With a change in seasons comes the chance that you will begin to see more insects inside your house. This happens both when there is a cold snap as insects try to find a warmer place to stay, and when the temperature begins to warm up and bugs come out of their winter hiding places and begin to populate the outdoors.
While you may not be able to keep all insects from ever getting inside your house, are there ways you can generally keep them out and discourage them from taking up residence? What attracts insects indoors and what would repel them?
Why Do Bugs Come Inside?
Bugs come inside for food, water, and shelter. Depending on the bug this could look like any number of things. Damp wood, food crumbs, or even other insects are all common indoor food sources for insects. Leaky pipes and standing puddles provide water. Dark corners, dusty and neglected spaces, drawers, and cluttered, dirty surfaces all work well as shelter and home to bugs who decide they want to stay.
Kinds of Common House Bugs
Some of the most common kinds of house bugs you might see include—
- bed bugs
- carpet beetles
Ants and cockroaches invade houses to eat spilled food or liquids. Termites and carpenter ants eat damp, rotting wood. Beg bugs come in on contaminated furniture and will consume human blood. Carpet beetles and moths feed on natural fibers, like wool. Centipedes and spiders only come in to eat other insects.
Knowing what kinds of bugs might enter your house and why can really help you have a plan of attack when it comes to eradicating them from your house and preventing their return in the future.
DIY Traps and Poisons
If you are working with insects like ants, cockroaches, or silverfish, there are a number of ways you can use their natural feeding habits to trap or poison them. Sticky traps and glue strips work if it is a small infestation, but in the case you are working with a more extensive issue, you may want to consider a poison. A few common DIY mixtures include—
- Borax and sugar. Soak cotton balls with a mixture of borax and sugar and place them around the effaced areas. Insects will ingest the poison and may even bring it back to their nest
- Baking soda on onions. Sprinkle baking soda on a shallow pan of diced onions. The baking soda causes internal gasses that will cause the insect to burst.
- Boric acid and peanut butter or orange peel. Boric acid will stick to the insect’s legs and wings and attacks its nervous and digestive system, quickly killing it.
- Diatomaceous earth (DE). While not actually a poison, DE can be very effective at controlling insect infestations. The pulverized, fossilized algae damage an insect’s exoskeleton causing it to dehydrate and die. You can sprinkle DE anywhere you see insect activity.
Scent can be a powerful tool in keeping pests away. One of the most natural and easy ways to control bugs is to invest in some essential oils targeted to deter insects. A few of the most effective oils include lemon, citrus, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and tea tree. A few drops on a cotton ball or pad placed around the areas of activity should be sufficient to drive most bug pests away. You will have to swap these out every two to four weeks however if they are to remain effective.
Tips to Prevent Bugs from Coming Inside
Of course, ideally, you can keep bugs from coming into your house in the first place. By following a few basic tips you can be proactive about keeping most bugs out and avoiding infestations altogether.
Keeping your kitchen clean and clutter-free goes a long way to keeping foraging, crumb-loving insects out. Wipe down counters regularly, don’t let dishes pile up in the sink, sweep, mop, and clean out pet bowls often.
Another way to stay ahead of bug problems is to periodically inspect any area that might be prone to getting wet. You should check under sinks, behind toilets and tubs, and behind large appliances to ensure that leaky water isn’t causing any wood damage that would attract termites, carpenter ants, or cockroaches.
You should also carefully inspect any furnishings you receive second-hand for bed bugs. Bed bugs are much harder to eradicate than most other insects, so be vigilant about any possibility of their entering the environment.
In the case that you are dealing with spiders or centipedes, the issue is likely that you have another bug problem that is bringing them in. If you address that then the spiders and centipedes should leave too.
Closing the Gaps
Lastly, if you notice any exterior holes that may be giving insects access to your house, fill them up. Don’t leave windows open at night since insects will be attracted to the light of your house. Make sure all your window and door frames are properly sealed.
When to Call an Exterminator
So when should you call an exterminator?
- if you are dealing with a large or extensive pest infestation
- if you have bed bugs
- if DIY methods aren’t helping at all
- if there are immune-compromised individuals in the house. This includes people who may have allergies, asthma, are elderly, or are children.
- if the insects are disease carriers or dangerous (e.g. bees, wasps, mosquitoes, ticks)
Pest control services like Sprague Pest Control Services are experienced and licensed to take care of all bug infestations for you in a safe and environmentally friendly way that ensures that the bugs won’t return.
It will be impossible to keep all insects out of your home at all times. With the change of seasons and temperatures, bugs will be out and looking for places to live, eat, and nest. You can, however, be proactive about making sure they don’t choose your house for their homes this season. By taking the time to keep a clean house and mindfully inspect spaces that could become a potential bug problem, you can stay ahead of a full-on insect infestation, and rest easy in the comfort of your home.