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Pests: What to Know, and How to Keep Them at Bay

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Owning a home is probably one of the most rewarding things you can do. Unfortunately, there’s a possibility you might end up sharing your home with less desirable guests. Knowing how to prevent them, or at the very least make their stay short and sweet is especially handy. Pests come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s some key steps you can take to lessen your chances with most of them to reduce or prevent unwanted invasions.

Nothing could be more stressed or more important than ensuring there are no unwanted water sources under, around or in your house. All pests thrive on water sources directly or indirectly. So maintaining a dry crawl space, and dry water-source areas (particularly under sinks, around plumbing, etc.,) along with no standing water around your property will be a huge benefit in your efforts against the undesirables. Ensuring your living areas are free of loose or open food, either on counter or floor is a great step to prevent some of the most common pests. With that said, we can continue onto more specialized prevention and treatment of specific pests.



Ants

Possibly the most common of invasive pests is ants. They’re determined, tiny, fit through pretty much any crack and they have strong gang mentality. But they can also be prevented, and beaten back without a great deal of effort.


Prevention
commonly starts in the spring. Treating your foundation early on discourages ants from exploring your house as a food option. There’s indoor treatment (some do both indoor and outdoor) you can use as well if you’re comfortable with it, but not suggested if you have small children or pets that’d find themselves in contact with the poison. Ensuring all cracks and entrance points into your home are sealed as best as possible. This includes windows and doors, on the exterior. Interior, even gaps in trim work can become entry points for ants. Door thresholds can be “lined” with a treatment as well, including poisons or even salt. Deciding what works for you is a good start, as there are alternatives to poison. Though, poison is often most effective.


Treatment
of an existing ant problem requires diligence. Poison is again often the best route. Traps, powders (typically borax), and bait can all be employed, along with some alternatives. Exposed baits are not suggested when small children and pets (though cats seem completely uninterested) are present, traps that aren’t readily consumable are best.


Traps are effective assuming the ants are drawn to them. One trick I’ve found from personal experience is putting a very small drop of honey on a trap entrance with a toothpick. this ensures the ants will swarm the poison trap to quickly make use of the poison. Borax can be used as a barrier which kills on contact. Though this will not affect the colony. If Borax is your weapon of choice, a proper mixture can help ensure the poison makes it back to the colony to wipe out more than the scouts. A simple mixture will follow.

Natural and other alternatives are available as well. Peppermint oil, an item often readily available at health food stores, deters not only ants but other pests as well, giving it a multi-purpose use. Not to mention a pleasant smell. Double sided tape can also be used as a barrier along areas you find ants to be frequenting. Both of these are environment friendly to your household.

Simple Borax Mixture

½ cup sugar
1 ½ tbsp borax
1 ½ cup warm water (warm water over cold aids dissolving)
medium to soak mixture in

Dissolve ingredients into warm water and mix thoroughly. Apply to desired medium, typically cotton balls, bits of sponge, paper towel etc., and place in containers (in a cheap Tupperware with holes cut in it if pets or children are a concern) and place near sources of ants. Though not an immediate acting approach, this helps destroy the colony to prevent future issues.

Rodents

Furry friends that nobody wants in their house uninvited. Getting rid of mice is typically easier than other pests, but still requires action as they won’t go away without a little help.


Prevention best starts with inspecting where the rodents are gaining access to your home. Typically, the less obvious places this can occur is around piping/plumbing, failed sealing or barriers, or improperly installed venting/ductwork. Ensuring these entry points in your home aren’t welcoming rodents will help reduce future infiltration. Again, making sure there’s less food sources for the pests to feed on is critical as well. they won’t go where they can’t feed. This includes (but of course not limited to) PET FOODS! People often don’t consider pet foods to be a food-bar for pests, but it is. Make sure pet food is kept tightly, and a mess isn’t left behind for pests to feed on.


Treatment
is pretty straight forward. Poison, or traps are the 2 main options. Both have their benefits, both have drawbacks.


Traps
, both lethal and nonlethal whichever you prefer, make disposal of the rodents easier, as they are physically present at the site. Traps can include the tried and true “spring loaded” devices, trap-door devices which don’t kill the rodents, and others.


Poison
is useful as it can kill multiple critters with a single baiting, including younglings (sorry, they’ve got to go too). The drawback with poison is, you often don’t know where they will die. With the possibility of smelling quite unpleasant, locating them after they die can be difficult. Bromadiolone tends to be the most commercially available for residential use. But not available for purchase in all states.



Roaches

This is probably the last issue anyone wants to deal with. Roach infestations can be some of the trickiest to deal with. Though calling an exterminator can often be your best solution, there are plenty of options homeowners can use to either reduce or eliminate the problem themselves.


Prevention
is quite similar to other pest control methods. Again, eliminate food and water sources necessary for the roaches to thrive on. This means swept floors, cleaned out stoves, sweep under appliances, clean cupboards, sealed food containers. Ensuring there’s no entry points, which means caulking/sealing holes and crack to deter roaches from exploring as easily.


Treatment
is best done through a variety of measure when employing DIY extermination. Glue strips will help slow them down, baiting with an attractive poison, and roach hotels can all be utilized. There is a borax mix that is effective for roaches as well that will follow this section. Keeping roach-killer spray on hand to kill visible roaches as well is also a good idea to discourage scouting.



Borax Recipe (for roaches):

Almost similar to the borax recipe for ants, but roaches prefer a food source with proteins and will be more attracted if there is a protein source in the recipe.

1 part borax
1 part sugar
½ part cocoa powder, butter, or bacon drippings. Each will give a different consistency, but still same effect.

Simply mix ingredients together and place in a container. If desired, used a cheap Tupperware with lid and cut holes in for access. Further improving effectiveness, place container on top of some form of scrap paper. Paper holds and intensifies a hormone roaches use to communicate, attracting more scouts.



Fleas

A huge nuisance that can find their way into your home and be stubborn to get rid of. but, not impossible and can be done rather easily by the homeowner. Let


Prevention
is pretty straightforward and basic. Regular vacuuming and sweeping typically help prevent them, but when a pet is present or introduced, additional measure should be taken with the pet itself including regular bathing and flea control treatments.

Treatment is predominantly washing materials fleas would like to call home. Pet bedding, rugs, running a carpet shampooer is also a good deterrent. Vacuuming and shampooing especially under furniture and appliances is also suggested. Combing with vacuuming with a flea powder prior to shampooing is a good option. Ultimately, using a fogger will be the final option if none of these previous options give you the results you need. You can try a fogger right away if you want to wage all-out war immediately on the tiny devils and get it over with.



Bedbugs

Possibly the worst of infestations you can get. Notoriously difficult to get rid of, bed bugs require the utmost diligence to defeat.


Prevention
doesn’t include a lot here, unless you like sleeping on vinyl-encased mattresses. Regular cleaning and inspecting areas they might frequent (box springs, bed frame crevices) is about all you can do.


Treatment
typically starts with a VERY thorough, top to bottom cleaning of absolutely everything in the infected areas. This includes INSIDE of dressers, tables with drawers, under all furniture, and any other hiding spots you might have around the room bedbugs could call home Laundering all fabrics in water no less than 120 degrees with detergent, and if necessary, bag/seal immediately with treatment strips/products if desired. Beyond that, getting professional exterminators is probably the best option. But doing these steps as well are definitely going to improve your odds.


Without going over all the critters of the animal and insect kingdoms this concludes most common pests you will experience in your home than can be tricky to get rid of. Though further research on any specific problems you may have can only be suggested, this guide should help you eliminate most unwanted household problems in the forms of creepy crawlies and varmints. If you have any any questions or comments in regards to this or any other ideas or issues, please feel free to contact us in any way that suits you. Thanks for reading!


Until next time friends…
Nicole D., Tobacks Resident Blogger