Household Tips: A Guide To Insect Control

Prevention is a key to stopping insects from taking over a house. Once they get in, it's sometimes difficult to make them leave.

There are many different kinds of insects that can make life miserable for humans. Once insects invade a home, it is sometimes difficult to make them leave. Prevention is a key to stopping insects from taking over a house; making your home unattractive to insects is necessary if you want to live in peace with nature.

Ants can be quite annoying to homeowners, and it's often hard to find their point of entry. Keeping your food in covered containers will prevent ants from finding nourishment; preventing drips and leaks is important to avoid ants and other types of insects who are seeking water. If ants are coming into your home and you want to avoid pesticides, try sprinkling talcum powder, drawing a chalk line, or squirting lemon juice around their entry point. If you discover where the ants are entering your home from the outside, you can treat that area with a product designed especially for eliminating ants.

Mosquitoes can make one a virtual prisoner in the home, as it's quite unpleasant to go outdoors and become a smorgasbord for the little insects. It is best to avoid mosquito bites, of course, since the bites can cause many serious diseases, such as West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria, and heartworms in pets. Wearing a product containing DEET will prevent mosquitoes from finding you tasty, but many people don't like the odor of such applications and long term exposure is not safe. Good preventative measures for eliminating mosquitoes inside the home are keeping doors and windows closed and having screens in good condition on windows if they are opened. Putting up houses to attract purple martins or swallows helps to control the mosquito population, as these birds eat mosquitoes; bats also eat mosquitoes. Most cities and towns spray pesticides when mosquitoes become a problem to help prevent disease and encourage outdoor recreation, but individuals can also help control mosquitoes by removing or frequently changing water standing outdoors, such as that in birdbaths, wading pools, puddles, ditches or containers. Mosquito "magnets" and "buglights" are available at home improvement stores for those who want to attract and kill large amounts of the pesky insects. Sprays for flying insects can also be used inside the home.

Flies are attracted to garbage, and can be controlled by keeping inside garbage containers covered and removing garbage from the home frequently. Covering outdoor containers and keeping them away from the house can help prevent flies too. If windows and doors are left open, screens are necessary to keep out flies. Flies can also come in small holes in the home, such as around water pipes and through cracks in walls or floors, so checking for entry points is important. Flies can be eliminated by using products such as "sticky" traps or light traps, or the old standby, the fly swatter.

Cockroaches can breed very quickly and overwhelm a home if good preventative care is not taken. Roaches like water, so drippy faucets should be repaired, and damp areas should be frequently checked for signs of roach infestation. Food should be kept in covered containers, and kitchens and bathrooms should be kept as clean as possible. If only large roaches are seen in the home, spraying pesticides around the perimeter of the home can prevent them from coming in. If small roaches are sighted, however, they are usually coming from within the home and measures must be taken to find and kill them. Insecticides are available especially for roach control, or boric acid can be used for a more natural approach. For severe roach infestation, professional help is often necessary to completely eliminate the source of the problem.

Moths are attracted to wool in clothing and rugs and can eat tiny holes, ruining the fabrics. Prevention of moths includes mothballs, which have a very distinctive odor that is not easily removed, and cedar, which often is used to line chests or closets. The caterpillars of the moths are nourished by materials found in stains such as perspiration, so keeping clothing clean is important for prevention. Rugs should be frequently vacuumed to eliminate moth infestation.

Vacuuming is also important to prevent fleas from taking over carpets. If pets are present inside the home, check them carefully and treat for flea removal if necessary. If fleas are discovered, diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled on the carpet, which causes the fleas to dry up and die; after waiting several minutes, the carpet should be vacuumed. If fleas are left to multiply this can lead to a severe problem and professional help can be needed, so prevention is important.

Wasps eat flies and do not generally bother people unless threatened, but wasp stings can be serious in those who are allergic. Wasps build papery nests, usually under the eaves of homes or in underground nests. Wasps should be left alone unless someone in the home is sensitive to their stings; if removal of the nest is necessary, care should be taken to stay out of the way and not get stung while killing the wasps. Long-range sprays are available at hardware, discount, and home improvement stores.

Spiders are often lumped into the insect category, although they are arachnids and eat insects. Many people are frightened of spiders, because some spiders' bites are very serious, but most are relatively harmless. Spiders, like wasps, are best left alone; for those who just can't abide having a spider in the house, they are easily dispatched with a shoe, fly swatter, or other object.

Insects can spread disease in homes, and can become a serious problem if infestation is not prevented. Prevention usually means practicing good sanitation, keeping food and garbage covered, and removing nourishment for the insects. If these methods do not work, external conditions can be present that require professional pest control.

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