DIY Pest Control – How to Get Rid of Pests in Your Home

When pests become a problem in your home, try some DIY treatments. These can be effective for low-stakes pest issues, such as a few flies in the kitchen or pesky rodents in the garden.

However, these products can pose health risks if not handled correctly. If in doubt, call a professional like Pest Control Boise.

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Pest identification is the first step in implementing an effective pest control program. Accurate identification allows for the selection of cultural practices, tools, and chemicals that can be used to control the pest. Proper identification can also prevent the use of control methods that could harm beneficial organisms or damage ecosystems.

Identification is especially important when dealing with insects that may appear similar to one another as they go through their life cycle. For example, an immature beetle can look very similar to a caterpillar or worm. Proper identification can help determine if the pest is a beneficial organism, harmless, or a temporary problem.

The pest’s biology, including food, harborage, and habitat needs, development rates, and a description of the damage it causes are key pieces of information in selecting the most appropriate controls. Identifying the type of pest can also be useful in determining the most effective strategy for controlling it, as some pests are continuous and require regular, routine control. In contrast, others are sporadic and only need to be controlled under certain conditions.

Identifying the type of pest also helps in selecting biological controls, which are less harmful to the environment and to people. Biological controls include the use of “natural enemies” that compete with or prey on pests, the introduction of predators and parasites to kill or control pests, and the planting of resistant varieties of plants or materials, such as wood, that are less susceptible to pest damage.

Pest identification can be done by searching online resources or consulting with a pest control professional. However, keep in mind that information posted on the internet is not always accurate and should be carefully verified with other sources. It is also important to identify pests to the order so that the correct insecticide can be selected if it is needed. In addition, many of the approved biological insecticides (such as Bacillus thuringiensis) require identification to the species level for proper use. Identifying the species also helps in locating the best breeding sites and eliminating them. For example, cluster flies breed in decaying organic material of plant or animal origin, so removing or cleaning these materials and keeping garbage cans closed will eliminate the flies.

Pesticides

A pesticide is any material used to kill, harm, control or repel insects, rodents, weeds, fungi or other organisms considered undesirable in the garden or home. Pesticides are manufactured from chemicals and may come in liquid, solid or gas forms. They are also found in household cleaners, hand soaps and swimming pool chemicals.

Most pesticides work in a similar way: by disrupting the nervous system, damaging exoskeletons, or attacking the respiratory systems of insect pests. Some, however, work through other methods, such as altering hormones or reducing the growth rate of organisms. Regardless of how they are used, all pesticides pose some risk to humans and pets when applied incorrectly or when exposed to excess levels.

The main component of a pesticide is the active ingredient, which is usually listed on the label. But the pesticide formulation contains many other componentsincluding solvents, stabilizers, surfactants, fillers and inert ingredients, as well as contaminants and impurities. These are responsible for the hazards associated with certain pesticides, such as dioxin and DDT.

When applying any pesticide, read and follow the label instructions. Be sure to wear proper protective gear, including a mask, goggles and gloves. If you cannot avoid exposure, wash your skin immediately and thoroughly with soap. Rinse all equipment and containers with water as soon as possible after use, especially if you have been in close proximity to a pesticide solution or have touched it to your body or clothing. Do not apply pesticides where they will run into bodies of water such as streams, rivers or lakes. If you must rinse pesticides, do so only where the water will drain away from gutters and into open waterways.

Pesticides can linger in the environment for days or weeks after application. To help reduce this impact, use less toxic pesticides and follow Integrated Pest Management techniques.

To further reduce environmental exposure, avoid spraying in windy conditions. This will prevent the pesticide from blowing onto plants or sites that are not being treated. Use spot treatments whenever possible, and consider alternatives to pesticides such as bait stations for ants or wick or shield applicators for some herbicides. Regularly change or drain the water in birdbaths, ponds and ornamental fish tanks to discourage mosquito breeding, and clean up any puddles that form.

Baits & Traps

Rodent control is an important part of pest management because rodents can carry diseases that can infect humans and other animals and cause substantial damage to buildings and crops. Moreover, rodents are prolific breeders and can quickly infest homes, businesses, farms, and agricultural areas, resulting in significant economic losses. The best strategy to prevent damage from rodents is to deter them by keeping them away through traps and baits.

There are many different types of traps and baits, but the key to success is proper placement. Whether using traditional snap traps, wooden or plastic bait stations, or even electronic sensors, the location of the trap is essential to its effectiveness. The location should be in areas where the pests are most active, where they are likely to find food and water. Using the right bait will also enhance trapping performance.

Some common baits for rats and mice include grain pellets, canned tuna, peanut butter, cat food, dry pet food, and a variety of attractants. Some products are mixed with water to create a liquid bait, which is especially effective in dry seasons and where rodents may have few sources of water.

When using rodent baits, it is essential to refresh them regularly and to check and reset the traps. A poorly maintained trap will be less attractive to rodents, and it will be more difficult to catch them.

Other types of traps include pheromone traps, which are used to monitor the activities of certain insect species. For example, pheromone traps can help determine when codling moths begin their mating flights, which allows growers to time sprays for the most effective results.

Another type of trap, commonly referred to as a glue trap, is composed of a small container with a sticky substance on its bottom that immobilizes rodents who step onto it. Glue traps are inexpensive and easy to use, but they require regular checking and resetting.

When placing traps, it is often helpful to create a bait trail leading up to the trap. Creating this trail will help to guide the animal to the trap and motivate it to enter. This can be done by putting out a piece of fruit, such as a melon rind or a chunk of rotting fruit, close to the trap.

Biological Control

Biological control is the use of living organisms (predators, parasitoids, pathogens and competitors) to suppress pest populations, making them less damaging. It is a natural, easy to use method that reduces the need for toxic chemicals and can be an important component of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.

Most invasive insect pests, weeds, and diseases in the United States originated elsewhere and were introduced here either purposely or accidentally. In some cases, the complex of natural enemies that normally keep pests in check back home may not be present here, so they can explode into populations that threaten agriculture and other aspects of our environment. The Biological Control Program helps minimize the economic and environmental impact of these exotic weeds and insects by facilitating the importation and establishment of their co-evolved natural enemies. This is accomplished by rearing the appropriate natural enemy species, testing them for host specificity, releasing them into the state, and evaluating their impacts in agricultural, natural and urban environments. The Program is part of the Integrated Pest Control Branch in Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services.

Classical biological control is the process of importing and releasing for establishment, usually on a seasonal basis, predators or parasitoids that will reduce the population of an introduced pest. This can also be referred to as inundative release. This type of biological control typically takes six to ten generations, and possibly longer, to reach a point of self-sustaining effect.

In addition to a high degree of host specificity, it is essential that the parasitoids and predators have adequate food supply in order to survive and thrive. This is why the habitat where a potential biocontrol agent is released should be tended in a manner that supports them. In other words, provide food, shelter and water.

The success of biological control is dependent upon the use of compatible pesticides. Pesticides that are toxic to biocontrol agents can reduce their effectiveness and even eliminate them completely. This is why it is so important that people who are using biological controls understand how to choose and use pesticides that are compatible with them.