How do you react when you spot a cockroach speeding across the room, or you notice a family of bed bugs somewhere on your furniture? You are probably the sort of person that goes into full combat mode, complete with war paint and armed with a huge spray can of pesticide.
The good news is that you don’t always have to be on the defensive. There are simple strategies you can use to go on the offensive and keep pests out of your house in the first place.
You may go all out to ensure your house isn’t too enticing for pests, but in the end, some of them may still end up in your house. Pests can be surprisingly resilient and, somehow, find their way into your house despite your military efforts to keep them out.
Here are six surprising ways pests can sneak into your house and how you can stop them;
1. Your Pets
Pests such as fleas, lice, and ticks can hitch a ride on your pets and eventually end up in your home. They can simply hop onto your beloved pets whenever they go out to relieve themselves, to play, or even when you take them out for a walk.
Fleas and ticks are the worst offenders, especially fleas since once they hitch a ride on your pet, it won’t be long before they take over your entire house. Flea infestations spread quickly so be sure you know the telltale signs of fleas to watch out for.
Regularly brush your pets before taking them back inside the house.
Check with your vet to identify the best, pet-friendly pesticides
Bathe your pets regularly
2. Your Plants
Plants can harbor pests within their stalks and leaves, which will eventually end up in your house. When you come home with your new, beautiful plant from your favorite garden center, you may unknowingly have brought home some pests as well.
During winter or harsh weather conditions, you may want to bring your outdoor plants inside to give them a better chance of survival. However, pests and bugs may be hiding within the plants and, therefore, find their way into your home. These include gnats, mites, lacewings, ants, mealybugs, and earwigs, among others.
Thoroughly inspect all your outdoor plants before bringing them indoors. Check for both soil-dwelling pests and leaf-dwelling pests
Request your local garden store to guarantee that there are no pests on any of the plants you purchase
Spray new plants with pesticide to be doubly sure.
3. Shipping/Packaging Materials
Shipping and delivery companies store their items in large, unmanned warehouses that may attract pests looking for shelter, food, or new habitations. These pests may eventually end up in your home, courtesy of the delivery man.
Cockroaches, bedbugs, and even mice can be transported within the packing material of your latest delivery.
Carefully inspect any packages coming to your home for any signs of pests.
Dispose of any packages or boxes immediately after unwrapping items delivered to your house
4. Used Furniture
Pests like bedbugs can hide inside the tiniest of spaces, even between 90-degree joints of common household furniture. Therefore, the new vintage bed or mahogany seat you just brought home from the local used furniture dealer could be harboring a clan of bedbugs, ready to settle into their new home.
Adult bedbugs can go for months without feeding and like to hide within cracks or tiny crevices in furniture. They like to stay close to their prey, that is, humans and other warm-blooded animals. Therefore, you may not spot them or see any obvious sign of them from a casual glance at the piece of furniture. In fact, bedbugs are mostly active at night, so you may not spot them when you are making the purchase.
Disassemble the furniture and carefully check for tiny black spots (their fecal matter), and their shed exoskeletons.
Thoroughly spray your new furniture a few times with pesticide before taking it inside your house
Let the piece of furniture stay outside for a couple of days before using it
5. Luggage/Bag Packs
A return to your house from a long trip, and perhaps a 12-hour flight, is one of the most refreshing things you can experience. However, and depending on where you’d gone, your luggage, backpacks, and travel cases may have provided free transport to any number of pests.
If you were out camping, vacationing, or visiting the countryside, stowaway pests can tag along somewhere on your luggage during your trip home.
Always unpack at the earliest opportunity and then inspect your luggage for any hitchhikers.
Don’t travel. (Just kidding)
6. Your Visitors
Whether they are stopping by for dinner or staying over for the weekend, visitors can light up a home and bring an aura of good cheer around the house. But visitors can also bring more than just glad tidings and happy moments to your home.
It’s possible to pick up pests as we go about our day to day activities. Therefore, your loved ones can bring pests into your home whenever they check in for that planned visit, and without even knowing it themselves.
This is a tricky one. It would be incredibly awkward if you were to begin preening your visitors for mites or any signs of pests before they get into your house. Since you can’t dust them with pesticide or spray insecticide all over their clothes, you’ll just have to cross your fingers that they didn’t bring along any pests.
Note: Don’t mention to your visitors the fact that human beings can unknowingly transport pests from one location to another. That’s hardly fun dinner conversation.
It’s incredibly tempting to go all gung-ho on pests whenever you spot one of them around the house. But note that you will already be on the defensive and staring at a potential infestation. As you now know, pests can still sneak into your home despite your best efforts to shut them out.
Remember, you still have to enter and exit your home, so the idea is to minimize the problem and prevent a full-scale infestation.
Bonus tip: Don’t overreact or get too paranoid trying to avoid letting pests into your house. Just follow the prevention tips above and rest assured that you’ve done a lot to safeguard your home against pest invasions.