Ants, crickets, centipedes, pillbugs, sowbugs. Most people have seen at least a few of these in their homes at one time or another. While a single bug may be of little concern, an ongoing invasion or high population can be a problem.
Insects and arthropods that occasionally invade homes are called, as you may expect, "occasional invaders." Most do not breed within the structure, but they can bite, pinch, damage plants, or stain or damage fabrics or furniture. Even once they do, they can be a hazard, causing allergic response or attracting other pests that feed on them. Even if they do not cause health or economic risk, though, such pests can be a significant annoyance, especially when they invade in large numbers.
These pests will enter through cracks, gaps and openings, generally in search of food, water or shelter, particularly when outdoor conditions become unfavorable. Insects invading our homes, even occasionally, can be a significant annoyance and can sometimes be a health or economic risk.
The best way to keep these pests out is by taking an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach:
- Non-chemical Treatment
- Chemical Treatment
Pest proofyour home by
- Ensuring all doors, windows and screens are in good repair and fit tightly.
- Repairing any cracks or gaps by caulking or otherwise sealing or screening.
- Check around vents and plumbing and wiring openings as well as foundations and siding.
- See more recommendations at 10 Tips to Keep Pests Out
- Clear leaves, wood and debris from around the structure.
- Never store firewood near the home.
- Trim bushes and trees away from the structure and keep lawn mowed.
- Indoors – keep all foods covered or properly stored. Clear debris and piles where insects can hide.
When insects do get into your home, you can:
- Vacuum them up, disposing of vacuum contents in an outdoor receptacle.
- Use sticky traps (such as those sold for cockroach control) in areas where the insects are seen.
To thoroughly treat for a pest, it is important to know exactly what it is. For example, you may see ants trailing across your kitchen floor and know that baits are the best method of control. But is it a pavement ant? Or a flying ant? Because different species of ants have different food preferences, you have to be sure to use a bait specified for that ant.
Additionally, indoor spraying of insects is of little value, as it will only kill the insects it contacts, it will not keep more from coming in.
However, there is a barrier treatment that can help to prevent invasion by many different occasional invaders: Perimeter Treatment.
Perimeter treatment is the application of an insecticide to an area about 2- to 4-feet wide all around the perimeter of the home. It is sometimes called a barrier treatment, because it does just that – bars insects from crossing to come into the building. Application should be made at least once each spring and fall.
The University of Minnesota lists common insecticides for treating exteriors as:
- permethrin as a liquid or granules
- bifenthrin as a liquid
- carbaryl as a liquid or granules
- cyfluthrin as granules
- deltamethrin as a dust
Check the label of products on retail store shelves for these active ingredients and for the pest you are seeking to control. Prior to purchasing and/or using any pesticides, read and follow all label directions.