How to Effectively Control Pests in Your Home

Pests can cause a lot of damage in homes and businesses. They can also pose a health threat to people and animals. For example, rodents like mice and rats can gnaw wires, spoil furniture and spread diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Lassa fever, leptospirosis and Salmonella. Other pests can sting or bite humans and animals and can cause serious skin and respiratory problems. They can also contaminate food and water supplies. Pest control is an important part of any home maintenance program.

There are three goals in pest control: prevention, suppression and eradication. Prevention is the best goal and involves keeping pests from getting into a structure. Suppression is the next goal and focuses on reducing the numbers of a pest to an acceptable level. Eradication is the last goal and involves destroying an entire pest population.

Most pests start outside and make their way into buildings through cracks, crevices, gaps, open doors and windows, vents, drains, siding, shingles or other entry points. Blocking these areas can help keep pests out. Eliminating debris in and around your house can also help prevent pests from finding shelter inside. Regularly empty and clean garbage cans, and store foods in sealed containers. Keep weeds and other plants away from your home, as they can provide cover for pests.

Indoor pests are harder to eliminate, but steps can be taken to keep them at bay. Keep trash cans closed and tightly sealed, and store food in plastic or metal containers. Clean counters, floors and sinks regularly. Clean up spills immediately. Close off spaces under sinks, and use caulk or foam weather stripping to seal cracks.

Exterior pests can be controlled by keeping plant beds trimmed and free of debris, as well as removing piles of leafy material where insects can hide. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the foundation of your home, and seal cracks and holes in walls, trim and siding. Using screen doors and window screens can help keep pests out as well.

Chemical controls are often used for outdoor pests, and can be effective in eliminating some types of pests. However, some pesticides can contaminate soil, water and other natural resources, cause harm to beneficial or non-target organisms, and can be dangerous to people and pets.

Other ways to eliminate pests include traps and baits, which can be used without the need for spraying, and biological controls. Biological controls are living organisms that attack and kill unwanted pests. Examples of biological controls are predators, parasites and pathogens. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based approach to pest management that reduces the need for harmful chemicals by encouraging natural enemies of pests and limiting their impact on crops, ecosystems and human health.

If you decide to hire a pest control company, it is important to find one that is licensed and insured. The company should have general liability and workmen’s compensation insurance. This will protect you in the event that an employee is injured on the job or if any damage occurs to your property while pesticides are being applied.