Don’t Bug Me—How Bugs Can Damage Your Home And What To Do About It

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February 15, 2019

Bugs, insects, and small rodents can all damage your home, make it less sanitary and safe, and even reduce your home’s value. They can also take a toll on your sanity until you’re at a point of so-help-me-I-will-burn-my-house-to-the-ground-to-kill-you-every-last-one-of-you sort of feeling. So what are some of the main pests you need to watch for, and how do you stop them?

Although in the most extreme cases you’ll likely need to call in an exterminator, most of our tips and tricks can be purchased somewhat cheaply. Of course, prevention is the best solution if you can stop them before they become an issue (which window and door screens can help with), but that’s not always possible.

Termites

Termite Damage

The classic pest, known for causing huge amounts of property damage, termites can be a big pain to get rid of. They aren’t harmful to humans on their own, but because they are so challenging to find, they could cause serious structural damage and compromise the integrity of your entire home completely out of sight. Mud tubes the termites create are one of the key signs of an infestation, as are termite droppings. Small discarded wings near windows or doors, or swarming near active areas are also good indicators you may have an infestation.

Prevent termites by keeping soil-to-wood contact at a very minimum. Wood piles also attract them, so store all piles of firewood away from your home. It’s also important to make sure any soil near your home is draining properly, as moist soil and wood attracts termites.

Some common treatments to get rid of termites early on include:
Pouring a boric acid and water mixture on wooden surface entrances
Using essential oils like clove bud oil, vetiver oil, or tea tree oil and spraying them on termites
A half cup of vinegar and two lemons mixed together can also kill termites when put into a spray
A final method is to place wet cardboard near a colony and kill them when they start feeding on it

Termites in larger quantities are typically best handled by professionals though—most pest control companies will do termite removal. Because termites can be difficult to access, gassing them is a common treatment by pest control companies.

Ants

Ants Damage

Typically more of an issue than termites for large parts of BC, are ants. Unfortunately, there are many types of ants that could cause problems in your home. Common black ants can be annoying, but they are typically more attracted to leftover food than eating away at your home or you. Most basic ant traps can get rid of these ants easily, just make sure to keep all food cleaned up and sealed.

A good way to prevent most ants from getting into your home is through window and door screens. You should also seal the area around all entrances and cracks to provide the least amount of opportunities (if any) for ants to enter your home. If you notice a few ants wandering around your home, they are acting as scouts and will bring their colony back if you don’t kill them, so make sure to do so.

Carpenter ants are also typically harmless to humans, but like termites, they can cause serious damage to the structure of your home. They will be all red or all black, and a key sign of their presence are small wood shaving piles near baseboards, door jams, or window sills. Infested wood will sound hollow when knocked on, and you might see ants coming to and from entrances they have created. You can deal with them through store-bought baits, insecticides, and even boric acid.

Finally, fire ants (also known as red ants), won’t cause damage to your yard, but they are super territorial (especially if their nest is disturbed) and will quickly swarm you if you’re not careful and attack. Their bites typically form small red welts and, if left alone, will heal without scarring. Again, baited food traps, and boric acid may work for smaller infestations, even repeated spreading of diatomaceous earth over their nest can potentially work.

Wasps

Wasp Damage

Ugh, wasps, one of nature’s biggest jerks. If wasps were people they would be that bully who always kicks over people’s sandcastles for no reason. Like fire ants, these blasted insects are highly aggressive, territorial, and will swarm if their nest is disturbed. This makes them especially dangerous to people allergic to their stings. Common wasps tend to make nests in sheds, or under the overhangs of railings or roofs and their hives are typically easy to spot. Underground yellowjackets (a form of wasp that nests in the ground) are also common, and even more annoying to deal with since the nest entrances are typically small. If you see an almost perfectly circular hole in the ground with wasps coming from and going to it, there’s likely an underground wasp nest connected.

Like ants, you can prevent wasps from getting into your home by sealing all entrances and installing window and door screens so you’re still able to get airflow in. Make sure to kill any wasps you find inside your home so they don’t set up shop and form any nests.

For above-ground nests, common wasp sprays can get rid of smaller ones, while bait traps work well to kill large quantities of wasps when set up properly—some bait traps are even reusable.

For underground nests, as much as you might want to, dumping gasoline into the nest entrance and setting it on fire isn’t advised (despite how badass it may sound). Instead, cover the entrance with a clear bowl to seal wasps in. You could also pour water and soap near the entrance to discourage wasps from coming back or out of the nest. If there are only a few entrances, you can also entomb the nest by covering all of them with dirt to trap the wasps inside.

Mice & Rats

Mouse Damage

Unlike what you may have been led to believe by Cinderella, mice are not going to make you a dress to go to the ball, but will instead cause potentially serious damage to your home. Typically active at night, some key signs you may have rats or mice are droppings, urine stains, burrows, and chew marks. You also will likely hear some rustling in the walls if they have burrowed into the drywall. While rats may seem like the bigger threat, mice can actually cause more damage since they breed much faster and can exponentially become a bigger issue. Not only that, mice have been tied to causing house fires after chewing on electrical cables. Both rats and mice can carry diseases so it’s important to deal with them quickly once you find out where they are in your home.

You can prevent them from getting in by making sure there are no major cracks they can enter. If they get in, keep clutter at a minimum to more easily spot them, and regularly clean all areas of your home, especially kitchen areas like behind refrigerators and under stoves. Unfortunately, window and door screens won’t do much to discourage these pests since they’ll typically gnaw right through them.

Basic mouse traps will work if you find the first few mice or rats quickly. Bait traps also work and don’t have to be reset like mousetraps, but they do only come with a limited amount of bait. Just make sure to place traps at key points like areas or entrances you’ve seen mice or rats come from to ensure they have to trigger the trap to get through.

Preventing infestations of any kind of critter often don’t require much preparation or setup, but it may be more challenging depending on the age of your home and how it was built. At the very minimum, installing window and door screens are a good idea. Bugs and other pests can be a serious source of grief for any homeowner; don’t leave them as a low priority and get rid of them as quickly as possible to ensure your home is safe and secure.



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