The best way to control pests in your house? Don’t make it enticing for them to live there. Use this list to help you reduce the odds that bugs move into your space.
Put washing dishes on the top of your to-do list if you’re passionate about being pest free. “You might want to think twice about waiting until the morning to do the dishes,” says Brad Smith, president of Preferred Pest Control. “Insect pests such as flies, ants, and cockroaches are highly attracted to leftover food on dishes.” Try these tips to bug-proof your kitchen.
Dampness attracts pests of many different types. “We need water in our everyday lives, but so do the pests,” says Cherie Hartzer, an entomologist for Orkin. “Even small amounts dripping from an air conditioner unit may attract wasps that are foraging for water. Water that has soaked into wood is attractive to termites. Downspouts and gutters that are holding water can be perfect habitats for mosquitoes. A dripping faucet may attract rodents, especially if it has been dry and there aren’t other water sources around.” The cure? Regular maintenance that fixes any leaks that could provide a water source.
When the weather turns cold outside, many bugs look for a cozy winter home—and your place may just be the perfect spot. “Pests like stink bugs and lady beetles are just looking for a protected spot to wait out the winter and your home fits the bill,” Hartzer says. Check out these 13 secrets about common household pests.
Birds can’t resist it—and neither can bugs. “Moths that feed on grains are a very common type of insect that invades homes,” Smith says. “The Indian Meal Moth’s favorite food is bird seed. A homeowner inadvertently brings them into their home by purchasing a bag of birdseed that is infested, and within a few weeks, a home can become infested with moth larvae and adults. To avoid an infestation, carefully check over a bird seed bag for moth larvae, adults, and webbing before buying—and then keep it stored in a tightly sealed plastic bin to avoid attracting animals.
Spills happen—but if even a little bit of the mess is left behind, the bugs simply can’t resist. “Spilled food crumbs in your kitchen contain a veritable feast for insects such as cockroaches and ants,” Smith says. Regular cleanups—including moving and vacuuming behind the stove and the refrigerator—can help make your kitchen a whole lot less palatable to pests. Find out simple ways to keep your house pest-free.
A dormant drain—especially one that has a little water and some organic material like hair and soap coating the insides—makes a perfect home for drain flies. “Unused drains create a slimy film that creates an ideal breeding spot for drain flies,” Smith says. “If these flies are present in the house there is almost certainly a slow or clogged drain.”
The smell of garbage may be completely unpleasant to your nose, but for bugs like flies, it’s like a siren call. You probably already know the secret to stopping this—contain your garbage. “Make sure when you take out the trash it is bagged and the trash bin is tightly closed,” Hartzer says. That’ll also help keep other pests attracted by garbage, such as mice and raccoons, away as well.
Piles of papers that are rarely touched can be a big draw for silverfish and even cockroaches. To avoid having a bug infestation damage important papers, you should place them in tightly sealed plastic bins. Make sure you know the common signs that bugs are infesting your home.
Keeping those ceiling fans running during the summer can do more than keep your air conditioning costs down—they can help keep unwelcome critters at bay. “Many flies love still air,” Ricci says. “Fans don’t necessarily blow flies away, but they make the air turbulent enough to discourage them from hanging around too long.” Check out these secrets your exterminator doesn’t want you to know.
Here’s another incentive to get rid of your extra stuff—all that clutter can make wonderful homes for critters you definitely don’t want hanging around your house. “If clutter is kept to a minimum, and a home is kept relatively clean, there will be few places for insects to hide,” Ricci says.
That fruit bowl on your counter may be appetizing—until one fruit gets a little overripe and attracts fruit flies. “Don’t leave food lying around – place it in the refrigerator or sealed containers if possible,” Hartzer says. Find out the 10 most pest-infested cities in America.
We can’t resist sugar—and neither can our fellow animals. “Sweet and slightly fermenting substances, like wine and beer, are the most attractive to many insects, like some flies, butterflies, ants, beetles, and more,” Ricci says. “Other species, like wasps and other ants, will readily go for sweet substances, like sugar and honey.” Again, keeping sweet products under wraps—in well-sealed containers—and thoroughly cleaning up spills will go a long way toward keeping pests at bay.
Cracks and gaps
Bugs are always looking for tiny spots where they can sneak into your home, so gaps in the caulk around windows, missing door sweeps, and cracks in your foundation can be like a welcome mat for some unwelcome guests. There’s a simple solution: “Check all your door seals—especially on the bottom of the door—window seals and screens, even your HVAC system to make sure there are no openings for the pests to get in,” Hartzer says. Try these no-chemical techniques for getting rid of common household pests.