Bugman: Keeping pests out of the house

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If you want to keep almost all bugs out of your home, there are several practical measures you can take to help. Keep in mind that no matter how thorough your efforts or even if you have your home hosed down with pesticides, a few bugs will still make their presence known. You can deal with them as they turn up.

First, you need to inspect your house completely, inside and out, and remove or alter anything that is conducive to a bug problem.

For instance, never store firewood next to the house. Always store it as far from the house as practical and cover it with black plastic. The plastic will make it so hot in the woodpile that most bugs and rodents will not want to live there.

Install door sweeps on all outside doors. This is particularly important if you live in an area where centipedes and scorpions are prevalent. If you can slide a piece of paper under a door, a scorpion or centipede can wander in.

Never leave outside lights on at night. Lights not only attract a wide variety of insects, they attract centipedes, scorpions, sun spiders and other things that eat insects.

Don’t leave pet food out at night because it will attract ants and roaches and become a breeding source for flies.

If you do feed animals outside at night, then place the food as far as practical from the house.

There are a number of other things you can do to make sure your home is pest free, but each home is different, and it is impossible to generalize any more than I have.

Homes with crawl spaces, homes on slabs or adobe homes with brick on sand all require different tactics in dealing with insects. If you aren’t sure what to do in your situation, call a professional for more specific advice.

If you are only concerned with cockroaches, then the best way to treat them is with a product called Niban Bait. It is made from boric acid and is much safer than any of the liquid pesticides that are sprayed around the house. Niban, and all of the other products I use and recommend are available to the public online.

Make sure you place this product, in addition to any other you use, out of the reach of children and pets. Though boric acid is safer than the conventional pesticides, any product that can kill a bug isn’t good for us to ingest. Niban Bait is also effective against crickets and silverfish.

If you have ants, then you can mix a homemade bait using three ounces each of peanut butter and jelly and adding a tablespoon of boric acid. Place the bait where the ants are foraging, using the same care I mentioned with the Niban. This bait will work for many species of ants, but not all. It is always a good idea to know which kind of ants you have.

If mice are a problem, you can use conventional snap traps baited with candy or Slim Jims, or you can use humane traps such as Tin Cats, baited with oatmeal, which allow you to release the mice someplace where they won’t be a nuisance. Never use rodenticides because they can cause problems.

If you live in an area where deer mice are found, there is always the possibility of Hantavirus. When you poison a mouse, he might die in an area where his body can’t be retrieved, and if he has Hantavirus, you could endanger your family. Also, the odor isn’t very pleasant. Never use glue traps to catch mice. Mice will constantly urinate and defecate when ensnared in a glue trap and this can also be a source of the Hantavirus if the mouse you catch is a deer mouse. Snap traps and live traps are the only sensible options in dealing with mice. Don’t let anyone tell you poisoned mice go outside to die. That is a gimmick used by the rodenticide people to peddle their products.

You will certainly see some bugs this summer, and most of them will either be harmless or beneficial. Very few will cause harm. I understand that very few people have a tolerance for bugs in their homes and will want to take preventive action.

Spraying pesticides all over the inside of your home is not a good option. It is not pest control, it is pesticide pollution.


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