Pest Control Around The Home
Simple Tips For Managing Insects
You love your home and you have to continue trying to make it, “just right,” for you, your family, and your pets. Unfortunately your home is also attractive to a host of six legged creatures, namely insects, in all their varying forms, that will take over if you let them; it is a constant conflict. There are approximately 950,000 known species of insects representing some 75 percent of all known species worldwide. As a final resort you can call the exterminator. However, there are some common sense and simple practices that you can follow to try to keep one step ahead of an insect invasion.
Earwigs will generally prefer to be outdoors. However, if your basement or home is appealing to them you may find a colony establishing itself that will most likely require an exterminator. Vigilance and simple prevention measures could save you a lot of money.
- Earwigs will head for the damp places in your home. So, seal around your doors and windows to keep earwigs out.
- Earwigs like drains too and especially the food left in them. Keep your drains as clear and food scrap free as you can.
- A dry, clean basement or crawl space is not a very attractive home for earwigs.
- Inspect your home regularly and make repairs promptly, look for prime earwig areas such as rotting window sills and door frames, caulk and paint them or replace if they are really bad.
- Applying a pesticide to the edges of your basement and around the perimeter of your home is an option but be sure you get the appropriate one for your circumstances and follow the manufacturers instructions.
To get away from the heat of the summer, Camelback crickets or cave crickets could set up home in the dark moist areas of your property, basements, crawl spaces and garages are favorite spots. Prevention is easier than cure:
- Caulk and seal any likely entry points.
- Minimize the humidity of dark areas if you can.
- Regularly inspect basements, crawl spaces, under your outside lower level sidings, around pipes, and in any cracks in concrete.
As the name suggests, Carpenter bees make nests in wood. They do not consume any wood but their burrows can cause structural damage over time. Carpenter bees look very similar to bumble bees but unlike the latter, Carpenter bees do not form colonies but nest in pairs. It is the female that does the damage as she chews out a home for her family she will chew out a hole around 1/2-inch wide that may go for up to six inches deep before excavating brood cells. When you are inspecting your home look for holes in wood surfaces near the eaves, gables, fascia boards, porch ceilings, basically any weathered wood. Also pay special attention to areas around nail holes, cuts and unpainted areas. While Carpenter bee damage is initially minor, if it is allowed to continue unchecked, the female can expand her tunnel up to ten feet long and also attract woodpeckers as they search for the Carpenter bee larvae. Take precautions and:
- As a deterrent, paint all exposed wood services with an oil based paint.
- Think about using non-wood products for siding.
- Seal existing gallery entrance holes; sealing each hole with caulking, putty or a similar product, or better still, sealing the entire gallery with a sealant will often trap and eventually kill the bees
- If you see the bees, they are noisy, capture or kill them.
- Consider commercial chemical or dust treatments for Carpenter bees; always read and follow the manufacturers instructions.
These flying bloodsuckers can make life a misery. However, there are things that you can do to lessen the chance of an irritating or disease infecting bite
- Look for anything around the yard that does or might harbor pools of water, however small.
- Fill in puddles, holes or ruts that collect water after rains.
- Dispose of or put away any potentially water holding garbage containers, tires, cans, buckets, etc. Clear out drains and culverts to allow the water to drain.
- Clear out gutters regularly.
- Repair any outdoor leaking pipes and dripping water faucets and check your basement for leaking pipes and repair them.
- Maintain your pool and/or empty plastic pools weekly if you have them.
- Cover garbage containers and drill holes in the bottom to let water drain out.
- Change the water in bird baths/trays weekly.
- Keep the grass near your home short.
- Fit screens to your doors and windows and if you have them already, check them for holes.
- Encourage birds, bats, frogs and toads to your neighborhood, they all love to eat mosquitoes.
- Consider hanging long-lasting insecticide products in your home and/or using safe larvacide dunk products in standing water.
- Consider commercial electrical deterrents such as ultrasound.
Pharaoh Ants (Sugar ants)
Ants in whatever species are tough to control as they just keep on coming back. Pharoh Ants, also known as Sugar Ants, are small but are very fond of sweet things, hence the name. Nevertheless, you do not want to share your home with Sugar Ants as they are suspected carriers of bacteria, such as: Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, and Clostridium. A species that likes to nest indoors, look for Sugar Ants in cracks and crevices, including light sockets; a warm spot with water nearby would be a Sugar Ant favorite. Again prevention/precaution is easier than a cure:
- Secure your food and do not leave anything out to encourage the ants.
- Caulk cracks and crevices.
- Replace any rotten wood and fix leaks.
- Inspect your home regularly, especially potted plants and stacks of indoor firewood.
If the ants are in your home then you will need to get to the root of the problem, the nest. Use a registered insecticide for ants (even the specific species) and treat the nest when you find it; always follow the manufacturer's directions for the product. If you use a trail insecticide on Sugar Ants the problem could become worse as the colony could divide. To find a nest, leave out small bait stations and literally follow the trail back to the nest. If you cannot find the nest then look for a species specific bait that will entice the workers to carry the insecticide back to the nest for you.
Termites, once they have a hold in your home can cause so much damage as to make it unlivable for you and could even get your home condemned. Keeping termites at bay is far, far better than costly and inconvenient professional service alternatives. To discourage termites consider:
- Regularly inspecting your home, look for blistering and soft paint spots on exterior doors, windows, and moldings that could be termite damage; consider a periodic professional termite inspection.
- Repair any moisture damage to your home, leaks, etc.; divert your sprinkler nozzles away from your house.
- Maintain and clear your guttering, splash backs, and drains.
- Ensure your siding material (masonry excepted) is six to ten inches above ground level.
- Prevent wood items, firewood, planters, lumber, mulch etc. from coming into direct contact with your home.
- Divert your air conditioner lines away from the walls and foundations of your home.
- Keep ventilation and other openings to your home covered and away from plants.
- If you have hardwood in your home (a favorite for termites), ensure that it is properly treated.
- Take advice and consider using proper amounts of boric acid on wood frequented by termites.
- If you think the termite situation is or may get out of hand, call a professional.
Wasps come in a variety of species and are an aggressive and sometimes life threatening pest. A sting or more from wasps can get you a trip to the emergency room or worse if you have an allergic reaction to the sting. Wasps like sweet things and protein and will often head for your home and yard. As for a lot of other pest prevention, risk minimization is easier than the cure. Inspect your home and seal up holes and cracks with caulking and keep garbage and food safe and secure. If you find a colony however, you have to decide if it is or going to be problem for you as wasps also perform a beneficial role in nature by preying on soft bodied insects. There are products such as traps which are effective for smaller numbers but if the colony is nearby you have to go to the root of the problem.
It is not wise to tackle a wasp colony if you have or think you may have an allergic reaction to a sting, call the exterminator. If you are going to the job yourself it is usually best to tackle the colony at night when most or all of the wasps are in:
- Cover up, wear something like coveralls, boots, gloves, and a beekeeper's hat; use rubber bands or tape on the cuffs and legs of your coveralls.
- Use a flashlight with a red filter; wasps are thought not to see red well.
- Use a commercial product that is adequate to the species and size of colony, follow the manufacturers instructions and leave.
- Only return to the colony to check the effectiveness of the treatment as per the product's instructions.
- If you are in any doubt as your ability to take out the colony, call a professional.
Insect pests are legion in their numbers and species. There are other ways to control such pests and we probably couldn't even begin to cover them all. What are your solutions and how well do they work?