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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For many, the kitchen is the heart and main area of the household. Family members gather, cook, and eat in this space, making the kitchen the ideal place for pests to take advantage of both food and water sources that are left behind. Pests like ants are known to infest the kitchen for these things they need to survive. Beetles and Indian meal moths are also searching for a food source, usually in pantries. To keep all these pests out, homeowners should make cleaning a priority all year long. Wipe down countertops after any spills or mess and clean up any food crumbs that might have dropped. Consider going through the kitchen pantry monthly to discard any expired items and wipe down the pantry shelves.
Keeping moisture out of your bathroom can sometimes feel impossible. Roaches and silverfish are two pests that are highly attracted to moisture and often found in the bathrooms of homes. With a little preparation and cleaning, every homeowner can eliminate moisture to keep these pests at bay. Check under the sinks and around the tub to ensure there are no leaks. Keep the bathroom decluttered by cleaning out the medicine cabinet and washing the shower curtain and liner.
Basements and crawlspaces are both dark and cool, making them the perfect place for pests to take refuge. Rodents and spiders are commonly found in these places and will often seek clutter and dark corners to hide in. Going through and eliminating cluttered items and belongings stored in the basement will help keep deter these pests. If storage is needed, avoid using cardboard boxes and use plastic bins with secure lids instead.
Keeping pests out of your home can sometimes feel impossible. If you notice more pests in your house than you can handle, consider reaching out to your local pest control company. These trained professionals can help identify the pests, provide a prevention plan, and treat areas as needed.
Main living areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms are all places that homeowners want to ensure are pest-free and wildlife-free year-round. While these spaces are always important to keep free of pests, it’s equally important to prevent them from entering the “forgotten rooms” in your home, as well. These forgotten areas include your basement, attic, and even extra storage rooms. Unfortunately, many homeowners are so focused on keeping the main living areas pest-free that they sometimes forget these other areas too.
Wildlife critters and household pests are looking for three things: water, food, and a warm environment. These three elements are easily available inside every home. Your attic is the perfect room for wildlife to make their home and for a pest to infest. Wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, and birds can make their way through any openings or gaps leading into the attic. Sealing up any entry points is always a great start for wildlife prevention. Check your attic for any holes or gaps and seal them up immediately. In addition, inspecting your attic insulation is key to household pest prevention. Proper attic insulation can help prevent bugs such as roaches or ants from making their way inside.
Basements will often contain moisture by way of standing water, which provides pests and wildlife a plentiful water supply. Water is one of the main sources of attraction for pests like termites and millipedes. Cutting down moisture is essential to pest prevention. A moisture barrier for your crawlspace and a gutter protection system for your roof are great investments to help eliminate any standing water. These investments both help ensure that water is not filtering into your crawlspace and basement area.
If you suspect that you have a pest or wildlife infestation in your home’s “forgotten areas,” consider reaching out to your local pest control company. A professional will inspect these areas and provide you with a prevention and treatment plan.
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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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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