With winter here, it’s not just the cold weather that may invade our homes, pests may also enter seeking warmth and food sources, and unfortunately our warm homes may become their new nests.
“You have invested, as your finances would permit, a very large amount of your life’s savings in protecting your dream home, and don’t want it destroyed by little critters. At some point, virtually every home experiences some type of pest problem, even the cleanest, most well-kept properties can face invasion” comments Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
Pest control is important throughout the year, not just in winter. Armed with good advice and information, you are in a much better position to ensure that your chosen pest control company gives you the most value for your money and satisfactorily ridding you of your problem and preventing it from occurring again.
Signs that you need a pest professional:
Property Damage – pests pose a big risk to your home, most will leave their mark in the form of gnawed furniture, fabrics, and wiring. You’re most likely to see this at a low level, so inspect skirting and floor boards for chewed materials.
Droppings and Urine – one of the most obvious signs of pest invasion is waste, particularly in the case of rodents. You’ll notice small, raisin shaped droppings close to food stores. The darker the color, the fresher the dropping, so black waste indicates an active mouse or rat problem.
Nocturnal Noises – it’s common to hear rodents moving about inside the roof, mostly at night. These unusual sounds are most likely to be mice or rats.
Sticky Doors and Windows – stiff door frames are often thought to be a sign of subsidence or other structural problems, but they may be a consequence of termite activity. The moisture termites produce when tunnelling through wood can cause frames to warp. If you notice this, check around the house to see if there are any more warning signs.
Ways to pest proof your home before the invasion
According to Stuart Steele, Business Development Manager, Flick Pest Control there are 4 simple ways to pest proof your home.
Proofing: Seal off entry points such as under doors, holes in walls and gaps between your roof and wall to prevent rodents from squeezing in
Secure food sources to eliminate pest attraction: Pests are not fussy eaters. Once they find a source of food and water, they are notorious for overstaying their welcome and inviting their friends and family. While pests can thrive in even the cleanest of houses, homeowners should remove any temptations by sweeping up spills and crumbs immediately to prevent vermin, roaches or ants from being attracted to the area.
Good housekeeping practices: Clear up clutter in your yard. Ensure you don’t have any clutter such as building rubble; stacks of firewood, old tyres or other debris leaning against your exterior walls around your home or in your garden against perimeter walls. We don’t recommend the use of a compost heap as they provide ideal breeding grounds for rodents and flies. Keep your gutters clean and remove any dead leaves to prevent them being blocked as this will retain stagnant water and can cause fly and mosquito problems.
Know when to call in the professionals: The tips given above are great do-it-yourself methods available to prevent pest control issues in your home, waiting until it’s too late to call in a certified professional can be dangerous and can lead to major damage, costing you time and money.
Procedure when pest control comes to your home
Pre-service: if applicable, prior to the day of service, you should be informed of any preparation you may have to do to enable service to be performed. This could include cleaning, clearing specified areas, removing pets, storing/covering foods, planning to keep children out of the area during service, etc.
Pre-service communication: before beginning service, the technician should discuss the situation with you, it can be beneficial to walk around the home or property with the technician to show them, what was seen and where. The technician should then communicate the treatment to be made, products to be used.
Inspection & Identification: the service professional should then conduct an inspection for the pests and signs of pest presence. He/she should inspect the sites you discussed and other areas where the pest is likely to be and look for any potential contributing or conducive conditions. The inspection should also include positive identification of the pest, in order for correct treatment to be made.
Treatment: based on all the above, the technician will perform the applicable service.
Post-service communication/Recommendations: once treatment has been made, the technician should again communicate with you: telling you what has been done – where, why, and how; noting any precautions you may need to take; answering any further questions you may have; and making recommendations for any action you need to take and/or follow up they will make.
Service Report: the service technician should provide you with a written service report, noting what was done where, when, how and why. It should also include contact information and any recommendations.
Follow up, if needed: for some pests, such as bed bugs, elimination cannot be achieved in a single visit, therefore you should be informed of any further service that will be needed and any other follow-up that is required or recommended.
How to choose a reputable pest control provider
Mario Pluke, Technical Manager at Rentokil South Africa’s says choosing a professional, registered and reputable pest control partner is critical if you want to combat pest infestations in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion.
Rentokil urges the public to ask the following questions when choosing a professional pest control partner:
- How many years has the pest control company been in business?
- How are employees trained?
- Is the company registered with the South African Pest Control Association (SAPCA)
- Are the pest control technicians who work for the company registered with the Department of Agriculture?
- How does the Company keep its staff informed of changes in regulations, products, techniques and safety?
- What is the company’s attitude towards Health and Safety of both employees and customers?
- Does the company adhere to the Department of Agriculture’s approved product list?
While do-it-yourself pest control options may seem appealing, one must remember that if administered incorrectly pesticides can be hazardous to the health of humans, as they are designed to kill living organisms. It is therefore essential that the use of pesticides around people, especially small children, is carefully controlled. When selecting a pest control partner, consumers are urged to choose a reputable, professional pest control company, says Mario.
DIY Green Pest Control Remedies
Cucumber peels: ants are quite turned off by cucumber peels, and sprinkling them around areas of your home that serve as entrance points for ant colonies is a great preventive pest control method.
Mint leaves: plants such as peppermint and spearmint are natural insect deterrents, especially for ants and aphids. Plant a few varieties around your home, and you should see a noticeable drop in ant populations.
All-Natural sprays: there are a number of great eco-friendly pest control sprays you can make at home. Mixing water with isopropyl alcohol, concentrated garlic oil, salt or boiled elder leaves makes deterrents that you can spray on indoor and outdoor plants to help control infestations.
Baking soda and powdered sugar: if roaches are your problem, try mix baking soda and powdered sugar, and sprinkle it around problem areas. The sugar attracts the pests and the baking soda kills them.
Eucalyptus oil: drop some on cloth and place near areas of infestation of flies and moths.
Soapy water: if you want to instantly kill an insect in your home, mix water and soap into a spray bottle, you can kill all bugs on contact. This is because the soap component breaks down the waxy exoskeleton and lets the water enter the bug and it will drown them quickly.
Cedar oil: very lethal to termites but totally non-toxic, organic, and chemical-free. It is a very effective contact killer and repellent to termites and can be used on any wood structure. The way it works is that the product penetrates the wood and the aromas from the cedar oil disrupt termite pheromone systems in a lethal manner.
Lemon juice as bug spray: simply add lemon juice and water 5/50 in a spray bottle and add essential oils.
Various natural oils are also effective:
- Lemongrass: fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies
- Lavender: fleas, ticks, flies, lice, nits, silverfish, mosquitoes, moths
- Tea Tree Oil: centipedes, fleas , flies, & other insects
- Lemon, Orange (or other citrus): fleas, ants, roaches, lice, nits, flies