How to Battle Bugs in the Home
Bugs aren't exactly pleasant to think about, so most homeowners don't ponder
what to do about pests until there's a problem. Unfortunately, by the time
pests start proliferating, it's harder to give them the boot. Instead of
fighting skirmishes with a can of spray or a rolled up magazine, it's much
easier to beat bugs at their own game by planning ahead. The technical term
is pest management.
Here's a six-step plan for fighting the bug wars effectively. Even if you
hire a professional pest control operator, you'll need to know these basics
to evaluate whether your PCO is doing a good job:
1 - Identify Your Enemy
A cockroach is a cockroach, right? Wrong. Do you know a German cockroach
from an Oriental cockroach? Identifying the pest is the critical first step
to fighting it. Different species have distinct biologies and behaviors that
lend themselves to different pest control strategies. Knowing your enemy
helps you to know when, where and how to look for the pest.
2 - Search Now, Destroy Later
Periodic and thorough pest inspections help to pinpoint the presence of pests
as well as conditions that are favorable to pest infestations. A detailed
visual inspection is done with a flashlight, covering all areas that may
provide food, warmth, moisture, or shelter. Rodents and certain insects
(e.g., cockroaches, silverfish, and carpenter ants) are only active at night,
so that's when you should be looking for them.
3 - Keep It Clean
Eliminate conditions that attract pests, and you'll almost eliminate the
chances of an infestation, or greatly reduce an established pest problem.
We're talking about controlling sources of food, water, and shelter. Proper
sanitation involves proper storage of garbage; keeping sinks and food
handling areas clean and dry; eliminating leaking plumbing; and controlling
clutter in attics, garages and basements.
4 - Batten Down the Hatches
A major part of the battle is keeping pests out in the first place. Seal up
the entrances that pests use to get into your home. Any opening larger than
1/4 inch is large enough for a mouse to get through. Anything smaller could
be a doorway for insects. Caulk cracks and crevices and seal thresholds and
chimneys. Keep the roof in good repair and add screens to openings.
5 - Trap the Buggers
Traps can be used for small-scale infestations of certain pests. For traps
to be effective, they must be placed where pests are active. Be sure to use
a sufficient number of traps-for mice, three or four snap traps should be
placed where mice are active. Other examples include sticky boards for
cockroaches, yellow jacket sugar traps, and sticky fly strips. Remember that
traps are not the easy answer to a major, established infestation.
6 - Don't Spray the Human or Spray Too Much
The pesticide label directions provide important safety precautions, so pay
attention to the label. Steps 1 through 5 are necessary components of pest
management, of which pesticides are only one element. Before reaching for
the spray or rat poison, it's a good idea to address the sources of food,
water and shelter that attract pests in the first place. Once you have
properly identified the pest, and selected the proper pesticide for the
individual critter (certain products are designed for indoor use, certain
others are for outdoors), then make sure you follow label directions
Sources used to create this article include Purdue University Cooperative