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The Basics of Pest Prevention

Learn about the common bugs and pests that enter your home and how to get rid of them. Plus, see what pests your kids encounter at school and how to prevent them from bringing the bugs home.


model homeNobody likes a pest, especially the creepy, crawly kind. But they exist and, unfortunately, too many of us make it easy for pests to take up residence right alongside the family.

To help you remember the most effective way to deal with pests, use this acronym — INSPECT. It stands for:

Investigate. Take a serious, strategic approach to discovering potential pest problems in and around your home.

Study. After identifying potential problems, study the potential cause or consequence of these problems.

Prepare. Plan how to most effectively solve your problem. Changing habits to include covering your dryer vent, and only eating in the kitchen can help prevent pests from taking up residence.

Eliminate. Eliminate pest entryways into your home by caulking cracks and trimming trees and shrubs.

Clean. Maintaining your home and lawn are essential for discouraging pests from calling your home theirs. Eliminate opportunities for pests to find food, water, and nesting and hiding places.

Treat. To protect your home and family, properly treat pest problems with the appropriate pesticide product to effectively manage the problem.


Room by Room

While pests can be in any part of your home, here are some of the more common rooms you’ll find them in, and what you can do to keep them out.



Common pests: bed bugs, dust mites

Bed bugs can live anywhere, in any home. They tend to concentrate in mattresses, box springs, and bed frames, but they can also be in curtains, inside furniture drawers, and in cracks in the wallpaper. They can even hitch a ride on clothing or in a backpack and be carried to and from school.

Bed bugs can live for a year or more without feeding and can withstand temperatures that range from nearly freezing to almost 113°F. Managing a bed bug infestation is difficult and requires professional help, which can include close inspection and monitoring, and possibly removal of all infested materials.

Tips to Prevent Bed Bugs

—Check mattresses, headboards, and box springs for signs of beg bug droppings, eggs, or live nymphs.

—Regularly inspect backpacks for signs of bed bugs.

—If you suspect a bed bug infestation, contact a licensed pest management professional for an immediate inspection.

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions. They are found in mattresses, furniture, toys, curtains, carpets, and rugs. They can trigger asthma, cause dermatitis, and transmit disease.

Tips to Prevent Dust Mites

—Cover mattresses and pillows with dust-proof, zippered covers tested and rated for dust mites.

—Frequently change bed linens. Wash bedding and stuffed animals once a week.

—Vacuum areas frequently.

—Ask a pest management professional for help treating for dust mites.



Common pests: spiders, silverfish

Spiders like to lurk in corners, cabinets, and drawers, as well as clothing and behind curtains. If you have a persistent spider problem, it’s most likely that you also have other pests that are serving as a steady food source for spiders.

Tips to Prevent Spiders

—Remove webs with a broom or vacuum. Destroy any egg sacs you find. Check around windows, in corners, or other out-of-the-way spots.

—Check for leaking water lines under the sink and in the shower/tub area.

—Clean faucets and shower heads.

—Supplement cleaning with proper insecticide treatment. Treat around baseboards, in cracks and crevices, and other likely hiding places.


Silverfish like to chew on anything with starch or polysaccrides — paper, photos, hair, wallpaper, carpet, clothing, and even dandruff.

Tips for Preventing Silverfish

—Eliminate sources of water. Fix leaky faucets and don’t let water stand in the tub or sink.

—Replace or repair moldy or wet wood in the bathroom.

—Reduce humidity in the bathroom by running a fan or opening a window while you shower.



Common pests: ants, roaches, rodents

Insects and rodents look for food anywhere they can find it — cabinets, pantries, floorboards, areas where pet food is stored. These pests contaminate food and carry disease.

Tips for Preventing Insects and Rodents

—Maintain clean, clutter-free spaces.

—Wipe up spills and pick up crumbs immediately.

—Keep stove vents and drip pans clean.

—Store food in air-tight and pest-proof containers, or in the refrigerator or freezer.

—Don’t leave your pet’s food and water dishes out overnight.

—Check for water leaks under the sink and refrigerator.

—Keep trash and recycling areas clean, and rinse out food containers and beverage cans before disposing of them.

—Baits, sprays, and traps are effective ways to manage kitchen pests.


To learn more about preventing pest problems in your home, visit


kids going back to schoolPests at School

Common pests: bed bugs, cockroaches, spiders, and yellow jackets

Tips to Prevent Bringing School Pests Home

—Clean out your child’s backpack and other bags every day to avoid transporting pests to and from school.

—Encourage your kids to learn to identify potentially harmful pests like stinging insects so they know when to tell an adult and how to avoid being stung.

—Talk to your school about monitoring for pests like cockroaches, which are known allergens and can trigger asthma attacks.

—Keep an eye out for pests like flies or mice that can spread diseases or contaminate food in the cafeteria.

School can be a playground for pests. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that schools use integrated pest management (IPM) to deal with pest problems. School IPM programs use common sense strategies that reduce sources of food, water, and shelter for pests. They also use pesticides judiciously and carefully when necessary to eliminate and manage potentially harmful pest infestations. Learn more about IPM at


The above article was provided by Family Features


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