Incomplete spring cleaning without proper pest management


Now that spring time has finally arrived statewide, many Texans are getting ready for spring cleaning.

Not so fast, advises Janet Hurley, Dallas, an integrated pest management specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, who says pest control should be high on the list of cleanup activities.

“You can’t really clean your house without doing two things,” she says. “First of all, you need to be aware of the products you are using and use the correct products for cleaning. Second, you need to take the time to protect your environment from pests. “

Disorder equals critters

Your home may appear neat and tidy after a good cleaning, but if you have a lot of “stuff” in your house, there’s a good chance you have unwanted pests too. The mess collects dust and debris and contributes to allergens, including insect droppings, dead insects, animal dander, mold and dust mites. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, these indoor pollutants can be potentially harmful to people with asthma and other health problems.

Spring cleaning should include removing anything on your shelves and cabinets and whatever is possible on the floor or moving it around. Check for cobwebs, unidentifiable debris, nests, and droppings before cleaning.

Hurley suggests checking the backs of pantries, cupboards, and hard-to-reach corners for any signs of insects or rodents. After a harsh winter, many pests may have decided to overcome the bad weather in your comfortable home. All pests need a source of food, a little water, warmth, and a place to hide. Hurley said even the cleanest homes usually offer these essentials, so taking pest prevention measures is essential.

“The smell is also a good indication that you have a problem,” she says. “If you know the smell of an old library or an antique store, this is the smell you want to look for.”

Hurley explained that the moisture, paper, glue found in book bindings, and duct tape on boxes can create a perfect storm to attract critters. If you have a library, make sure that no pests have entered these books for a buffet or to breed.

“Insects don’t need a lot of water, much less than you might expect,” she says. “If you have cardboard boxes or paper handy, these are food sources for the insects.”

And if your house offers food, from crumbs that have fallen under the kitchen table or on a counter, you are providing meals for unwanted guests.

Let there be light, but not on your porch

“Your exterior lights can shine in your home, but you don’t want them shining on your home,” Hurley said.

Porch lights and motion lights on a house can serve as a neon welcome sign for bugs. Since insects are attracted to the light source, she suggests installing lights in your yard that target your front door or elsewhere rather than having fixtures attached to the outside of your home.

Inside, she said, open things up and let the light shine and the air circulating.

“Rooms that are rarely used, or dark cabinets and closets where the air doesn’t move, can be perfect hiding places for pests,” said Hurley.

She said that since most pests generally don’t like air circulation, it’s important to open rooms and turn on fans to help deter unwanted guests in low traffic areas. and less frequented from your home.

Hurley said it’s good to open the windows as long as they have screens, you’ve already checked for any holes or tears and made sure they fit snugly and with no gaps . It’s also important to clean your screens of dust and debris, including the area between the ledge, screen, and window, before opening them. Otherwise, dust and unwanted pollutants that might have collected on the screen can blow into your home.

Read the label before cleaning

When using cleaning products, Hurley said it’s essential to follow directions. She warned that even though you regularly use proven products, you may be using them incorrectly and possibly in ways that harm you, your family or your pets.

“Formulations change, the concentration needed to clean safely and effectively may change, and application instructions may change and differ between products that you may assume to be similar,” said Hurley. “Remember, using more doesn’t equal getting something cleaner – you could just hurt yourself or your family.

When using cleaning products, be sure to wear gloves and take the necessary safety precautions as stated on the label. Also make sure that the room you are cleaning is well ventilated and that you are not combining cleaning products.

It is also essential to properly dispose of any pesticides, herbicides, and cleaning products that you are not using. Contact your city or county to see if they have a hazardous waste collection site. If not, ask them if they have a day and a place for community members to safely dispose of these products.

Never throw pesticides in the trash. The potential for them to reach a landfill where they can poison wildlife, soil or possibly groundwater is too great. In most places it is also illegal.

A useful educational website recommended by Hurley and the EPA is the National Pesticide Information Center.

Preparation outdoors

Just as you don’t want clutter to provide a place for pests to live and breed inside your home, so does your garden.

Hurley suggests cleaning up debris, brush piles, and clearing out any plants that didn’t survive winter storms. She also advises making sure nothing is stacked against your house, like firewood or building or garden supplies.

“Put away all empty pots and other items that catch water,” she says. “These are sources of water for pests and potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes as the weather warms.

When landscaping, you also want to prevent plants from growing too close to your house or having vines climbing up your walls. You should also cut tree branches close to your roof. All of these can serve as pest control highways on or in your home.

Credit card verification

While many people know that mice and other small creatures can go through a hole as small as a quarter of an inch, often people don’t think about checking the seals on their doors and windows unless they smell a hole. air flow.

“A home can look and smell clean, but there’s a good chance you have pests unless you also take the time to seal off areas where pests could enter your home,” Hurley said. “Window sills can be essential in identifying if you have a pest problem. If there appears to be debris on it, there’s a good chance it’s not just dust.

Checking for potential entry points for pests can be as simple as taking an old credit or membership card and seeing if you can slide it between the door and the door jamb and the door sweep or between the window and its seal. If you can slide the card across, pests can get in.

Hurley said it was also important to check for spaces in the house that might be overlooked.

“People can forget about their attics, crawl spaces and basements, but these are places pests can enter,” she said. “And if there’s a leak or an opening there, not only could you have a pest problem, but you could also have a water and / or mold problem. These are also areas where people tend to store things. If you haven’t used it, throw it away. The more space there is, the greater the risk of parasites.

Weather stripping can be used on doors and sliding doors to reduce space, and silicone can be used to fill small cracks in your home where pests might enter. Remember to check areas with hoses, wires, and laundry vents. If there is too much space around utility openings, fill them with a suitable sealant.

“A real spring cleaning isn’t all about making things sparkling and clean,” said Hurley. “It’s also protecting your family by using the right pest control product in the right way and taking the time to make sure your home doesn’t allow unwanted guests in.”

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