If you’ve noticed unwanted bugs or rodents around your home or office, you’re not alone. This is a common problem throughout the United States, but there are steps you can take to make your environment pest-free.
Make Sure Your Home or Office Isn’t Attracting Pests
First, you’ll want to ensure your home or office building isn’t attracting undesirable visitors with obvious lures, like open food and waste. Practice these tips to get rid of the most basic causes of infestations:
Get in the habit of cleaning up right away after preparing a meal or snack. Put food away, and wash dishes of food remains.
Don’t leave food where rodents can get it. Remove it from countertops, and place it in secure cabinets or the refrigerator. Use metal canisters to house foods that are especially attractive to pests, such as pet foods, grains, seeds, and nuts.
Wipe counters and chopping blocks frequently to remove crumbs and spilled liquids.
Take out the trash frequently. Make sure it’s covered to prevent four-legged dumpster divers.
Use screen doors and fill any small holes, including those around pipes and drains, with steel wool or foam to block rodents.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Professional Pest Control vs. Natural Methods
If you have a continual pest problem, you may think about calling a professional rather than dealing with it yourself. In some cases, such as when tackling dangerous fire ants or hornets, this is a smart move. You may not have the equipment or products to deal with the issue, and crawling under your home may not be in your wheelhouse.
However, professional pest control does have its disadvantages. Cost is one factor, particularly if you need repeat visits. Some types of pest control use chemicals that you don’t want around your kids or pets. Always ask those who service your property if they plan to use methods safe for kids and pets.
Additionally, getting rid of some pests may cause collateral damage — killing desirable species like bees and butterflies in the process. Sometimes it’s better for the environment to live with a few harmless spiders.
Natural predators are often a safer option when dealing with insects. These are bugs, such as lacewings, that prey on other bugs. They work on many species and are common around places like horse farms that need to manage flies. These days, you can order many of these natural solutions online and have them shipped to you.
Other natural methods include DIY traps using household ingredients like vinegar. You can try essential oils as well, or try planting herbs like mint to repel certain insects and mice.
If mosquitoes are a threat, consider adding a bat house or two instead of spraying the area. Bats can eat up to 2,000 mosquitoes an hour, and if you create a home for them outside, they’re less likely to invade your attic. Likewise, placing owl platforms around the property can encourage them to come and eat unwanted small rodents.
Explore Trapping Options
Trapping animal pests has its pros and cons, too. Using DIY traps for mice and rats means you must relocate these critters elsewhere — up to six miles away so they don’t sniff their way back home again!
This is not only time-consuming, but it also makes the pests someone else’s problem and releases them in an area where they may not necessarily survive. It’s not always the humane solution people think it is.
Both live and dead traps are not for the squeamish either, as they must be emptied or disposed of. Sometimes this is best left to a professional, especially if you have a significant infestation.
Larger animals are best trapped with the help of your animal control department or a professional. You can, for example, get DIY traps for stray cats that are then evaluated for shelter placement. But raccoons, skunks, and the like are a job for someone who does it for a living.
Don’t Forget About Your Vehicles
Finally, remember to make your vehicles pest-proof, too. Use the same rules as you would for your home or office for food debris and trash. Never leave your trunk or windows open when the car is empty and parked, or you might be inviting mice and squirrels into your car. A few mothballs strategically placed where kids and pets won’t find them can also repel pests, particularly once the weather cools down and they’re looking for a place to nest.