How to keep pests out of your house

bugs on the windows

Jenna Meade

Posted August 25, 2021


Put down the bug spray. Here's how to get rid of pests for good. 

Creepy crawlies making your skin crawl? Or worse, making it itch? While pesticides might seem like the easy option to banish bugs from your home, the toxicity can be damaging to both your household and the environment. And in most cases, it's only a temporary fix.

Pest prevention is better than cure. Effective pest control involves understanding the pest's habitat, food sources and breeding grounds.

The best - and safest - approach is to make your home and garden unattractive to them in the first place. Here's a guide to five common household pests - and pesticide-free ways to prevent them. 


Cockroaches

Notorious for their filthy habits and bad smell, these critters are highly efficient at transmitting infections using their feet, legs, bodies and mouths.

Cockroaches need a daily drink to survive, so the first step is removing any water sources. It doesn't have to be much, either, so this includes the bottom of your shower and any pooling in leftover dishes in the sink. At night they'll search for food in kitchens, bins and drains. They'll feed on almost any animal or vegetable matter, as well as materials, including paper and leather. Make sure you dispose of food scraps, keep bin lids secure and seal any cracks so they can't crawl inside. 

House flies 

They're one of the most common insects across the globe - and probably one of the most annoying, too. House flies will gather wherever humans do and make themselves at home in their waste. They'll breed and feed in garbage, animal droppings and rotting food scraps.

Create an indoor barrier by checking all screens and seals on windows and doors are intact. Poorly managed compost bins are goldmines, so be sure to seal them or turn compost frequently, so it's too hot for them to breed in. Cover your food both indoors and out, and be sure to clean up after your pets. Their waste is an ideal breeding environment - and they may land there before landing on your food. 

Termites

Moisture is nirvana for termites. Fix any leaks, make sure drainage flows away from your home and keep garden beds away from your property's walls. Take away all their potential food, especially wood mulch and any firewood stored underneath or up against your house - declutter other food sources like cardboard boxes, stacks of paper and old newspapers and magazines. Infected furniture may be able to be saved by placing it in direct sunlight for at least three days.

Regular inspections by a licensed professional are a good investment, helping to highlight issues early before extensive damage is done, and costly repairs are needed. 

girl scratching a mosquito bite

Mosquitoes can be drawn to bodies of water. Image: Getty. 


 

Mosquitoes

These blood-suckers are drawn to bodies of water, with even a modest puddle doubling as a breeding ground. Keep your surroundings as dry as possible by draining the sink after you've done the dishes and fixing leaky taps, and add extra protection by introducing larvae-eating fish in ornamental ponds.

If you've got a swimming pool, run the filter for a few hours each day. Clear gutters of leaves and debris that collect water, and change your pets' drinking bowls regularly. Be sure to check your fly screens are in good shielding shape before the summer influx. 

Rodents

Scratching inside your walls and small black droppings are telltale signs of a rodent problem. Rats and mice spread more than 35 diseases, including salmonella, and the little critters can cause costly damage if they gnaw through your home's electrical wiring.

Use sanitation and exclusion to help prevent and control an infestation. Remove or securely cover all sources of food, water and shelter like compost scraps, leaky pipes and excess foliage. Mice can squeeze into gaps as small as 8mm, so be vigilant about filling even the tiniest holes. If you're using mouse traps, place them along the walls where the rodents travel with the bait end facing the wall, so they're tempted to explore them.

Need to find a professional? If pest problems persist, RACV Trades will help you find the right tradesperson for you.
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