Keep your home pest free

Published On: Mar 17 2013 11:47:54 PM EDT

By the time you notice a rodent, cockroach or other insect crawling through your home, it may already be too late. The sign of a single pest can indicate a much larger problem.

Angie’s List Tips: Home Pest Prevention

  • Seal any cracks in walls or window and door casings and repair screens. Address leaks around sinks or plumbing. Moisture draws insects and rodents.
  • Keep tree branches trimmed and avoid placing mulch close to the home foundation. Not doing so invites termites (who love moisture) and other insects to seek cracks and crevices.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts. Don’t neglect outdoor fountains. Stagnant water and moist clogs in guttering draws insects.
  • Avoid piled up trash and recycle bins. These are smorgasbords for mice, ants and spiders.
  • Don’t stack wood near the house. Mice and spiders will ride into the house with the kindling.
  • Avoid leaving pet food unattended outside, as it will draw mice and raccoons, ants and other insects.
  • Don’t leave pet food unattended inside the house, either. Store dog food in a sealed plastic container.
  • Vacuum and sweep floors and wipe kitchen counters frequently. When mice or ants can’t find anything to feast on, they often don’t stick around.

“Prevention is the best defense against future pest problems. Taking care of your lawn, while it may not seem like the biggest issue, it’s actually really key. Keep your lawn mowed well and avoid standing water and go light on mulch around your house because that mulch can be a great place for pests to live," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

It’s also important to remember that weather can influence the behavior of certain pests. Rodents are more likely to enter the home in the winter, while bugs and insects will tend to visit during the warmer months.

Even though there are precautions you can take to help repel pests, it may be necessary to have a professional check your home, especially if you live in a wooded area or by water. A qualified exterminator can help prevent pests from entering your home by spraying the inside of your home and the outside perimeter on a regular basis.

“One thing consumers need to remember is not all methods are going to be good for children or for pets in your home so be sure to ask questions whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional," said Hicks.

Angie’s List Tips: Hiring a pest control company

  • It's better to preemptively hire an exterminator for regular inspections than it is to wait until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, pests don’t give warning in anticipation of a strike, so you never know when you will need the assistance of an exterminator.
  • In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator’s license before making a hiring decision.
  • The exterminator should be able to design a specific plan to identify the types of pests that need to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, the best removal method and steps to lower the risk of future infestations.
  • Typically, one-time treatments cost between $130 and $150. For ongoing service, expect to pay between $80 and $110 for quarterly treatments, or $40 to $60 for monthly treatments.
  • You may prefer to hire an exterminator who is willing to use eco-friendly or cruelty-free eradication methods. Many professional exterminators will be happy to offer these options upon request.

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