- Identify the problem. If you can identify your pest problem, you can then hone in on the best solution for getting rid of it. If it is a particular bug, try to look it up on the internet or call your county extension office and describe it. Pesticides may be one option for getting rid of it, but you may want to consider all your choices, especially if you live with pets, children, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
- Change conditions. You may be unintentionally encouraging pests by creating conditions that they like. Now that you know what your exact pest problem is, see if any of these actions contribute to it. By making small changes, you may be able to make a big difference in your pest problem.
- Do you leave food out uncovered? Always cover food and put it away. It's a good idea to put clasps on open bags in the cupboard, and put flour and open bags of rice in air-tight containers.
- Are there crumbs on your floor or in your carpet? Sweep floors and vacuum carpets often, or get a regular maid service to help keep things clean and tidy.
- Do you have any leaks that could create a moist area that's attractive to pests? Many pests love faucets, sinks and other moist areas. Fix any leaks or hire a service pro to do it for you.
- Do you have bushes or trees close to your house? Roof rats, raccoons and even ants can climb from trees to your attic, and bugs in bushes can find ways into your home if you make it easy for them by having them so close. A lawn maintenance company can trim this problem down to size for you.
- Are there wood piles or piles of debris close to your house? Again, these are great gathering places for pests, who may find a way in to your home.
- Are there gaps around your doors or windows, or holes in your screens, that could allow pests to get in? You might as well just roll out the welcome mat! Weatherstripping, new screens, fresh caulking, and perhaps a good handyman can have your house tight as a drum in no time at all.
- Do you check cardboard boxes and paper bags for "hitchhikers" before you bring them in the house? Don't let those empty bags or boxes sit around because roaches and other pests just love them. Keep clutter to a minimum, in general, so pests don't have places to hide.
If you decide to use over-the-counter pesticides, make sure you read labels carefully, store chemicals in their original containers in a child-safe spot, and have poison-control emergency information readily available.
You may prefer to take advantage of the experience and options that professional pest control companies offer. Pest control professionals can be real partners with you in keeping your home pest-free. Some offer monthly spraying services, and others offer an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. IPM professionals can advise you on changes you can make inside and around your home to discourage pests; can tell you about options for pest control, such as pherenomes and other traps that are pest-specific and don't involve the spraying of pesticides; and can monitor your home on a regular basis and treat it only as necessary.
When hiring a pest control company for general pests:
- Ask around. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, or find local pest control companies here.
- Verify. Ask to see a certificate of insurance and verify that the company is licensed.
- Get inspected. Request an inspection of your home and a recommended plan of action.
- Evaluate. Review the contract for length of contract, cost, treatment plan and guarantee. See if there are any exclusions, what the cancellation policy is, and if there is an arbitration clause to settle disputes.
- Choose. Compare several companies and hire the one with which you feel most comfortable.
- Communicate. Stay in touch with your pest control company, letting them know if things are not working or if you have any additional questions or concerns.