Preventing Pest Problems

Your home is designed to keep you comfortable, so that you can relax and enjoy yourself after a long day. Unfortunately, all of the things that make your home an ideal living space for you also make it perfect for an assortment of creepy critters. From mice and rats to termites and flies, a pest infestation can quickly turn your happy home into a living hell.

This week, we’re turning to the experts for their advice on controlling pests at home and keeping your living space critter-free.

Why We’re Asking

Just a few creepy crawlies can really ruin your evening, but a full-blown pest infestation is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. We want to know what homeowners can do to prevent infestations, and how they can safely handle the problem if one arises. Our experts come into contact with these issues every day, so we’re turning to them for advice.

So tell us, experts:

What are the most problematic pests?

How can homeowners minimize their chances of an infestation?
Are there any home building materials or designs that can increase the likelihood of an infestation?
How can homeowners safely control a pest problem?
Are there green pest control solutions?

Nobody wants uninvited house guests. Knowing how to prevent and control pests can keep your home peaceful.

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!

  • Joseph Molluso 04/29/13

    As we spoke about just a few weeks ago, homeowners should not be handling these problems themselves. When it comes to pests being in your home, its a problem that can multiply quickly if not taken care of immediately. At first sign of pests, a professional should be called. Always do your research about the pest. Learn about their feeding, sleeping, and reproduction habits. This information can be important in delay of pest multiplication and even aid in eradication.
    To minimize the chances of bringing pests into the home there are a few tips i can give to homeowners.
    1- Dont bring cardboard boxes into your home from supermarkets. If the supermarket has a roach infestation ( many do ), you now just brought the infestation into your home. Purchase plastic, or glass cereal containers and as soon as you arrive home from the supermarket transfer all boxed goods into your own containers. This could be an expensive purchase as first, but in the long run will save you money as well as a headache of a pest infestation. These containers are also great in case you get a few pesky mice in your home. The mice will not be able to chew through the glass containers. Mice without a food source means they will have to hitchhike else where for dinner.
    2- In the case of bed bugs, just be vigilant of where you sit and where you place your bags. The number one tip i give to homeowners is to watch a quick youtube video on ” how to inspect my home for bed bugs” . After learning how to do a bed bug inspection you can do one in your home to ensure you don’t have these pests. I recommend to do the inspection once a month, just to keep on top of things. With bed bugs, its better to catch the problem in the early stages of the infestation.
    3- To keep mice out of the home, check the perimeter of the house for any holes or spaces. Fill all holes with cement or caulking to prevent pest entry. Install door sweeps under all doors. Mice are known to fit into spaces small than a penny!

    Green pest solutions do exist. When you hire a Licensed exterminator be sure to ask if they use Green pest methods if that is your preference. Now a days many pest control companies offer partial, or fully green services — depending on the size of your infestation.
    Remember homeowners and business owners. Always hire a professional, and be sure they have many years experience. Keep away the critters !

  • eric erickson 05/02/13

    10 Little Known Secrets that Will Keep the Pests Out of your Home

    If you are like almost half the households questioned in a University of Kentucky survey, a single cockroach in your home would cause you to pull out a can of bug spray or call a pest control professional.

    Instead of waiting to go on the defense against an insect, rodent or bird that has entered your home, take the offense by implementing 10 steps to keeping the pests out.


    The fewer pests you have feeding, harboring or breeding outside your home, the fewer issues you will have inside.

    Plants and Mulch. Trim back tree branches, shrubs or bushes touching your home to eliminate pest “bridges” to the house. Mulch, such as wood chips, provide ideal harborage for pests. Instead of using these in areas that touch your foundation, place less pest-attractive ground cover, such as rock or stone. Keep in mind when you landscape against your home that it is important to not create areas that will not allow the water to drain properly. Standing water against your home can play a vital role in creating Termite infestations.
    Doors and Windows. Because pests can wiggle through tiny cracks and gaps, inspect and repair any ill-fitting, warped or broken doors and windows; check for and repair rips or tears in screens. A screen mesh size of at least 200 holes per square inch is generally available at home stores and is ideal for screening out pests. It is also important that your doors seal correctly when they are closed.
    Cracks and Gaps. Inspect the entire exterior of your home for other cracks, crevices and gaps through which pests could enter. Check for cracks in the foundation, loose siding, missing roof shingles, and gaps around incoming utility lines, including pipes, electric and cable wiring. Seal any openings with copper mesh, coarse steel wool, sheet metal or mortar. Expanding caulk is less applicable as many pests can chew through it.
    Trash and Litter. Keep yards, patios, decks and garages free of litter, weeds and standing water. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and clean the cans and area regularly to remove debris and spills, on which pests can feed.
    Lights. To reduce flying insects around doors and windows, replace your standard light bulb with a colored one. Bulbs that have pink, yellow or orange tints will be least attractive to the flying insects. Although it is common to place lights on exterior walls near doors, it is better to place the light farther away, using pole lights when possible, with the light shining toward the door for safety.


    Eliminating conditions in your home that appeal to pests will help reduce the attraction that brings them in.

    Interior Gaps. Some cracks and gaps will be visible only from inside your home. Check in, under and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators and stoves, as well as between the floor and wall juncture and around pipes, floor and dryer vents. Seal any gaps found, especially those of 1/4 inch or greater. I like to seal these areas up with materials like, steel wool, clear silicone, caulk or even a joint compound.
    Drains. Sink and floor drains often accumulate gunk and debris which can attract pests and provide an ideal breeding site, especially for small flies. Inspect and maintain all sink, tub, basement and laundry room floor drains. It is always a good idea to boil some water and carefully dump it into all the drains in your home. This really hot water will dissolve many of your breeding sites and insects cannot live when they have boiling hot water poured on them.
    Recycled Items. It is preferable to store recyclables outside and away from your home. If this is not possible, ensure that all containers are thoroughly rinsed and that the recycling bin has a tight-fitting lid. All recycling and trash containers should also be rodent proof and cleaned frequently. This commonly means that you put something heavy on top of these containers so rodents and small game cannot remove the lid off the container.
    Stored Foods. If opened bags and boxes cannot be completely closed, the food should be put into a resealable bag or plastic container to keep from attracting pests that hang out in kitchen cupboards. Using older foods first and cleaning out stale or uneaten foodstuffs will also keep attractants down.
    Cleanliness. The cleaner your home, the less attraction it will have for pests, the less chance a pest will have to live and breed – and the less likely it will be that you would need to go on the defense and pull out a can of bug spray.

  • Genma Holmes 05/03/13

    What are the most problematic pests?

    As a pest management professional, one of the most problematic pests is the brown recluse spider. The venom of brown recluse has sent many homeowners to the hospital. The flesh literally dies (necrosis of the flesh) and peels away. I have seen doctors cut away the flesh and years later that site might reopen. Babies and elderly are especially vulnerable to being bitten.

    How can homeowners minimize their chances of an infestation?

    Brown recluse spiders are like the name sake…reclusive. They are often not in a web like most spiders. I suggest keeping storage items in containers. Do not bring home antiques or items left open in a dark storage areas. Keep your home clutter free.

    How can homeowners safely control a pest problem?

    I would start with sticky boards. Keeping boards in corners and closets are one of the best ways to monitor your for this dangerous pest. Vacuuming and
    dusting daily also helps. Since these spiders are tough to control and very dangerous, consider using a pest management professional to crack and
    crevice home for a more effective way of dealing with them.

    Are there green pest control solutions?
    There are several botanical pesticides on the market. I have used a botanical dust that I find quite effective.

    I will not send you pictures. But Bing “brown recluse bite”….wow!

  • Scott Armbrust 05/03/13

    Probably the two most problematic pests nationwide are termites and bed bugs. These two pests can rarely be treated successfully without the use of a professional exterminator. If you don’t have an infestation yet, there are preventative things that will reduce your odds of getting them.

    Most termites live in the soil and consume cellulose materials such as wood, paper and cardboard. Any wood in direct contact or close to the soil is what they are looking for. Carefully inspect the perimeter of your home and make sure that the foundation is exposed such that all of the finished walls are at least six inches above the soil surface. Brick walls are no exception, because they have wood construction behind them. Many foundations in newer homes are covered with foam panels. These panels are to help insulate the building, but termites love to travel into the wall behind the foam. Cut-away the foam at least six inches up the foundation. Decorative bark mulch is termite food that attracts them to your home. Replace the bark with gravel or rubberized mulch made from shredded tires. If you have a crawl space under you home, remove any wood scraps left by the builder. Also take out wood around piers and around the foundation that would have served as forms when the concrete was poured. In some crawl spaces, there will be rigid cardboard underneath portions of stepped foundations that is easily found. Remove the cardboard. If you live in a neighborhood known to have termites, have the house inspected annually by a trained termite inspector. If you are uncertain whether or not termites are in your area, check with the local pest control association.

    Bed bugs:
    Bedbugs are becoming a world-wide epidemic. These insects are spread by hitch-hiking on almost anything. I find a lot of bedbugs in garage sale furniture, so be wary when buying anything used. Bed bugs can be not only in beds, but also dressers, chairs, sofas, alarm clocks…anything that was in an infested home or apartment. Bed bugs can live for months without a meal, so they can even be found in vintage furniture stores. Many rent-to-own stores also have problems with repossessed furniture and appliances loaded with bugs that spread throughout the store. Inspect the furniture by shining a bright flashlight into the cracks of the furniture to look for signs of the bugs. You are looking for spots that look like black pepper or translucent eggs that are only 1 mm in length. The bed bugs themselves range from 1.5 mm to 5.5 mm and may be clear to dark mahogany in color. The adults look somewhat like a flattened apple seed.
    When traveling, you don’t want bed bugs to come home in you luggage. Because hotels have new guests daily, the likelihood of having bedbugs in you room should not be taken lightly. Bed bugs are nocturnal, so if you leave a suitcase overnight on or near a bed, you will likely pick up a few. Store the suitcase as far away from the beds as possible. A neat trick is to sprinkle baby powder on the bathtub or shower floor and place your luggage there. Baby powder is too slippery for the insects to crawl across. If you can find a large enough ziplock clothing bag to put you suitcase in when you travel, use it! Lastly, if you are a single traveler, I recommend that you sleep naked. You won’t have to worry about bed bugs hiding in your pajamas!!!

    Ants are probably the third mot common pest in the United States. There are many different species, and control tactics vary. Homeowners frequently react to an initial ant infestation by spraying them with whatever bug killer they can find. On some ants this works fine and the problem is solved, however, spraying can cause some ant colonies to bud or spread and create a worse problem. The best first step is to identify the species of ant. I recommend that you search university extension office web sites for the best information. These web sites provide information on how to safely control the ant in question. When in doubt, professional exterminators are trained in the proper and safe use of pesticides to solve you problem.

    A note on pesticides:

    All pesticides are poisons, even the “green products”. Regardless of what chemical you use, read the label and follow the directions exactly as specified. Applying more than the recommended amount does not kill things better, but it does potentially impact your health. Most sprays available to consumers are scented to smell more pleasant, but remember that if you can smell it, you are breathing it, so don’t use more than you need. Green pesticides, classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as “Minimal Risk Pesticides” are a good choice, but you still need to respect them. Licensed pesticide applicators are rigorously trained in the safe and effective application of pesticides. There are different levels of licensure or certification in each state. If you use a pest control company, ask for an applicator that has the highest state certification. In my home state of Colorado, that certification is called a Qualified Supervisor License.

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