When pests invade our homes, businesses or gardens they can cause damage and annoyance. They can also pose health and safety risks. Fleas in the home can spread tapeworms and other parasites; cockroaches and other insects can carry harmful pathogens; and rodent droppings can transmit diseases such as salmonellosis.
Pests can be controlled by a range of methods including exclusion, quarantine, physical removal and chemical control. Several approaches can be combined to form an integrated pest management (IPM) plan, which is the best way to prevent an infestation and ensure that it doesn’t return.
Integrated pest management is the most effective and environmentally sound way to deal with pests. The first step is to find out what’s causing the problem and why. Once you have a clear understanding of the pest’s behaviour and life cycle, you can take action to stop it from spreading.
If you want to eliminate the pest without using chemical control, you need to remove its food, water and shelter sources. Remove rotting logs and stacks of firewood near the house; remove piles of yard waste, compost and garbage; and close off hiding places where pests can nest. Keep kitchen and dining areas clean to remove crumbs and spillage which attract pests. Regularly dispose of rubbish, preferably in sealed containers.
Reduce moisture around the house by repairing view this resource leaks and regularly clearing away clogged gutters, downpipes and drains. Remove weeds, fallen tree branches and plant debris from landscaped areas and regularly mow lawns to avoid creating shelter for pests.
Keep plants like mint, tea tree, thyme and citronella a few meters away from the house to stop them from attracting pests. Plants like these release a strong odour which repels pests.
Pest proof the house by closing up any entry points where pests can get in. Check and repair cracks in walls, door frames and window frames; caulk gaps around utility pipes; and use steel wool to fill any holes in the baseboards or cabinets.
If you decide to use chemical controls, make sure that they are safe for your family and pets. Read and follow the label instructions carefully and only apply chemicals where they are needed. If you hire a pest control expert, ask them to write down the name and EPA registration number of the chemical they are using so that you can check it out online if you have concerns.
When pests have reached a level that you can’t tolerate, it’s time to call in the professionals. Different geographies and climates have different pests, but all need to be dealt with in some way. The most important thing is to act fast, as pests can multiply quickly. So get the IPM plan underway, and remember that prevention is always better than cure!