While many of us are nature lovers, household pests such as cockroaches, ants, or fleas are certainly one aspect of nature we don’t want or need when within the comfort of our own home. As your grandma used to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which means that the most important step in pest management is keeping pests from accessing your home in the first place. In this article we will share with you six tips you can use to turn your home into a Pest Fort Knox, as well as some bonus tips at the end to get rid of the pests that have already become your housemates.
- Get thresholds or door sweeps at the bottom of all your exterior doors. Check the gap underneath the doors by lying down on the floor and seeing how much light filters under the doors. Insects are small so any gap that is even 1/16 of an inch is sufficient for them to gain entry. Give careful attention to the bottom corners of the doors as that is a common point of entry. Use caulk (refer to Tip 3) at the bottom edges and sides of the door thresholds to keep out insects. If you have a garage, fit the doors with a bottom rubber seal. Sliding glass door? Line the bottom track with foam weather stripping.
- Check your utility openings, meaning places where pipes, wires, cables enter as well vents, as these are common entry points. Plug the smaller openings with caulk and the larger ones with steel wool.
- Use caulk for any cracks you find around your doors, windows, etc. When choosing your caulk, use a high quality silicon or an acrylic latex. Silicon caulks are more flexible however latex caulks are easier to clean up (just use water) and you can also paint over them. Home design tip: Use caulks that are clear when dried instead of the pigmented ones so your careless mistakes are less noticeable. Other than choosing a good caulk, you also want to get a high quality caulking gun; features that a good gun would have would be a ‘back off trigger’ to stop the caulk flow, as well as a built-in ‘knife’ to cut the tip from new caulk tubes and a nail to pierce the internal seal. Make sure you clean all the cracks and crevices prior to applying the caulk.
- Do you have any gaps or tears in your door and window screens? Time to repair them as this is how insects enter.
- For crawl space vents, attic vents, and roof vents, install wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth). Get the quarter inch ones and make sure you wear protective hand wear when handling and cutting wire mesh as the edges are extremely sharp.
- You can also consider treating the exterior of your house with insecticides. This is not as effective as the sealing and plugging tips we shared above, however we also understand that total sealing is a very tedious and time consuming process. You can find exterior house treatments that have insecticides as an alternative to comprehensive sealing, be aware that many of these are chemical pesticides.
Now that you know how to strengthen the walls of your home against the invading horde, here are two highly effective ways to kill your current unwanted houseguests. Note: These methods are not effective against mothers-in-law.
- Diatomaceous Earth – This is a natural silica precipitate that is found in our earth’s sediment layers. It is the fossilized remains of diatoms, which were single-celled organisms that lived in our oceans millions of years ago. This tiny silica particles, which are completely organic and non-toxic, slice into the waxy exoskeletons of the insects and lodge in their pores, and begins draining the lipids and oils from within the insect, causing death by dehydration, usually within 2 days. Sprinkle the earth in a thin layer in areas where you think your insect guests traverse; again, make sure the layer is thin so that the insects don’t walk around it instead. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your garden.
- Boric Acid – Known by the generic household name of Borax, this is a slow acting poison for insects although it is fairly harmless to humans (a mixture of Borax and soap can even be used to make ‘Borax slime’ a popular science activity for kids). Because it is a poison, it has a force multiplier effect, and is particularly effective against roaches which eat their dead. Check out this article on killing roaches for more great tips on how to eliminate roaches at home in under a week. Use in a similar method to diatomaceous earth, except keep its use indoors and avoid food preparation surfaces.