Parker Eco Pest Control teamed up with Redfin to bring you this guest post. They’ve compiled answers to common pest questions from experts around the United States.
There is nothing like an infestation of cockroaches, termites, stink bugs or other common household pests to make your skin crawl. Though you have probably thought about packing up your things and leaving, moving isn’t the answer as these pests can pop up anywhere and in any household. It’s time to draw a hard line and get rid of these little critters once and for all. From mosquitos to mice, we asked the professionals of pest control from all over the country how they would get rid of these unwelcome guests.
How to get rid of Cockroaches
Cockroach prevention is necessary for protecting your health! There are few things more hated than a cockroach sighting in your home. These pests can also pose a significant threat to your health as well as your home.
Often times, when people are experiencing allergy and asthma symptoms they automatically attribute it to the time of year without considering that their stuffy nose and itchy eyes could actually be triggered by the presence of cockroaches in their home. In addition to exacerbating asthma and allergy-related symptoms, cockroaches are also capable of spreading 33 kinds of bacteria, including Salmonella and E. coli. This makes it all the more important to take the necessary steps to eliminate food, water and harborage sites for cockroaches within your home.
Maintaining excellent sanitation is one of the best practices in protecting the home against cockroaches. To help you further, here are some cleaning tips to help you stay roach free:
- Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors meticulously clean every day. Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills right away. Store food in airtight containers and always avoid leaving food out, including pet food. Vacuum any crumbs stuck in corners and around cabinets and regularly clean cabinets out with soap and water. Check under sinks and clean under appliances for moisture issues and quickly clean up any if found.
- Cockroaches are attracted to moisture and can only survive for a week without water, so always wipe up standing water around sinks, tubs, and toilets. Fix leaky faucets and ensure sinks are clear of water before bedtime. Cockroaches are nocturnal and will typically emerge to search for water and food at night when the house is dark and quiet.
- Eliminate clutter where possible to reduce hiding spaces for cockroaches. Garage windows and areas where weather-stripping has become worn are frequent points of access for cockroaches. Be sure to seal any cracks or crevices you see using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
How to get rid of Mosquitoes
Most people can agree that mosquitoes are a nuisance, keeping many families indoors during some of the most enjoyable times of the year. Moreso, they can also pose several health risks. From Zika and West Nile viruses to yellow fever and malaria, diseases spread by mosquitoes can be extremely serious.
Once you have your mosquito problem under control, it’s important to take preventative measures to ensure that they don’t come back. Here are several tips to keep mosquitoes from breeding in and around your home.
- Eliminate standing water from bird baths, empty garden planters, kiddie pools, etc.
- Remove debris such as decaying logs and leaf piles
- Plant “mosquito repellent plants” like rosemary, lavender, and lemongrass
- Light citronella candles in areas where people congregate and always use
- EPA-approved personal repellents when staying outside for extended periods of time
How to get rid of Stink Bugs
Unfortunately, when dealing with stink bugs, it’s not as easy as most people would think. If they want to get into your home, they’re going to do it. However, there are a few options available to you to try to cut down on the stink bug population in your home.
Most don’t consider that the key to stink bug control is actually preventing them from entering the home in the first place. This part of their life cycle is called “over-wintering” and will take place in the fall to prepare for surviving the winter. Begin by looking around your home for places of entry (think cracks and crevices). Places like utility pipes, doors, windows, siding, your soffit & fascia are key points of entry that should be sealed up with quality caulking.
Another popular entry point is broken and/or nonexistent screens on your windows & doors. Make sure screens are properly installed and don’t have any holes that these guys can squeeze through.
Stink bugs, much like most insects, are attracted to light. After the sun goes down consider closing your blinds & turning your exterior lights off. At the very least, dim them in the evenings to reduce the stink bug attraction to your home. You want to deter them, not attract them.
Clean up the clutter around your house. That woodpile you have outside sitting right against your house is a huge contributing factor to your problem. That beautiful landscaping you have around your home isn’t helping either. You’re providing them even more harborage than they originally had which will pull them closer to your home, along with providing them places to safely lay their eggs.
Stink bugs that already made their way into your home are unfortunately here to stay. I would advise against squishing them as they emit a pretty nasty odor, but sucking them up with a vacuum or flushing them down the toilet seems to be the preferred method of discarding these little guys.
How to get rid of Mice
Are you sharing your house with the most common mammal in the world? The house mouse transmits viruses, destroys your insulation, and chews your wires—accounting for 25% of housefires with unknown origins. Here are some simple tips for getting rid of mice naturally.
Step 1) Make your house less attractive to mice
Do you have a dirt crawlspace? Is there a chicken coop, park, or a vacant house on your block? While you can’t remove all these attractive places to mice, here are some tips everyone can follow:
- Keep brush, rocks, wood piles, etc. at least one foot away from your house
- Clean up after your dog daily (mice eat dog poop)
- Invest in airtight canisters for pantry goods
- Drain bird baths and other standing water
- Get a rodent-proof bird feeder to keep seeds off the ground
Step 2) Seal up your house
Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. Check for holes to the outside of your house along plumbing lines, gas lines, dryer vents without screens, doors without weather stripping, aging attic vents, seams where dormers meet the roofline, and chimneys without caps.
Holes can be sealed with various products but wire mesh is the best bet.
Installing wire mesh is as simple as overlapping it at least one inch past the hole in every direction and screwing it down. We recommend using galvanized products that resist rust.
Step 3) Trap mice already in the house
Our favorite mousetrap is a plastic T-Rex snap trap. Unlike wooden traps, these are heavy duty, reusable and have interlocking teeth for instant results.
Add a dollop of peanut butter and follow these guidelines:
- Place traps along walls and in corners
- Traps should be perpendicular to the wall with the peanut butter on the inside edge
- Mice like corners, so avoid placing traps in open areas
- Set extra traps where you see droppings or grease marks (known as rub marks)
- Secure traps to vertical posts with a zip tie
GO POISON-FREE: Do yourself (and the planet) a favor and skip the poison. Rodenticides thin the mouse’s blood causing it to die slowly inside your walls. Unless you’re willing to break open the drywall, expect a smell for a few weeks. Of equal importance is the impact rodenticides have on owls and neighborhood cats that eat mice.
How to get rid of Termites
There are around 45 Termite species in the U.S. alone and they have been roaming this planet for at least 250 million years. Termites have used all this time to adapt and evolve to a host of threats to their existence. Even with today’s science and effective treatment methods they are one of the greatest menaces to residential and commercial structures around the globe. They are responsible for around $5 Billion in damages in the U.S. each year.
The key to eliminating Termites is to practice what’s known in the industry as integrated pest management.
The non-chemical approach includes removing Termite food sources from your yard or structure, such as dead or decaying wood, tree branches, etc. or fixing any part of your home that is also beginning to breakdown. Fixing these issues will decrease the attraction of your property to Termites and prevent a thoroughfare into your home.
There is a common saying among home and building owners, “there are two types of structures: one that doesn’t have termites and one that’s going to get them in the near future.” This saying exists because Termite colonies are incredibly active as they never sleep and are constantly foraging.
How to get rid of Ants
It happens out of nowhere. You’re brushing your teeth, grabbing a scrubber from under the kitchen sink, or putting the recycling in the garage, and suddenly you see them. Your calm, cozy, and clean home is suddenly overwhelmed with sugar ants. Hundreds of the little creatures marching in formation seeking out sugar, water, and the perfect place to set up shop and colonize. Gross!
How common is a sugar ant infestation?
It’s a more common scenario than you might think, and all it takes is something as seemingly insignificant as an old soda can. An ant infestation is completely normal, but more importantly, it’s totally fixable.
All these resilient and rapidly multiplying creatures need to set up shop is some soil, a structure, or a little bit of landscaping. If you have a tree in your yard that secretes a sugary, glucose-rich substance, then consider that ants might be on the way. And then also consider that your house — the one filled with sugary foods, houseplants, and has dark, humid and moist areas like under the cabinets and near plumbing — is like a luxury resort for the ant community. And they have all sorts of ways to get inside to enjoy it.
Can I prevent sugar ants from getting inside?
Poor seals on windows, doors, cracks in the foundation, the small holes where utilities enter the home, or even houseplants are common ways sugar ants can gain entrance to your home and create an infestation. Once they’ve gotten inside, they’re not gonna want to leave and they’re definitely going to try and expand their footprint.
Sugar ants do have a lot of options for entering the home, but you have just as many to prevent them from getting in. These recommendations are pretty straightforward and simple to stay on top of.
- Empty the kitchen trash especially if it contains food waste. Trash cans are perfect breeding grounds for ant infestations.
- Keep eating surfaces clean like tables, countertops, and all food prep areas. Don’t forget under the tables and counters, as well!
- Run your dishwasher preferably right after you fill it. This dark, moist and glucose-rich environment is a sugar ants dream.
- Be careful of repellents because many over the counter varieties for outdoor use can actually drive ants indoors, making a small problem worse.
- Get rid of standing water as a perpetually wet ground is a very attractive environment for sugar ants.
Can I get rid of sugar ants myself?
There are definitely DIY options for eradicating your home of an ant infestation. Typically, these fall into two categories: quick-kill treatments and baiting. Before choosing what option is best for you, remember to be safe.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON SAFETY: Spray ant killers, baits, and other store-bought treatments can be dangerous. These products contain poison and their ingredients should be considered harmful to pets and children. Always read and follow any instructions included on the labels of these products.
Quick-kill sprays are effective to a point, but they don’t really do the whole job. They tend to kill visible or foraging ants, however, they are not designed to solve the problem at its source. They can even fragment a colony and create several colonies you will then have to deal with.
Baiting — our preferred DIY method — is sometimes more effective because ants take the poison back to the heart of the colony, stopping the infestation at its root. While it is our preferred at-home methodology, baiting still isn’t as strong or as effective as a professional grade solution.
I have a sugar ant infestation. Who should I call?
If you’ve tried to eliminate an ant infestation on your own and you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for, it’s time to call a professional. DIY methods can be tricky and the stress induced by putting up with these little pests may simply not be worth it.
The best pest control companies offer free, no pressure estimates and same day service for no extra charge. Look for an exterminator that guarantees results and uses EPA approved products that are safe for your family and pets.
How to get rid of Flies
Whether you have fruit flies feasting in your fruit bowl or fungus gnats flying around your Ficus, flies can be a frustrating foe to deal with in your home. Two tactics that a homeowner can use to address a fly problem are identifying points of entry and removing food and breeding sources.
The saying is true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and your first line of defense against flies is simple – keep them out of your home. Doors and windows should remain closed or screened and any tears in your screens should be repaired along with caulking any gaps around entry points into your home.
At the grocery store, avoid selecting produce with noticeable fly activity around it and thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables when you arrive home to remove their eggs. The same advice holds true when selecting houseplants from your local garden center, avoid plants with a noticeable issue and pay attention to the soil for the first several days.
Once flies are in your home, effective management involves identification of the fly along with the removal of food and breeding sources. Proper identification will help to narrow the search. There are many species of flies, each with their own set of behaviors and feeding preferences.
For example, drain flies like to breed in the organic buildup that occurs inside of drains and garbage disposals, while house flies prefer to breed in the garbage and other waste. Fruit flies breed in fermented materials like overripe fruit and sticky residues, whereas fungus gnats like to breed in the overwatered soil of potted plants. Some flies, like the cluster fly, don’t breed indoors but invade attics and drop ceilings just to hibernate for the winter.
Changes to some housekeeping habits, whether it requires you to remove garbage more regularly, clean neglected drains or improve your food storage strategies, will help to eliminate a fly problem and prevent the establishment of future problems.
Dr. Christopher Taylor
When it’s time to call the professionals
At the end of the day an infestation, although frustrating, is not the end of the world. If none of the above methods are working consider calling a professional pest management company to assess the situation and develop a pest management program to fit your specific needs and address your pest problem. Preventative methods paired with a skilled exterminator will help you reclaim your home.