Don't let your house become a roach motel

Angie's List: Simple ways to keep bugs at bay

TAMPA - Ants marching along your kitchen wall or roaches on your countertops are a sign that it's time to call an exterminator. Angie Hicks, the founder of the consumer website Angie's List, agrees. "If you find that you have unwanted bugs in your house a lot times people might try to tackle this project on their own, but if you see that you have a persistent issue it's probably time to call in the expert."

But it can also mean that you might need to make a few changes that could help take care of an insect or rodent problem. Angie's List, along with professional exterminator Daniel Packard have a few tips to keep those pesky pests out of your home.

"A common entry point for insects is underneath doors," said Packard. "A lot of times if you look under your doors you can see daylight. This is a place where they like to come in." so your first step is to seal any cracks in walls or window and door casings and repair screens.

Next, keep you house as dry as possible. "I can't stress that enough," said Packard. "Keep the water away from your house. Insects need a sufficient amount of moisture to survive and if you keep the water away... that really helps out considerably." Address leaks around sinks or plumbing. Keep tree branches trimmed and avoid placing mulch too close to the home's foundation. Also, clean gutters and downspouts. Moist clogs in guttering draws insects.

A few more tips:

  • Avoid piled up trash and recycle bins. These are smorgasbords for mice, ants and spiders.
  • Don't stack wood near the house. Mice and spiders will ride into the house with the kindling.
  • Avoid leaving pet food unattended outside, as it will draw mice and raccoons, ants and other insects.
  • Don't leave pet food unattended inside the house, either. Store dog food in a sealed plastic container.
  • Vacuum and sweep floors and wipe kitchen counters frequently. When mice or ants can't find anything to feast on, they often don't stick around.

"Prevention is the best defense against future pest problems," said Hicks. "Taking care of your lawn, while it may not seem like the biggest issue, it's actually really key. Keep your lawn mowed well and avoid standing water and go light on mulch around your house because that mulch can be a great place for pests to live."

When hiring a pest control company Hicks advises you  look for a local company with a good reputation. "Because a lot of times they are going to offer warranties on their work. You want to be sure they will be around to stand behind that. Additionally, many states do require licensure for pest control companies. Confirm that is in good standing. Finally, see if they are a member of the National Pest Association as well."

Angie's List Tips: Hiring an pest control company

  • It's better to preemptively hire an exterminator for regular inspections than it is to wait until there's a problem. Unfortunately, pests don't give warning in anticipation of a strike, so you never know when you will need the assistance of an exterminator.
  • In many states and jurisdictions, exterminators must be licensed. Check with your state pesticide agency to find out if this applies to your area. The exterminator may also be required to a hold a license to use certain pesticides or chemicals. Ask to see the exterminator's license before making a hiring decision.
  • The exterminator should be able to design a specific plan to identify the types of pests that need to be controlled, the extent of the infestation, the best removal method and steps to lower the risk of future infestations.
  • Typically, one-time treatments cost between $130 and $150. For ongoing service, expect to pay between $80 and $110 for quarterly treatments, or $40 to $60 for monthly treatments.
  • You may prefer to hire an exterminator who is willing to use eco-friendly or cruelty-free eradication methods. Many professional exterminators will be happy to offer these options upon request.
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