If you are suffering from a pest problem at home, it can be difficult to think of a solution that does not automatically involve an expensive extermination service. Not only will you want to save money where possible, but it is also important to make sure you are not exposing your home and family to potentially harmful materials unnecessarily.
Fortunately, there are a number of methods you might use before seeking the help of a professional.
When possible, it is best to take action in advance and prevent a problem from occurring, or from growing worse. You can do this by keeping your home clean and looking for any openings a pest might use. There are also special steps you can consider taking for individual types of pests, as each with often have its own solution. If you do need to use pesticides, however, it is always important to know exactly what you are doing.
When looking for the best, most affordable and safest pest control, you will find prevention is always the best route to take. If you can prevent pests from entering your home to begin with, you will not have to worry about removing them. Try implementing the following prevention methods:
- Food spills and crumbs should be cleaned up immediately, as these will quickly attract pests. For the same reason, do not wait too long before cleaning and drying your dishes after meals.
- Hidden areas, such as those underneath refrigerators, can collect dirt or food scraps. Move furniture and large appliances out of the way to properly clean these spaces on a regular basis.
- Indoor trash bins should be sturdy containers with tight lids. Trash should be taken out frequently. Make sure to keep outdoor trash receptacles a good distance from your house.
- Food should be stored in sturdy containers with fully sealable lids, or in the refrigerator. Be aware that some pests, such as cockroaches, can get through cardboard packaging.
- Plumbing leaks should be fixed immediately. Try not to leave standing pools of water anywhere in the house. This includes drip trays for plants.
- Clutter can attract and hide pests, particularly stacks of newspaper or cardboard. Wherever possible, keep your floors and surfaces clear and tidy.
- Containers and packages should be checked before they are brought into your home.
- Vacuum your carpet and any cracks in your floor or baseboards.
- Pet bowls of food and water should not be left out overnight.
Keeping Pests Outdoors
As well as the cleanliness-based solutions offered above, there are a number of steps you can take to help prevent pests from entering your home. For example, keep plants away from the foundation of your home, as these can provide shelter for rodents.
In order to prevent ants, make sure to keep dry or rotting wood away from the house, and any rotten wood in the home should be removed or treated. You should also keep branches trimmed so they do not touch the walls of your home.
Screens on doors and windows should be kept in good repair and frequently checked for rips and holes. Holes and cracks in your walls or floors may allow pests to enter, even if they are small.
They may be hidden behind sinks, along baseboards and cabinets or around pipes. Take the time to check each room in your house and seal off any points of entry using caulk, steel wool or wire mesh. You should also check your home’s foundations for any possible openings. Home maintenance, such as repairs and improvement, is one way to prevent pests from getting in to your home and causing damage.
Oftentimes, the best method to start with is a bait trap. These are small plastic containers baited with a food and pesticide mix, which prevents you from having to spread the pesticide across your home. If you have pets or children, make sure they cannot get to the bait. You can buy bait traps individually engineered for certain types of pests, which could achieve the fastest and most effective results.
For other pest solutions, try the following methods of control:
- Ants can be vacuumed up, provided you dispose of the bag immediately. You can also clear them away with soap and water.
- Cockroaches can be killed with silica dust or boric acid or trapped in a roach “hotel”. Use your treatments and traps near walls and in crevices.
- Rodents are usually best dealt with using traps. If you use a nonlethal trap, you will need to kill the animal yourself. Make sure to dispose of the rodents and their droppings safely, using gloves and disinfecting the affected areas with bleach to prevent the spread of disease.
- Moths can be controlled by keeping clothes sealed off and upholstery clean, rather than using toxic chemical repellents. If you see any moth eggs, wash the fabric in hot water to kill them. You can kill some moths using a pheromone trap.
- Fleas and ticks are more safely prevented with herbal collars than harsh chemical ones. Try using citrus extract, flea soap or silica aerogel, which can be sprinkled onto carpets and pet bedding and vacuumed off after a few days. Make sure to use a mask and goggles while doing so.
Choosing the Right Pesticide
It is extremely important to make thoughtful, careful decisions when choosing to use pesticide. Often, there will be safer alternatives. Some home alternatives may be able to help you save money, depending on the severity of your pest problem. If you live in a home with a child, for example, the risk of him or her ingesting or inhaling a toxic substance may well outweigh any health risk posed by a pest. However, there are occasions when you may need to use a pesticide.
When making your decision, be sure to remember that every pesticide has been designed for a very specific type of pest. You will also need to read the package and instructions with care, only using it exactly as directed. Check to make sure the pesticide is registered with the EPA. Indoor and outdoor pesticides should only be used in their respective areas. Be especially careful not to use an outdoor pesticide indoors.
It is also better to choose a premade and pre-mixed pesticide. Substances you have to prepare yourself carrier a higher risk of harm. If you are unsure of how to use the type of pesticide you need, and you are unable to find another solution, it may be best to call on the services of a professional rather than risk your safety.