Pests can cause serious health issues. The chemicals people use to control them can make the situation worse by contaminating indoor air quality. To avoid additional health risks, you should use appropriate treatments, like integrated pest management, to eliminate pests.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) not only addresses serious pest infestation, but works to prevent them. Grounded in the knowledge of the life cycle of the pests in question, IPM uses techniques to make sure a home is not an attractive place for pests to live by removing water, food, and sources of shelter. These strategies are combined with pest control methods that are less harmful to people, such as traps and bait stations.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures related to spiders and ticks. Dust mites eat dead skin cells, and thus, live in areas where dead skin cells are found such as fabric, bedding, furniture, and carpets. Dust mites cannot drink water, but rather absorb it from the air making humid environments ideal environment. When dust mites’ feces are breathed in, they can trigger asthma attacks. Some people are allergic to them and develop rashes, nasal congestion, itching, and sneezing. According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, exposure to dust mites can cause children who are predisposed to asthma to actually develop it.
Mice and Rats
Because mice do not have bladder control, when they run around in search of food they are constantly leaving behind a trail of urine. Many people are allergic to rodent urine. Other allergens come from rodent saliva, skin, and dander. Exposure to rodents is linked to increased asthma symptoms and can trigger asthma attacks. Also, although it is rare, rodents can expose humans to diseases such as hantavirus.
Cockroaches are also known as “Waterbugs” and “roaches”. They can live a month without food, but only one week without water. Cockroaches live in tiny, dark, cluttered places near food and water. Kitchens are bathrooms are common locations to find roaches. Cockroach waste, saliva, and body parts pose significant health risks and can trigger asthma attacks.
Bed bugs feed on blood, but can live for several months without a meal. They are small, flat brown insects. They can travel far distances, but generally stay within eight feet of where people sleep. They can be found on mattress seams, pillows, and upholstered furniture. Bed bugs may leave small red itchy marks on your skin, but some people don’t react at all.
Pesticides are hazardous and only a short-term fix. They may kill some pests, but they do not address the root of the problem. While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) varies depending on the specific pest in question, the same general concepts are used:
Determine what kind of pests you have and where they are coming from.
For some pests, like rodents and cockroaches, you may need to use sticky traps to determine where the pests are coming from.
Eliminate food and water sources and block entry points into the house.
All pests need food, water, and shelter. Make your home less attractive to pests by removing these.
- Eliminate food sources by cleaning frequently, storing food in sealed containers, and keeping the trash in a closed container.
- Eliminate water sources by fixing leaking faucets and pipes, and addressing excessive moisture issues. Click here to learn more about moisture control.
- Eliminate access points by caulking or sealing cracks and holes in walls, cupboards, and around plumbing, electrical, and gas lines. Gaps can be sealed using steel wool or another pest-proof material.
Use traps and baits first.
If preventative measures do not seem to be diminishing the infestation, use traps and baits along with less-toxic dusts such as boric acid. Baits and boric acid are safer than pesticide sprays because they limit human exposure.
- Put the bait close to the pest’s hiding place.
- Do not spray any pesticides, as it will keep the pests away from the bait.
- Choose and use chemicals very carefully! Read the label to ensure you are using the product properly.