Effective and Safe Pest-Control Methods for Homeowners

Pests are a problem for many homeowners and keeping pests out of your home is an ongoing battle, but there are safe and effective methods you can use to control common household pests without exposing their families to harmful chemicals.

Pests are a problem for many homeowners and keeping pests out of your home is an ongoing battle, but there are safe and effective methods you can use to control common household pests without exposing their families to harmful chemicals. This is important if you have children and/or pets and you don’t want them to come to any harm as a result of toxic chemicals.

Inspection and Prevention

The first step in managing pests is to thoroughly inspect your home, inside and out, to identify any areas where pests are getting in or could get in. Check for cracks and holes in your home’s exterior, especially around windows, doors, pipes, vents and the foundation. Caulk or seal any openings to block entry points. Keep vegetation, debris and firewood away from the exterior walls of your home. Install door sweeps and weatherstripping to prevent pests from crawling under doors and through cracks. Store food, including pet food, in sealed containers to deny pests access to food sources. Address any moisture issues, as excess moisture attracts pests. Fix leaky pipes and clean up any standing water. Regularly vacuum and eliminate clutter to limit hiding places.

Traps

Traps can be a very effective part of an integrated pest management plan. For rodents like mice and rats, live traps that catch them humanely are an ideal option. Bait the traps with peanut butter, chocolate, or bacon to lure them in. Place traps along baseboards, in attics, garages, and anywhere droppings or other signs of rodents are found. Check traps frequently and release non-target animals like lizards or snakes. For captured rodents, relocate them at least 5 miles from your home or euthanize them humanely. Glue boards and snap traps can also be used, but live traps are safer for children and pets.

For crawling insects, glue boards placed under appliances, along baseboards, and in other high-traffic areas trap them effectively. Change glue boards often to keep them sticky enough to hold pests. You can also make your own with poster boards and non-toxic glue. Roach motels contain bait to attract roaches and a sticky substance inside to trap them. The containers can be placed out of sight in cabinets, under sinks, and in other locations roaches frequent.

Natural Pesticides

When additional pest control is needed, start with natural options instead of harsh chemicals. Diatomaceous earth, a powder made from crushed fossils, can be sprinkled nearly anywhere, including in cracks, along baseboards, and under appliances. The sharp edges cut and kill crawling bugs. Boric acid powder also damages pests’ exoskeletons and internal organs. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and other essential oils repel many pests with their strong scents. Insecticidal soaps kill soft-bodied insects on contact by dissolving their cells.

Targeted Application

If chemical pesticides are necessary, use them minimally and target application to pest-infested areas. Read all labels carefully and follow directions exactly. Never use outdoor chemicals inside, and do not use multiple products together unless specifically directed. Apply carefully along edges, corners, under appliances and in other pest hiding spots. Never spray surfaces where food is prepared or consumed. Properly ventilate treatment areas.

Professional Assistance

For severe pest issues, or if you are ever unsure which control method is best, consult a professional pest control service. They can identify your specific pest problem, pinpoint where the pests are getting in, and use integrated pest management techniques to get rid of them. They have access to stronger pesticides that the general public cannot purchase, but you can check whether they specialize in safe pest treatment options if this is important to you because you have children, cats, and dogs living in the home. Just be sure to vet any service thoroughly, and clearly communicate if you want to avoid certain chemicals or have other restrictions.

With vigilance and the targeted use of traps, barriers, natural pesticides and the least-toxic chemical options, when necessary, homeowners can effectively and safely rid their homes of unwanted pests. An ounce of prevention also goes a long way in keeping pests out in the first place.

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