Pest control is a vital part of living in any home. Had you asked me three years ago what I thought about pest control, I wouldn’t have had much to say. It was only after experiencing my own infestation that I became gung-ho in the fight against these pesky home invaders.
Infestations amount to millions of dollars’ worth of damage every year in the United States alone. Pests can lead to structural damage within your home, hours of stress and futile efforts to exterminate, and – perhaps worst of all – health complications for you and your loved ones. I’ve personally experienced some of the pains of this list and can wholeheartedly vouch for the need for professional pest control.
“If you’re looking to save yourself from headaches and financial blunders, take a look at my experience with pest control below.“
What Is Pest Control?
When people speak about pest control, they’re often referring to a professional company that removes a species that has uninvitedly taken up residence in one’s home. While this is one of the most common scenarios, pest control refers to any directive or management of a species defined as a pest, before or after the pest becomes an issue for the family’s health, environment, or finances.
Types of Pests
When hearing the word “pest”, the typical creepy-crawlers come to mind: termites, mosquitos, fleas, ticks, or – the largest of the bunch – rats. Some other pests we may not hear about as often include bats, ants, rabbits, cockroaches, lice, or bed bugs.
My own experience occurred with one of the most pervasive of the pests – termites. It started subtly when I noticed a few strange insects roaming around one of the exterior back walls of my home. Brushing them off as just a few more outdoor insects I would have to deal with, I didn’t think twice. Here I am with 20/20 hindsight, one year too late…
Signs of an Infestation
Many of us are quick to shrug off a few pests because we think it’s part of the homeowner deal. In this case, I’ve learned the hard way that ignorance is not bliss. After ignoring the insects on the outer wall, I soon wasn’t able to ignore the signs that followed inside of my home.
Some of the most common signs of infestation include:
- Strange smells
- Damaged fabrics
- Holes or bite marks
- Damaged plants
- Unfamiliar sounds
- Damaged wood
At the time of my infestation, the wall I mentioned had wood paneling on the interior side. This room was, unfortunately, the master bedroom. I remember noticing that the paneling appeared to sink inwards when I looked at it from certain angles. Thinking it was a botched carpentry job that I hadn’t noticed before, I remained unaware of the hidden dangers behind the walls.
Eventually, the insects on the outdoor part of the wall multiplied enough to cause concern. After realizing that they were termites, I still did not put two and two together. Marching myself off to my local home-improvement store, I attempted to solve this issue myself.
Pest Control Options
There are more pest control solutions out there than people realize. From DIY attempts to professional exterminators, options abound. The key part is choosing which is best for you and your home.
DIY Pest Control
Do-It-Yourself pest control treatments include insecticides, repellents, and other chemicals that one self-administers in and around their home. These products offer clear directions that should be followed, particularly when working with the potent chemicals often found in insecticides. A DIY solution is practical if you have found a small problem area of pests and are confident that the issue is restricted to that zone.
I did not think or know whether my termite issue was confined to the outside wall. Because of this error, my DIY attempt came too late. This solution may have had better results had I attempted it at first sight instead of mistakenly waiting for a bigger problem.
Traditional Pest Control
“Traditional pest control has a long history of expertise and knowledge. This includes tactics like trapping, capturing, or netting larger pests such as rabbits or certain bird species.”
This method does not introduce any harmful chemicals or pesticides into the environment, and neighboring species are protected. Since my issue was with termites and not larger pests, this option was not feasible for me.
Green Pest Control
Green pest control is the use of biopesticides, also called green pesticides, for pest removal. Unlike traditional pesticides, these are safe for use in the environment and around human beings. Created from active ingredients of biological organisms, this method is great for those of us who are more environmentally conscious.
At the time, I was not aware of green pest control or the growth it was exhibiting in the U.S. If I had to go through the experience again – knock on wood – I would look into this option first.
A professional company is the go-to for full-blown infestations or hidden threats (something I wish I had known last year). If there are too many pests for you to take on yourself, it’s time to call a professional exterminator.
If you only see a few insects that tend to hide – like termites – this is likely a sign that their counterparts are eating through your home as we speak. It’s time to call a professional.
Pest Control Methods
Depending on which pest control option you utilize, you will see a range of counter-attacks to eradicate your infestation. The method of use depends on the type of pest and the size and location of the infestation.
You are probably already familiar with repellents if you’ve ever used a spray to protect your skin against bug bites. The chemicals in repellents act to keep pests away from humans. While they may be a temporary fix, repellents don’t usually do a long-term job.
This method works for my summer nights against mosquitos, but I knew it wouldn’t do much when it came to my termite problem.
Insect Growth Regulators
Did you know that one mosquito will lay between 100-200 eggs? That’s a whole lot of future, blood-sucking bugs. Insect growth regulators attack insect pests where they begin – as eggs or larvae. They throw a wrench in the maturation process of these creatures to eliminate them before adulthood.
Pheromones are the chemicals that allow certain animals and insects to communicate with one another. Each insect species uses a unique pheromone, and humans can use them to lead pests away from homes and into a trap.
When you think of pest control, you probably think of this method. These pesticides are chemical combinations registered as legal in the U.S. for both DIY and professional use. The risks have already been evaluated and published, so safety has been addressed.
This method is typically administered as a spray, although it does have other forms. You may be familiar with its use on crops and farms.
“When I chose to contact an exterminator, their professional team administered a pesticide which finally rid me of my termite nightmare.“
When we first see a pest in our home, we often fail to understand the real threat they pose. Disease, allergies, and discomfort are all possible when pests decide to infiltrate your safe haven.
Health Hazards from Pests
Pests cause more than just stress headaches. Take your common mosquito, for example, which is one of the deadliest organisms in the world, largely due to how easily they transmit the West Nile Virus or Zika virus.
Fleas and ticks transmit Lyme disease among their itchy and painful bites. Cockroaches, on the other hand, may trigger asthma or allergies through their disease-filled droppings, while ants can contaminate our food and, in turn, pose additional health risks.
Even if you choose to attack the infestation before it grows out of control, you’ll still need to take precautions as most pesticides contain harmful chemicals. All of these pest problems risk not only your safety but that of your family and pets.
Some hidden-threat pests, as mentioned earlier, may provide a looming danger apart from our health. Structural damage is nothing new to professional exterminators, especially when dealing with termites or carpenter ants.
Entire walls or sections of housing may have to be torn down and replaced if the infestation gets out of hand. This issue can even affect home insurance policies if you’re forced to file a claim to pay for damages.
In the same way that you want your home to last a long time, you want your pest control techniques to last just as long. Had I done enough research to know that termites abound in my area (which they do), I would have invested in preventative measures to make sure no pests got within arm’s reach of my home and family.
Pest control upkeep is not a mandatory part of homeownership, but I believe it should be. It would have saved me time, money, and a ton of frustration.
A routine inspection by a verified pest control agency can help you gain insight as to whether your home runs a risk of infestation. If they do find and catch an infestation in time, many professional exterminating companies offer free follow-up inspections to ensure that your home is pest-free.
While I’ve spoken about various pest controls methods, the largest distinction lies between the DIY project and hiring a professional. In my own experience, as within those of many others, I have long tortured myself for waiting to call a reputable company. If an infestation is what you fear, make sure to have a professional near.
Getting to the Source
You may have all of the confidence in the world that the little line of ants you eliminated will never return. Maybe they won’t… or maybe they will. I thought the same about my termites when my pest control DIY project seemed to scare them away for a day or two.
“If or when you suddenly realize your pests are back with a vengeance, don’t wait as I did. A true pest control professional will know how to track the source of the infestation. They’ll even give you tips along the way to make sure you’re not inadvertently attracting unwanted visitors.“
Experts are aware of the pests’ methods of nest-building, and they will be sure to eradicate the problem – not just temporarily scare them away.
Many people fear the cost of hiring a professional pest control company. While you must pay a cost upfront, use your mental math to deduct the potential expenses that you are avoiding.
As a point of reference, the average pest control inspection can cost about $100, with other companies offering free annual inspections. To compare, you should know that the average homeowner who experiences termites faces up to $3,000 in damages from the infestation that wasn’t found sooner. Remember that the earlier you call, the smaller your infestation, and the lower the cost.
Americans (myself included) have jumped on the pest control bandwagon and it shows. Last year alone, more than $2 billion were spent on pest control services. Individuals are learning and living by the importance of contracting and maintaining professional pest control.
I regrettably look back and think about all of the time that passed between when I first spotted those pesky termites to when I hired a professional exterminator; this includes the futile DIY attempt I made at fighting the infestation myself. If I had only begun my journey through a simple phone call, hours upon hours would have been saved.
Take it from someone who’s been there – time is money. Don’t waste your time and don’t wait to make that phone call.
Pests aren’t called pests arbitrarily. They can pose dangerous health risks, deplete our wallets, attack our safety, and take away our sanity.
If you knew you were surrounded by potential danger, would you sit around and wait or would you take action to protect yourself? With all of the options and preventative measures available for pest control, all responsible homeowners should contract pest control to protect what’s theirs.
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All the best
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