Pest Control Top Homeowners Guide
All About Pests and How to Manage Them
One of the most annoying, concerning, and stressful problems you may encounter as a homeowner is a pest problem. Whether pests are encroaching on your space, grossing you out, or impacting the health of your family or structural integrity of your home, the bottom line is that you want to get rid of them.
When you realize that you have a pest problem, whether it be insects in your home, outdoor pests, or larger critters, you want to find the quickest and longest-lasting method of eradicating the pests. We’ll be going through some types of pests you may encounter, reasons for getting rid of them, and management strategies.
The first and often most disturbing type of pest is the interior one. Here we’re highlighting a few common pests: cockroaches, fruit flies, and termites.
One of the most widely-hated pests is the cockroach. A cockroach problem is often blamed on a dirty house. While poor housekeeping can attract the insects, they can get inside houses through a variety of ways. They may enter your home through cracks and gaps in the house, drains and sewer pipes, damaged weather stripping, garages, or even on infested items brought into the house.
Many homeowners in southern states also encounter the “palmetto bug,” or the American cockroach. These cockroaches enjoy damp areas like flowerbeds or sewer systems and feed on leaves and fungi but will still enter your home to find food and water.
Cockroaches are filthy, carrying germs and spreading disease. They can bring E. coli and Salmonella to your food, and exposure to their feces or body parts can even trigger allergies or asthma. A cockroach infestation is difficult to control because the insects have numerous hiding spots, breed quickly, and can develop resistance to pesticides.
Another nuisance many people experience is a fruit fly infestation. Not only is the presence of fruit flies in your house disgusting, it’s annoying and can cause concern. Fruit flies are drawn to ripe, rotting, or decayed produce and fermented items like beer, liquor, and wine. If you haven’t seen them on your kitchen counter, you may find them in the trash can, drain, or garbage disposal.
To prevent a fruit fly infestation, regularly wipe the counters and take out the trash. Once you have a fruit fly infestation, the pests are hard to get rid of. Female fruit flies can lay 500 eggs at a time, and they will hatch in as little as 24 hours!
If you discover an infestation, promptly dispose of any over-ripe fruit in your kitchen. Any produce purchased after this is done should be stored in the refrigerator. Be sure to clean garbage and recycling bins, as the fruit flies may have been attracted to spilled liquids in the bins.
A termite infestation may be one of the most dreaded and damaging infestations that could affect your home. A termite problem is very serious, as the insects could be hiding in your home or yard for an extended period with no immediate signs of damage.
Termites consume cellulose, which is found in wood and plant matter, and they feed on dead plants and trees. They can tear the woody material they eat, which is what causes concern and structural issues in infested homes.
Termites often live in decayed trees, soil, or wooden structures. They may access your home through wooden structures that are in direct contact with the ground (such as a porch), cracks or gaps in the foundation, or any wood near your home, such as a tree planted near the structure or a stack of firewood leaned against it.
Signs of a termite infestation include cracked or bubbling paint; wood that sounds hollow when tapped; mud tubes on exterior walls, in crawl spaces, or on wooden beams; or a swarm of winged insects in your home or in the soil around it.
The two things to focus on when confronting a termite problem are eliminating moisture problems like leaking pipes, clogged vents and gutters, and pooling water on the roof or near the foundation; and removing termite food sources like firewood, stumps or wood debris, and wooden parts of your home that have direct contact with the soil. Termite problems are nothing to mess around with. If you see what looks like a termite infestation, call a pest-control company immediately.
Outdoor pests such as fire ants, mosquitoes, and wasps can be both a health risk and a nuisance to you, your children, and anyone walking around outside.
Fire ants enjoy sunny and dry conditions and avoid shady areas. Most of us have experienced the burning sting of a fire ant and do not want to experience it again or subject our children to it.
Watch for a fire ant infestation by keeping an eye out for swarming worker ants and their sandy mounds. Unfortunately, fire ants can be difficult to manage, as a single colony may expand across several properties. One colony also often has multiple queens, so it can quickly repopulate even if one or two queens are killed.
Homeowners can apply products to ant mounds to kill the ants. Pest-control companies provide ant-control services that provide year-round eradication and management.
Mosquitoes are a common summertime pest. They breed in standing water and usually emerge just before dusk. While we all know mosquitoes are annoying, causing painful and itchy bites, they also are known to carry diseases that are dangerous to humans, such as the Zika virus and West Nile virus.
Homeowner management of a mosquito problem includes reducing water sources such as depressions in your yard, cans and flower pots, and uncovered boats and swimming pools.
Professional treatment by pest-control companies usually includes the application of chemical products to supplement the source reduction.
What about the buzzing you hear above your head when you are walking around the outside of your home? Wasps tend to make nests under eaves and gutters, as you may have noticed.
Sighting a nest and worker wasps are the signs of an infestation. Before or in addition to getting the professional help of a pest-control company, there are a few things you can do to control or reduce the problem.
Wasps are drawn to crumbs and sticky spills, so keeping your garbage covered and your outdoor areas clean will make a difference. Also consider modifying your home to reduce the number of spaces where wasps may create nests.
When it comes to wildlife pests, it can be more difficult to eradicate the population or to even begin to know how to do so. We will be discussing rodents and suggest calling a professional pest-control company immediately if you are experiencing a problem with critters such as raccoons, wild boar, or bears.
A rodent problem in or around your home is a serious one. Common rodents such as squirrels, mice, and rats can not only damage your property, but contaminate food and spread disease. (Mice can contaminate ten times the amount of food that they eat!)
Not only can rodents carry germs and diseases from filthy areas they have been in, they also carry fleas and ticks, which carry their own plagues and diseases. Rodents cause damage by chewing various parts of your property.
Preventing a rodent infestation is important. Rodents can get indoors by squeezing through holes much smaller than the size of their bodies, so sealing any small holes that could provide access to your home is necessary.
Eliminating sources of food and shelter is the next step. Methods include keeping your space free of crumbs and garbage, storing dry goods in sealed metal or glass containers, and removing cardboard sources that rodents will chew up to use for nests.
Why Get Rid of Pests?
Depending on the kind of pest that is causing problems in your home, there are several reasons to reduce the population, prevent further growth, and eradicate the pest completely.
Many of the pests we’ve discussed here cause damage to properties, whether it is structural damage caused by termites or damaged items chewed up by rodents. Some of these pests, like mosquitoes and wasps, bite or sting, causing discomfort, pain, and sometimes a more serious allergic reaction.
Pests like rodents, mosquitoes, and cockroaches carry bacteria and even diseases into your home or yard. And across the board, we can all agree that finding any sort of unwanted insect or critter in your home is often a disgusting discovery.
Pest Management Strategies
There are several strategies for managing a pest problem.
The first thing to do in many of these situations is to assess the problem: identify the type and specific variety of pest you have, the extent of the damaged or impacted area, and specific trouble spots.
In most cases, you can modify your property or structure to reduce the problem. For example, sealing cracks, crevices, and holes can prevent pests like cockroaches and rodents from entering your home. Vacuuming, mopping, and wiping down surfaces regularly will keep areas clean from food debris and dried spills and less likely to attract cockroaches, fruit flies, or rodents. Removing unnecessary water sources or modifying areas that collect water will help keep mosquitoes and other pests away.
In addition to proactively guarding your home or yard against damaging and annoying pests, the second thing homeowners can do is call in a pest control professional to assess the problem and eradicate the pests.
Pest-control professionals have proven products and effective equipment for eradicating pests. They can also put into place systems for ongoing management of pests.