Insects just don’t seem to get it, that they’re not always welcome to share our homes! Especially in summer, and at the change of seasons, they march (or fly) right in and make themselves at home…
If you don’t want to spray poisons around your living space — and who would? — prevention is the key for how to control those pests.
Keep the bugs out!
Install window screens and repair any holes in your old screens. Seal up whatever small cracks and crevices you can find, wherever you notice that insects are entering the home.
(That crack-sealing work may be tedious and time-consuming, but you can take comfort in the thought of an added bonus in cutting your energy bills for heating and cooling costs!)
But sometimes you just can’t keep bugs out.
Once they get inside, insect pests often seek out warm, damp, dark places in which to hide and make a huge number of new baby bugs. Prevention, once the bugs have moved in, means doing what you can to make your home a place that insects won’t like.
Here’s how to do it:
- Keep your home clean, and as dry as possible.
- Vacuum well and often, particularly in corners, baseboards, heating vents, and other dark warm hiding places.
- Repair loose wallpaper.
- Store food in closed containers and wash dishes promptly.
- Use a garbage container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Fix leaking pipes, faucets, or toilets, and wrap any pipes that collect condensation, and check under appliances for damp spots.
And there are different things you can do to fight back against specific insects, too.
Are house flies bugging you? A ceiling fan, besides making the room more pleasant in summer, will create air currents that house flies don’t like. Invest in an old-fashioned fly-swatter, or use a rolled-up newspaper. A fly can produce hundreds of offspring, so killing them one by one is more productive than it might seem!
If a sticky fly-strip hanging from the ceiling is not too gross for you to handle, choose one that works by stickiness alone, and avoid any that kill flies by giving off toxic vapours. (It astonishs me, frankly, that some companies are still making those!) Air-borne chemicals that can kill a fly just can’t be much good for people and pets, either!
Ants leave a scent trail for others to follow. Confuse them! Watch carefully to find the spot where they enter the house, then wash down the area with soapy water or vinegar. A mixture of borax and sugar makes great ant bait. The ants carry it back to their nest where it is shared among the whole colony and wipes them out.
Cockroaches are a real problem in some climates, no matter how clean you keep your place. (You know what they say? — that cockroaches are likely to be the last critter left standing, when the world eventually comes to an end… and I believe it!) Among commercial products, the sticky traps (“roach motels”) are safer than sprays. If you plan to call in a pest control professional, be aware that extermination is only effective if all rooms in a building are treated at the same time.
Moths multiply in hidden places, but moth eggs and larvae can’t survive a week or more of extreme heat or cold. Store winter clothing and extra blankets in a hot attic for the summer; and store summer clothing in an unheated space for the winter.
When clothing must be stored for more than one season, take it out once in a while and hang it in the sun. Shake it out to dislodge any insects and moth eggs that might be hidden in the folds and seams, and vacuum the storage space well before replacing the clothing.
Silverfish hide in warm places like heating vents and linen closets. Vacuum these areas well whenever you think of it and have the time. You can also trap silverfish where they hide by setting out a shallow dish, baited with 1 part molasses and 2 parts vinegar. They’ll crawl in and drown.
To fight Fleas, vacuum every corner of rugs, carpets and upholstered furniture, to collect flea eggs before they hatch. Vacuum, vacuum, replace the vacuum cleaner’s collection bag, and vacuum once more! Wash pet bedding in warm soapy water, and bath your pet too.
Ask your veterinarian about the kind of flea medication that’s a liquid you place on the back of the animal’s neck. I won’t mention brand names because your vet knows best about your pets, but we use a monthly application that kills fleas in all stages of its lifecycle and is gentle enough to use on the youngest of kittens and puppies.