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Homeowner Tips for Pest Control

Pests are plants or animals found some place that you don't want them. They may simply be annoying, carriers of diseases, or even damage property. When you spot or suspect a pest is around, before you grab the nearest can of bug-killer, try the following methods.

  • Starve the bugs by keeping things clean.
    Insects need to eat. Dry foods in a cupboard, garbage in a trashcan, crumbs on the floor or even residues from spills can all attract bugs. Keep storage containers sealed and clean up messes quickly and thoroughly.
  • Block off bug highways.
    Caulking and sealing around baseboards, moldings, cupboards, pipes, ducts, sinks, toilets and electrical outlets, as well as weather-stripping doors and windows may help reduce routes of entry for pests.
  • Identify the specific pest.
    You may need to take a picture, or even capture one when possible, and have a professional identify it. Then you’ll know how to fight it.
  • Target the specific pest.
    If you decide to use a pesticide, select one designed for that specific pest. It’ll work better and do less harm to beneficial insects.
  • Use bait stations or traps.
    These can help control pests without chemical sprays. But don’t skimp: Not using enough traps is a common mistake.
  • Fight the resistance.
    Instead of spraying more of the same chemical, try switching to something with a different active ingredient and/or mode of action.
  • Control rather than eliminate.
    In some cases, such as outdoor settings, it may be impossible to eradicate a pest. Work to achieve a tolerable level.
  • Sticky situation!
    Try sticky flypaper, double-sided tape or even petroleum jelly to catch bugs.
  • Ouch!
    Boiling hot, soapy water has been used to control some ant nests in the ground.
  • Less toxic is better.
    Silica "gel" or diatomaceous earth (insect control kind) are less toxic chemicals and are effective in roach control by “drying them out.”
  • Consider boric acid.
    It’s a less toxic pesticide that has been effective in roach control.
  • "Spot" could use some grooming.
    Regularly groom pets with a flea comb. Fleas should be collected after grooming. They can be easier to spot if done on a white surface.
  • May I help you?
    Some types of ants, spiders and other bugs are actually helpful. They eat other insects and help control pest populations this way.
  • Tie it tight.
    Garbage should be wrapped and trash containers should be tightly covered and frequently washed.
  • Set up roadblocks.
    Mesh screens can be used to block off windows, entrance doors and similar routes.
  • Dust off that old fly swatter.
    Fly swatters still work. Improve your aim: flies tend to jump up and backwards, so aim about 1 ½" behind them. Keep in mind that fly swatters can be used for all kinds of bugs.
  • Lethal?
    Nope. Most spiders are not poisonous to human beings.
  • You don’t live here anymore!
    Eliminate spider homes repeatedly (with a vacuum or broom) to destroy their habitat and prevent them from being able to nest and lay eggs.
  • No food, no problem.
    Control spiders by controlling insects that serve as spider food. Spiders are often more resistant to chemicals than insects, so directly controlling them with chemicals sprays is often not effective. Their long legs also help to elevate them above pesticide residues on surfaces.


Note: When it comes to using pesticides, start with the lowest amount and/or concentration recommended. Increase as suggested only if necessary. Never pour these chemicals down the drain. They can be properly disposed of at the Department of Public Works and Waste Management's Home Chemical Collection Center. Always use caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Wed Jun 5, 2013 4:36:45 PM
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