In a world where people seemingly share every detail of their lives, from mundane daily tasks to personal medical updates and emotional rants, the frustrating experience of having household pests has remained oddly private, even in spite of its prevalence.
Just about every homeowner has caught sight of a spider spinning a web in a lonely corner or a housefly landing about on every inch of the kitchen counter. In such cases, the situation was likely harmless and promptly dealt with, either with the quick squish-and-grab using a tissue or a sharp smack from a rolled newspaper, with nary a second thought to having an underlying pest problem. However, it’s when homeowners tend to encounter those other, more “icky” pests, such as mice, cockroaches, bed bugs, fleas or ticks in their homes that they panic and become reluctant to tell anyone for fear of being judged as having a dirty home. Instead, they scramble to implement often ineffective do-it-yourself methods or they immediately call in a pest professional to help get rid of the “shameful” pest – quickly and quietly.
However, homeowners need not be ashamed. Often times, pests are equal opportunity offenders that seek out any structure with an inviting environment, regardless of geographic location, socioeconomic status or level of cleanliness. So when an infestation strikes, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. However, there is no room for being complacent. Homeowners can play defense with simple prevention measures.
Fleas and ticks
- Check pets frequently for ticks, fleas and flea dirt. Be aware of excessive scratching, licking, and nibbling behavior in pets.
- Avoid walking the dogs in tall grass, and low-growing brushy vegetation along the edge of the woods or trails where there is a greater chance of fleas and ticks hitching a ride.
- Check pets after a walk near or in such areas and bathe them after walks or playtime with other animals.
- Frequently wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys.
- Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently. Empty vacuum bags in an outside receptacle.
- Speak to a veterinarian about treated collars and medications. According to a new tick survey from the NPMA, only 35 percent of respondents ensure pets have preventative tick treatments.
- Seal cracks and holes around the outside of the home including utility pipes.
- Properly ventilate basements and crawl spaces to prevent moisture buildup.
- Keep counters free of crumbs and vacuum the floors often to reduce the accumulation of cockroach allergens, which can also trigger asthma attacks.
- Keep garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly to avoid attracting pests.
- Pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms - especially under appliances and sinks - as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
- Check sheets at hotels for telltale blood spots or the bugs themselves.
- Consider keeping your suitcase in a large plastic trash bag during hotel stays.
- Carry a small flashlight to assist with quick visual inspections.
- Vacuum suitcases after returning from a vacation.
- Never bring second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, into a home without thoroughly examining for signs of a bed bug infestation.
Vice President, Public Affairs, National Pest Management Association