Pest Control 101: What to Look Out for and What to Do

Pest Control 101: What to Look Out for and What to Do

Pest Control
By Mateos Glen Hayes October 17, 2022

Unfortunately, just about every home has some unseen and unwanted tenants. Whether it's rodents, ants in the kitchen, or even pests that can destroy the house, like termites, these creatures live inside the home along with the human family that rightfully resides there. Usually, pests are attracted to homes because they are good sources of food and shelter. Sometimes you can just get unlucky and have a wasp nest appear overnight, but usually there are things you can do to minimize the chance of getting pests. Prevention is always a more reliable pest control strategy than trying to get rid of a pest once it has already appeared. 

It's a good thing that pest control services are so easy to find in just about any area in the country. Nevertheless, keeping an eye out for things that might attract pests to your home allows you to avoid having to call pest control in the first place, saving you time and stress. By knowing what a pest is, you can figure out how to better defend against them. Hopefully, any problems can be fixed before they become expensive or destructive. Alas, most of us are not entomologists nor rodent experts, so here is a quick rundown of the various critters that can invade your home. We will give you the knowledge you need to ensure effective pest protection for your home. 

Termites

Termites can cause major damage to your home if left unchecked.

Termites can cause major damage to your home if left unchecked.

These pests are truly dangerous to any wooden structure. These creepy crawlies are famously wood hungry and especially love to feast on rotting wood and plant matter. They basically look like ants except that they have a brownish-whitish appearance and are usually a bit bigger than most ants. 

Although they work slowly, the damage termites inflict on your home’s structure can really add up over time. To make matters worse, it may not be easy to spot a pest infestation since termites love to hide in dark places such as under floorboards, in basements, or behind drywall. Because of this, the biggest danger is realizing you have termites too late, at which point they have inflicted major damage.

Termites form distinctive pathways in whatever wood they get into, so look for these signs of a termite infestation.

Termites form distinctive pathways in whatever wood they get into, so look for these signs of a termite infestation.

Of course, it is still possible to keep termites at bay with preventative pest control. However, attentive homeowners can still find termites even if they know what to look for. Termites thrive on moisture and they make tunnels to get to it. Look for the mud tubes that indicate the passage of burrowing termites. These are easy to spot; look for brown tubes that look something like a pen or a pencil. The tubes are often found on the exterior walls, down in the basement, or on support beams or crawl spaces. These tubes are a sign of terrible damage or the potential for damage, so call a pest control specialist immediately if you spot them.

Inspect the wood of the house and make sure none of it is rotted or rotting. Rotten wood is a favorite of termites and it's best to get this repaired or replaced with new wood as soon as possible. By keeping wooden beams in your home’s structure in good shape you can avoid attracting termites in the first place and practice effective preventative pest control. For improved home pest protection, consider replacing damaged beams or siding with metal. Termites cannot eat metal and so more metal in your home’s construction ensures reliable pest protection against termites and other pests attracted by decomposing wood.

Rodents

Mice are a latent health risk as they can spoil food and also leave droppings everywhere.

Mice are a latent health risk as they can spoil food and also leave droppings everywhere.

Rats and mice are very common unwelcome tenants and have been unpleasant pests for as long as humans have existed. In addition to stealing your cheese, rodents can carry various diseases. So while some mice might look cute, rodents are dangerous to pets and humans alike and should be kept out of the home with good pest control. Rodent droppings can be found anywhere they can find food or on any surface, they travel on while searching for food. Rodent droppings are a major health risk so be sure to clean any you find and ensure affected rooms are well-ventilated.  

If you find evidence of rats or mice in your home you’ll need to act quickly to remove the little guys before they have a chance to multiply. Preventative pest control is necessary to keep rodent populations from getting out of control. Lethal pest control traps or poison are increasingly frowned upon for their cruelty, so consider using cage traps that allow you to physically remove the rodent without killing it. 

To prevent rodents from raiding your pantry in the first place, keep your kitchen free of excessive food waste and debris with regular cleaning. A tidy kitchen with secured food allows for good pest protection against rodents since it denies them any source of nourishment. You can also dissuade rodents by caulking up potential entryways and blocking off any holes you find. However, rodents are pretty resourceful and chances are they will find a way in if they want to, so the best policy is simply to avoid enticing them with any food left out.  

Ants

Ants love sugar and so ant bait traps are designed to smell like sugar to attract them.

Ants love sugar and so ant bait traps are designed to smell like sugar to attract them.

It is easy to find an ant pest infestation. They make long lines of themselves from their lair to whatever food source they happen to find. Once they find food, they are almost impossible to get rid of. Depending on the type of ant involved, it may take a different solution to remove them. Most ant infestations are fairly benign, nonetheless, ants can be quite annoying as they will get into any food left on countertops or tables that aren’t covered. As with other pests, the best policy for pest control is to regularly clear away crumbs and other food waste so there isn’t anything to attract the ants. 

Ant highways can be disrupted using strong scents or by blocking holes the ants use to enter your home.

Ant highways can be disrupted using strong scents or by blocking holes the ants use to enter your home.

All types of ants can bite, and some of these bites, such as those of fire ants, can be extremely painful. Unfortunately, it can be rather difficult to destroy an ant colony once one appears. For one, it is usually difficult if not impossible to get to them since the ants are often deep underground. However, you can limit their presence with the use of bait traps. These products emanate a sugar smell that ants love, but contain a poison that the ants grab and carry back to the colony, where the poison then spreads. While this might not get rid of a colony it will certainly keep them at bay.  

Because ants are usually not a major health danger like a black widow spider, a more realistic strategy rather than destroying ant colonies is simply to keep ants out of certain areas. This can be achieved by blocking any gaps or holes they use to enter your home. Ants usually establish “highways” or scent trails that they use to get to your kitchen and then back to their colony. By blocking this trail or disrupting it with a strong natural scent, you can force ants to look elsewhere for food.

Wasps

While they look like bees, wasps are actually a different species and can sting multiple times.

While they look like bees, wasps are actually a different species and can sting multiple times.

Wasps are clearly a danger when they have a nest near someone's home. When there is a real pest infestation, it is sometimes possible to hear buzzing inside the walls. Make a visual inspection to be sure that there is no hive or swarm inside or around the house. Wasps are attracted to basically anything that is sweet or juicy, so good preventative pest control means you should avoid leaving out fruit, soda, or raw meat on your porch table. 

In North America, common wasps are called yellow jackets and are easily recognized by their distinctive black and yellow color scheme. While they look a lot like bees, wasps are actually from different species. Yellow jackets also have a nasty habit of building nests in the ground, making it harder to detect them and easier for an unsuspecting homeowner to step on them in the backyard. Wasps can also nest in other places and often live inside walls or build their nests in darker portions of the house, such as the attic, crawl spaces, or under the eaves, so keep a look out at these tricky spots.

Keep a close eye on drinks and food left outside as wasps can get into them and then sting you when you go for a swig.

Keep a close eye on drinks and food left outside as wasps can get into them and then sting you when you go for a swig.

These pests are quite dangerous. Yellow jackets tend to be easily irritable and can - and do - sting a victim repeatedly. This is especially dangerous if you develop an allergic reaction to wasp stings as you will likely have to be hospitalized. While there are ways for you to remove nests on your own, these are generally quite dangerous and we strongly recommend hiring a professional pest control specialist to do the job instead. 

Smart pest control tactics such as these will keep your home safe from creepy crawlies of all kinds. Even if pests find your home you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you are equipped with the knowledge to deal with this pest problem effectively.

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Written by
Mateos Glen Hayes

Written by Mateos Glen Hayes

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