Got Creepy Crawlies? Here’s How to Protect Your Home From These 5 Common Fall Pests
We spoke with experts on how to protect your home from five of the most common — and unwanted — pests this season. The first thing you’ll want to do is follow these general guidelines for some pest prevention as the weather turns colder.
Make sure that:
- All doors, windows, and the garage door close properly
- All screens are intact with no holes
- All grout and drywall are free from gaps or openings
- All open food is stored in the refrigerator or tightly sealed containers and pet dishes are picked up at night
- Counters are clean and dishes aren’t left in the sink
- Garbage is removed as often as possible
Keep outside dwellers’ populations lower by:
- Pruning vegetation and dead branches
- Picking up plant debris, fallen fruit, and old wood
- Stacking firewood away from the home
- Keeping rain gutters clear
- Cleaning up barbecue areas after each use
- Keeping garbage cans clean and lids secured
- Cutting the grass low
- Making sure there’s no standing water anywhere
- Limiting outside lights
Even with the cleanest place and the most immaculate yard, some bugs will still creep their way into your space. Some of the most common pests in fall are stink bugs, beetles, ladybugs, cockroaches, and spiders. We have specific tips for each of these pesky critters.
Stink bugs don’t smell when they’re simply lounging about your home. But when threatened or crushed, they let out a smelly odor that contains a chemical that attracts other stink bugs to them. “Stink bugs are often highly resistant to pesticides, so removing them can be challenging,” says Jordan Foster, a pest expert at Fantastic Pest Control. “Their waxy coating prevents poisons from penetrating.”
He suggests vacuuming them up and then removing them from your home, or using insecticidal soap and Rotenone, but to follow label directions carefully and keep these products away from kids and pets.
Zack DeAngelis, CEO and founder of Pest Pointers, says overpowering the stink bugs’ ability to attract others can help keep more from coming. He recommends spearmint oil, “which can be diluted properly and sprayed around stink bug potential entry points of your home like your baseboard, cracks in your foundation, and window framing.”
Beetles also hate mint, as well as neem oil, a naturally occurring pesticide, according to Andrew Greess, owner of QSpray. Prevention is important with the many types of beetles that might hitchhike into your home via packages, pantry goods, or pet foods, so inspect the products that come into your place to make sure you’re not bringing in an infestation.
You might be surprised that cute little ladybugs made this list, especially if you’ve also seen them sold in garden stores, but, if their population gets out of control, ladybugs can invade your home looking for warmth.
They’re not a huge fan of mint, either, and Jeremy Yamaguchi, CEO of Lawn Love, says you can use essential oils to repel them because of their strong sense of smell. He recommends lavender and catnip, too, but says, “the most effective smells are citrus ones.”
Foster suggests other deterrents such as spices, like cloves and bay leaves, diatomaceous earth, and dish soap. “You can spray soapy water on a colony or leave a bowl of soapy water near a light source,” he says. He also recommends having Mums, which contain a chemical that kills bugs but is safe for other animals, planted or in vases. You could also vacuum and remove them.
You probably associate cockroaches with messy homes because they are attracted to stray bits of food, clutter, and accessible water, so the best way to combat roaches is by cleaning. “This becomes even more important in metropolitan and apartment living, because of the closer proximity to outdoor food scraps from restaurants or likely uncleanly neighbors,” says Greess.
Yamaguchi says, “you may not always be able to prevent them from entering your home. However, try to always keep your home clean, especially your kitchen and bathrooms, and keep all food stored in sealed containers.” He says the best product for roaches is Eco Defense Organic Home Pest Control Spray, which is safe for kids and pets.
Halloween might be the time of year when you break out the fake spider webs and spider decor, but you likely don’t want to turn your whole place into a home for these creepy crawlies, especially since some spiders bite.
However, many spiders do act as natural bug repellers. “While some homeowners may not like having spiders around, they are actually incredibly important to keeping your bug populations low in your home [because] spiders go after all the little insects in your home that we end up trying to repel anyways,” says DeAngelis. “Most house spiders tend to want to stay away from humans in the first place, so unless it’s a problematic species they can be left alone.”
This argument may not sway you and you might be worried about the types of spiders you may have. If so, there are several removal methods. Foster says, “oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and peppermint keep spiders away. Add 15 to 20 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water and spray around the house,” but the best spider repellent is apple cider vinegar sprayed around doors and windows.
What to do if you still see bugs
If you’ve tried all the tricks and you’re still being treated to bugs in your home, the experts say it’s time to give your local exterminator or specialist a call. They can assess your home for potential entry points and use their best methods to eradicate any unwanted pests to keep your home safe and cozy for only your wanted guests this fall.