoiding sweet smelling perfumes
- Don’t swat at stinging insects
Don’t let these common summer pests ruin your summer. If you have a problem with any of these pests, contact a professional pest control company who can help eliminate them safely and prevent them going forward.
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