Household Tips: Pest And Insect Prevention

Advice on how to prevent those insects & pests from entering your home, ideas on what to do once you have an infestation.

The best way to deal with pests is to prevent them. Make sure openings into your home are sealed. Check around pipes, especially for the washer and dryer, and make sure there are no cracks in walls and ceilings. Don't forget attics and basements!

Pests are generally attracted to food. Avoid leaving uncovered food out on countertop, and clean up spills promptly. Keep garbage in bins and/or bags, and don't let food-related garbage sit around for long periods of time. Hygiene was thought up for a reason, and basic cleanliness will help deter pests as well as disease.

If you are finding ants in sinks and around shower heads, then they are coming for water, not food. Make sure your sinks and showers don't drip. Try spraying insect killers (such as Raid) around drains first, because ants usually travel up pipes. Wiping with a bleach-based cleaner (such as Chlorox Spray) may help as well, because ants hate the smell of bleach even more than you do. If you encounter an ant trail, follow it to see where they are headed; they are returning with your food to their nest. This is a good way to find the little cracks and holes they use to get into your home. Seal those entrances!

You can try using ant and roach "hotels" if you like, but avoid them if you have small children, or pets that are likely to lick/chew/play with the little plastic poison-gadgets.

Step on any roaches you see, or if you're squeamish drop a book on them. Be quick. They really can't hurt you; you just think they can. Spray roach killer in likely hiding places - under the fridge is a common spot - but again be careful with small children and pets.

Sealing holes, especially in attics, will help deter rodents as well. Don't forget the power of those low-tech traps, either. (Peanut butter actually makes a better bait than cheese, and place the traps alongside walls.) But if you're considering feline power, or poison power, pick one. You don't want your cat eating a mouse that's ingested poison. You certainly don't want him eating three or four of them.

A word about crickets: I don't personally mind them, since they almost never enter a home in any significant amount, are short-lived, and aren't really destructive. Cats love to stalk them, and children get a kick out of trying to locate them. (The sound is designed to be deceptive.) Besides, they're lucky. It is therefore bad luck to kill one. They are often kept as pets and good luck charms in certain countries. Remember Jiminy Cricket?

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