When the ice starts to melt, the sun comes out, and all the flowers and animals come back to life, it can only mean that spring is making its way in. Unfortunately, with spring also come new intruders in your home, looking for food and shelter to build their nests and reproduce now that conditions are optimal. It is common to find ants, spiders, bees, wasps, beetles and termites roaming around your floors and walls or trying to raid your pantry during these months, and if they reproduce to enough amounts, they can truly become more than a nuisance.
If you don’t want a few unwelcomed visitors to turn into a full-on infestation, the following preventive measures and tips will aid you in keeping the situation under control:
- Inspect your home’s exterior
The main goal when dealing with pests will not be to control them once they have already come into your home, but rather to find a way to pretty much seal your home completely so they can’t get in in the first place. This would be the ideal scenario, but since it is almost impossible to fully seal your home from the outside world, you must thoroughly inspect the exterior of your house to find entryways for insects and rodents to make their way inside.
Take advantage of a sunny spring day to take a walk around the outside of your home, looking for any signs of damage to the foundation, and all kinds of cracks, holes and decaying parts on the walls and ceilings; pay special attention around windows, doors and vents, and check screens for even the tiniest holes small insects could crawl through. Make the necessary repairs or replacements for damaged items, and use silicon caulk on cracks and holes to seal possible entryways.
Take the opportunity to make sure your gutters are clear of any leaves or wood that could make great nesting places for ants, termites, bees, beetles and other insects. You should look around high places outside for wasp and bee nests, and also in your attic, storage shed and garage. Don’t attempt to remove the nest on your own, but rather call a pest control company that can safely take care of it.
- Trim away trees and shrubs
While you are still enjoying the sunlight outside, take some time to trim trees and shrubbery away from your house, since these can become nesting places for pests and work as bridges that take them directly into your home. Gather and dispose of fallen leaves and decaying branches or sticks that accumulate around the foundation of your house, under decks and behind bushes to get rid of decaying matter that attracts carpenter ants and termites, and serves as a perfect nesting place for centipedes, millipedes, or sow bugs.
- Place firewood away
Another task to complete when your are outside your home is to make sure firewood is stored at least 15 to 20 feet away from your house, and is kept off the ground in order to remain dry. Firewood is the perfect nesting place for insects and rodents, especially if it is humid, and whenever you take wood inside to use in the fireplace, you will also be carrying these little invaders in.
- Keep kitchen clean and food stored away
Your kitchen is one of the most vulnerable places of your home since it stores the food insects and rodents are going to be looking for. Use a solution of equal parts water and plain white vinegar to regularly wipe down all surfaces to effectively remove grease and bacteria, and also to naturally repel pests. Wash dishes daily, and if you are unable to get to them quickly, submerge them in soapy water until you can. Make sure all dry food items are sealed in airtight containers, and that you place ripe fruit in the fridge.
- Take out trash and use lids
Make it a habit of taking out the trash daily to effectively keep away rodents and insects away from leftover food. Use trashcans with lids, and clean them regularly to remove food residue and bad odors.
- Fix leaky faucets and pipes
Another very important reason why pests are attracted to your home is high humidity. These environments give pests the perfect conditions to nest, find food and reproduce. One source of humidity could be leaky faucets and cracked pipes, for which you should have them fixed as soon as possible and remove any rotten wood or damaged drywall. If your high humidity problem is simply due to living in a warm region, your home could benefit from a dehumidifier to condition the air.
- Inspect attic, basement and garage
Those cardboard boxes you keep stacked up in your attic, basement, garage or other storage areas in your home are also great places for insects and rodents to make their own little homes. Grab a flashlight and carefully inspect these areas for signs of droppings, scratches, holes, bite marks or any other indication of pests. Opt for airtight plastic containers to store your belongings for better preservation.
- Replace mulch on your plants
Coating your flowerbeds with mulch is important for the health of your plants, however, it can also attract pests and mold. Instead, you can replace mulch for crushed rock, or use a better option of a cover that will help naturally fertilize the soil, such as shredded leaves or dried grass.
Investing some of your time in applying these preventive measures to your home when spring begins to settle in will save you the frustration and high bills that ignoring the problem and then find yourself dealing with major damage due to infestations would bring. Put your time to better use than having to spend the warmer months dealing with unwanted pests, and rather be free to enjoy your time smelling the roses that are blooming outside.
Bees, wasps and hornets are small stinging insects that can be very beneficial for the environment. They are in charge of controlling pests like crickets, caterpillars, etc. as well as pollinating plants. But there are not always welcome around your home due to their ability to sting, transforming themselves into possible threats for your family.
Stinging insects happen to build nests in trees; shrubs, attics, barns and other similar places surrounding your family with the possibility of a sting. Their nests may vary in shape and in the place where you find them according to the type of insect you are dealing with. Stinging insects don’t have a long lasting life cycle. For examples bumblebees and wasps tend to have annual colonies that last only for one year, while honeybees have perennial colonial that can survive longer periods of time.
The sting from this type of insects is a defense mechanism used by them to avoid any external threat such as humans, pets and other possible predators. And their way to sting varies, bumblebees and wasps can sting more than one time as they keep their stinger without harming themselves. Honeybees on the other hand lose their stinger as soon as they sting someone or something, meaning that once they sting they die.
Both types of stings can be very harmful and extremely dangerous in case of allergies. It will be very important that when a sting happens, you remove the stingers first thing. The second step will be to evaluate if the person is suffering from an anaphylactic reaction (allergy) that will need special medical treatment based on epinephrine. If it is not a severe allergy attack, cleaning the area thoughtfully and applying ice or toothpaste should control the itchiness, swelling and hurting.
But there are ways you can control the appearance of pests to avoid dealing with stings. The first thing you need to do is identify the type of insect you are dealing with as well as finding their nesting site. It is really important that you understand how the colony work and their weakness in order to choose the best natural option to deal with stinging insects:
Using Soap: Soap and hot water are a great way to deal with wasps, bees and other stinging insect in a natural way that won’t harm your environment or your pets. Look for a hose-end sprayer and fill it with ¼ cups of soap and hot water. Make sure that before spraying the nest you get proper protection to avoid any stings. It is very important that you deal with wasps and bees during the evening or even later. Soap will work as a corrosive material that will destroy their exoskeleton and drown insects.
Drowning aerial nests: Use a cloth bag to cover the whole nest and tie it off in the top. Once you have sealed it completely, set the bag in a pail of water until you can make sure all insect are drown..
Ground nests: To deal with ground nests it is important that you find the main entrance to the nest. Place a clear bowl surrounding the entrance without leaving any possible exit for wasps to escape. This option will take a long time and it will be necessary you leave the bowl for a few weeks in order to confuse the insects and until they starve.
For any other types of nests like inside walls and bigger underground nests is really important to hire a professional team to deal with it. Make sure that the professional service you choose can give you a natural alternative that avoid the use of pesticides that can be harmful.
Almost every household has had to deal with these hidden home intruders at one point or another, but sometimes pests can actually pose real threats to our safety and that of our families. Having a pest control strategy is fundamental for any home since insects and rodents have been known to carry diseases and bacteria that can ultimately cause you and your loved ones to fall ill. Pests invade your home because they look for the food and water you store and the shelter your home provides, so these are precisely the aspects you need to try to deny to these invaders so they won’t want to stay and reproduce.
During colder months you will find that pests look for shelter to stay away from cold temperatures and often want places to hibernate in until temperatures start to rise. During warmer months, you will find that humidity attracts insects and rodents crawl into your garbage attracted to the smell. Whichever the time of the year, you can apply these tips and tricks throughout your home and you won’t have to worry about unwelcomed visitors anymore.
- Seal the outside of your house: Take some time to walk around your house and look for signs of pests trying to come in. Look for holes, scratches and dropping marks on all walls, windows, ceilings and doorways, and seal or repair anything that requires it. Make sure you also fix any cracked floorboards, windows that don’t fully close and screens that are damaged that could let pests inside. Additionally, consider installing door sweeps in all entryways to help keep insects and rodents outside.
- Close off any hiding places: Pests look for warm and dark places to nest in, so take some time to think of hiding places pests might use as shelter and close them off. This means you should caulk cracks and crevices around places like cabinets and baseboards, and also consider switching to plastic containers you can seal instead of piling up a bunch of cardboard boxes in you attic or basement, for instance.
- Trim branches and shrubs away from your house: Another important thing to remember to do throughout the year is to make sure the plants, trees and shrubbery around your home are trimmed away so pests can’t have easier access to the inside through your chimney or gutters. For further prevention, install protective screens in all openings to the outdoors to keep animals and insects away.
- Forbid access to food: One of the main reasons people get pests in their homes is because they provide them with food that will keep them coming back. For this reason, never leave any food leftovers or pet food out, any dirty dishes sitting overnight, or garbage cans open and full. Put away your food and your pets’ in sealed containers, and consider investing in airtight garbage cans that no raccoon will be able to break into. Additionally, remember to prevent animals from eating plants and fish in outdoor ponds by placing a protective net over them.
- Fix any leaks: Water is also a very important factor that attracts pests to your house, consequently, it is essential that you inspect your plumbing and look for any leaks that could be creating the humid environment insects will instantly search for. Also, consider other sources of water were pests accumulate, such as trays under houseplants and birdfeeders, and make sure you clean them regularly.
So there you have it, just 5 easy steps you must follow in order to get rid of those pesky invaders that sometimes seem to have better control of your house than you do. Don’t let it grow into worse problems that will require costly and inconvenient professional services that nobody likes to deal with. Take matters into your own hands and put into action these simple guidelines that will ensure you don’t have to share any more meals with those ants that keep crawling away with your dinner.
Almost every single homeowner has had to deal with some sort of pest at some point or another. These silent intruders invade your home looking for food, shelter and water, and will find any crack or hole that could hide them and let them have access to all the delicious treats they find. Nobody likes to run into these unwelcome invaders, and sometimes all we want is to grab the strongest and meanest product we can find that will ensure all of them are wiped away for good. However, chances are these harmful chemicals will also be harmful to you and your family, so you will be faced with having to search for natural and harmless alternatives that are still as effective in eradicating these pests.
The best policy for effective pest control will be to prevent pests from entering your home in the first place, and then using the right methods to kill off the ones already inside, without leaving any damaging substances behind. Here are a few tips that will help you effectively control the most common of pests at home by only using natural components:
- Use silicone caulk to seal any holes and cracks leading to the outside.
- Place screens over vents, chimney, windows and doors, and repair any holes in existing screens.
- Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed away from your home, and keep firewood stacked at a safe distance from your house.
- Take out the trash daily, keep trashcans clean and choose a trashcan with a lid to keep crawlers away.
- Don’t leave your dishes to sit in the sink. Submerge them in soapy water if you can’t wash them right away.
- Regularly wipe down all surfaces in your kitchen with a solution made of 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar.
- Keep perishable items in the fridge, including ripe fruit, and use containers that can be tightly sealed for any food that is not in your fridge.
- Sweep and vacuum your floors, carpet and furniture regularly.
- Comb your pet, wash its bedding and vacuum up frequently to get rid of fleas.
- Make sure you rinse plastic and glass containers before putting them in the recycling bin.
- Fix any leaky plumbing or faucets to avoid humidity issues that attract pests, and clear any clogged sinks with leftover food by pouring 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain.
Natural Repellants and Barriers
There are two ways in which to address your pest control; you can expose insects and rodents to natural repellants, or create a barrier they won’t want to cross. Each pest will dislike a different thing, so you can try a few of these methods to see which one works best for you:
- Soap and water: A great tip to remember is to keep a spray bottle full of soapy water on hand in your kitchen. Spraying ants, roaches and spiders with it will kill them and cut off their path.
- Boric acid: Boric acid is not highly toxic, but human and pets should never ingest it and should keep contact to a minimum. It can be a great option to kill roaches, silverfish and other wingless insects if you place small amounts of it mixed with sugar on counters and cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom.
- Essential oils: There are many essential oils that have been proven to be effective insect repellants. Mix 2 teaspoons of oil and a cup of grain alcohol (such as vodka) in a spray bottle, and spread it around your home, paying special attention to the places where insects congregate. Some essential oils include, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, geranium, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, and citronella.
- Vinegar: Vinegar is also a very versatile substance with many household uses. Fill a spray bottle and spray your porch and backyard to keep weeds at bay. Use apple cider vinegar to attract fruit flies into a glass and kill them, or mix equal parts water and white vinegar and apply to cracks, openings and other entrances to keep spiders away.
- Garlic: Another great natural insecticide is garlic, which you can grind up to extract its juice, mix it with water and pour it into a spray bottle to spread around any entryways through which pests can enter. You can also dip cotton balls in the solution and hang them around your patio to repel mosquitoes, beetles, ants, cockroaches and more.
- Cayenne pepper, citrus oil, ground coffee, cinnamon: All of these items can be great barriers to repel all kinds of insects. Place a small amount of any of these products in a line outside insect entry areas and insects will not cross it.
- Cloves: Put some cloves in your closet instead of mothballs to keep moths away and a pleasant smell on your clothes.
- Diatomaceous earth: One of the most versatile products for pest control and a much more long-term solution in many cases. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to people and kills ants, bed bugs, roaches, earwigs, stinkbugs, box elder bugs, fleas and many other insects. You can sprinkle it in cabinets, behind appliances, along the edges of bedframes, around insect nests, and even rub it into your pets fur to control fleas.
- Rosemary leaves: Another great solution for flea control is to grind rosemary leaves and sprinkle them on your pet’s bedding and directly into its fur.
- Neem oil: A non-toxic, vegetable oil that effectively repels spider mites and mosquitoes. Mix a few drops of the oil with water and spray around your home, or keep small saucers of oil mixed with water on your windowsills.
- Citronella candles: Burning citronella candles has been an insect repelling method for many years. Just remember to never leave a lit candle unattended.
There is no need to resort to dangerous chemicals that could cause serious health issues for you and your family, and that sometimes don’t even work well for keeping pests out for good. Evidence on the problems caused by many insecticides is vast; so it is our responsibility to find ways in which to protect our home without causing damage to the environment and us. Use these tips next time you find an intruder roaming around your house, and you will find many of these methods are just as effective and even cheaper than many products offered in the market today.
Winter is that time of the year in which we look for shelter from the biting cold temperatures and chilling winds. But we are not the only ones looking to find a nice, warm place to endure the weather. Winter pests can go from a small nuisance when finding a tiny spider in your bathroom, to a real and potentially dangerous issue when it comes to rodents and insects that destroy your home and can affect your health.
Pests are not something to be taken lightly, and if left unattended, they could mean hundreds of dollars in home repairs, and even cause real risks to you family’s health. Insects such as spiders, cockroaches and ants, often invade our food and surfaces, spreading bacteria that can cause allergies and diseases, and even in some cases, be venomous and bite. Rodents, like mice and rats, also carry many diseases and bacteria that can spread into your home and food. The unfortunate case of rodents having rabies could occur, and if they bite you or a member of your family, it could result in a very serious condition that would need to be attended to in an emergency room. Not to mention the most common damages made by rodents when chewing off electrical wirings and wood that can cause structural damages to your home.
There are many things you can do to prevent pests from invading your home. Here we present you with a few tasks you should take care of for a hassle-free winter season:
- Take advantage of a warmer day to take a walk around your house. Inspect it thoroughly, searching for holes, scratches and dropping marks on the ceilings, floors, walls and windowsills. Seal all cracks and holes.
- The trees, plants and shrubs around your house are perfect shelter spots for pests to nest in. These can also be connecting paths for pests to enter your house through chimneys, windows and gutters. Make sure all branches and shrubs are trimmed away from your home, and that your chimney and stove pipes have a protective screen to keep wildlife away.
- Pests look for closed, warm places for shelter, so all those old cardboard boxes you’ve been storing in your garage, basement or attic could potentially become new homes for those unwelcomed guests. Instead, opt for sealed, plastic containers to better keep your personal belongings.
- Just like in the case of the cardboard boxes, another perfect nesting place for pests is in the firewood you keep outside to keep you warm on those winter nights. Make sure you store it at least 20 feet from your house and 5 feet off the ground to prevent insects and rodents to shelter in it.
- The most common place to spot pests like ants and rats is in the kitchen, and it usually happens as a result of food left out or full garbage cans. Invest in some airtight containers to not only keep you food away from pests, but also to keep it fresh for longer. Make sure you regularly dispose garbage and that your garbage can has a lid on it.
- Finally, protect your exterior doors by installing door sweeps and repairing damaged bug screens to keep pests outside.
Don’t forget that pests are invasive, can quickly reproduce and are masters of hiding, so even if you don’t see them they can still be there, inside all those cracks and crevices we don’t normally pay attention to, which is why you should closely examine your home all year round. Make sure to put all these tips into effect next winter season and free yourself from having to deal with repairs and stressful situations!
If you have found evidence that could indicate a pest infestation, everything from holes and droppings, to spider webs and insect eggs, contact your local pest professional to get a thorough inspection of your home.