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5 Ways to Protect Your Home Against Pests

By Chris Williams on September 29, 2010.

During the second half of the 20th century, pest control underwent a radical evolution.  Moving away from highly toxic chemicals, pest control agents began utilizing alternative methods for getting rid of unwelcome critters, which is now referred to as integrated pest management.  IPM consists of a diverse array of extermination strategies, such as disrupting breeding cycles, placing naturally occurring acids in inconspicuous spots, and using pests’ predators to hunt them, among other methods.  Pesticides are still in use, although now mostly “low level” or “low toxicity” pesticides, which have a low enough level of poison to be safe for contact with humans.  The following list will discuss some of these methods for home use as well as suggest some tips for keeping your house pest-free.
 

  • Keep a Clean Home: Keeping a clean home is a prime defense against many pests, particularly cockroaches.  Sweeping and vacuuming often is a must, especially after each meal and under furniture and appliances.  Make sure all your food is in sealed containers and make sure all your cabinets are closed when not in use.  Keep your trash can covered at all times.  Finally, put away your pets’ food after they eat, and especially at night.
     
  • Eliminate Hot Spots: The bathroom is another hot spot for roaches.  Cockroaches love water, even more than food, so do not leave any standing water anywhere.  Dry all of your dishes and make sure your sinks and bathtubs are drained.  Cockroaches often make their homes out of damp areas, so having a clean, dry house will go a long way toward keeping your house free of these vermin.
     
  • Target the Whole Population: Rats, the hideous, oversized cousins of mice are justified in their reputation as filthy animals, as they can carry the following diseases: murine typhus, leptospirosis, trichinosis, salmonella, ratbite fever, and most notoriously, the bubonic plague.  Currently, low toxicity pesticides are the favored approach to rat extermination.  Many exterminators use bromadiolone, a synthesized form of Sweet Clover plant, for this purpose.  The bromadiolone disrupts vitamin K activity, which prevents blood from clotting and causes death by internal bleeding.  The bromadiolone is mixed with ingredients that are highly palatable to rats, so they will gobble it up and bring back more to their colony, which wipes out the entire population.
     
  • Get Creative: While people are typically more concerned with more common pests like rats and cockroaches, skunks should not be forgotten.  Skunks adapt easily to civilization, and if one finds something tasty on your property, it may change its diet from rodents, bugs, and wild fruit, to whatever food is in your garbage.  Of course they stink, and you would not want your children or pets to be sprayed by a skunk, but the most dangerous thing about skunks is that they can carry rabies.  For this reason, you should come up with traps and mechanisms to scare them off your property and let a pest control expert handle the situation if you find an actual live skunk.  There is an elaborate system for keeping them at bay.  Rigging up flood lights and a sprinkler to a motion sensor is probably the most effective technique, as skunks are nocturnal and hate bright lights and pretty much any animal will run if it gets sprayed with water.  Finally, pepper sprays are effective in repelling skunks, but they must be replaced often.
     
  • Make Sure Your Home Design does not Welcome Pests: Termites are an example of yet another harmful pest that inhabits people’s homes.  These little bugs cause serious structural damage to houses and buildings.  They often conceal themselves so well that they are not discovered until serious harm has been done to the wood structure they have infested.  The best method for dealing with termites is prevention.  Since termites hide in tunnels in the ground and then burrow in wood, it would be wise to make sure the wood structure your house is separated from direct contact with the ground by masonry, concrete, steel, or other termite-resistant materials.  Using termite-resistant woods, such as cypress tree or sequoia, is also effective in preventing termites from appearing, which is the safest way of preventing termite damage.

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