Don’t Let These 9 DIY Pest Control Mistakes Get the Best of You

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated April 18, 2022
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  • Homeowners often create pest problems by not taking preventive steps or acting too slowly.

  • Homeowners must fix the root cause to avoid more infestations.

  • Poor baiting practices and using the wrong pesticide are common mistakes.

  • Hire a pro instead of trying to deal with a major infestation.

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Nothing makes your heart sink more than cockroaches or a mouse scurrying under the refrigerator when you flip the kitchen light on for a midnight snack. Now you've got a real problem on your hands. But think carefully before you grab that can of roach spray. Here are nine common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to pest control that you should avoid at all costs.

1. Not Taking Preventive Steps

The best way to deal with an infestation is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is my carpet a mess?

  • Is my landscaping overgrown?

  • Is there standing water in my yard?

  • Are there crumbs on my kitchen floor?

  • Are dishes often left overnight in my sink?

  • Are there holes in my screen door I haven't fixed?

  • Are there cracks, crevices, or openings where outside critters could gain access to my home?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you have set the stage for pests to make their way into your home to set up shop. By keeping your home tidy and ensuring no food or water is lying around for them to feast on, you can ensure pests will look for a different place to call their own.

2. Acting Too Slowly

Most people aren't bothered by one or two ants on the floor. They may smush them and then forget about them. But where there's one pest, there's often more. And by acting too slowly, you could allow an infestation to root in your home.

As soon as you notice signs of pests (even if there aren't many at first), contact an exterminator to take a look. They may be able to knock out the problem with one simple treatment. It'll undoubtedly be less expensive than fumigating your home after the situation gets out of hand.

3. Skipping the Initial Investigation

Dealing with a pest problem isn't as simple as spraying insects with a can of insecticide. Before starting any treatment, conduct an initial investigation to determine the root cause. Is there a food source that's attracting them? Are they coming through a hole in the wall you didn't know was there? If you get the answer to that question, the solution to the problem may be very different from the one you were going to pursue.

4. Not Fixing the Underlying Problem

Once you have identified the problem, be thorough with your treatment. Are mice getting in through a couple of cracks and holes in your foundation, or you found a nest of ants deep inside your basement? Blocking entry points for pests and putting out bait that’ll go back to the nest may solve the issue.

5. Poor Baiting Practices

Baiting isn't as simple as just putting the trap down and then removing it once the problem has been resolved. You need to bait correctly and with precision. For example, you need to place bait along common travel paths for pests, typically along walls or behind appliances. This is where your initial investigation comes in handy: You should know beforehand where pests are traveling.

Second, don't just stop baiting after you stop seeing the pests. Keep the bait out a little while longer in case there are a few still left or in case there are some eggs that haven't hatched yet. This will keep the pests from reemerging after you thought you caught them all.

6. Using the Wrong Pesticides

An exterminator spraying pesticide on the kitchen countertop
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Using the wrong pesticide carries several risks:

  • It may not kill the pests.

  • It may kill some pests and cause others to leave that area and spread throughout the home.

  • It may cause injury to you, your pets, your plants, and even pollute the surrounding environment.

To keep this from happening, make sure you choose the right pesticide and carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions. To figure out which pesticide to choose, be sure you have identified the correct pest. If it's a mouse, that's easy enough. But some insects look similar. Once you know what you're dealing with, contact a local pest control company for advice on which pesticide to use.

7. Waiting for the Weather to Change

We’re sorry to break the bad news, but the weather won’t save you from pests. Even if they entered your house during the warmer months, they aren’t likely to magically disappear when the weather turns cooler. If anything, your warm, cozy house with lots of food will help them thrive and grow in numbers.

8. Eliminating Beneficial Pests

Sometimes, squashing certain types of bugs we think are pests can help others gain a foothold in your home. While you may not like random spiders, earwigs, stink bugs, and ladybugs crawling around your house, they can keep actual disease-spreading pests from infesting your home by either killing them or cleaning up decaying organic material that may attract other bugs.

9. Trying to Deal With an Infestation Yourself

Pest infestations can be very complicated. They can also be challenging to access or spot in the first place. A big mistake homeowners often make is dealing with an infestation on their own, failing repeatedly, and getting increasingly frustrated while wasting lots of money on pesticides and gear. All the while, bugs are spreading germs and being an unpleasant nuisance.

Instead, get a pro on the case. Pest control companies near you can come to your home, conduct an assessment, and offer you a quote. And it may not cost as much as you think. The cost of full-service pest control is between $200 and $600.

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