Interior Pests

8 Things the Exterminator Won’t Tell You for Free

Try these pest control tips before calling an exterminator.
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Pest Control

Bugs got you down? No one wants to swat gnats away from their food or stomp roaches as they scurry across the floor, so it’s no wonder exterminators always seem to stay busy. While bugs can be beneficial in the garden, indoors they’re unwelcome pests—and some can even present health hazards. If you’re shelling out money to an exterminator every few months to keep your home bug-free, he’s probably not going to tell you that there are some simple steps you can take to get rid of the pesky critters on your own. The following 8 tips will help you control your bug problems for a fraction of what a professional exterminator charges.

Control Houseflies with Good Garbage Practices

If you store household garbage in your garage until curbside collection day, you may be inviting flies into your home. To keep from luring the winged pests, choose a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, and rinse it out once or twice a month. For additional protection, sprinkle a few tablespoons of borax (a laundry additive found in the detergent aisle) inside every bag when you put it in the can. Flies will get the message that they’re not welcome.

Related: 9 Little Tricks to Make Trash Day Less of a Chore

Make Plumbing Repairs to Reduce Silverfish

Silverfish are not harmful to humans, but can they wreak havoc on books, documents, and even upholstery. These wingless insects are attracted to damp areas, so if you’re seeing silverfish, you’ve got a moisture problem somewhere. Check drainpipe connections and water supply lines, and repair any leaks. You can also add ventilation fans to humid bathrooms and laundry rooms to reduce moisture problems that attract silverfish.

Related: 9 Best Buys for a Bug-Free Home

Trap Roaches with Bananas

If you have a roach problem but have to wait for a house call from the exterminator, try making your own roach trap. Rub petroleum jelly along the inside of a canning jar, just below the rim. Drop a piece of banana inside the jar, and place it in a spot where you’ve seen roach activity. The banana will lure the roaches in, and once there, the petroleum jelly will prevent them from climbing out.

Related: 11 Home Hacks You Can Do with a Bag of Groceries 

Try Gel Bait for Long-Lasting Results

The industrial insecticidal sprays used by exterminators work—but they might be overkill. Those sprays are great in the short term, but they do little to eradicate eggs or larger infestations. A better option is gel bait, available in tubes for squeezing into cracks, or in traps that can be placed in out-of-the-way spots. Gel bait attracts insects that then carry it back to their colonies. A single trap under the sink can wipe out an entire colony.

Related: 7 Facts About Cockroaches You Won’t Want to Believe

Water Is as Attractive to Roaches as Open Food Containers

If you clean up after every meal and put leftovers away promptly but you still have roaches, water could be the culprit. Moist, dark environments, such as damp basements, are optimal spots for roaches to hide in and breed. They may also be drawn to the kitchen sink, bathtub, or the household pet’s water dish. Any place around your home that retains moisture is a lure for roaches.

It's Almost Impossible to Keep Certain Bugs Out of Your House

If your goal is to achieve a completely bug-proof home, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Whether your home was just built or is on the Register of Historic Places, you’re sharing it with insects. Fleas and bedbugs can hitchhike into your home on pets and clothing, and tiny insects, such as midges, mites, and gall flies, are commonly found in even the cleanest homes. Take proper precautions where you can, and make peace with the fact that some houseguests are almost impossible to keep out.

Related: 10 Bugs That Are Living in Your House—and How to Get Them Out!

Not All Infestations Require Calling an Exterminator

There’s some danger in treating a serious infestation yourself: If you improperly deploy a bug bomb, you can scatter pests throughout your house or make them resistant to insecticide. There are, however, times when it’s completely acceptable (and more affordable) to treat an infestation yourself. Fruit flies can be controlled by simply removing the source of the problem—for example, a piece of rotted fruit—and setting a simple DIY trap

Related: 14 Home Essentials You Never Need to Buy Again

Not All Bugs Are Bad

Bugs get a bad rap, but many serve a beneficial purpose in our environment. Ladybugs, spiders, and many types of beetles feed on smaller insects, like aphids, that would otherwise lay waste to your prize roses and garden vegetables. While you may not want them in your home, most are not hazardous to your health and just want to be left alone.

Related: 10 Reasons Bugs Love Your Home

Notice of Eviction

Now you know some of the exterminator’s secrets to get rid of the pests, but how did they end up in your home in the first place? Common habits could be inviting critters into your house without you even realizing it. Luckily, it only takes a few simple adjustments to keep the bugs away.