With summer approaching (and here for those of you Down Under), I’m dreading the return of the bugs! But who am I kidding.. I’m in Florida. It’s never cold enough to keep them gone. Regardless, they are not welcome.
Are you sharing your home with unwanted critters? Pests of all kinds can invade our homes and gardens and make life a nuisance. Here are some of the most common pests and how to stop them from entering your home.
When it comes to unwanted rodents, mice are the most common culprit. They’re most likely to be attracted to old houses where there are likely to be more entry points, or rural houses in which there’s likely to be a greater mouse population. That said, any property can come under threat from mice.
Scratching in the walls and unexplained droppings are signs that you have a mouse infestation. You may even spot them scurrying around your home. They’re often attracted to crumbs and food that is left out, so storing all food away and keeping the kitchen clean should be your first step.
Secondly, you should aim to seal up all entry points. Any crack that you can fit a pencil in is enough for a small mouse to squeeze through. Steel wool and caulk are the most effective methods of blocking cracks and holes – mice may be able to chew through plastic, rubber or wood. Consider draft protectors on door too and put grills over any vents.
To catch mice already in your house, it’s worth buying mouse traps. There are humane traps out there as well as lethal ones to choose from. Traps are best placed along walls, as this is where mice are most likely to scurry – don’t leave them in the middle of the room. Poisons can be effective but generally aren’t very humane and are very messy (these poisons cause rodents to throw up blood everywhere).
There are many other rodents that can get into your home depending on where you live – namely rats. Rats are bigger, particularly black rats and may be harder to catch (they don’t tend to visit the same feeding spots and are better at outwitting traps).
Watch out for rodent nests in your home. Rodents will often take bits of cardboard, wood, plastic and even insulation wool and use them to build nests. Mice and brown rats tend to nest on the ground floor, whilst black rats may climb to the top of a building and nest (they love attics). Destroying a nest could be necessary to prevent the rodents from breeding.
Getting a cat or a dog could be an obvious deterrent for dealing with rodents. Peppermint oil can also be an effective deterrent.
Ants are another common pest in homes – especially homes in warm climates. Ants are largely attracted to sweet foods and leaving any of these out can be asking for trouble. Some ants also have a strange affinity for electronics such as computers and sockets – scientists are yet to find the reason behind this, but believe it to be something to do with the heat and magnetic field.
There are lots of home-made ant repellents that you can rub or spray into common entry points. These include vinegar, cinnamon, peppermint and lemon. Not all of these methods will be effective against all types of ants.
For more serious infestations, it could be worth calling in ant control. This could be worthwhile for getting rid of nests or getting rid of dangerous ants such as fire ants.
Termites can cause serious damage to your property by chewing through wood in your home. Infestations are common in basements and you may be able to spot signs of damage such as sagging floorboards or holes in woodwork. Like ant infestations, termite infestations are common in warm climates, but can occur elsewhere.
Getting rid of a termite infestation yourself can be done. An effective method is to lay down a cardboard trap. This could be several cardboard panels glued together lying the middle of the floor. Wait until the cardboard is infested with termites and then take it outside and burn it – repeat this several times until the bulk of termites have gone. You can also use boric acid to spray on termites and kill them.
As with other infestations, know when to call in a professional. This may be needed if you’ve got a nest on your premises.
Be wary that termites are drawn to dark and damp places. Controlling humidity in your home and adding lighting to a basement might deter termites from re-entering your home.
These flying, stinging insects come out in the summer when they’re dehydrated. They’re attracted to food and drink – particularly sweet foods. Generally, they don’t come inside, although they may nest in an attic or basement. That doesn’t prevent them being a nuisance outdoors, preventing you from eating meals outside without having to constantly swat them away.
There are lots of ways of deterring wasps. Hanging up an old crumpled bag can sometimes scare wasps, by tricking them into believing that there’s already a nest in the area (wasps are territorial and will fight other wasps from other nests encroaching on their area). Growing spearmint in your garden may also be effective at driving them away.
You can lure and trap wasps by using an empty plastic bottle and filling it with a sweet and sticky substance such as honey. Wasps will often fly into the bottle but then get stuck and not know how to get out.
When it comes to getting rid of wasps nests, there are several solutions. You can either smoke them out by lighting a barbecue grill beneath the nest (not recommended for indoor nests). Alternatively, you can spray soapy hot water onto a nest. You may find it easier to hire a professional wasp nest removal service for some hard to reach nests.
Mosquitoes can be a nuisance in many parts of the world. They thrive in humid conditions, especially when there is little wind. Garden ponds, puddles and even watering cans half-full of water can become nesting grounds for mosquitoes.
These pests are often attracted to lights, especially at night. Sodium lamps and yellow LED lights have been found to be less of a magnet for mosquitoes. You can also use electric zapping lights around your property which kill any flying insects that are attracted to them.
Certain scents are also known to deter mosquitoes, most commonly citronella. This could be in the form of citronella candles or you could consider planting a citronella plant outside your home.
Another effective remedy against mosquitoes is to leave a dish of soapy water out. Mosquitoes love to nest in water, however the soapy bubble will trap them and kill them off.
Slugs and snails
Slugs and snails are a gardener’s worst nightmare. They love to eat away at shrubs, particularly fruit and vegetables.
These slimy pests can be deterred via a variety of methods. Salt spray is an organic pesticide which will stop them from eating your plants. Beer traps meanwhile have also been found to be effective. This involves filling a dish or bottle with beer and leaving it out – slugs and snails will slither into it attracted by the scent, get drunk and drown.
You can also get rid of slugs and snails by strategically leaving enough space between plants when planting them. This stops slugs and snails from easily travelling from one plant to another – instead, they must cross empty patches of soil where they’re likely to be more easily plucked off by birds.
Flies are attracted to food that is left out. They may lay eggs in this food, then making inedible and even causing a maggot outbreak. They’re also attracted to unsealed garbage.
To prevent an infestation of flies, keep food stored away and keep garbage sealed. A number of traps can also be used to deter and kill flies. Bug zapper lamps, also effective with mosquitoes, electrocute any bugs that fly around them. Another effective trap is to hang fly tape near windows – this is sticky tape designed to catch flies.
Whilst slugs and snails love their beer, flies loves their wine, so consider also creating a wine trap. This can be achieved by leaving a tiny amount of wine at the bottom of the bottle and leaving it out for flies to crawl into and get stuck.
Cockroaches are like mice in that they enter through cracks and are attracted to food. These ugly beetles don’t like clean homes, so keep your home as spic and span as possible. You can also take extra measures to seal up cracks with caulk.
Roaches are known for being hardy creatures but can be killed with boric acid. It’s possible to make a trap for them by mixing boric acid and sugar in a bowl. Spraying soapy water on them is also an effective DIY pesticide.
Whilst many spiders do no harm, they spread fear amongst many people. They’re commonly attracted to other bugs, so sorting out these infestations could sort out your spider problem. If not there are other ways to deter them.
Firstly, make sure that you’re hoovering up any cobwebs. Other spiders may want to move on or there may be eggs here for a new spider to hatch out of. Meanwhile, also consider sealing up any cracks or spraying them with a residual insecticide. You can also try several methods that aren’t scientifically tested but many people swear by – these include leaving conkers in the corners of each room or using peppermint oil.
If you live in an area of the world with dangerous spiders, consider calling in pest control. Not all pest control services we’ll deal with spiders, so you may have to find a specialist one.