Content of the material
- Stop Paying for Pests
- Overripe fruit
- Stink Bugs
- Eliminate Moisture by Fixing Leaks
- Popular Reads
- 1. Keep your eyes peeled
- Bugs Have Needs Just Like Us
- 5: Cover Large Openings
- 3: Store Trash Properly
- Seal Cracks in Foundation, Walls, and Vents
- Good bugs, bad bugs
Stop Paying for Pests1/31
Pests and people are attracted to the same things: an easy meal, a convenient water source, and a cozy place to raise a family. All too often they find these things inside our homes. Delayed repairs and poor maintenance quickly become an open invitation for bugs and rodents to enter. Once inside, it only takes a little food and water to convince them to stay, and insects alone cause more than $5 billion in damages annually in the United States. Avoid the expense and hassle of dealing with pest damage by preventing it in the first place. istockphoto.com
Composting is a fantastic way to recycle food waste into an excellent garden soil amendment, but compost piles attract hungry insects and rodents. Avoid problems by using an enclosed composting system, and locate outdoor compost piles at least 50 feet from the house. Balance food scraps with garden waste like fall leaves and grass clippings to prevent a smelly mess, and never compost meat, dairy, and fatty foods. RELATED: The Best Composting Bins of 2022 istockphoto.com
That fruit bowl on your counter may be appetizing—until one fruit gets a little overripe and attracts fruit flies. “Don’t leave food lying around – place it in the refrigerator or sealed containers if possible,” Hartzer says. Find out the 10 most pest-infested cities in America.
If you’ve never seen one, stink bugs are brown and shaped like a shield. And while they may look like any old insect, you cannot dispose of these bugs by smashing them. If you smash a stink bug, they will release a less than pleasant odor—hence the name, stink bug. Normally, stink bugs find their way into your home during the fall months to seek out warmth. Any easy way to remove stink bugs is to grab a paper towel and force them onto it.
Eliminate Moisture by Fixing Leaks
Most insects require a certain amount of humidity to survive. Any source of moisture can attract them, even condensation on pipes. Fix any plumbing leaks, however minor, promptly. If your basement or crawlspace takes on water during heavy rains, you're asking for insect problems. Install an effective drainage system and run dehumidifiers as needed.
Throughout the world, more people are killed by mosquito-borne illness than any other factor. In the United States, mosquitoes can spread different types of encephalitis and can transmit heartworms to domestic animals like dogs and cats.
- 6 simple ways to cut your dementia risk
- The dangers of Medicare Part B excess charges
- The 5 worst things to say after someone dies
Some species of crickets, such as the Jerusalem cricket, are capable of biting humans if provoked. Still, it’s rare for these critters to bite. “The cricket species kids run into in North America are basically harmless,” says Joseph Spagna, PhD, William Paterson University associate professor of biology. “I handle the common ‘house cricket’ Acheta domesticus in my behavior classes regularly, with bare hands, and they have never bitten me.”
1. Keep your eyes peeled
Sure, insects can appear to have otherworldly abilities — mosquitos can fly, cockroaches can supposedly survive the apocalypse — but they can’t materialize out of nowhere. Your best defense: Look for warning signs and problem areas to stop them from invading your space.
For instance, ants send out “scouts” to scope the ant-friendliness of your home, so even an ant or two indoors can mean it’s time to get pest-proofing before those scouts invite over their friends.
Check outside and learn where bugs hang out. Firewood can be home to ants and termites so store wood at least 20 feet from your house. And standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos, says Boyd Huneycutt, co-founder of pest control company Mosquito Squad.
“Yards with bird baths, play sets with tire swings, tree houses, fire pits and catch basins to recycle water should all be checked regularly and water tipped,” he suggests. Even your landscaping can be problematic: Try keeping branches and shrubs well groomed away from your walls, so bugs don’t make the natural transition from their home to yours.
The shimmery and slithering silverfish is one bug you never want to see indoors. This pest will feast on fabric, paper, glue, and cardboard boxes. Silverfish are survivors—they even predate the dinosaurs—so it’s a challenge to get them out of your home once they’re there. You can, however, get rid of them with traps, insecticides, or a natural substance like boric acid or diatomaceous earth. To make sure silverfish stay out, make a few small changes to make your home less hospitable to them. Remove piled up newspapers, junk mail, and old cardboard boxes. Store off-season clothing and supplies in plastic bins, and take your dry goods out of their boxes and store them in containers with tight-fitting lids. istockphoto.com
Bugs Have Needs Just Like Us
Even though we look nothing like bugs, insects and crawlers have needs exactly like we do as humans. Bugs also need water to survive, albeit a much smaller amount of it. Bugs need shelter and protection from the sun and the elements, which is why they so often try to make their homes in places that are secluded and at the very least somewhat sheltered.
Bugs also need a stable supply of food, and that’s why they tend to target the places that they do. For example, spiders tend to weave webs in places where they know other bugs will be present. For example, they love to cover gaps between different surfaces, where a passing fly or mosquito might unwittingly fly. When they do, they’ll get stuck in the spider’s web, where they become a free, easy meal for the spider.
Your home is designed to provide for your needs, and thus it very much does the same for bugs. This is what motivates bugs to find their way in, and thus increases your need to protect your home and keep them out.
5: Cover Large Openings
A hole in your roof can mean all the bugs — and bigger intruders — can enter your home. Henry Arden/Getty Images
Some of the largest holes in your home’s exterior are more difficult to cover. After all, you can’t exactly fill your chimney or roof vents with caulk. To fill larger openings and keep bugs out, use very fine wire mesh, often called hardwire cloth. This material comes in rolls that can be stapled over holes to keep out pests. It not only keeps bugs out, but can prevent squirrel and raccoon infestations, which often bring fleas, ticks and other insects into the home [source: Potter].
Look for large holes on the roof, which are often found at the chimney and roof vents. A pre-fabricated chimney cap can be used in lieu of wire mesh, and may be more successful at keeping a variety of pests out of the chimney. Wire mesh should also be installed over holes in crawl spaces and basements, as well as over grills, vents and registers [source: Gouge et al.].
Some vents have pre-installed dampers, which are designed to keep bugs out. Check to see if yours are operating properly, and repair or replace the dampers as necessary. You can also replace existing grills or vents with screened models that are designed to keep bugs out.
3: Store Trash Properly
If you keep a compost bin, it should have a secure lid. Catherine McQueen/Getty Images
Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the trash cans in a home can be a gourmet smorgasbord to cockroaches and other pests. To prevent bugs from feasting on your trash, proper storage and handling are critical.
Keep food trash in the kitchen and not in wastebaskets throughout the house. The trash should be placed in a can with a lid, and should be emptied each night. Exterior cans should have self-closing lids along with tight seals to keep insects out. All interior and exterior trash receptacles and recycling bins should be cleaned and sanitized regularly, especially if they’re exposed to spills.
If you keep a compost bin, it should have a secure lid and should be lined with hardwire cloth to keep bugs from feasting. Be sure to remove fully composted materials every three to six months [source: Gouge et al.].
Weevils usually get into your house by hitching a ride in your groceries. Adult weevils burrow into rice and other grains to lay their eggs, so you may not know you’ve brought home pests until they hatch and crawl all over your pantry! The fastest remedy for an infestation? Purge. Get rid of any unsealed dry foods, including flour, cornmeal, oats, rice, pasta, and prepackaged items that don’t have sealed pouches inside. Then, throw away all the boxes of sealed items like soup mixes or gelatin. Even if weevils don’t eat these items, they could enter the boxes to hide, only to reemerge later to contaminate your food. After you’ve tossed the affected foods, clean the pantry shelves and spray a household insecticide around the area. Once the liquid has had a chance to dry, you can restock. istockphoto.com
Seal Cracks in Foundation, Walls, and Vents
Any crack in an exterior wall of your home is like a welcome sign to insects. Grab a tube of caulk and inspect your home from top to bottom. Seal any cracks you find. Insects can also get in through tiny gaps around your dryer vent, gas line, or even a cable wire. Seal these areas from the inside using a spray foam product or caulk, as appropriate.
Good bugs, bad bugs
The survey did find pests, just not as many. German cockroaches were in 6 percent of houses, subterranean termites were in 28 percent, fleas were in 10 percent and bed bugs weren’t found at all. About 74 percent of houses did have cockroaches, but only three had American cockroaches — a “true pest,” the researchers write. The rest were smoky brown cockroaches, which have a slightly better reputation.
Not only are indoor arthropods mostly benign, but some could be beneficial. On top of Trautwein's point about their role in promoting microbial diversity — which can strengthen the human immune system — some also offer more direct perks. House spiders eat a variety of pests like flies, moths and mosquitoes, for example, and house centipedes are known to prey on crickets, earwigs, roaches and silverfish.
By investigating the diversity of this domestic wildlife, scientists hope to shed more light on the unique ecosystems inside our homes. And that's no trivial task: According to a 2015 study, the indoor biome is Earth's fastest-growing environment.
"Even though we like to think of our homes as shielded from the outdoors, wild ecological dramas may be unfolding right beside us as we go about our daily lives," Leong says. "We're learning more and more about these sometimes-invisible relationships and how the homes we choose for ourselves also foster indoor ecosystems all their own."