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Pest Control Basics
by Kari Lamanuzzi
photo of an ant
There are few things more frustrating than trying to control an infestation in the home. Mice, rats, silverfish, ants, and fruit flies can not only ravage a kitchen, but eat through clothing and spread disease. It is important to not only rid a house of these pests but to prevent them from returning. Luckily, there are plenty of do-it-yourself solutions, and many of them are non-toxic.

The most obvious of solutions is to first make sure that the home is clean. It is surprising how many infestations would be easily prevented by making sure the kitchen sink is free of dishes and residual food, or by cleaning under and behind appliances and food storage areas. Unfortunately, however, this is best as a prevention method and does not eradicate a full-blown infestation. Sometimes other steps must be taken if one is to make the home pest-free.

Before busting out bottles of toxic chemicals all over the house, one must identify the culprit and the source for the most effective pest control. Rodents such as mice and rats can easily travel around the whole house but are most often found on ground floors and near food. Also, they tend to invade the home more in the winter as the quest for food becomes more difficult.

The most effective way to control rodents in a home setting is through traps. Traps are inexpensive and readily available at hardware and feed stores. There are several kinds of traps including the most common wood board snapping trap and the multiple-capture live trap, a very effective no-kill option. The most common mistake made when using traps is that homeowners do not use enough of them. Put out multiple traps in the areas where the most rodent activity is found.

If the infestation is of the insect variety, traps are still an option but are perhaps not the most effective. Because insects tend to swarm in such mass, chemical insecticides are sometimes the best way to eradicate them. Insects tend to be drawn by decaying food and moisture and are most often found in kitchen and pantry areas.

Silverfish are often a huge nuisance because they eat through clothing, books, and food. They need moisture to survive so it is imperative to make sure that leaky sinks and cracks are repaired. Using a desiccant in high moisture areas with silverfish activity can be extremely effective in diminishing an infestation.

As with silverfish, ants and fruit flies are very common household pests. They are most commonly found in the kitchen and are drawn to food crumbs left on the floor, under counter and storage space, and in sinks. The first step to getting rid of these insects is to CLEAN! Make sure there is limited food source for these pests. Keep things in plastic storage containers to limit availability and access to food, as well. Ant traps can be found at grocery and hardware stores and are easily hidden or camouflaged.

If these non-toxic methods do not work, there are many rodenticides and insecticides available for home use but one must use caution when working with these products. If children or pets reside in the house it is best to keep these methods as last resorts as even the fumes can be very toxic. Make sure to use gloves and follow directions exactly. Good ventilation is also important when handling such harmful chemicals. If there is still infestation after trying everything else, one should check their local yellow pages for professional exterminators as the infestation may be deep within the structure of the home.

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