There are lots of ways germs can spread through your home. But pests might be one of the grossest. Common household pests, such as mice, cockroaches, ants, and other creepy crawlies often go unnoticed — until, of course, it’s too late. Once an infestation worsens, it can get much harder to treat.
Your best line of defense against these critters is keeping a clean house. Make sure you pest-proof your kitchen (this simple guide may help) and thoroughly clean the dirtiest areas of your home. If you hate using harsh chemicals and spending loads on cleaning supplies, remember that cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated. You can use these all-natural cleaning tips to keep your home free of germs for a fraction of the price.
But you can only do so much to prevent pests from worming their way inside your home. If some manage to infiltrate, it’s not the end of the world. Becoming knowledgeable about pests and their habits can make dealing with an infestation easier — here are 15 things you need to know to keep your home pest-free.
If you discover you have bedbugs, do not under any circumstances try to avoid the bugs by sleeping in another room. Bedbugs are quick, and they’re crafty — they can sense your presence in another room and will travel to find you. Inadvertently, you will have spread the bugs to another bed in your home.
This is why it’s so important to catch that first bite. Bedbugs need to bite a person in order to grow out of their nymph stage and become adults. Once they’re adults, they are visible to the naked eye. But as young bedbugs, they’re so small it’s unlikely you’ll see them. Adult bedbugs reproduce quickly, so if you can catch an infestation while the majority of the bugs are still young, you’ll be much better off.
Pests of any and all kinds are attracted to mess and dirt. Keeping a clean home is your first line of defense against an infestation. When you go about cleaning your home, make sure you do a thorough sweep and include all the places you wouldn’t normally think to clean.
When it comes to food, cockroaches will eat anything and everything. But if need be, a roach can live without any food for nearly a month — starving them won’t work. Cockroaches can regulate their metabolism; without a source of food, they can dip their metabolism to such a slow rate that they survive for almost a month without eating.
Roaches may be able to survive without food, but they desperately need water. Without water, a cockroach will die after just three days. This is why the bugs can often be found lurking near a source of water.
While it might seem like good news to find a bug that’s already dead, it’s as much of a warning sign as anything. Even though that particular bug is dead, it probably had friends — and those friends are very much alive. If you find a dead bug like a cockroach or other invasive pest, it’s time to call pest control.
Mice are crafty little animals — in almost any home, they can find a way inside. Mice’s bodies are able to squeeze through holes as small as a dime. So any small crack or crevice in your home is like an open door to mice looking for a new residence.
If they had their pick of entrées, mice would opt for foods like grains and crackers. But given the opportunity, mice will eat just about anything they can get their paws on. Mice need to eat between 15 and 20 times per day — so they can’t be picky.
Killing ants that are roaming around your home won’t solve your pest problem. To kill an ant colony, you have to kill the queen. By spraying the messengers, all you’re doing is warning the ants where not to hide — and making the root problem harder to solve.
Once you spot even just a couple of pests in your home, you want to act fast. Mice, roaches, and all other kinds of pests multiply fast — before you know it, you’ll have a full-on epidemic on your hands. In one cockroach’s lifetime, it will produce an average of 150 young. Just one case of eggs can drastically worsen the situation.
When pests crawl over disease-ridden surfaces, they pick up bacteria, viruses, and other things that could make you sick. Their little legs are also crawling all over your kitchen, putting you at risk of contamination from wherever else they’ve been.
Oftentimes, you can spot a termite infestation from holes and cracks in your floors or furniture. Sagging floors are another dangerous sign of a termite infestation. However, sometimes the signs aren’t so visible. For instance, floors that sound hollow could signal a termite problem.
If you see a roach in your sink, don’t bother trying to drown it. Cockroaches can survive underwater for an impressive amount of time — 40 minutes, to be exact. So unless you’re holding it under for nearly an hour, trying to drown the bug is pointless.
David P. Hughes/Wikimedia Commons
A species of fungus exists that can turn ants into actual zombies. We’re not joking. The fungus pries its way into the ant’s exoskeleton and slowly takes over its body. The ant no longer can control its body or limbs; it simply listens to the instructions of the invasive fungus until the ant dies. After the ant’s death, the fungus lives on, parading as a live ant inside the ant’s dead body. The ant, now a shell of an ant brain being directed entirely by the fungus species, returns to its colony where the spores of new fungi can invade more ants. Sometimes, the ants recognize their brethren as zombies and collectively carry the infected ant far away from to protect their colony. So yeah — ants are pretty weird. And if you’re not cleaning these forgotten areas of your kitchen, you could be inviting them in.
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