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Common Household Pests!

Updated on February 5, 2013

Controlling Household Pests!

Controlling household pests does not have to be a tough job! We all have a few uninvited guest from time to time. Mainly spiders, centipedes, flies and gnats.

Trying to find the right pesticide to use can be confusing. Is it safe for my pets? Do I dare use this around my children? What types of insects does it eliminate?

Directions and precautions on the cans, can read like a law book or contract. You have to be a lawyer to be able to understand them or they don't mention the type of pest that you're having problems with.

Household Pests will try to take the confusion out of "pest-proofing" your home. We'll try to show you the best way to eliminate household pests in simple words that everyone can understand, and share stories from our visitors on methods that have worked for them.

As a matter of self-preservation, we must tell you to use the information on this site at your own risk! We are not experts and are just passing along information that our visitors have used or that can be found elsewhere on the internet.

Preventing Household Pest Infestation

As with most problems, prevention is the best solution for controlling household pests. We'll deal with eliminating these pests below, but you should prepare your home for the prevention of further infestations right away.

In preventing household pests, plants should be trimmed back so they cannot be used to get inside. Cracks, holes and joints should be sealed with polyurethane foam or caulk, especially those that are near the ground. Firewood, rocks and other materials should not be stored next to a home because it encourages nest building.

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Spiders

The common house spider (P. tepidariorum), American house spiders are synanthrope and build their tangled web in or near human dwellings, often in secluded areas such as between loose walls, behind open doors and attic windows. The prey mechanism is similar to that of the other cob-web spiders: following emitted disturbances on the web to entangle, and then paralyze its prey, which usually consists of household insects and invertebrates (often considered as pests). Therefore, in some regions, having those spiders inside a house may be considered beneficial, however, a hazard for a potential spider bite might exist. Because of the potential hazard of getting bit, most people prefer to eliminate the spiders from inside the home.

Most spiders will only bite humans in self-defense, and few produce worse effects than a mosquito bite or bee-sting. Most of those with medically serious bites, such as recluse spiders and widow spiders, are shy and bite only when they feel threatened, although this can easily arise by accident. Funnel web spiders' defensive tactics are aggressive and their venom, although they rarely inject much, has resulted in 13 known human deaths. On the other hand the Brazilian wandering spider requires very little provocation.

Interaction with humans

As these spiders live in constant presence of human beings around their habitat, they are not usually aggressive and will even let a human hand approach their web. As any other spider, however, they are afraid of bigger foes, and, in most cases, will retreat behind an obstacle (such as a dried leaf or prey remains) upon perceiving more than usual disturbance to their web. Further disturbance may lead to the spider dropping down on a thread, then running away from the web. If the distance is not considerable, it will usually return to its web within a couple of days. Otherwise, it will start a new one.

American house spiders possess poor vision and cannot detect any movement further than on a 3-4 inch interval. If cornered, they will feign death as last resort.

Toxicity

American house spiders will bite humans only in self-defense and on condition of being violently grabbed and squeezed. Regular bites are dry and no more painful than a bee sting, but some females can deliver sharp, venomous bites on that occasion. If venom is administered with the bite, symptoms may include swelling and itching around the area and may trigger antibody allergies in some individuals. Medical attention is not required, but rest is recommended.

The venom of American house spider is a neurotoxin similar to that of the black widow, but a lot less powerful in consistency. It is often extracted and sold as an insecticide for farmers of the United States and Canada. It is also powerful enough to kill the same species of spider on occasion.

Eliminating The Spider From Inside The Home

1. Routine, thorough house cleaning is the best way to eliminate spiders and discourage their return. A vacuum cleaner or broom effectively removes spiders, webs, and egg sacs.

2. Spiders prefer quiet, undisturbed areas such as closets, garages, basements, and attics. Reducing clutter in these areas makes them less attractive to spiders.

3. Large numbers of spiders often congregate outdoors around the perimeter of structures. Migration indoors can be reduced by moving firewood, building materials, and debris away from the foundation. Shrubs, vines and tree limbs should be clipped back from the side of the building.

4. Install tight-fitting window screens and door sweeps to exclude spiders and other insects. Inspect and clean behind outdoor window shutters.

5. Consider installing yellow or sodium vapor light bulbs at outside entrances. These lights are less attractive than incandescent bulbs to night-flying insects which, in turn, attract spiders.

6. To further reduce spider entry from outside, insecticides can be applied as a "barrier treatment" around the base of the foundation. Pay particular attention to door thresholds, garage and crawl space entrances, including foundation vents. Carbaryl, bendiocarb, chlorpyrifos, or any of the synthetic pyrethroids (e.g., cypermethrin, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin) are effective, but may need to be reapplied periodically throughout the summer. Wettable powder or microencapsulated ("slow-release") formulations are most effective.

Thanks to Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture for the list of ways to eliminate spiders from the home.

Centipede

Scutigera coleoptrata (one of several species commonly known as the house centipede), is a typically yellowish-grey centipede with 15 pairs of legs. Originally endemic to the Mediterranean region, the species has spread to other parts of the world, where it usually lives in human homes. It is an insectivore; it kills and eats arthropods such as insects and arachnids.

Centipedes are not actually insects but are closely related to insects. They have long flattened bodies, with at least 15 pairs of legs, and fangs, which can inflict a painful bite. Centipedes can be distinguished from the similar but harmless millipedes by having fangs (instead of chewing mouthparts), and one pair of legs per body segment (versus two pairs of legs per body segment in millipedes).

Interaction with humans

The common centipede found in most homes can live its entire life inside a building, usually the ground levels of homes. They are generally considered harmless to humans. Bites (stings) are not common, and the forcipules of most house centipedes are not strong enough to penetrate human skin.

Some species of centipede can be hazardous to humans because of their bite. Although a bite to an adult human is usually very painful and may cause severe swelling, chills, fever, and weakness, it is unlikely to be fatal. Bites can be dangerous to small children and those with allergies to bee stings. The bite of larger centipedes can induce anaphylactic shock in such people. Smaller centipedes usually do not puncture human skin.

Toxicity

Stings are generally no worse than a bee's sting, with its venom causing redness and mild to severe swelling.

Eliminating The Centipede

Techniques for eliminating centipedes from homes include drying up the areas where they thrive, eliminating large indoor insect populations, sealing cracks in the walls, and seeking the assistance of an exterminator.

Step 1

Centipedes like moist places, so keep the inside and outside of your home as dry as possible.

Step 2

Centipedes also like decaying matter, so keep compost piles, stones and leaf piles away from the home.

Step 3

Keep trash and leaf litter three feet from the home in order to expose the surface to drying wind and sun.

Step 4

Use caulking to seal cracks in the foundation, around doors and around windows.

Step 5

Be sure that basements and sub floor crawl spaces are well ventilated to prevent moisture.

Step 6

Centipedes often feed on other annoying pests found inside your home. Be sure to practice general pest prevention inside your home.

Thanks to ehow.com for the six steps for eliminating centipedes.

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Ants

Carpenter ants are large (.25 to 1 in/0.63 to 2.5 cm) ants indigenous to many parts of the world. They prefer dead, damp wood in which to build nests. They do not eat it, however, unlike termites. Sometimes carpenter ants will hollow out sections of trees. The most likely species to be infesting a house in the United States is the Black carpenter ant.

Carpenter ants can damage wood used in the construction of buildings. They can leave a sawdust-like material behind called frass, that provides clues to nesting location. Carpenter ant galleries are smooth and very different from termite-damaged areas, which have mud packed into the hollowed-out areas.

Interaction with humans

Carpenter ant species reside both outdoors and indoors in moist, decaying or hollow wood. They cut "galleries" into the wood grain to provide passageways for movement from section to section of the nest. Certain parts of a house, such as around and under windows, roof eaves, decks and porches are more likely to be infested by Carpenter Ants because these areas are most vulnerable to moisture.

Toxicity

While carpenter ants are not toxic, they do have pincers and can be slightly painful when they pinch.

Eliminating Ants

These ants are not hard to control, and most ant killers will solve problems, especially if controlled as soon as the problem is noticed. At this point, they could be put under control in just a few days. However, the longer someone waits, the larger the population is and the longer it will take to control the situation, possibly a few weeks. Plants should be trimmed back so they cannot be used to get inside. Cracks, holes and joints should be sealed with polyurethane foam or caulk, especially those that are near the ground. Firewood, rocks and other materials should not be stored next to a home because it encourages nest building.

Cockroach

There are about 4,500 species of cockroach, of which 30 species are associated with human habitations and about four species are well known as pests.

Among the best-known pest species are the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, which is about 30 millimetres (1.2 in) long, the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) long, the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai, also about 15 millimetres (0.59 in) in length, and the Oriental cockroach, Blatta orientalis, about 25 millimetres (0.98 in).

Interaction with humans

Cockroaches are one of the most commonly noted household pest insects. They feed on human and pet food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces including those that are potentially dangerous to humans, particularly in environments such as hospitals. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans. One of the proteins that triggers allergic reactions has been identified as tropomyosin.These allergens have also been found to be linked with asthma.

Toxicity

Roaches do not bite or sting, but they are harmful to humans because they transport microbes on their body surfaces including those that are potentially dangerous to humans.

Eliminating Cockroaches

General preventive measures against household pests include keeping all food stored away in sealed containers, using garbage cans with a tight lid, frequent cleaning in the kitchen, and regular vacuuming. Any water leaks, such as dripping taps, should also be repaired. It is also helpful to seal off any entry points, such as holes around baseboards, in between kitchen cabinets, pipes, doors, and windows with some steel wool or copper mesh and some cement, putty or silicone caulk.

Thanks to Alicia Bodine, eHow Contributing Writer for the following steps for eliminating cockroaches!

Step 1

Smash up some bay leaves in a bowl. Cockroaches hate the smell of bay leaves. Sprinkle the bay leaves in the corners of your home where you have seen the cockroaches. It is helpful to do this is the kitchen and in the corners of the kitchen cabinets. If you are looking for a way to get rid of cockroaches without killing them, this is it.

Step 2

Use Borax. Borax is a natural ingredient often used to make homemade laundry detergent. The Borax should be sprinkled around the house in spots where cockroaches have been spotted. The cockroach only has to brush up against the Borax. The Borax is actually rough enough to hurt the cockroaches outer shell. This will cause the cockroach to get dehydrated and die. the cockroach can't stay hydrated when it's shell is damaged.

Step 3

Sprinkle catnip around the house. It has the same effect as the Bay leaves. Roaches hate the smell and will stay far away from any area that has the catnip in it.

Step 4

Make a baking soda and sugar mixture. To make a batch just add one cup of baking soda to one cup of sugar. Mix completely and sprinkle around the house. Roaches will be attracted to the sugar and will start to eat it. The baking soda will give the roaches gas and will mess up their insides. This will eventually lead to their death.

Step 5

Sprinkle Diatomaceous earth around the house. You can use this inside and outside. It is all natural and has pieces of fossils in it. It works the same way as the Borax. It cuts the shell of the cockroach which causes the cockroach to not be able to retain water. The cockroach then dies of dehydration.

Mice And Rats

Picture by George Shuklin

The best known mouse species is the common house mouse. It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles. They are known to invade homes for food and occasionally shelter.

The American White-footed Mouse and the deer mouse, also sometimes live in houses.

Interaction with humans and Toxicity

Finding mice in your home is not uncommon and even if you have successfully eliminated them, you will find that when the weather turns cold, they will start moving in once more.

When mice move into your home, they can at times be harmful rodents, causing structural damages and spreading diseases through their parasites and feces. In North America, breathing dust that has come in contact with mouse excrements has been linked to hantavirus, which may lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS).

Eliminating Mice & Rats

Several wildlife rehabilitation organizations encourage natural form of rodent control through exclusion and predator support and preventing secondary poisoning altogether.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency agrees, noting in its Proposed Risk Mitigation Decision for Nine Rodenticides that "without habitat modification to make areas less attractive to commensal rodents, even eradication will not prevent new populations from recolonizing the habitat."

Eliminate Food Sources: Keep bulk food, seed, and dry pet food in metal cans with secure lids. Pick up fallen fruit. Take birdfeeders inside at night.

Remove potential rodent homes like yard debris, trash, construction waste, etc.

Exclude rodents from your home. Seal openings 1/2 inch or larger around the outside of your house with metal, concrete, or Copper Mesh Wool, which can be found online or at hardware stores.

Include natural rodent predators in your solution. A family of five owls can consume up to 3000 rodents in breeding season. Placing a nest box to encourage a family of owls to make your property home can be a great alternative to commercial pest control methods.

Repellents

Balsam fir oil from the tree Abies balsamea is an EPA approved non-toxic rodent repellent.

Acacia polyacantha subsp. campylacantha root emits chemical compounds that repel animals including crocodiles, snakes and rats.

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    • profile image

      scss 5 years ago

      In my country home we unfortunately have to deal with redback spiders, whitetail spiders and brown snakes - all deadly pests.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      Another Informative Lens!