When bringing potted plants inside for the winter, watch out for hitchhiking pests lurking in the leaves and soil. Don’t think that only insects that feed on foliage, such as spider mites and aphids, linger in greenery. Spiders, beetles, ants, centipedes, and pill bugs also frequently hide in or around outdoor containers. Check all plants thoroughly—paying special attention to the underside of leaves, the bottom of the pot, and the soil surface—before bringing them into your house.
If you’re constantly visited by swarms of moths, crane flies, beetles, or other nighttime insects, the problem is likely white outdoor lighting. Insects that fly at night use the moon for navigation, and are often confused by intense, white artificial light. The solution is simple: switch your white outdoor bulbs to yellow ones instead. Insects do not see yellow the way we do, and they’ll will pass by your porch without trying to get inside your house.
Brown Paper Bags
A pile of paper grocery bags stored underneath your kitchen sink, tucked next to the refrigerator, or piled up in the corner is like a beckoning call to cockroaches. These critters love to hide, eat, and lay eggs in the creases of paper bags, especially if the pile is thick. Oftentimes roaches enter the home because their eggs are already on the paper, but they may also stumble across the bags when searching for water. To prevent your paper bags from turning into a roach motel, always recycle, compost, or reuse them.
Leaks in Plumbing
Bugs get thirsty too, and they're unlikely to resist the temptation of dripping water. Cockroaches, centipedes, and silverfish especially crave a watery hideaway, and they will seek out any slow drip under your kitchen or bathroom sink, refrigerator, washing machine, dishwasher, or toilet. Always fix leaks right away, and check under your sinks monthly to catch plumbing failures before they become a pest problem.
Does your yard have overgrown shrubs, unmown grass, piles of fallen leaves, stacks of firewood, or forgotten kiddy pools or toys? Backyard debris is a favorite hiding place for spiders, beetles, fleas, earwigs, centipedes, and other creepy-crawlers. Once these pests have set up housekeeping in the backyard, they’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from entering your home. Keep your outdoor area free of debris, and never leave pools of standing water in the yard.
Cracks Around Doors and Windows
Spiders and insects can squeeze through astonishingly small openings, like rips in a window screen or gaps between a door and its frame. Check your home annually for cracks or gaps near windows, doors, pet doors, and chimneys. Secure any openings to prevent an unwanted infestation.
Have you ever spotted a solitary fruit fly early in the morning, and then come home later to find a cloud of them over the banana bowl? Fruit fly eggs can hatch in as little as 24 hours, so a small infestation will rapidly multiply. These tiny insects are powerfully attracted to decaying fruit, and they’re able to enter your home through any small opening, such as a window screen. Deter the pests by storing fruit in the fridge, eating it before it becomes overripe, and adding it to your compost pile if it’s past its prime.
Related: 12 Ways to Clean House with Citrus
Grains in the Cupboard
Pesky pantry moths and their maggot-like larvae love grains. They often catch a ride to your home via groceries, including flour, cereal, pasta, and pet kibble. Once inside, they quickly reproduce, and can chew their way into cardboard food boxes to feed on their contents. Prevent an infestation by storing grain products in airtight jars or bottles, keeping rice and other grains in the fridge or freezer, tossing expired grain products promptly, and keeping an eye out for small holes in cardboard food boxes.
Organic Mulch or Compost
Your garden loves a healthy application of organic mulch or compost, but these materials attract a wide range of pests. Piling compost or mulch up against the foundation of your home is like setting out a welcome sign to spiders and insects, including termites. Once they’re in close enough proximity to sense water and other food sources inside your home, they are bound and determined to find their way in through an opening. Keep a clear zone of at least six inches between any organic mulch and the foundation of your home.
Related: 8 Ways to Combat Garden Pests
You probably thought that secondhand armchair was a steal—until you discovered that it brought bedbugs, spiders, or other unwanted creepy-crawlers into your home. Before buying used furniture at a garage sale or thrift store, inspect it carefully for any sign of insects, eggs, droppings, or other telltale pest markings. Don’t forget to look underneath the furniture and inside all drawers as well.
Related: 11 Things Never to Buy Secondhand
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newslettertoday!