Bugs in the home make most of us shudder, so if you’ve recently noticed some little creepy crawlies sneaking around your rooms, you are probably wondering what on earth they are and how on earth you can get rid of them as quickly and safely as possible.
The first important step is to identify what you are dealing with. Occasionally, different bugs will require different treatments, so this is key.
Once you have done so, you can move onto how to get rid of them, and we’re going to look at some easy steps for eradicating bugs of all kinds from your home.
What Kind Of Bugs Are They?
There are a multitude of different bugs that might decide to inhabit our homes, so let’s explore some of the common hard shell bugs.
“It’s often important to identify what a bug is eating, as well as what kind of bug it is, so that you can remove the food as part of handling the infestation.“
A common kind of bug you might see in your home is a pillbug. You might be familiar with these because of their ability to roll up, which fascinates children everywhere.
They are usually fond of rotting wood, so you may see them around old, unsealed windowsills or cupboards that have got damp.
They will also eat other kinds of rotting vegetation, so houseplants can be a haven for them.
If you find one, it is usually because the area is moist, dark, and relatively undisturbed. They are not a threat to humans.
Minimal introduction to this hard shell bug is needed.
They are considered one of the ultimate unpleasant insects to find in your home, and if you have come across one, you are probably panicking about how many there may be.
Cockroaches tend to only come out at night, so if you spot one in the day, the chances are that you have a large infestation.
Fortunately, they are harmless to people, so while you may not want them in your house, they won’t hurt you.
The Carpet Beetle
If you come across tiny, hard shelled bugs gathered on your windowsill or in shadowy corners of your room, they might well be carpet beetles, especially if you have a natural fiber carpet.
However, even if your carpet is acrylic, they will find other natural fibers to eat. Feathers inside pillows or duvets and cotton or wool clothing, curtains, furnishings, etc., can all be attractive to them.
They also get into cereal cabinets and eat the grain cereals. They are very small and sometimes have light patterning on their shells.
Again, they are harmless to people, but can be destructive to fibers.
If you’ve got little tiny brown flecks in your flour – yes, they are flour weevils.
These are usually small and you may not notice them, but they can quickly become an infestation.
They will eat plenty of other things besides flour and can be difficult to get rid of.
Many people freeze their flour to kill weevil eggs (most flour contains these eggs, but they are minute and do not pose any threat to people) and then store it in airtight containers to prevent any weevils from spreading.
Aside from flour weevils, there are many other kinds of bugs that could infest your pantry and munch on your food stocks.
Many will go for flours and other grains such as maize and cereal, so they should be easy to detect. They have hard shells, long back legs, and they are usually very small.
These bugs are generally outdoor dwellers, but in cold temperatures, they may choose to relocate to the warmth of a cozy house.
They have hard shells and they are rather pretty to look at, but you don’t want them in your home – because the name is not a joke.
If you bother or frighten these bugs, they will release a terrible smell.
Removing them must be done with care; you should never swat a stinkbug if you don’t want to be handling an awful odor!
Step One: Identify The Problem
Once you have noticed a problem, spend a bit of time documenting it. Work out how big the problem is, and how serious it might be.
For example, if you spot carpet beetles in one room, are they in other rooms too? If you find flour weevils in a single bin of flour, have they spread to other foods?
How big is the infestation? Usually, you will only see one or two insects unless you look closely, but a more detailed inspection should give you a good idea of how many bugs there are.
You may not see them, but you should see evidence of what they have been eating.
“It’s important to avoid moving and disrupting the bugs until you know how serious the problem is and what has been affected by it.“
If, for example, you are positive that the carpet beetles are limited to one room in the house, you may wish to seal off or put deterrents in other rooms before you disrupt the space that they are inhabiting.
They may simply spread to new territory otherwise.
Step Two: Clear The Area Out
To effectively deal with insects, you need to remove as much as possible from the area that they are inhabiting.
For example, emptying out your pantry will be necessary to tackle a flour beetle infestation. Clearing your linen closet is part of tackling carpet beetles.
You will need to remove furniture and books and game stations and everything else from the area.
Insects like to hide underneath things, and will readily creep into corners or beneath furniture. Pet beds are particularly popular hiding spots.
Remember that they like damp, dark places. Clear everything that can be removed out of the infected area so you can deal with the infestation effectively.
Where possible, affected items should be quarantined. They need to be put in a tiled space, or wrapped in plastic bags, so that any bugs clinging to these items cannot simply climb off and go inhabit a new area of your home.
If you are dealing with carpet beetles, you should freeze all soft items (if possible). This should kill the eggs that may be within the items.
You can also use hot washes to kill them, or even boil the fabric if it won’t hurt the item. It’s important not to just put it back, because any eggs will hatch and the cycle will begin again.
Food that has been infested will need to be disposed of, and food that has not been infested should be transferred to clean, sealed containers and stored elsewhere at least temporarily while you handle the bugs.
Step Three: Clean Thoroughly
Next, it’s time to clean. You need to remove anything that the insect has been eating; this is the best way to deal with an infestation effectively.
Insects that have no food will be forced to move on (although some can manage for surprising amounts of time without access to a meal).
You should start by vacuuming all surfaces thoroughly, removing dust and debris. If you have a carpet, make sure you are using a powerful vacuum and spend extra time picking up all the dust that you can.
A stiff brush can help to sweep carpet fibers up and free dust that may be trapped under them.
Wipe down hard surfaces with hot, soapy water if possible. Sweep, mop, polish, and sterilize the environment as much as you can to deter the bugs from returning.
They will not like a space that has no dust to hide behind and eat, no safe places for their eggs, and no furnishings to use as shelter.
Step Four: Kill The Bugs
If you are a peaceful person and the infestation is minor, this could be translated as “remove the bugs.” Pillbugs, for example, can often be relocated.
You might be able to do this by sweeping them onto a piece of paper, or – if they’re inhabiting a plant pot – moving the plant outdoors.
“Getting rid of their food source will discourage them from returning and you will have peacefully dealt with the infestation.“
However, sometimes more drastic measures may be called for. Even people dedicated to insect welfare are unlikely to transfer carpet beetles one by one outdoors, and they would likely die from the change in environment anyway.
So, that leaves you to find ways to kill them. A vacuum cleaner is an effective way of removing large infestations; it sucks them up quickly and can deal with big areas at once. However, it is rarely enough on its own.
You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth too. This white powder will create many tiny abrasions or cuts in the skin of any insects that come into contact with it. This destroys the protective layer that preserves the bug’s internal moisture.
Without this protective layer, the moisture will be pulled out of their bodies and they will quickly die. It is a quick, easy, and cheap way to make an area decidedly unfriendly for bugs.
Diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and pets to eat, but it should not be inhaled as it can irritate the lungs.
Use a mask and gloves (it will dry out your skin) when applying it, and keep pets out of the affected space until you have vacuumed the powder up.
You can also spray neem oil on the area. This kills over two hundred kinds of insects. It reduces their desire to feed, messes with their hormones and reduces their ability to breed, and repels them.
It is an effective way of dealing with all sorts of hard shelled bugs in your home.
There are also commercial insecticides that you can purchase if you don’t want to use a natural remedy. You might find one specifically designed for dealing with the kind of bug you have in your home.
If so, read the instructions carefully to check it is safe for use, and avoid leaving it where pets or children may access it.
Step Five: Call Professionals
If you are still having problems with an infestation or you are feeling particularly nervous, you may want to call out a professional team to deal with the bugs. Bear in mind that many will use commercial insecticides, so be prepared for that.
“Professionals are more likely to be required if the insects are inhabiting a space that you can’t easily reach (e.g. behind a skirting board, accessed via a small hole, etc.), or if the infestation is serious and the food source is difficult to remove.“
Whether or not you decide to call in some help, how you deal with the “after” part of having a bug infestation is also key to your success in ending it, so let’s explore the next step.
Step Six: Deterring Bugs
Once an area has been cleared of bugs, you need to proceed carefully to avoid a recurrence of the problem. Firstly, do not immediately put “edibles” (or other furnishings) back in the area.
Do not return flour (or other cereals) to a recently infected pantry. Do not put cotton or wool fabrics back in a space you’ve just removed carpet beetles from.
All furniture and items removed from the space need to be wiped down, vacuumed, disinfected, etc. Keep the space open and exposed to light and activity for as long as you can.
This may prove frustrating if you want to get things “back to normal” and make spaces functional again, but remember that if there are eggs that have not been removed or killed by your cleaning process, when they hatch, they will simply re-inhabit the food source as soon as it becomes available again.
If you do need to put things back, use sealed containers for foods, and make absolutely sure the foods aren’t infested themselves (or they could reinfect everything else!).
Clothes can be kept in plastic bags and covered with lavender to deter bugs, and regular vacuuming should take place to keep any hatching insects at bay.
You can also use a variety of essential oils to disinfect the surfaces and deter bugs, or buy chemicals suitable for the job if you prefer.
Always make sure – regardless of whether you are using natural remedies or not – that what you use is safe for any pets or young children you may have.
Peppermint oil is a known repellent for insects; most of them detest it and will not inhabit areas that smell strongly of peppermint.
You can wipe surfaces with peppermint oil, or you can spray it around door frames, in the corners of rooms, and even on the inside of vents to try and stop the bugs from coming in.
Lavender is also a good deterrent that you can use around the home. Put it in rooms even if you don’t think they have an issue; many bugs dislike the scent and will not nest there readily.
Many hard shell bugs won’t specifically be deterred by lavender, but it will help with other bugs such as moths, and won’t do any harm.
Step Seven: Preventing Future Insect Infestations
Bugs enter your home for a reason, and there are things you can do to minimize the chances or make it difficult for them to get a foothold. The first of these is to increase your cleaning and general maintenance a little.
Insects dislike being disturbed, and stinkbugs, pillbugs, cockroaches, and other hard shell bugs will relocate if they feel their space is being constantly cleaned. You will also get rid of dust that many feed on.
Good house maintenance is key to avoiding repeating insect infestations. Make sure that you clean up any spilled food promptly, wash dishes straight away, and regularly vacuum, especially in the corners.
Wipe down windowsills and dust ornaments. Movement and cleanliness deter bugs.
It is also a good idea to remove water sources if you can. Most insects need to drink, but they only need a very little water – so if you have any standing water around, they may be taking advantage of it.
Even condensation is plenty for an insect to drink, so regularly dry any problem areas, and fix dripping taps.
Keeping on top of your home environment and ensuring it is not “bug friendly” is a good way to minimize your insect problems.
That does not mean you need to spray chemicals everywhere; it’s just about cutting back on dust, and making sure that dark, peaceful corners get disturbed and cleaned frequently.
Insect infestations can be unpleasant and difficult to deal with, but it’s important to get on top of them as fast as you can when you notice hard shell bugs wandering around your home.
Left to themselves, they will breed and multiply, making the situation progressively worse.
“As soon as you realize there is a problem, you need to remove food sources and furnishings, clean the area thoroughly, and then treat it with appropriate chemicals or remedies. If necessary, call professionals.“
Once an infestation has been dealt with, make sure you maintain the space with extra vigilance and look out for any signs of re-infestation.
If you want to learn more about bug maintenance in your home, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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