The struggle with household bugs can be challenging. The methods required to prevent and eliminate bugs and other pests in your home can be done yourself. But, like anything, if you are going to do it, you want to make sure you are doing it correctly. Otherwise, your pest problem will persist. In this article, we will aim to empower you with the knowledge and skills to deal with this problem, just like a professional would.
Identifying Your Pests
Before you gear up to start spraying your house like a professional, it’s crucial to know the enemy you’re dealing with. There are several different household pests, each having distinct habits, vulnerabilities, and preferred hide-outs. Identifying the type of bugs in your home and understanding their habits will assist you in choosing the appropriate insecticide and the perfect time and place to spray.
If you are reading this, then you have likely already spotted some unwanted critters in your home, if this is the case. Identifying these insects is the first step to eliminating them. Common household pests include bed bugs, roaches, ants, spiders, silverfish, and fleas. One great way to be certain of the type of insect you are dealing with is to capture one and then use online resources or take it to an expert for identification. Although this can be gross or unpleasant, it is necessary if you don’t know what species of insect has invaded your home.
Why is it Important to I.D. the Pests?
Different insects have different characteristics. They are attracted to different foods, and areas, and have different life cycles and breeding habits. All of these aspects will affect the necessary actions you need to take to eliminate and prevent them. The physiology of each pest is different as well meaning, the pesticides used to deter or kill them are different. Pesticides that are effective against some bugs won’t work for others.
Who Can Help Identify Insects?
- Extension offices/agents
- Online resources
Inspect Your Home
If you have not spotted any insects but desire to be proactive, then you can do an inspection to find possible insects you may have missed and find trouble areas that can attract pests. An inspection will help you identify non-chemical steps you can take to prevent bugs and other pests. These include fixing leaking pipes, removing clutter, filling in cracks in your foundation, replacing broken window seals or thresholds, etc.
You will want to use a flashlight for the inspection. Start by examining the perimeter of your home. Examine the foundation looking for cracks or signs of insects. Look at eaves, vents, or any spot where pipes or cables enter the home. Also inspect your basement, crawlspace, and garage.
Inside your home, check areas that are prone to attract pests. Bathrooms, kitchens, under appliances, anywhere food is kept, as well as baseboards. Also examine pipes and ceilings, moisture from leaks attracts many insects.
Signs of pests to look for:
- Small holes in wood
- Ant trails
- Mud tubes
Keeping Pests Out
One of the best ways to avoid pest infestation in your home is to secure your home from their entry. Physically barring bugs from accessing the inside of your house is the best and safest practice. Fill cracks, and replace bad seals on doors and windows. When possible and safe, use a small mesh screen to block vents. Pack areas around pipes or wires that enter the home with steel wool or caulk.
Insects are often found in brush/leaf piles. Wood stacks, or shrubs. Maintaining the area around the exterior walls to remove places where bugs thrive will make it less likely for them to transition to your home.
Removing the things that attract pests is another major aspect of professional pest control. Here are some of the things that will temp insects to take up residence in your domicile:
- Overgrown vegetation
Choosing the Right Pesticide
Once you’ve identified the bugs and understood their habits, the next step involves selecting the correct insecticide. As I mentioned earlier each type of pest responds to a different type of insecticide, and hence, utilizing a “one-size-fits-all” approach might not work. Read the labels of the products you intend to purchase, considering specifically the bugs it’s listed to kill.
For instance, Pyrethrin-based insecticides are effective against a wide range of insects including roaches, ants, and mosquitoes, whereas insecticides with Cyfluthrin or Deltamethrin are typically great for spiders.
If you’re dealing with a variety of pests, consider a broad-spectrum insecticide that targets many pests.
Common Pesticides Used In Homes:
|Insecticide||Target Insects||Recommended Areas for Use|
|Deltamethrin||Ants, Beetles, Roaches, Termites||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Cyhalothrin||Ants, Wasps, Flies, Mosquitoes||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Chlordane||Termites, Ants, Roaches||Outdoors|
|Acetamiprid||Aphids, Leafhoppers, Thrips||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Boric Acid||Cockroaches, Silverfish||Indoors|
|Diazinon||Ants, Fleas, Ticks||Outdoors|
|Resmethrin||Mosquitoes, Flies, Moths||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Methomyl||Caterpillars, Aphids, Thrips||Outdoors|
|Phenothrin||Ants, Fleas, Wasps||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Allethrin||Flying Insects, Mosquitoes||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Hydramethylnon||Roaches, Ants, Crickets||Indoors, Outdoors|
|Tetramethrin||Flying Insects, Roaches||Indoors|
|Methoprene||Mosquitoes, Fleas, Moths||Indoors, Outdoors|
Understanding Different Types of Pesticide Applications
Pesticides are any substances used to eliminate various types of pests, including insects, weeds, and diseases. They come in different forms and function in a variety of ways. Two primary types of pesticides are contact sprays and residual sprays. It’s essential to understand how these pesticides work if you desire effective and professional results.
Contact sprays are chemicals that kill bugs immediately upon contact. They are great for spot treatments when you see a bug that needs to be eliminated instantly. Their effect is not long-lasting.
Residual sprays don’t kill bugs instantly but their effects last over time. When a bug comes into contact with a treated area, it will be affected by the pesticide and eventually perish. This makes residual sprays the ideal method for ongoing bug prevention.
How to Use A Pesticide Sprayer
Using a pesticide sprayer correctly is almost as important as choosing the right insecticide to use. For most applications in and around your home, you can use a hand pump sprayer or backpack sprayer. These are easy to operate, they are manually pumped up by hand to build pressure in the tank. That pressure forces the liquid out when you pull the trigger. This is pretty straightforward, the more complex part is the spray nozzle on the sprayer.
Sprayer nozzles are not all the same. If you buy a hand pump sprayer it will probably come with an adjustable nozzle. If not you can purchase one. When spraying a band around a perimeter you will want a cone nozzle that puts out a good volume that can thoroughly cover the ground without taking too long. However, you do not want to put out too much liquid and empty your tank too fast.
When spraying indoors you want a nozzle that does not spray a high volume. This will minimize the pesticide used and keep large droplets or pools of liquid on your floor.
Most sprayers will come with a nozzle that works well, but it is important to know that if your sprayer is putting out too much or too little you can change the nozzle size or type if needed.
Safety Measures When Using Pesticides
Pesticides, while effective, can pose potential risks to your health if improperly handled. Whenever you are handling or applying pesticides, here are the precautionary measures to take:
- Wear nitrile rubber gloves that cover your mid-forearm
- Wear goggles, or a respirator if the label on the pesticide indicates to do so
- Keep children and pets away from treated areas until they’ve dried completely.
- Do not consume food or drink while applying pesticides.
Each pesticide is unique and requires specific conditions for effective use. Therefore, it’s important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label. These guidelines provide critical information about the product, including:
- The type of pests it controls.
- How to effectively apply the product.
- The necessary safety precautions during and after application.
- First-aid instructions in case of accidental exposure.
Determining the Best Time and Places to Spray
Another valuable insight gained by understanding pest behavior is knowing when to spray. Bugs like mosquitos are more active during dawn or dusk, so spraying during these periods can yield better results. Similarly, understanding where bugs hide can help you spray in the right places. Bugs like roaches tend to gather near food and water sources like kitchens and bathrooms. Bed bugs, as their name suggests, are found in bedding and mattresses.
However, always remember the goal is not to spot-treat visible pests but to treat areas where pests spend most of their time. A regular and comprehensive spray routine can keep your home bug-free.
The more you understand different types of household pests and their habits, the more effectively you can wage war against these unwanted invaders.
Preparation Before Spraying
Just like any other home improvement project, properly preparing your house before applying a pesticide can make your effort more efficient and effective.
As a start, you need to remove pets from your home. The chemicals used in bug spray could be harmful to pets, so it’s best to keep them away during the treatment process. You might consider boarding your pets for a day or two or keeping them with a friend or family member. Don’t forget their food, water bowls, and toys – these items should be moved too.
To prevent accidental consumption of toxic substances, ensure all foodstuff is properly sealed or removed from your home. This includes any dry goods, fruits, and vegetables that may be out in a fruit bowl or on the counter. Also, remember to cover your dishes or stow them safely in a closed cabinet.
Pesticide Application Techniques
There are different methods used for spraying pesticides and insecticides. The specific type of application method used is determined by the product that will be sprayed, where it will be sprayed, and the pest that you are targeting.
Here are the different methods for applying pesticides in and around a residence:
- Purpose: treating large, open areas such as lawns or fields
- Method: Walk or drive at a consistent pace, keeping the nozzle at a constant height and angle. The goal is to apply an even coat of the pesticide over the entire area.
- Benefits: Efficient over large spaces, time-saving, less waste
- Purpose: The targeted application on specific areas. For example, spraying directly onto a pest-infested location, then moving on to other areas.
- Method: Direct the sprayer towards the target spots with a spray gun, carefully applying the pesticide only where needed.
- Benefits: Reduces overall pesticide usage, user can apply more or less liquid as desired. Ensures that specific areas are covered.
Barrier or Perimeter Spraying:
- Purpose: To create a barrier around a home or other structure to prevent pests from entering.
- Method: Apply the pesticide in a band along the base of the house. From the base of the foundation spray a width of about three feet. Also, spray three feet from the base of the foundation up the side of the house.
- Benefits: Stops pests from entering the home. Avoids pesticides needing to be sprayed indoors.
Crack and Crevice Treatment:
- Purpose: Similar to spot treatment and perimeter spray. Apply your pesticide to small cracks or crevices, or apply a band over an entire seam or crevice in a wall or around a door frame, etc.
- Method: Directly spray into cracks and crevices where pests are likely to reside.
- Benefits: Maximizes pesticide effectiveness by targeting pest-hiding spots.
- Purpose: For pest control in enclosed spaces
- Method: Releases pesticides to fill the enclosed space
- Benefits: Controls a wide range of pests
Maintaining a bug-free house is a task that requires diligence and consistency. By spraying your home like a professional using the techniques discussed, you can effectively control bugs, keep your home safe, and protect your family’s health.