How to Control Rodents & Insects


No one likes having unwanted pests. Unfortunately, many homes give an enticing welcome to all manner of critters, such as rats, mice, cockroaches, silverfish and more. Figuring out how to keep pest populations under control - and out of your home - can seem a daunting task. Thankfully, there are ways to fight off even the most tenacious of pests and reduce the chances that they will return.

Things You'll Need

  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Boric acid
  • Pyrethroids
  • Caulk
  • Airtight food containers
  • Bait stations
  • Traps
  • Sprinkle your home's entrances, such as doorways and windows, with diatomaceous earth. Place it along the walls and under cabinets. Choose a preparation with 1 percent or less of silica and no other ingredients for optimal safety. Diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans but deadly to insects, and placing it near points of entry helps discourage bugs and other creepy-crawlies from entering your home. Moisture reduces the efficacy of diatomaceous earth, so be sure to reapply it regularly, especially in humid areas. Use boric acid in similar applications, but take care, as it is not child- or pet-safe.

  • Caulk any cracks or holes around your home's baseboards, under and around cabinets and at the edges of windows. Seal the areas around pipes and plumbing.

  • Avoid leaving standing water in cups, sinks, refrigerator trays or tubs. Reducing sources of water can discourage thirsty pests and leave them with fewer options.

  • Clean any living areas, such as your dining room and kitchen, where you eat regularly. Do not leave uneaten food or dirty dishes lying around, as these are favorite sources of food for cockroaches, mice and other pests. Partially-eaten fruit draws fruit flies as well as other pests, so be sure to throw away orange peels, apple cores and the like. Use a trashcan with a tight-fitting lid, and take garbage out regularly. Outdoor bins should be free from holes and have secure lids to prevent outdoor pests from infesting them as well.

  • Close external doors and windows. Purchase window screens if you don't already have them in place, and repair any holes in current screens to help prevent flying pests from entering your home.

  • Place bait stations designed for the type of pests infesting your home. There are specific formulations available for cockroaches, mice, flying insects and other pests. Leave bait stations near where you have seen significant pest activity. Avoid leaving them out in the open; instead, put bait in corners and under cabinets. Keep them where pets and kids can't reach.

  • Use traditional snap traps for mice and rats to kill them quickly. Put traps flush against walls in areas where you have seen rodent activity and check them regularly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the food you buy at the grocery store for signs of insects to make sure you don't accidentally bring any critters or their eggs along for the ride.
  • Pyrethroids are another safe alternative to diatomaceous earth but must be reapplied every one to two days.
  • Carefully follow the directions included with any pesticide or bait that you use.
  • Avoid using sticky traps to catch rodents, as the animals will take a long time to die. Their squealing once trapped can prove a nuisance and they may attempt to gnaw off their own legs in an effort to escape, which is an unpleasant sight.
  • Fumigation should be used as a last resort against insect infestations, as it may not affect eggs that have already been laid, allowing the infestation to reoccur. In rodent infestations, mice and rats may die in the walls or other difficult to reach areas where they can rot and invite more pests and disease in addition to causing foul odors.

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  • Photo Credit oh, rats #8 image by Michael Eaton from
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