Pests are annoying, costly, and downright dangerous. So when pests enter your home, it should be your highest priority to get rid of them. In most cases, hiring an exterminator is the fastest, most cost-effective way to rid your home of problem pests. Figure out what kind of pests you have, what removal options are available and get to exterminating. The infographic below was created out of joint collaboration between our staff writers and our Expert Network professionals.
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Pesky House Pests
Whether you’re out in your vegetable garden or sitting down to a nice dinner, nothing ruins a pleasant day like a critter dropping in uninvited. Pests aren’t just annoying; they can carry diseases, cause health issues, and damage plants and property. Luckily, just a little bit of knowledge and prevention can go a long way toward keeping your home pest-free.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, 20,000 pesticide poisonings occur each year in the United States alone. Untreated house pests in the United States cause over $5,000,000,000 in damage per year. Most home insurance companies do not cover any of these costs.
The Biggest Pests
The most common pests in the United States are busily bothering people all across the country. You may already be familiar with these culprits, but how well do you really know them?
Almost all spiders are venomous, but they rarely have enough potency to affect humans.
Mice and Rats: A rat’s teeth are harder than steel; they’re easily able to gnaw through substances like concrete and wood.
Ants: Ants make up about 15% of the terrestrial animal biomass and are found nearly everywhere on earth.
Termites cause about $5 billion annually in damages to crops and man-made structures.
Aphid: Aphids often transmit viruses which can stunt growth as they move from one plant to the next.
Bed Bugs: Bed bugs can ingest 7 times their own weight in blood; the equivalent of an average male drinking 120 gallons.
In 6 months, a female cockroach can produce over 5,000 descendants.
Ticks can transmit more than one disease at a time to their hosts.
Mosquitoes cause nearly 250 million cases of malaria per year worldwide.
Snails and Slugs:
Bed bugs can ingest 7 times their own weight in blood; the equivalent of an average male drinking 120 gallons.
Pests by Region
While the most common pests are universal, some have ideal environments. If you’re headed to Texas, watch out for the scorpions; in Alaska, it’s the mosquitoes that you should worry about. A few pests and their favorite haunts: carpenter ants in the Pacific Northwest, fire ants on the West coast, fruit flies in Hawaii, recluse spiders and scales in the Midwest, Jerusalem crickets and scorpions in the southwest, biting midges in the southeast, and gypsy moths in the northeast.
The best way to handle a pest problem in your home is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Just a few simple precautions can dramatically decrease your chances of infestation: don’t store piles of wood against your house; they encourage termites, make sure your home is sealed with caulk on the windows and doors, and never leave trash, food, or pet food out for extended periods of time.
The cost of getting your home inspected and treated for pests varies from case to case. Termites or bed bugs might cost about $15,000 while cockroaches, ticks, mice, and spiders could put you back by around $250. (These figures don’t include any follow-ups)
DIY Pest Control
For a serious infestation, you should always call a professional. DIY pest control is not always safe and may leave you with a lingering pest problem.
Many chemical traps contain fipronil, which is a possible carcinogen and a hazard to non-target animals. Hydramethylnon traps are safer, but still highly toxic to other organisms.
Sticky strips and mouse traps are not toxic, but they’re indiscriminate, so non-target animals or small children could get caught in them.
Coat the interior of a jar with Vaseline and place a banana peel inside to trap cockroaches. Fruit placed inside a glass covered in plastic wrap with a few pin pricks in it
Mothballs kill moths and silverfish, but they’re highly toxic, and if ingested they can kill. They should never be left out in the open, and clothes stored with them need to be thoroughly aired.
Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate is an alkaline salt that can be used to prevent ants and termites. It has very low toxicity, however it should not be ingested.
Mix one chopped garlic bulb, 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp. dish soap and 1 quart of water. Steep mixture for 1 hour, then strain into a spray bottle and use for preventing ants and termites.
Some repellents contain naturally occurring plant chemicals but are still toxic to animals, like pyrethrin and rotenone.
Introduce completely natural elements into your garden’s ecosystem by using predator insects like ladybugs to control aphids.
Spray canola oil on plants that are being attacked by aphids. Apply copper tape to pots to turn away slugs and snails.
acwm.lacounty.gov, ca.uky.edu, clemson.edu, epa.gov, flaentsoc.org, humanesociety.org, insected.arizona.edu, ipcpest.com, ipm.ucdavis.edu, nationalgeographic.com, nature.com, nepma.org, npic.orst.edu, pestworld.org, psu.edu
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