You may be unintentionally inviting house bugs and pests such as mice, spiders, rats, ants, flies and bed bugs into your home.
Most of us consider our home to be our retreat from certain struggles in our life like work, school or traffic. Home is where we cultivate our identity, pursue our preferences, and nurture the ones we love.
So when spiders invade our laundry room, ants invade our kitchen, termites eat our door trim, we react with all types of emotions, ranging from shock to disbelief.
A brief look at the reality of why certain species invade our dwellings may leave you with an appreciation of how few household pests do take up residence. It may, in fact, leave you wondering why we don't have more bugs in the house.
Let’s take a look at insects, leaving out for the moment other pests such as mice, rats and spiders. For starters, insects are one of the most diverse animal groups on the planet, including more than 1 million species and representing more than half of all known organisms. Simply put, there are way more of them than there are of us.
Now, how did those ants get up on the kitchen counter? Conducive conditions! All organisms have an innate desire to thrive and reproduce. To accomplish these goals, they seek optimal conditions. Many of the household bugs we loathe and work to eradicate are looking for food and shelter, and desirable temperatures.
Sound like anyone you know? We put so much time and effort into creating the perfect environment for ourselves that we often forget that we’re also creating an ideal environment for the pests we detest.
Here are a few tips to help keep your home pest free:
Slam the door on pests
One of the first steps in preventing entry is determining how pests got in from outdoors. For pests like flies, wasps and moths, "closing the door’" may require a detailed examination of attic vents, gaps in soffit or fascia, and making sure that window and door screens are intact.
With bigger pests such as rodents, keeping pests out means making sure entry doors shut and seal properly, the garage door is shut and that pet doors close properly. Walk around the house and inspect for any gaps or holes — even those as small as a dime — to help prevent pest infestation.
Make bugs feel unwelcome
Common household bugs that invade your home on a seasonal basis do so because the conditions inside the home are inviting. Other pests may thrive in home due to a particular environmental condition that you can change.
One example is fruit flies. Fruit fly eggs can be brought into your home via ripe fruit and may hatch if the conditions are right. If those fruit flies find desirable breeding sites such as unrinsed dishes, leftover coffee grounds or overripe foods like potatoes in the basement, two fruit flies can quickly fill your home with hundreds.
Being aware of ideal pest conditions and eliminating or minimizing them can help you prevent a major source of frustration.
Do not feed the pests
Some pests enter your home because the food they seek is in greater supply within your home than out in the wild. Competition for that food source is reduced. Ants and mice are two pests that can thrive on things we readily supply in our home such as pet food, food crumbs and garbage.
Store pet food in a sealed plastic container; placing the food in the pet’s bowl at meal time only. The same applies to bird seed, which can be a fertile breeding ground for stored product-loving pests such as moths and beetles. Small spills of sweets, soda or popcorn can feed mice, ants, flies and some pest birds. Keep garbage containers outside and away from the house.
Why are pests in your house? It’s most likely because they can be, but by being proactive, you can make sure that they don’t stay for long. And of course, if DIY pest control is not for you, you can always call in an exterminator.
About this Experts Contributor
Travis Lucas is a third-generation pest control professional who serves as the manager and resident entomologist of his family's 37-year-old pest company, Benzel Pest Control. The Scottsbluff, Nebraska-based pest control provider serves customers in Nebraska and Wyoming and specializes in professional, informed and low-impact treatment methods.
As of Feb. 14, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.