Whether it’s maintaining proper hygiene, using natural alternatives, employing DIY techniques, or utilizing professional services, preventative pest control is definitely worth it. The best way to deal with an infestation is to avoid one entirely in the first place. Prevention strategies can avoid costly property damage and injury to your family.
When left unchecked, termites will destroy anything made of wood or cellulose. You don’t even have to live in a wood structure, hardwood floors, furniture, cabinets, and ceiling beams can all be targets. What’s more, they often go undiscovered until visual or structural damage has been done.
Similarly, pests such as cockroaches leave droppings that could contain harmful microorganisms. Depending on where you live, mosquitos can carry everything from encephalitis to dengue fever to malaria. Fire ants cause painful bites that can blister and itch. Fleas and ticks can cause typhus and Lyme disease, and there are some species of spider that can even be life threatening.
Once these infestations start, they can be time consuming and costly to eradicate, particularly in the case of termites and bed bugs. Preventative pest control can save you a whole lot of hassle.
Do Not Attract Pests in the First Place
There are a few habits you can get into on a daily basis that will limit the likelihood pests will get into your structure. The most important things to do are remove food and clutter. When there is nothing for them to eat, and no sheltered places for them to live and breed, you’re giving your house the best chance of remaining pest free.
- Always wash up after every meal. All plates and utensils, along with pots, pans, and anything else that came into contact with food should be cleaned and dried.
- All scraps should be placed in tightly covered trashcans. Trash should also be removed from the house everyday.
- Store leftovers in sealed containers.
- Clean behind appliances regularly.
Inside the Home
- Fix leaky plumbing and do not allow water to accumulate. Some places people often neglect is trays where houseplants sit and pet food dishes.
- Do not ever allow urine or feces residue to remain in or on the toilet.
- Always make sure toilets are clean and septic tanks are sealed properly.
- Fix all holes in screening.
- Use steel wool to fill openings around pipes.
- Inspect your walls to find cracks and crevices where pests can enter and hide and close them off.
- Throw away stacks of newspapers and magazines.
Outside the Home
- Get rid of all clutter on your property. Pests can often establish colonies outside your house. Boxes, stacks of dry leaves, debris, and disused toys all make ideal places for pests to hide.
- Keep your lawn and plants well maintained and trimmed.
- Periodically hose down patios, paths, and garbage cans.
- Wash cushions on outside furniture.
- Remove junk and woodpiles.
DIY Pest Prevention
If you decide to go the do-it-yourself route to prevent or eliminate infestations, and you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with professional strength pesticides, you could first try a variety of natural pest repellants. The upside to this approach is you are doing the most to limit harm to your family and pets. The downside is most of these methods are more costly, take longer, and are not as effective as approaches using industrial chemicals.
An all-purpose natural pest repellant is peppermint castile soap mixed with water. Apply the solution to all flat surfaces and baseboards. Certain essential oils combined in a spray with grain alcohol can do a good job stopping mosquitos, flies, fleas, and ticks from entering your house. Sprinkling coffee grounds around access points like windows and doors can fend off ants. And spiders are particularly averse to vinegar. Simply combining it with water in equal parts and applying the mixture to the usual access points can keep the dreaded arthropods out.
An idea that most people wouldn’t consider is that certain plants and herbs actually tend to repel insects as well. Planting things like basil, lavender, lemongrass, thyme, and mint on your property can keep mosquitos away. Members of the Allium family can repel a vast array of garden destroying insects. Chrysanthemums in your flowerbed can take care of bedbugs, lice, fleas, roaches and ants. And carnivorous plants like pitcher plants actually lure, catch, and digest insects.
If you decide to go the non-natural route, there is no shortage of online resources to help you purchase pesticide and pest control equipment, and educate you as to their proper use. This includes instructions on signs of infestation, pest identification, and pest control strategies. As mentioned before, these interventions last longer and are by and large more effective than the natural alternatives, but the downside is most of these pesticides carry some inherent risks. Here are some helpful guidelines in handling professional-grade chemicals.
First try baiting for insects and rodents. These are effective and are easier to be kept away from children and pets. If you decide on spraying, you can first try pesticides with relatively low toxicity levels to see if they are effective. Low toxicity chemicals will have labels that contain the word “CAUTION.” For all chemicals, read the directions on the label and follow them thoroughly only applying to targeted locations. Don’t use chemicals that need to be mixed before application.
Also, consult DIY sources on where to spray, as the optimal location to stop the infestation may not be where you are seeing the actual pest. Don’t ever saturate an entire room and use foggers only when necessary. Do not use outdoor chemicals indoors and only use chemicals approved for home use.
Finally, do not switch pesticide containers or store anything else in them. And again, consult the label as to how to dispose of them properly and safely.
Professional Pest Control
Ultimately, regardless of how much you educate yourself, you are not going to approach the experience and flexibility of a major pest control company. If this sounds like too much work to you, you will probably want to employ the services of a professional. Pest control companies know the optimal place to treat, and how often to keep treating to give you the best chance of permanently keeping the problem at bay.
Additionally, many companies offer service guarantees, particularly for stubborn pests like termites, and offer no cost return visits until the infestation is rectified. If you feel the professional route is the right course of action for you, have a look at our Top Ten Pest Control Companies page.