Just as there are home DIY projects that are too risky for most, there are certain pests you should simply avoid exterminating on your own.
Picture this: It’s 2 in the morning, you’re half asleep, head into the bathroom and dim the lights. Out of the corner of your eye, you see something crawl across the sink. Aside from promising yourself that you’ll never — EVER — leave your bed in the middle of the night again, you wonder: Do I need to call the exterminator tomorrow?
Well that depends. Just as there are some home improvement projects that are completely DIY-worthy, there are just as many that require a professional.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), deciding whether or not to contact a pest professional depends on the type of pest, its threats to your health, the potential for property damage and the size of the infestation.
So if you find one lone insect that flies through your open door, find and remove it yourself. But a colony of ants making itself at home in your home? Dial away.
Following are a list of creepy crawlers that you should NOT try to exterminate on your own:
1. Damage control
Termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage every year, chewing through walls, floors and ceilings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An infestation of these wood-eating insects can compromise the structural stability of your home in a short amount of time. And damage from such wood-boring insects as termites is not typically covered by homeowners’ insurance policies, according to the NPMA.
Pest professionals can perform routine inspections to spot early signs of a problem, and have the tools to treat an infestation.
2. More home destroyers
These include carpenter ants, carpenter bees and powder post beetles. Carpenter ants excavate wood to build their nests, which creates smooth tunnels inside the wood.
Carpenter bees bore through soft wood to lay their eggs and protect their larvae. Powderpost beetles create tunnels in unfinished wood during their larvae stage, reducing it to a fine, flour-like powder.
Once these beetles reach adulthood —a year to five years later — they emerge and lay eggs on the wood. Over time, these types of bugs can destroy support beams in your home.
3. Bump in the night
Bed bugs often hide in such places as behind electrical switches and under wallpaper, and pest pros know how to find them.
All stages of the bed bug life cycle must be treated, including bed bug eggs, nymphs (babies) and the adults.
Trying to control bed bug populations on your own are often ineffective against bed bug nymphs and eggs, which can worsen the problem and give the infestation time to grow, according to the NPMA.
In addition, going DIY on bed bug extermination usually ends up being more expensive in the long run since the attempts often fail. Some homeowners even throw out furniture, clothing and other personal property to control an infestation, while others have damaged their homes or sickened their families by misusing pest control products — all unnecessarily.
4. What about stinging pests?
Stinging insects send half a million people to the emergency room every year. Do not attempt to control infestations of such bugs as wasps, yellow jackets or fire ants. A single colony of stinging insects can contain a few hundred to 80,000 members. Those with allergies to insect stings are especially at risk, but an attack by a nest of stinging insects can be life threatening to anyone.
5. Too many to count
You might have a small access point (such as a tear in a window screen or a crack in the foundation) that you aren’t aware of, or you may have a drip under the bathroom sink, creating a perfect environment for cockroaches. It doesn’t matter it if flies, crawls, stings or bites — if you have a recurring infestation that you can’t control on your own, call a pro, says the NPMA.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Aug. 25, 2014.
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