Written by: Benjamin Smith | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: August 20th, 2020
When to hire pest control services
If you are one of those people who thinks it is too early in the year to worry about pest control, you may want to think again. Depending on the temperature you could have visitors in your home earlier than you would expect. Recent projections suggest that you have your home sprayed, or spray yourself, starting in March.
The ideal window will come and go before we know it. If you are looking for ideas for pest control services in your area, check out these pest control providers. You may also want to read some of the recent customer reviews provided to ensure you get all of the services you need.
“Pest control products or services should be health-conscious, safe, effective, and convenient.”
— Stephanie Boone, Founder of Wondercide
How to choose a pest control service
Are pest control companies that come door-to-door worth it? It is always advisable to research the companies you do business with. Yes, research can take time and effort, but in the end, it will help you get the best bang for your buck as you work to eradicate pests from your home.
Mike Duncan, Eastern Region Trainer and Entomologist with Truly Nolen, suggests considering the following things as you research pest control services:
- Do they perform background checks on their employees?
- Are they trained and registered with the regulatory agencies to perform services?
- Do they carry Workers Comp Insurance?
Asking these questions will help you avoid paying excessive fees for poor services. Duncan adds, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is not a good deal.”
Pest control on a budget
Though some pest control services are not outlandishly expensive, you can take some steps on your own to protect your home. For example, you could look into investing in an electronic pest repeller. Stephen Hochman, Owner and Founder of Trusty Joe shares that these small devices, which can be plugged into standard wall outlets, are able to scatter bugs in two different ways:
- By emitting ultrasonic sounds which irritate pests and cause them to leave the house
- By sending electronic vibrations through the wiring behind the walls which also causes pests to panic and flee the home
Who doesn’t like a good DIY project? There are many DIY options to help you get rid of pests in and around your home. Let’s start by identifying what you will need to have on hand in order to effectively get rid of your pesky pests.
Though there are ways to DIY pest control, you should take extra precautions to ensure the safety of you, your family, and your pets. Nikki Anca, Customer Consultant with Topbest suggests investing in the following safety gear to keep you safe:
- Disposable nitrile gloves
- Disposable coveralls
Basic pest control products
If you are planning to research all of the pest control products on the market, you will have your hands full. To help you get some ideas, Anca has provided this list of products that you may want to keep on hand:
- Insecticide — long residual activity to kill insects and bugs
- Rodenticide — long residual activity to poison mice, rats, or other rodents that attempt to enter your home
- Traps — Non-toxic insect glue traps, mice glue traps, and rat glue traps
- Insect baits — an effective solution to have a low environmental impact for eliminating ants and roaches, particularly the German Roach
- Organic products — non-repellent insecticides/termiticides are the most effective means of structure protection for ants and termites
“Plants that naturally repel insects are Marigolds, Citronella grass, Petunias, Lavender and one of the best is Chrysanthemums. Some herbs that can be planted that will help are Mint, Basil, Chives, Bay leaves, Garlic, and Rosemary.”
— Mike Duncan, Eastern Region Trainer and Entomologist with Truly Nolen
Plants to the rescue
There are a number of plants that act as natural repellents. If you have noticed that you have a lot of mosquitos, spiders, cockroaches, beetles, ants, or other bugs in your yard or home, a simple solution could be planting some well-known plants.
- Lavender — Anca suggests that you plant this in sunny areas of the garden or near entryways to your home to help keep them pest-free.
- Mint — Mint is known for helping reduce the number of mosquitos in your yard.
- Eucalyptus — Kari Warberg Block, Founder and CEO of EarthKind suggests bringing sprigs of eucalyptus into your home to repel spiders.
- Other — Duncan also recommends trying chrysanthemums, marigolds, citronella grass, and petunias.
Indoor pest eradication
One of the biggest challenges that you may face as you work to decrease the number of insects, bugs, and vermin that end up in your home, is finding out where they are getting in. At times, even when you hire a company to come in and bug-proof your home, the process can be exhaustive.
Some basic solutions recommended by Matteo Grader, Pest Control Technician with Panther Pest Control, include installing or repairing screen doors, filling holes and/or cracks with caulk, and keeping your spaces clean. Warberg Block adds, “Arguably the most important thing you can do yourself is keep a clean home environment. Pests and rodents come in for food and shelter – and not taking out the trash, leaving out dirty dishes and food, and keeping clothes on the floor is one way to create an inviting environment for them.”
“The point of pest control is to protect the ones you love, so using products that have harmful ingredients and toxins in them like permethrin, pyrethroids imidacloprid or fipronil is counter-intuitive.”
Natural alternatives: Better for you and your pets
Traditional flea and tick products contain chemicals known to be toxic for people, pets, and the environment. “These synthetic chemicals include permethrin, pyrethroids imidacloprid, fipronil and DEET,” said Boone. She adds, “most people don't realize pest control products are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, and ingested without visibility or awareness because you can’t see it, taste it, or smell it.”
Just because synthetic pest control solutions are common does not mean that they are safe when accidentally ingested or inhaled. To counter this issue, products like Wondercide have been created from high-quality, food-grade ingredients that help keep you and your pets healthy.
Another solution that was launched as recently as 2018 is First Saturday Lime. Similar to Wondercide, it is eco-friendly and keeps you away from pesticides. Jana McDaniels, CEO of First Saturday Lime recommends using it for the following:
- Creating a pest barrier around your home
- Controlling ticks, mites, and fleas around outdoor dogs, chickens, and horses
- Repelling unwanted pests in your garden
- Repelling pests and controlling moisture and odors in crawl spaces
If you end up using a product like these, it is likely that a monthly application will help keep your home pest free year-round.
If you have spiders, ants, or moths in your house, this is just for you. These tips are provided courtesy of Warberg Block.
Tips to keep spiders out:
- Remove spiderwebs and use a spray made of half a cup of vinegar, half a cup of water, two tablespoons of liquid dish soap and twenty drops of thyme oil to keep them from creating new webs. The scented mixture prevents them from attaching their silk to sprayed surfaces.
- Spiders rely on vibrations they feel in their web to detect an insect that could be their next meal. Turn music on in an area where you’ve spotted spiders and the vibrations will interfere with their ability to pick the perfect time to feast. They’ll quickly leave in search of a quieter spot.
- Spiders prefer to hang out in dark places. Notice an area of your home where spiders are weaving their webs? Leave the lights on and they’ll be looking for a new hideaway.
Tips to keep ants out:
- To deter ants, sprinkle coffee grounds outside to keep them away from your gatherings. The smell repels them and they’ll be looking for a less caffeinated place to hang out.
- Cinnamon acts as a natural repellent and is a dermal irritant to ants. Sprinkling cinnamon on surfaces where you’ve seen ants congregate will leave them traveling toward sweeter surroundings.
- Ants see citrus as the enemy. Citrus peels are toxic to the fungi that ants feed on, so save your lemon, lime and orange peels and spread them around the areas they usually invade!
- Talcum powder is another great natural ant repellent. Use chalk or baby powder to Warberg Block their entryway by drawing a thin line; they won’t cross it!
Tips to keep moths out:
- Washing or dry-cleaning items that moths are attracted to, such as natural fibers, before storing them can reduce the likelihood of moth infestations. This will remove any existing moth eggs or larvae as well as remove any biological residue such as sweat, hair, or body oils which moths find attractive.
- Store items in air-tight storage bags or totes rather than cardboard boxes to protect against moths.
- Moths may like your pretty sweaters, but they’re not crazy about certain pretty scents. To naturally repel moths, try this DIY solution. Place cloves, lavender, or dried orange peels in a sachet bag. Then place it in your closet or dresser drawers.The scent will send them looking for a more welcoming home.
- It’s not just your cozy sweaters they’re after. Moths are just as likely to snuggle up on your sofa, armchair, or carpet. If you see signs of an infestation, use a hair dryer on the highest heat setting and slowly move it over the fabric. The hot air will quickly take care of unseen eggs.
How to avoid pests while traveling
Have you ever arrived at a hotel, unpacked, and headed to bed to find that your bed is infested with bed bugs. I know. It sounds like it should be a crime, but it happens every so often. Before sleeping in a bed or unpacking your belongings, Leah Hazelwood, Vice President and Marketing with Go-Forth Pest Control, advises that you check the mattress, bed sheets, and headboard for signs of bed bugs like blood spots. If you find any of these signs, you should certainly alert the hotel (and hopefully get some reimbursement out of it).
Once you are back home, vacuum your suitcases and throw away the vacuum bag or clean the canister well. Make sure that you wash all of the clothing that was inside your suitcases in hot water to kill any bugs that might have hitched a ride home.
Pest control is not a one-time event; it is an on-going process. Every little thing that you do should help it become less prevalent in your life. If you wait until tomorrow to start, imagine how many more pests may be eagerly waiting to join your family.