Many pests are capable of harming humans. Dust mites and cockroaches, for example, can cause a plethora of respiratory problems such as asthma, as well as allergies. Fleas are known to spread disease and cause allergies through their bites. Cockroaches are carriers of disease and can make humans very sick. Mosquito bites can lead to infections and allergies – not to mention the annoying but much less damaging itching and swelling. Even flies, which are considered benign by most, can carry bacteria and viruses which are harmful to humans.
In light of this, it’s important that you’re aware how to prevent pests in your home if your abode is affected by such problems. We will look at the most common types of pests – highlighting the health problems which they can cause in humans and focusing on how you can prevent them from invading your property.
How to Contol Pests at Home Through Prevention
Rats are one of the most harmful pests for human health and can be some of the most difficult to deal with. They are carriers of numerous diseases which they can spread to humans. These include:
Rats are usually attracted to houses by the smell of food; however, they may also view your home as a potential nesting place. It’s important that you maintain a good level of cleanliness throughout your house, taking care to not leave food or food debris out in the open for too long, especially close to the entrances of your property. Here are a few tips for those wanting to prevent a rat infestation:
- Keep foodstuffs in tightly fitted containers so that they are both difficult to get to and give out less smell.
- Keep your house tidy both inside and outside (this will afford rodents much less hiding space).
- If you own a pet, make sure their food is stored in tightly sealed containers. It’s preferable to have these above ground level to make it more difficult for rats to get to.
- If you have birdfeeders around your garden, you should clean these regularly and set up rat traps if you notice any rodents using them.
- If you keep your rubbish outside, make sure it is stored in robust bins which are difficult to open so that rats won’t be able to get to any of the contents.
If you’ve noticed droppings or other signs of a rat infestation in your property, prevention has failed and it is time to make a move to eradicate the rats.
The good news is silverfish aren’t known to carry any pathogens which cause diseases in humans. Nevertheless, they are annoying, and a silverfish infestation can get out of hand quite quickly if not treated with the proper care.
Silverfish are quite common in the UK and are attracted to homes by:
- Dark and warm places with high humidity. These insects thrive in moist and damp conditions and prefer habitats which have humidity levels of at least 70%. This is why they are most common in kitchens and bathrooms. They prefer to live in the dark and will strive to be in places with temperatures between 21 and 32 degrees.
- Carbohydrates and protein. Silverfish feed on protein and will thus be attracted to places where meat is stored or where there are lots of dead insects for them to eat. They also eat carbohydrates such as flour or oats and even starches such as cardboard and paper.
In order to prevent silverfish from settling in your home, you should:
- Make sure your kitchens and bathrooms are well ventilated so that they aren’t damp for long periods. If the walls of these rooms have already been exposed to humidity on a constant basis, they might have developed mould. If this is the case, check out our guide on how to get rid of mould on walls.
- Repaid any leaking faucets or pipes which may be increasing the humidity in different areas of your property.
- Keep your gutters clean so that moisture doesn’t accumulate. For more information on how to do this, refer to our house gutter cleaning guide!
- Store all of your carbohydrate and meat foodstuffs in airtight containers and never leave them out in the open.
- Make sure you regularly clean and vacuum those rooms which are more likely to attract silverfish. These insects like living and laying eggs in small crevices and cracks so pay special attention to these when you are vacuuming. If you suspect you might have a few silverfish, empty the contents of the vacuum bag outside so that the bugs don’t have a chance to escape and remain in your home.
Cockroaches thrive in warm conditions and prefer environments where the temperature hovers around 22 degrees Celsius. They are most often found in dark and humid places, much like silverfish. They are, however, much more sensitive to light that silverfish and will avoid both sunlight and artificial light as much as possible.
A cockroach infestation can take a huge toll on those living in the infested property. These insects carry many pathogens and germs and can even cause allergies. If you’re interested in learning more about the kinds of germs cockroaches might carry as well what types of germs are around your house more generally, check out our blog post on the most common household germs.
Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers and will eat any organic matter that is available to them. They prefer starches and carbohydrates but will even eat objects such as paper or decaying books.
Wondering how to prevent these pests in your house? Because they are attracted to food, you will need to take many of the same precautions we have gone over with silverfish:
- Don’t leave food outside and make sure to store it properly, ideally above ground level.
- Clean your kitchen appliances regularly and keep them free of debris. Cockroaches are able to live off food spills and grease build-up for long periods of time. Making sure to not leave any debris overnight is a great way of ensuring they don’t have the food necessary to be attracted to your home or remain there. Vacuuming the kitchen flood every night is also a good way of ensuring they have nothing to scavenge off the floor.
- Try to only consume food in one room. This will make it easier to manage the food debris as you only need to clean and vacuum one room; eating in the kitchen is probably the best option as you’ll just need to clean your appliances and the floor once a day. If you eat in different rooms, crumbs or spills will inevitably end up on the floor and attract roaches to other parts of your house.
- If you have a pet, empty and thoroughly their food bowl every night.
- Use a trash can with a tight seal so that roaches cannot feed on any of the organic matter inside.
Wasps thrive in warm temperatures and can, for this reason, be an annoyance year-round in tropical climates. They are social animals who live in nest building communities and are very aggressive, especially when protecting their young. Unlike bees, they are able to sting repeatedly and close encounters with them can end badly for humans.
There are a few things you can do in order to prevent wasps from nesting in or around your house:
- Seal your waste bins so that you limit the food sources available to wasps within your property.
- Avoid leaving food outside for long periods. During early spring and summer wasps are on the lookout for foods rich in protein and will be attracted to anything that is left out in the open. During late summer and autumn, they turn their sights towards sweeter foods. Thus, if you want to avoid wasps you should also limit the number of picnics you have and the amount of food you leave out in the open for long periods.
- Try to avoid swatting wasps. You might think killing a solitary wasp you see around the house will be beneficial, if not unharmful. However, when they are swatter, wasps release a chemical which attracts other nearby wasps. If you notice one in your house, try to direct it towards a window.
- During summer, avoid using sweet smelling air fresheners as wasps are attracted to sweet smells during this time.
- Fix any loose entry points into your house. The best way to prevent wasps from nesting inside your home is to make sure there are no places through which they can enter in the first place. Sealing off any small cracks in around windows, torn insect window nets, unsealed vents, or open dampers will go a long way in ensuring wasps cannot set up shop in your house.
We’ve been through how to control pests at home by preventing them from setting up shop in your house in the first place. This guide is thus dedicated to those who are in the prevention stages of their pest control. For those who already have an established infestation, other more radical solutions will definitely be needed.
Keeping your house clean and tidy is the best way of preventing a pest infestation. If you want to learn more about how to quickly and efficiently clean your home and keep it that way, check out our guide detailing the 10 simple home cleaning hacks you need to start making use of.
Finally, household items which are never cleaned and are left to accumulate dirt and grime can be just as dangerous to your health as some of the pests we’ve dealt with above. If you want to learn more about this, take a look at our post on the household items which can make you unwell if kept dirty!