5 Tips to Save on Pest Control

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Get insects to bug off without spending a ton of money on pest control.

They’re called pests for a reason: Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in property damage every year, while roaches, mosquitoes, and other creepy-crawlies spread bacteria and disease.

Pest Enemy No. 1? Ants, according to the National Pest Management Association. Over half of homeowners hate them more than any other insect, according to a survey published last month.

NPMA also — unsurprisingly, as a pest control trade group — pointed out that 60 percent of homeowners use professional preventative and extermination services. The cost? $35-70 a month. Termite treatments can cost thousands. But there are lots of things you can do to save on pest expenses – some just by maintaining and cleaning your home.

Try thinking of your home as a giant castle under siege. Don’t dig a moat, but:

  1. Keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed away from the roof and windows. These are natural bridges and ladders into your home for all sorts of bugs.
  2. Seal up cracks and holes, inside and out. Those are tunnels.
  3. Replace rotting wood, a likely place for insects to break through. Many are drawn to both the wood itself and moisture.
  4. Cut off their water supply. Insects like mosquitoes and flies are drawn to stagnant (still) water. Outdoors: regularly empty bird fountains, buckets, and anything that catches rain. Indoors: change pets’ water bowls several times a week if not daily.
  5. Protect food. Don’t leave food out in the open, even crumbs — they’ll find it. Be sure to regularly empty the garbage and keep containers covered. Make sure spices, sugars, and other counter-top items are in lidded jars or otherwise sealed containers.

If you want a pro to handle pests, shop around. NPMA can help you find a qualified exterminator in your zip code. They also have tips on how to identify trustworthy companies if you’re trying the phone book or some other search method. The eco-friendly directory GreenPeople also has a sorted-by-state list of exterminators that use natural or organic products instead of toxic ones.

And if you’re taking a do-it-yourself approach to save even more money, you don’t need to buy expensive sprays and traps. Sustainability business EarthEasy has a long list of insect-specific natural repellents that will help you be green and save green. Environmental nonprofit Beyond Pesticides also has a list, plus a ton of tips. You might also check out the popular, if slightly dated book Natural Pest Control: Alternatives to Chemicals for the Home and Garden.

Now that we’ve got homeowners saving on pest control, how about lawn care? Check out our story 11 Tips for a Less Expensive Lawn.

Stacy Johnson

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