Eliminating Pests in the Home

Gary Lawson’s Far Side comic provided a world filled with uncomfortable social situations through surrealistic humor.  You may recall the illustration, or one similar, of Ed and Barbara welcoming the beetle family, accompanied by suitcases, at their front door.  What does Barbara say? “I’ll get the coffee on!”  The moment is inevitable. Seasonal invaders arrive seeking the same home comforts—shelter, food, and water!  Prevention is by far the most effective way to ensure bugs have no choice but to leave! 

Welcome Sign 

Sometimes, an open door, basket, grocery bag, or package is the carrier to transport pests indoors.  Before taking a step over the threshold, despite the heavily laden weight, take time to examine the various containers, especially if they hold produce or a live plant. Family pets can also bring in nature.  


  • Brush your family’s outdoor pets transitioning to the indoors, even if it’s with a tool or your hand.   
  • Perhaps the used couch was a great find, but you don’t know what’s lurking unseen on it, awaiting better food prospects! 

Sealing Crevices and Gaps

The slightest opening is just enough for a critter to enter; therefore, take the time to check all your windows, screens, sliding and storm doors, and other points of entry.  After turning on all the interior lights, go outdoors to search for light emanating from the house. If you find it, that is a good indication you’ll need to caulk, replace weatherstripping, renew the door sweep, use screen tape, or repair the threshold. In looking for crevices, cracks, holes, and vent openings, check your foundation, attic, and fuse boxes, wall outlets, light switches, and baseboards! 

Clean Out Pantries 

Along baseboards of kitchens, crumbs are perfect for particular types of bugs.  Ants love sweetened foods, while the Indian meal moth prefers rice, flour, cereal, and nuts.  The flour beetle is aptly named; yet it also likes to delve into cake mix boxes, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, and spices.  One solution is eliminating cardboard and easy-access bags and investing in heavy-duty, plastic, sealable containers with snapping or spinning lids.  Consider using a food-grade bucket and Gamma lid to store flour, sugar, rice, and pet food.  Use Mason jars to contain smaller, daily amounts, ensuring your food is just for human consumption. 

Check Plants 

Beyond the cupboards and pantries, you might need to look in one hidden location—your plants.  Aphids, earwigs, scale, and spider mites are just a few pests which can be lurking in your soil or attached to leaves.  Transplant to another pot if leaves are not clean!  

Mop, Vacuum, and Clean! 

All your good housekeeping methods will help deter the bugs from staying.  Elicit children to help by emptying trashcans, cleaning sinks, and bathtubs weekly.  Use a drain cleaner to wash away drain flies, and remove stacks of paper-based products, including magazines, newspapers, and boxes; cockroaches love them! 

The Basement

Rooms underground usually lack foot traffic during the week; therefore, insects easily can establish homes without detection. Silverfish, springtails, and centipedes prefer damp locations.  Start walking around.  Look near the doorway, windows, corners of walls, on the bathroom floors, and near water spigots.  You might find a trail of insects! 

The solution: 

  • Fix any leaky faucets, drains, or pipes.  
  • Ensure your water-run appliances are working correctly.  
  • Start running a dehumidifier.  

Clean-up Outside 

Buckets of standing water are breeding areas for mosquitoes, and weeds harbor insect pests.  Keep branches and other plant debris away from the foundation of your home.  Consider setting up firewood and compost bins at a distance! 

Natural Solutions 

Fortunately, there are household items, plants, and essential oils that can rid your home of unwanted guests! 

  • Ants: Make a solution of Borax with sugar, honey, or syrup.  The bait will return to the nest and poison the colony. 
  • Flies:  In a jar, add an inch’s worth of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.  Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band, and poke holes in the top. This method also works well for gnats. 
  • Indian Meal Moths:  Add a deterrent to your cupboards and pantries, and around your trash cans and bays. 
  • Silverfish:  Sprinkle cedar chips in damp areas. Make sure to collect them and add fresh, if needed! 
  • Spiders:  Rub a citrus peel or essential oil along baseboards and bookshelves.   

Keep researching other methods to deter pests in every season.  With each effort, you’ll soon live in a home without uninvited company!


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