According to a study on Pesticide Exposure in Children from the Council on Environmental Health, pesticides used to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents are encountered daily by children. Acute poisoning is a rising concern and evidence shows connections between early life exposure to pesticides with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems.
Relying on prevention and more natural remedies is always encouraged over chemical use. But which methods work best, and how can you ensure you’re keeping your family safe while combating pests? Start with areas you can control, like sealing your home and using natural remedies, and call in the experts when the problem is bigger than your control. Here are five things to consider in your pest control journey.
Block off the corridors for pests and rodents by sealing holes and cracks in your home’s interior and exterior. Look for gaps in your home around plumbing, floor vents and exterior doors.
A little caulking might work fine for small holes and cracks where bugs can enter. But even the slightest holes can leave a route open for bugs and rodents alike. Mice can squeeze through quarter-inch holes and leave a trail behind for other mice to follow. For larger holes, stuff with steel wool or wire mesh first before applying caulk and sealing.
Bugs and pests love to feed on leftover food scraps, crumbs and even small pools of water collecting in your bathroom. The EPA recommends storing your food in sealed plastic or glass containers, and tightly covering any trash cans. Remember to quickly remove accumulating garbage from your house and inspect your garage for any forgotten pieces of garbage or clutter.
But human food isn’t the only thing bugs and rodents consume. Corrugated cardboard boxes and their glue attract pests who turn it into a feast. Other critters will use box and newspaper scraps to build nests and leave behind droppings. Avoid clutter, and assume anything like paper or boxes will be used or consumed by unwanted pests.
Depending on your pest problem, some issues can be resolved with natural remedies that require no chemicals or professional intervention. Wipe down your home with an equal-parts solution of vinegar and water to deter ants from coming back. Doing it regularly can destroy the scent trails ants use to chart their path, and can keep them from exploring your home. Meanwhile, planting catnip around your garden or in your home can deter mosquitoes from turning your home and backyard into a breeding ground.
Not all pest issues can be resolved with natural remedies and taking proactive steps. For example, a rat or squirrel problem in your basement or attic can be difficult for the everyday consumer to resolve without help. Research professional wildlife removal services to combat your pest problem to tackle especially challenging problems.
Ask any service you work with about their insurance and credentials. Some services also have a staff of technicians with degrees in wildlife biology, entomology and beyond. The team is trained to remove animals ranging from bats to yellow jackets, and relocate them to an appropriate wildlife area.
You probably already know using chemical sprays and bug bombs can be dangerous to children and pets. But any repellent that comes in a bottle using propellant can also explode. Meanwhile, pouring pesticides into unapproved containers or mixing them together can cause a harmful chemical reaction.
Always carefully follow any safety precautions on the back of bug and rodent repellents. Keep them locked away from pets and children, and throw out leftovers. It’s better to just buy new pesticides than risk leftovers being spilled or accidentally consumed. At the end of the day, it’s always better to be safe and explore natural remedies and experts with humane pest control practices than use harsh chemicals and solutions.