It’s not uncommon to find pests outside of the home. However, most folks aren’t too excited to find them inside their home. Fortunately, homeowners usually can control light infestations by carefully following the directions on the pesticide containers and by doing a thorough job of application.

While sanitation and good housekeeping are possibly the most important aspects in controlling or preventing pests, even well-kept homes sometimes become infested.

Certain pests found outside may be eliminated before they enter the home. However, some insects live entirely within the home, where they must be controlled by applying spray, dust, bait or aerosol pesticides to areas where they are most frequently found. If the infestation is severe and widespread, your best option may be to employ the services of a pest control firm, which has pesticides and application equipment not generally available to homeowners.

When tackling the job yourself, there are a few safety tips that need to be followed. Be sure to read and follow all directions on the container label. Consider wearing a mask when applying pesticides. Also, avoid repeated or prolonged contact of insecticides with your skin and prolonged inhalation of spray mist.

Avoid spraying oil solutions near open flames such as a pilot light or a candle. Use caution when applying insecticides in the kitchen. Don’t risk getting sick by applying insecticides near food, dishes, cooking utensils and surfaces on which food is prepared.

When disposing of pesticide containers, don’t puncture or incinerate aerosol or pressurized spray cans. Be sure to always wash your hands, face and other exposed body areas after using pesticides.

If you happen to have leftover insecticides, store in the labeled original containers in a dry place out of reach of young children and pets.

Keep in mind it may be easier to prevent and control pests instead of treating for them. To help keep pests out of your home, make it unattractive to them. Clean out areas that make good homes for the pests. Keep areas clean that collect grease, food scraps or other spillage that may provide a food source.

Get rid of excessive storage boxes in the attic or garage and clean up foliage or other hiding places from around the outside foundation of your home. Also, inspect the home for cracks or openings that would allow outside pests indoors. Seal up any cracks you may find.

If you find pests in your pantry, locate the infested material. It’s likely cereal, flour, dried beans, rice, spices or pet food. Toss that stuff in the trash and apply a light application of pesticide. 

When restocking, check newly purchased dried foods for insect infestations. Also, store foods in tightly sealed, plastic or metal containers as opposed to sacks, bags or boxes.

David Hillock is a consumer horticulturist with OSU cooperative extension.

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