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Management practices for household pests

Managing pests in homes can be a challenge. The first step is to determine what kind of pest(s) you have and the potential damage they can cause. Next you need to plan a strategy for managing them, choosing the best tactics for your situation. Non-chemical methods of pest management are often very effective.

Good sanitation practices and general upkeep of the home can help prevent outbreaks. Sealing openings that allow access to your home can do much to keep pest problems at bay. It often helps to seal openings around pipes, wires, doors, and windows using caulk or putty or to install tight-fitting screens and weather stripping.

Insects often gain access from under the door, so check to see that the door sweep on the bottom of exterior doors forms a tight seal. Vacuum frequently to prevent accumulations of food crumbs and lint. If you are vacuuming up pests, empty the vacuum bag promptly. Keep food in sealed containers and do not let fruits and vegetables spoil.

Dispose of infested foodstuffs. Keep garbage in closed containers and empty them on a regular basis, daily if possible. Do not let pet food sit out for long periods of time. Moisture may encourage some household insects. Keep areas under sinks and cabinets, basements, and soil near foundations relatively dry.

Eliminate hiding places by removing clutter, sweeping out corners of garages and storage areas, repairing cracks, and filling in crevices in walls and floors. Dispose of paper bags or other items that might harbor pests. Remove or trim vegetation close to the house and eliminate contact between wood and soil. Change exterior lighting to minimize attracting insects. Store firewood and scrap lumber away from the house because they can provide a home for carpenter ants and other pests.

If you are having difficulty managing a household pest problem yourself, another option is to hire a pest management company, pest control operator (PCO), or exterminator. Look for a company that uses least toxic pest management practices. You will need to describe the pest problem and possibly collect and keep samples of pest insects. Indicate where and when the pests have been seen, what you have done to try to remedy the situation, and what the results have been.

To be successful in managing the pest, it is important to follow all recommendations made by the pest management company, especially making repairs and maintaining the structure.