Pest Control – a Necessary Part of your Prepping Efforts

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

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 a subsequent article we will cover 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.

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.

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