Pest Control – Insects, Rodents, Fleas and Other Insects

Pest control is the attempt to keep organisms that damage property, spoil crops or spread disease at a lower level than would otherwise be tolerated. Methods include prevention, suppression and eradication.

Preventive measures include reducing clutter and areas where pests can hide. Cultivate a healthy soil through regular aeration and watering. And use quality sealant or copper mesh around pipes and drains to block entry points from the outside. Click the to know more.

Insects have a profound impact on agriculture, natural resources and human health. They feed on plant juices, contaminate crops with pathogens and can destroy or damage wood building materials and other natural resources. Insects also inflict annoyance and discomfort by chewing, biting or buzzing.

Insect populations fluctuate cyclically. In general, populations of most pests do not reach damaging levels during one growing season without being controlled. Therefore, pest control decisions are based on whether the value of the crop protected by a particular control measure exceeds the labor and chemical costs of controlling it. This is known as the break-even point.

Most insects start their lives as eggs, then hatch into larvae or nymphs. Larvae feed on decaying organic matter and shed their skins several times as they grow. Some solitary insects like ants may live for years in a solitary phase while others, such as grasshoppers, can exist in gregarious phases that result in large migratory populations that can devastate crops over thousands of miles.

Many gardeners find it important to control solitary insects, especially those that carry disease organisms such as the peach rot or aphids, for reasons of plant health and aesthetics. Fortunately, a wide range of insecticides has been developed to reduce these problems. Legislation requires that full directions for use be provided on the label for each insecticide. Biological methods of control, such as releasing strains of insects that carry lethal genes or flooding an area with sterile males, are becoming more important because they can be safer for the environment and humans than some chemicals.


Rodents like squirrels, beavers, raccoons and woodchucks are natural to our environment and provide food for predators and scavengers as well as habitat for native species. However, they can also become pests when their numbers get out of control. They damage property with their sharp incisors and spread diseases through their urine and droppings.

Although some rodents are herbivores, others are omnivores and will eat anything they can find including seeds, fruits, grain-based foods and even meat. This can lead to costly lawn and garden destruction, as well as contaminate food supplies. They are also a threat to the health of people, causing respiratory problems from allergens and carrying diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, Typhus and more through direct contact or by eating contaminated food or water.

To prevent rats and mice from entering your home, seal entry points with caulking, weather stripping and metal mesh. Keep food in containers with tight lids and don’t leave pet foods or garbage out overnight. Remove hiding places by cleaning up cluttered areas and keeping gardens free of debris. A pest control provider can also help you set traps and bait stations in the proper locations around your home. Since rodents are capable of squeezing through spaces as small as a dime, routine inspections of doors, windows, vents and floor air and dryer vents is important. Document these findings so you can work with your provider to eliminate gaps and cracks where rodents may gain access.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs bite people while they sleep and seek shelter in dark cracks and crevices. They are about the size of an apple seed and dark brown to black in color. Bed bug saliva can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Bed bug infestations are a serious health concern and must be addressed promptly by professionals trained to detect, treat and follow up on these hardy pests.

A variety of treatments exist, including a heat-based method that can eliminate the bugs in as little as three days. Most pest control companies offer targeted spraying of the seams, folds and tufts of mattresses and box springs, as well as treatment of furniture surfaces. Many ‘pitfall’ traps are also available — small plastic dishes that wandering bed bugs fall or crawl into, but cannot escape. These traps should be placed under the legs of beds and seating, along with any other hiding places, and monitored regularly by occupants or professional pest technicians.

Clutter and belongings must often be removed before pest control can proceed, since it affords additional hiding places for the pests. Vacuuming floors and surfaces and dusting seldom reaches areas where the pests hide. Bleach, alcohol and cigarette lighters do not work as repellents, and ‘bug bombs’ should be avoided because they can be toxic to humans. Training housekeeping and maintenance staff to spot signs of an infestation is highly recommended.


Termites are wood-eating pests that can cause severe damage to homes and other buildings. Their populations can be controlled, however, with proper treatment.

Several types of termites infest residential and commercial properties throughout the United States. The most common are eastern and pacific dampwood and southeastern drywood termites. Termite colonies are usually underground, but they can also be in trees or masonry structures. Infestation often goes undetected for years, which is why early detection is critical. Signs of termite infestation include swarming, mud tubes, and weakened or hollowed wood.

Swarming occurs in spring and summer from mature termite colonies. Hundreds or thousands of wingless, insect-like adults fly from the colony on warm sunny days and land on a suitable site for a new nest. The swarmers have dark heads and are able to shed their wings after flying, revealing piles of shed wings, which are a sure sign of a termite infestation. Once they settle in a place, the termites will begin tunneling through the soil and wood, creating mud tubes to protect them from sunlight and predators.

Spraying a surface of accessible infested wood or soil with termiticide will kill the termites on contact. However, this will not stop the termites from entering your house from underground or in other uninspected areas. A more effective method of termite control is a chemical barrier that creates an unbroken zone or band of toxic soil around the structure. This type of treatment requires trenching around the foundation and piers of your home or building and injecting a termiticide into the soil.


Mosquitoes are much more than just a nuisance: they can transmit pathogens that cause serious human diseases, like Zika virus and malaria. However, the chemical extermination methods used to reduce mosquito populations can have negative effects on the environment.

To effectively control mosquitoes, experts need to use both reduction and eradication methods. Larvae feed in standing water, so reducing the number of places where they can breed is vital. This usually involves removing or treating sources of standing water, such as tires, buckets, flower pots, bird baths and other outdoor items that can collect and hold water. Keeping vegetation trimmed and eliminating debris in the yard is also important.

Adult mosquitoes are a more difficult target to eliminate. They are usually found in shady, dense vegetation and resting spots, where pesticide sprays may miss them. Using barrier sprays in areas where mosquitoes spend their daytime can help prevent them from entering homes and other buildings. Liquid adulticides, such as pyrethroids, organophosphates and natural pyrethrins, are also used to kill mosquitoes on contact.

Integrated mosquito management (IPM) practices use pesticides sparingly and only after surveillance programs show that it is necessary. IPM encourages community participation in prevention by teaching residents how to mosquito-proof their homes and yards. This can include taking old tires to a local recycling facility and ensuring that all water drains away from outdoor structures. It can also include regularly inspecting and repairing window and door screens and adding Bti to ornamental ponds to reduce mosquito larvae.


Fleas are wingless parasitic insects that survive by sucking blood from cats, dogs, birds and wildlife (including humans). The tiny critters have flat bodies with legs that allow them to jump up to 150 times their height. They search out a host by sensing body heat, movements and breath, and then grab on with enlarged hind legs. In addition, fleas use a slender proboscis to pierce host skin and draw blood. While human host-switching is rare, persistent flea bites can result in itching and scratching.

Flea infestations typically peak in spring, summer and fall when weather conditions are ideal for the life cycle. Fleas require warm, humid conditions to develop from egg to larva to pupa and adult. The best approach to control is a combination of products that target both the infested animal and its environment, using sprays, dips, powders or aerosols containing insecticides or growth regulators.

Thorough vacuuming (at least once per week) and washing or destroying pet bedding can help prevent a flea infestation, as can frequent bathing. Treatments targeting the environment include trimming shady areas to reduce shelter and breeding sites for fleas, and treating these areas with pesticides containing insecticides or growth regulators to kill adult fleas before they lay eggs. Sealing crawl spaces and eliminating potential hiding places for rats, mice and other rodents will also reduce flea problems. Lastly, using monthly flea prevention treatments and flea collars, regular comb-outs and washing of upholstered and carpeted surfaces can significantly reduce flea problems without the need for environmental pesticides.