In today’s advanced technological era, it’s easy to find hundreds, if not thousands, of videos and articles related to almost any topic, including how to know if you need pest control in your home and to get rid of them if they are. However, all this knowledge is useless to you if you’re too late in spotting the infestation and if, by the time you do, the damage has been done.
Ignoring a serious pest problem could lead to hurting your home’s resale value. Single-family homeowners should pay particular attention because there is usually more square footage to be responsible for. To stay on top of things, we’re here to catch you up on all that you need to know to discern whether or not your house has been infected and what you should do if it has.
Signs that you need pest control
There are some pretty easy and sure-fire indicators of pest infestation, and if you notice any of them, it’s best to start taking some precautionary measures. A few common signs that you need pest control for your home are listed below:
- Property damage: Check for any gnaw marks, biting, or scratches on your furniture and on your carpets or rugs. Rodents love to nibble, so any chewed-up wires are a significant concern. For termites, look for any structural damage; this includes wooden furniture as well as doors, floorboards, etc. Another red flag is finding tiny holes in your clothes when you take them out of the closet.
- Pest droppings: Major pests that can be identified through droppings are: rodents, cockroaches, and termites. If you’re coming across fecal droppings or urine trails, the chances are that one of the previous mentioned is the culprit. If the droppings have a pungent odor and are slightly larger, i.e., the size of rice grains or jelly beans, the criminals are mice or rats. Cockroaches have smaller pepper-grain-like droppings, which have no smell. The fecal traces of other bugs and insects are harder to spot and require a thorough investigation. This is common for folks who bought a fixer-upper home since there wasn’t much attention given to the property.
- Scratching sounds: Late at night, when the house is silent, do you hear any skittering or rustling sounds coming from the ceiling? Or any scampering coming from the walls? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then the chances are that pests have started living in the very foundation of your house.
- Damaged plants: If you have a garden or just some indoor plants, their condition can be a good indicator of different bugs’. Uneven lengths of the grass or brown patches are signs of moles, beetles, grubs, and other similar pests. If you notice bite marks in the leaves of your plants while mowing your lawn, gnats, flies, or some other insect could be the cause.
- Evidence of Nesting: As soon as pests locate a suitable food source, they’ll start building nests from whatever is readily available, like paper, straw, etc. After this, they’re likely to reproduce at a fast pace, laying hundreds of eggs at a single time. Around this time, it’s expected that you’ll start catching glimpses of the rodents themselves.
- Spotting wings and exoskeletons: While small bugs like ticks, winged ants, etc., are hard to recognize using their fecal droppings, the exoskeletons and wings that they shed or molt make the task easy. Termites and crickets belong to the category of insects, which are infamous for leaving behind dried exoskeletons.
What you should do
The first thought that runs through your head on discovering something like this is probably along the lines of doing some easy DIYs to get rid of the pests. This is successful in cases when the infestation is in the beginning stages, and to help you choose a readily available option, we’ve listed a few tried methods below:
- Common pesticides: You can buy any chemically approved safe pesticide from the nearest convenience store and spray it on areas where you think the little nuisances are hiding. After this, just wait for the pesticide to work its magic. And if not, you may need pest control for your home, unfortunately.
- Essential oils: Oils like peppermint are natural repellents for spiders, mosquitos, mice, and ants. Just mix 10-15 drops of oil with water and spray it around the house. An added bonus is that it will make your house smell nice too. Other than this, neem oil is known for killing over 200 species of insects without having any harmful effects on humans.
- Diatomaceous earth: Diatomaceous earth is made from the crushed, powdery remains of single-cell algae-like phytoplankton. While it is non-toxic to humans, it is lethal for bugs with an exoskeleton that die within 48 hours of contact due to dehydration.
- Home-made bait: You can find numerous recipes for bait like ant bait that will kill entire colonies in days. Just make a little borax and sugar mixture and wait for ants to feast on it. It will slowly poison them, and when they take this food back to their nests, it’ll kill them too.
- Insect traps: You can also opt for insect traps that use bait to lure in the pests and then kill them.
Despite your best efforts, it is entirely possible for the problem to persist enormously if the pest population has significantly increased and made permanent dwelling. When this happens, you should contact a professional pest control company as soon as possible. Some general guidelines to follow when looking for pest control agencies are as follows:
- Ask for referrals from family and friends, and then check that company on Better Business Bureau.
- Do proper research and look for a company that provides both quality and value, i.e., a cost-effective and competent company.
- Check the companies’ guarantee policy and ensure that they have a registered number on their online website.
- The company should be transparent about the chemicals they use and have at least one licensed certified commercial pesticide applicator.
You can ask the company for references and verify the validity of their claims with previous clients. You can use sites like PestWorld to find local, qualified exterminators, or you can take the help of Yelp, Craigslist, etc., to find area-specific recommendations for this service.
There isn’t a one-and-done solution for these little critters, and you’ll need to be on the lookout for them always. If you’re going by our homeowner checklist, we recommend having annual pest inspections. Pest control treatments usually last for a few months and might need to be repeated every quarter of a year or six months. The frequency depends on the type of bugs, rodents, and the area where you live. It’s possible to avoid them for more extended periods by ensuring that they don’t have any available food resources, i.e., keeping all food tightly secured in containers, maintaining a clean environment, and providing their ‘breeding grounds’ (stagnant water, leaky pipes, etc.) are taken care of.