An ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention. With that in mind, take as many steps as you can to keep the creepy crawlies out and your kids safe. Here’s your simple, cost-effective guide to protecting your family before infestation becomes a burden on them in the form of time, money and toxicity.
Before the Bugs
The best way to keep pests at bay is to eliminate their food source, and for many pests, it’s the food we leave lying around. It’s so easy, yet so hard to do, especially with little ones snacking at home with you all day. But making a habit of sweeping any leftover food and crumbs after mealtimes will help in this effort.
When weather permits, take meals and snacks outside to the patio or a local park. This is beneficial not only for the sake of comfort, but also from a cleanliness standpoint, as crumbs will fall on the grass and not your dining room floor. Plus, this is a great way to get kids to eat (no swings until after you finish your food) and play outside.
Eliminate Food Sources
Make sure your pantry is sealed up tight. Plastic bags protect food from bugs, but only if they’re sealed! That goes for pet food, too. You shouldn't leave it out at all, even if it’s only overnight because you don't want to provide a midnight buffet to potential pests.
Make sure you keep the lid on your garbage can closed and store it as far from the house as possible. And make sure to get rid of newspapers and cardboard right away and far away from the house. They’re a breeding ground for cockroaches.
Bed Bugs 101
If you’re a thrift store junkie or spend a lot of time traveling and staying in hotels, don’t forget about bed bugs.
While some people have no reaction to bed bug bites, many suffer from painful swollen welts all over their bodies from a bed bug infestation. The Environmental Protection Agency warns that while a few bed bugs can be frustrating, a full-on infestation can be devastating and costly. So, make sure to check all your luggage and thrifted items thoroughly before you bring them into your home.
Bed bugs love to hide in the seams of mattresses and furniture, but they can also be found everywhere from beneath loose wallpaper to the cracks where the floor and ceiling meet. If a space is big enough to fit the width of a credit card, it’s big enough to house a colony of bed bugs.
Look for small red, brown or black spots on bed linens, curtains or furniture. Red and brown spots resemble rust and are produced by bed bugs being crushed. Smaller black spots are bed bug excrement that bleed on fabrics like a felt-tipped marker.
Spills and Seals
Two simple ways to prevent bugs of all kind from getting into your home are sealing up points of entry and keeping spills and standing water to a minimum.
Even the DIY home improvement beginner can get a caulking gun for less than $5 with tax. Use it to seal up any spaces around doors, windows, floorboards and plumbing pipes. This will also help you save money on heating and cooling costs!