Pest Control and Prepping

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

Tomorrow is the official start of the spring season, and with the pretty flowers, spring showers come the bugs… lots of bugs.  I’ve seen some huge bugs here in Texas, and though I know many insects are helpful, and can even serve as food, I am not fond of bugs.

Pest control is not probably not one of the top ten survival and preparedness steps you will take to get started but it is still an unavoidable part of any prepper’s plan.  In a grid down situation, the presence of pests can only get worse, as sanitation worsens when trash pickup gets interrupted and vacant buildings and homes become more common.  Pests can carry diseases cause allergies for many people and can ruin your food storage.  This article discusses protecting your home from insects, and in another article we covered protecting your food storage and supplies from pests.

What got me started on this topic

The other night I was horrified to find a huge cockroach on the kitchen floor.  This was no ordinary roach, it was one of those huge roaches that are usually found outside.  Some people call them tree roaches, I call them all nasty and disgusting creatures.  I am very fastidious about keeping the house pest free and I have not seen one of these inside in a long while.  I talked to the building manager and they have a pest control company spray outside but he did say this spring has seen an explosion in the bug population.

Apartment units are vulnerable

Because you share one or more walls with another unit, insects can creep in between homes.  You may be very conscientious about not leaving dirty dishes or food lying around but there is no telling how your neighbors’ habits are.  Be vigilant:

  • Inspect corners and walls to make sure there are no holes that can serve as passages for insects.  If you find any, call your building manager or plug them up yourself using caulk.
  • Be extra wary when you see neighbors moving in or out:  the pests may try to invade your space when the next door unit is vacated or fumigated.  You will need to use preventive measures to keep insects coming from elsewhere out of your home.
  • Avoid clutter.  Pests find a lot of places to hide in a cluttered area.  Remove old magazines and newspapers, keep sinks free of dirty dishes and keep your garage free of junk.  Take your trash out to the garbage chute or dumpster as soon as possible.  I’ve seen other tenants accumulate bags in their garage-that is a sure way to attract pests.
  • Bugs are not the only pests you need to watch out for-there are also rats and mice that can potentially invade your space.

There are a couple of ways you can use to control  pests:  commercial insecticides or natural remedies.

When choosing a pesticide, consider three main factors:  The first factor is safety:  Follow safety precautions on the package to protect people and pets.  The second factor to check for is how long it will continue to work and kill pests.  The third factor is choosing what type of pesticide to target against the specific pest.  Read the label closely to find out what pests will be eliminated by the pesticide.  If you have a wasp problem in your apartment balcony, then check the label to make sure the product will get rid of wasps.  It may sound self explanatory, but I have made the mistake of picking up the wrong product and ended up running back to the store to replace it.  (Disclaimer:  I am not advocating a specific method of pest control, nor am I an expert on pesticides.  If you or your family have chemical sensitivities, then avoid chemical pesticides and try the natural route.)

Here are a few tips to eliminate pests:

  • Before you start spraying, clear out the contents of cupboards or cabinets.  Wear gloves and put on a painters mask to avoid touching and/or inhaling dust and fumes.
  • Spray cracks and crevices with the pesticide, then leave it to dry.  Vacuum the area to remove dead bugs.
  • As we discussed with cracks or holes in dividing walls above, seal any cracks and holes that pests can crawl through with caulk.
  • Spray along the outside walls and doors, preventing entry to your unit.
  • If you are moving into a new unit, consider using a room fogger to eliminate any pests before you move any of your belongings.  You must follow safety precautions when using room foggers.  Protect your carpet or floor by lining it with newspapers under the can.  Make sure you are using the correct size of fogger for the room you are fumigating.  Do not use near heat or ignition sources  such as pilot lights or gas appliances.  For additional safety tip when using room foggers, read the EPA’s Safety Precautions for Total Release Foggers.

Here are a few natural remedies to protect your home from pests:

1.  Soap spray.  Fill an empty spray bottle with water and add two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid.  Shake well and spray on pests such as ants and other flying insects.  Soap spray dries out their exoskeleton and kills them.  Soap spray works best with soft bodied insects.

2.  Garlic.  Pests do not like garlic.  Leave a few cloves of garlic under the sink or where pests are known to frequent and they will avoid the area.  Taking garlic pills are said to deter mosquitoes from biting you, but I have not personally tested this.

3.  Ants will not cross a line of cayenne pepper, and cucumber peels are also known to be ant deterrents.

4.  To get rid of roaches, fill an empty squirt bottle with Borax and sprinkle along base boards and corners.

5.  If you have a flea problem, sprinkle Borax on carpet and leave for 20 minutes.  Vacuum the carpet thoroughly.  Do not sprinkle directly on pets.

I don’t really prefer using chemical pesticides but occasionally find the need to use them.  I use a combination of both methods and recommend you research what works best for you.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. I have a huge phobia of cockroaches. Bleach and daily cleanings are always my best friend. If I ever saw a roach in my house, I would undertake eradicating them unlike anything anyone has ever seen. I dont know what it is about them as opposed to other bugs, but they just give me the willies.

    1. I’m with you Mike, I hate cockroaches as well – large and small. Texas roaches are huge! Thanks for the comment.

  2. We lived in Hawaii for 10 years. They have geckos and roaches. The geckos ate the roaches, up to a certain size. We never saw small roaches. The best spray to kill the roaches was Raid Max in a silver and purple can. One spray would last for weeks.

    If we have to bug out, I’m taking a couple bags of fire ant killer.

    1. Mikeinsa, Fire ant killer would be good to have-those fire ants are nasty creatures. Thanks for the comment.

  3. 1. i call them tree roaches too! unlike other blattidae, they’re actually attracted to light, so they will find their way inside at night during early summer. they panic me, too, but they’re not really a threat, since they’re not adapted to living indoors.
    2. when it comes to roaches, insecticides are only a partial solution, since the little varmints are immune to most of them. the best defense, other than extreme cleanliness (they can smell one grain of sugar on your kitchen counter), is to seal up everywhere. that can be hard in kitchens and bathrooms, where the counters are only ¼-½ inch away from the walls! since you can’t get behind there, you must seal up the gaps between counter and wall and between floor and cabinet–of course, you’ll have to remove the tape before your exit inspection, so don’t use duct tape. likewise, inside the cabinets (upper and lower), you have to seal the spaces between all the walls of the cabinet. you can use clear or masking tape, which you will have to replace periodically, or you might find duct tape in a color that matches the wood, so your landlord won’t even notice it’s there. also you have to seal the spaces around water and gas pipes–i use expanding foam, and landlords have never objected; in fact, they’re usually happy i did it for them.
    3. there are some herbs bugs don’t like, although they might not faze a roach, like bay leaves and peppermint oil (not if you have cats–it’s toxic to them). you can also puff some food-grade diatomaceous earth around potential problem spots (pets–and humans with asthma–shouldn’t inhale it during application, but once it’s settled out of the air it’s safe). i’ve only tried that with beetles (successfully) but it’s supposed to kill anything with an exoskeleton, including fleas.

    1. Hey teabag, I like the tip about sealing the gaps with duct tape with the same color as the cabinets-the landlord will never notice. Great tips overall-thanks!

  4. Few things are more unnerving than finding a cockroach, spider, or other bug somewhere in your living space. The good news is, there are things we can do to help manage these pests! If things get out of hand, it’s best to contact your apartment manager so you can use an approach that your complex approves of.


    Mix the following in a 1 Quart spray bottle:
    4 ounces of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
    1 Tablespoon of plain salt
    1 Teaspoon dish washing detergent
    12 ounces of warm water
    Shake well and then spray bugs with it..
    They will all die within 2 minutes or less if you spray them direct with it and they have no resistance to it..
    Most of all it is NON-TOXIC to pets or Children.
    Now I’m just an old Bio Chemist so what would I know,, well try it and find out.. It cost’s Pennies per Quart compared to the many of the $6 a can sprays your probably presently buying..
    And it works on BED BUGS as well and safe to use on your sheets and pillow cases..

    1. Hi Doug, This homemade spray sounds great! Always looking for nontoxic pesticide to kids and pets. I will try it out and post the results. Thank you for the comment!

    2. you can kill a roach or other insect by spraying almost any liquid directly on it. this recipe sounds like it will work, because the detergent should clog up their breathing holes on the sides of their bodies. the problem with roaches is that for every one you see, there are thousands hiding in the walls that you never see.

      1. Hey teabag-Good point, that is a problem alright, if you see one roach that means they are in the walls.

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