As the days of fall become cooler, requests for help in controlling household pests become more frequent. Uninvited visitors will routinely seek refuge in our warm homes. While many people don’t mind encountering insects, spiders or a furry critter outdoors, most people consider these animals pests when they come inside the home. Even one insect may be considered too many. People use over-the-counter pesticides to control household pests but often fail to consider long-term solutions to avoid pest problems.
Common household pests include arthropods, like roaches and ants, and vertebrates, like mice, rats and bats. We need to keep in mind that pesticides also may be poisonous to people and pets. If pesticides are not used carefully, you, your family and pets may be exposed to unnecessary risks. The risks are greatest for infants and toddlers because of their lower weight and greater tendency to place hands/objects in their mouths.
We recommend an integrated pest management strategy to control household pests. IPM includes a variety of nonchemical and chemical tactics to control pests and minimize human/pet exposure to pesticides. IPM often includes pesticides, but they should be used judiciously as part of your overall pest management plan. Every pest needs food, water, and a place to stay. To make your home less attractive to pests, follow these basic IPM principles:
Don’t provide food for pests.
Even a small amount of food can support a large population of roaches or ants. Food particles that find their way into nooks and crannies between cabinets and an appliance or wall are usual culprits. Clean up after pets as they often scatter bits of food. Feed pets in a limited area that you can easily clean. Don’t leave pet food out overnight. Roaches and other pests also eat pet food. When your pet has finished eating, store the remaining food in a sealed container or in the refrigerator. Tightly close bags of pet food when you are not using them. Cover indoor garbage cans tightly, or take the garbage out every night. Plastic liners will help keep garbage cans clean. Store garbage outside in heavy plastic or metal containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep food in protective containers. Store all food in tightly sealed bags or containers, or place food in the refrigerator or freezer.
Don’t provide water for pests.
Promptly repair dripping pipes. Leaky or “sweating” pipes under the cabinet are a good water source for pests. During periods of drought, more pests may enter your home seeking water. Never leave water standing in the sink or other containers overnight. Do not leave water standing under flowerpots. You may need to remove your pet’s water bowl at night or change to a system that dispenses water as your pet needs it.
Don’t provide shelter for pests.
Debris of all kinds will attract pests because it provides good places to hide. Avoid clutter. Never allow old newspapers, boxes, or other materials to accumulate inside or near the home. Many pests prefer to live in small, dark cracks or other protected areas. Seal up crevices and holes with caulk. Pay special attention to the kitchen area because pests prefer to stay near food.
Keep pests out.
We often bring pests – such as roaches, silverfish, and spiders – into the home with packaging. They hide in the crevices and in the bottom of packages. Inspect bags and boxes before you bring them into the house. If you buy an appliance, check it carefully for roaches before you bring it into the house. Used appliances are more likely to be infested if they have been in service for some time. Look for dead insects and fecal spots. Seal up cracks and holes where pests can enter your home. Check outside walls, window ledges, doors, and floorboards for openings; seal them with caulk. Be sure that all window screens fit tightly and that door sweeps are intact. Attic and chimney screens can prevent problems with bats, squirrels, and birds. Check for holes around water pipes, wiring, and other openings from the outside.
Following these basic guidelines will help you to prevent many pest problems and control problems when they occur. For all pest control needs and more specific information contact Earth Guard Pest Services at: