Americans struggle to keep critters outdoors, and many turn to exterminators for help. But such a move should be your last resort. Take steps to create a hostile environment for bugs and other pests, and you won’t need to spend big bucks on the bug man.
Here are 10 cheap, effective ways to pest-proof your home.
1. Seal and repair openings
Check your basement for cracks and gaps, especially where pipes exit through the wall. Go outside and look for openings around exterior outlets, laundry vents and utility meters. Such areas are likely to have invitingly large cracks for bugs.
Check weather stripping on doors and windows, and repair holes in screens. I’ve used these screen repair adhesive patches for a quick fix. Also make an effort to keep your garage door shut.
2. Give your pets a dining space
I left my dog’s pet food in a bowl on the floor once. That was a big mistake. Bits of food he knocked out of his dish ended up across the room and attracted ants.
Give your pet a dining area on a rubber mat. This makes spilled food easier to spot and clean up.
If you’re having an ant problem with pet food left on the floor, put the food bowl into a larger bowl with water in it — the ants can’t cross the moat to get to the food.
3. Keep a clean kitchen
Just about every unwanted pest is attracted to leftover bits of food, so keeping a clean living area is important. Here are a few quick tips:
- Keep all leftovers stored in lidded containers.
- Check for sugar spills near the coffee maker.
- Wipe residue off containers containing sugary stuff, such as peanut butter and jelly.
- Keep fruit out of direct sunlight and check frequently for spoiled produce.
- Vacuum or sweep regularly.
- Rinse containers before putting them in the recycling bin.
4. Keep a dry home
Insects love damp environments, so eliminate moisture and wet spots. To do so, start by applying caulk to fix leaks around tubs and sinks. In your basement, check for stains on the ground that indicate dripping pipes, and inspect above for cracks or loose fittings.
Look for water spots in your ceiling that could mean a hole in your roof. Holes can also be an entry spot for bugs.
5. Clean up the yard
Insects are likely to congregate under grass clippings, compost heaps and decaying leaves. They will also use branches touching your home as pathways. So, trim branches and shrubbery to keep insects confined to plants. Clean up pet poop, and keep trash bins and compost heaps securely covered and away from your house.