The Extension office receives calls from many residents concerning troublesome pests that have invaded their homes. Roaches, ants, and spiders are the most common. The use of pesticides is one method of control but taking some preventative measures will also reduce their presence.

Insects and related pests require food, water, and shelter to survive. To them, your home is just another place to obtain these needs. Inside your home, make sure all food items are stored in tightly sealed containers or in a refrigerator to eliminate the access of these pests. Do not let pet food stay out for long periods. For trash cans, make sure they are also sealed tightly. Thoroughly clean up any food or drinks that have spilled.

To eliminate sources of water, see if any pipes or faucets are leaking and repair them. Clean out the gutters regularly to keep them from overflowing—direct water from downspouts away from the house with a pipe or hose. Water accumulating by your home can also cause foundation damage and provide suitable conditions for mold.

Keeping the pests out of your home in the first place will reduce their presence. Seal up, and entry points where these pests could find their way into your home. Check around outdoor faucets, pipes, and where wires enter the house and seal if needed. Make sure the doors and windows shut tightly. Repair or replace damaged screens. On doors, install a door sweep on the bottom if they leave a gap when closed.

The conditions outside your home can influence the pests that could find their way into your home. Check around the foundation and remove any piles of leaves, logs, rocks, bricks, or any other type of such debris. Cut back all plant material 12 to 18 inches away from the foundation and pull the mulch back as far. Do not allow any vines to grow on the side of your home since they are a conduit for pests to enter. Keep your grass cut regularly.

Sometimes pesticides are necessary for control. When using, follow all label directions and safety precautions. Baits are one of the most effective to use since they can be brought back to the source of the pests and kill them. Often their nests are not in sight. For example, if you see roaches running on your kitchen floor, spraying them with an insecticide will eliminate those visible. However, with baits, they will take the material back to the nests and eradicate many there, which will reduce their presence.

If you have pets, fleas can be problematic. Make sure you have a flea collar or apply insecticidal powder or a liquid for control according to directions. Thoroughly vacuum your home and concentrate on the area, particularly where the pet sleeps or spends most of its time inside. Applying insecticides to the lawn and areas outside near the house will help control them in addition to ones labeled for use indoors to reduce flea populations.

If the above methods do not work, you may need to contact a pest control professional to bring the pests under control, who will have the necessary tools, resources, and expertise to eliminate unwanted pests.

These tactics will reduce these pests coming into your home and give you peace of mind.

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Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett.

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