We love to wax poetic about the idyllic advantages of owning a home: The backyard barbecues! The walls you can paint any color you want! And, of course, the stability of knowing you can stay in a place long-term at (more or less) the same cost each month.
But homeownership also has a dark underbelly, full of scary things we pretend don’t exist when we turn out the lights. The scary truth is you’re not the only one living in your house. Whether you see them or not, you’re hosting a number of nightmare-inducing, creepy, crawly creatures. Sometimes they stay hidden, in dark corners under the house. All too often, they decide to come out and say hi.
Don’t let the pests win! To keep them at bay, you just have to exercise a bit of exterminator expertise. Take back command of your home, and heed these eight things that pest control pros wish you knew.
1. You don’t have to live in squalor to have a pest problem
We often associate mice, roaches, and other pests with unkempt, dirty homes. But you keep a relatively clean house! These wannabe intruders are no match for you, right? Not so fast—even pristine homes can have pest infestations.
Consider this nauseating revelation:
“Mice can survive on just 3 to 4 grams of food per day, so a few crumbs here and there are all they need to thrive in your home,” says Joe Magyar, branch manager at Terminix in Madison, AL. “Good sanitation won’t get rid of them, but a messy house will attract them. So be sure to vacuum floors regularly, wipe down counters, and eliminate access to food sources.”
2. Moisture is the enemy
Food and clutter aren’t the only things that attract pests. Beware of leaky pipes, clogged drains, or anything that creates standing water around your home. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Just get a load of this horrifying anecdote from Kim Kelley-Tunis, director of quality assurance for Orkin in Atlanta.
“One time I went into a house and took a look at the plumbing, which at first glance had a furry appearance to it,“ Kelley-Tunis says. “Upon closer inspection, there were cockroaches living on the piping in such large numbers that their antennae and legs gave the piping this sort of hairy look. When there are that many cockroaches in your home, you have a serious problem.”
3. Pests aren’t just icky—they can also be dangerous
Besides being gross, pests can also do serious damage that could put your house and your family in jeopardy. For example, rats can chew on—and fray—wires, which is a major fire hazard.
“Spotting a rodent issue early and resolving it immediately is incredibly important for this reason, let alone the fact that rodents carry numerous pathogens on their bodies and are known disease spreaders,” Kelley-Tunis says.
4. Secondhand furniture can cause problems
We’re not saying you should pass up that fabulous antique chair you spotted at the weekend’s estate sale, or the storage ottoman you can have for a steal on Craigslist. But just know that those pieces of furniture might come with some special guests.
“Technicians have encountered situations where a homeowner has purchased a new piece of furniture at an antique store and accidentally brought in termites or bedbugs to their home,” Kelley-Tunis says. She stresses that it’s vital to closely inspect any secondhand furniture that you bring into the house.
5. Pests aren’t loners
As much as you want to believe that the huge waterbug you just squashed (in alarmingly close proximity to your blender full of kale smoothie) was just a solo infiltrator, we’re here to break the bad news: It’s probably not the case.
“As a general rule of thumb, where there is one cockroach, there are likely many others,” Magyar says. “Roaches are aggressive breeders, so it doesn’t take long for a small problem to grow to a major infestation. If you wait to call in a professional until you’ve spotted a few of these pests, you may have a much larger problem on your hands.”
6. Poison isn’t foolproof
Matteo Grader, pest control specialist at Panther Pest Control, describes the scene of a homeowner who thought he’d gotten rid of his mice infestation himself. He thought wrong.
“He bought some cheap mice poison from the store and placed it in every corner of his house. The mice had eaten from the poison, but unfortunately they were able to find a narrow place to hide in before they died (which is typical for mice),” Grader recalls. “So the customer thought he got rid of the problem, until one day there was a disgusting smell in his home.
“During the inspection we found that there were more than 10 dead mice trapped inside the walls between the living room and the kitchen,” he adds.
If you insist on using poison, be prepared to call in a pro to remove the remains from your walls or pipes. Blecch!
7. Humane options exist
If the idea of a snap trap makes you feel queasy, or you’re concerned about your pets being underfoot, there are other options (ones that won’t send pests crawling into your walls). For example, PETA offers instructions on how to make humane rat traps. Other experts recommend peppermint oil to deter rodents. There are even humane options for cockroach control, such as putting stoppers in all drains and sealing up spaces between floorboards, under counters, and around sinks. You can also try placing dried bay leaves in your drawers and cabinets to repel them.
8. Don’t wait too long to call in the pros
We applaud you for having the courage to DIY your pest situation. Really, we do. But even the bravest homeowners need to ask for help every now and then. And when it comes to pest control, you should make that call sooner rather than later, says Brian Kelly of Twin Forks Pest Control, in Southampton, NY.
“As an exterminator for the past 20 years, I have seen lots of interesting things people do to try to eliminate pest problems on their own—from a homemade bedbug trap using a mannequin and duct tape to homemade ant traps using the secret ingredient of soy sauce and duck sauce mixed together,” Kelly says. “While these DIY methods might help a bit, it is best to call a professional to get the job done right.”
Source: realtor.comAuthor: Ashley Mead