How to Prevent Pest Infestations in Your Home: A Complete Guide
Pests are unwelcome guests that can wreak havoc in your home. They damage property, contaminate food, and spread disease. Fortunately, there are effective ways to prevent pest infestations and keep them at bay for good.
Common Household Pests
There are many types of pests that can invade your home, depending on where you live, what season it is, and how well you maintain your house. Some of the most common household pests include ants, cockroaches, spiders, rodents, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and flies.
Preventing Pests from Entering Your Home
The best prevention is making your home less attractive and accessible to pests. Here are some tips:
- Seal up any potential entry points like gaps, cracks or holes in walls, doors, windows, pipes, vents, screens or foundation. Use caulk, foam, mesh or steel wool to plug up areas that pests could squeeze through. Even dime-sized openings can allow pests inside.
- Clean thoroughly and regularly to eliminate food sources and hiding spots. This includes vacuuming carpets, wiping down counters and appliances, sweeping and mopping floors, dusting furniture and shelves, and getting rid of clutter and garbage that pests could feed on or nest in.
- Store food properly in sealed containers to deny pests access. Keep the pantry tidy and inspect regularly for any signs of insects or rodents. Promptly dispose of spoiled or expired food so it doesn’t attract pests.
- Fix any plumbing issues like leaky faucets or pipes. Drain standing water inside and outside your home. Use dehumidifiers or fans to lower moisture levels. Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent stagnant water. This denies pests the water they need to survive.
- Trim back vegetation touching the exterior walls or roof. This removes hiding spots and access routes for pests. Mow the lawn, weed and maintain landscaping, and clear away fallen leaves, debris and firewood stacks that pests could hide under.
- Use natural repellents like essential oils and certain plants to deter pests without toxic chemicals. Peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus and other aromatics repel insects. Mint, garlic, basil and other herbs discourage pests from gardens.
- Monitor regularly for any signs of pests like droppings, nests, webs, odors or noises. Identify and address infestations quickly before they grow out of control. The sooner you intervene, the easier it will be to get rid of the pests.
Pest Control Products and Professional Services
If you have a severe or persistent infestation, pest control products and professional services may be necessary.
Pest Control Products
When using pest control products such as traps, baits, foggers, and sprays, it’s important to buy those that are easy to use. Always read and follow the instructions on the label for safe use, which will tell you how to store the product, what protective gear you need, how to ventilate the area, and how to keep people and pets safe during application. After you’re done, make sure to dispose of any leftover products or containers the right way, which you can usually find on the label or by checking local waste disposal guidelines.
Pest Control Services
Professional pest control services employ experts who inspect your home, figure out the kind of pests you have and how bad the infestation is, and then come up with a treatment plan to get rid of them. Well-known companies such as Orkin and Terminix are not only licensed and insured but also provide guarantees on their work.
Choosing the Right Pest Control Method
Consider the type of pest, severity of infestation, your home’s size, your budget, preferences, and safety concerns when selecting control methods.
Research pests and effective, eco-friendly control methods through trusted resources. Match the control method to your specific situation and preferences. For example, fast-acting sprays for an emergency, bait traps for a non-toxic solution, or professional treatment for a serious infestation.
Carefully follow all usage guidelines, prepare the home as recommended, and take safety precautions such as wearing protective clothing, ventilating areas during and after application, keeping children and pets away from treated areas, and properly disposing of products.
How do I know if I have a pest infestation in my home?
Signs of pests include droppings, chew marks, grease trails, webbing, foul odors, insect bites, dead bugs, rodent noises, and direct sightings of the pests themselves. Unexpected health issues in family members or pets can also indicate pests.
What diseases can pests spread?
Pests can transmit diseases through contamination, bites, waste, and parasites. Rodents spread hantavirus, salmonella, and plague. Ticks spread Lyme disease. Cockroaches transmit gastroenteritis and diarrhea. Mosquitoes can give you West Nile, Zika, dengue fever, and malaria.
How do pests get into homes?
Pests enter through any cracks, holes, or gaps in the home’s exterior. They also get transported inside via bags, boxes, plants, and food. Improperly sealed doors, open vents, damaged screens, and plumbing leaks provide entryways.
Where do pests hide in a home?
Pests seek out dark, damp, warm, enclosed spaces to nest. Cluttered storage areas, cabinets, basements, attics, garages, wall voids, stored items, and around plumbing fixtures offer desirable hiding spots. Check there for signs.
When should I call a professional pest control company?
If you have a large infestation, multiple pest types, vulnerable household members, limited ability to implement treatments yourself, or if over-the-counter products failed, call a licensed exterminator. Professionals have the expertise, specialized equipment and chemicals to effectively eliminate pests.
How do I choose the right pest control company?
Look for licensed, insured companies with knowledgeable technicians, good reputation, reasonable prices, positive reviews, and satisfaction guarantees. Obtain several quotes to compare before you decide to work with a local pest control company.
What can I expect during professional pest control service?
The technician from the pest control company will inspect to identify all pest types, entry points, and areas of activity. They will explain the recommended treatment plan, products to be used, safety precautions, preparation and follow-up needed, and costs.
Can pest control chemicals be harmful to my family or pets?
Certain harsh chemicals can be toxic with improper use. Discuss any health conditions or concerns with the company so they can recommend low-risk alternatives that are safe when directions are followed. Keep people and animals away during and immediately after treatment until any ventilation period and surface drying is completed.
How can I prevent pests from returning after treatment?
Continue sealing entry points, reducing clutter, fixing plumbing, storing food properly, setting out traps and keeping the home clean. Avoid bringing used furniture into your home. Have the company provide follow-up treatments or maintenance plans if pests are highly prone in your area.