There is no better way to spend your day off relaxing in your home, sipping a drink and watching TV. It’s been a while since you had your personal time and you’re enjoying the peace in your own home. Now picture this: suddenly, out in the corner of your eye, you see a small movement. Something small is crawling on your table! A cockroach in the broad daylight! Ugh, you immediately realized that your home might have bigger problems than just one cockroach. You might very likely have an insect and pest infestation on your hands.
Here are the 7 most common kinds of pest infestation in the United States – there is a good chance we have all dealt with at least one of these.
Pest infestation is a common occurrence in a lot of places in the country. The infestation can be triggered by an inevitable reason (e.g. changes in season, plus lack of preventive measures).) or of everyday causes: very dirty houses and super clean houses (even pests love clean did you know!)
Whenever such an issue comes up, there’s always the question I ask:
Can I fix this myself, or do I need to hire someone?
And then the follower-up:
How much is this sucker going to cost me?
In this article, you will know about the 7 most common pest infestation, their origin, and how to handle the situation when an infestation happens – if it’s something that can be done yourself or outsourced to a working professional.
I also added some DIY essential oil spray recipes effective in getting rid of certain common household pests. These essential oil sprays are super powerful so read carefully on the dosage used.
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What’s a Pest Infestation?
A pest infestation happens when a house or a building is being invaded or overrun by pests, especially insects. These pests often present a risk in human’s health and estate properties. Usually, a single infestation is present in a house, but multiple infestations can happen at the same time.
Pests often have very basic needs to thrive in an environment. With a little bit of warmth, a little bit of moisture, and food available – pests can live and stay in one place.
There are a lot of signs of pest infestation. If you start to see alive pests, this could mean that the infestation is already severe. Evidence of nestings, pest droppings, or even dead bugs indoors is strong indicators of an ongoing infestation. You will also likely notice an odd smell coming from places in the house that are hard to reach or are often ignored.
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General Pest Prevention
It is also worthy to note that having a consistent cleaning schedule and proper hygiene can help in preventing infestations. Prevention is always a better answer to any bad things. The best way to save money is to not let the infestation becoming a true threat to your property and health. Sealing up entry points such as cracks and holes is also effective. Replacing rotting wood or old furniture helps in preventing pests such as termites.
When To Set Up DIY
Most of the infestations can be remedied quickly by calling a professional pest control service. However, if you don’t want those strong chemicals in your house or if the scope of the infestation is still relatively small, there are DIY solutions that are effective in getting rid of infestations before you research and drag down a pest solution company.
These DIY remedies are usually cheaper, more environmental and pet-friendly. You can save money by using natural methods before calling your local pest control service provider.
7 Pest Infestations & Natural DIY
1. Get Rid of Flies
Flies can be identified as house flies and fruit flies. Both of the two can give you plenty of pesky problems during an infestation. Although they play a good role in the environment as pollinators and food sources for animals, they are harmful when they decide to invade your living standard.
Because flies can transmit different diseases even to humans, it is important to get rid of these insects immediately. They are often associated with food poisoning because of the possibility that they carry Salmonella or E. coli. In addition, flies also feed on fecal matter and spoiled organic products, according to PennState College of Agricultural Sciences.
Natural DIY: Get Rid of Flies
A couple of splashes of apple cider vinegar (attractive smell to flies) and a few drops of dish detergent (acts as a sticky trap) in a bowl or bottle. Wrapped on top with a tight wrap and prick a few holes. This recipe has been this doctor’s tried and true method for years to repel house flies. The flies land in the cider and dish detergent mixture through the holes, get trapped in it before they drown. Just make sure you don’t make the holes too large or some might escape.
Fortunately, DIY traps such as vinegar and dish soap fly traps can be made if a small infestation appears. This can only be done with the flies inside homes. In a shallow dish bowl, just mix apple cider vinegar, and a tablespoon of sugar. This attracts the flies and kills them.
2. Bed Bugs
Contrary to their name, bed bugs can also appear in other places such as cracks and crevices around your home. They can reproduce quickly and become a whole army of blood-sucking insects in just a couple of days. With the existence of bed bugs, a lot of people’s sleep is interrupted every night. PennState’s Department of Entomology stated that bed bugs usually enter the house via secondhand articles and furniture.
They are a nightmare to DIY so I would consult a reputable, industry expert regarding the severity of the situation because bed bugs can be very stubborn.
The obvious way to stop a small bed bug infestation is to wash the bedding immediately after the symptoms appear to avoid spreading. Wash your beddings in high temperature as heat helps in killing these bugs. Just like heat, freezing them are also effective, but it takes more effort than the heat method. Freeze the affected object in the freezer and leave it for at least four days. Vacuuming is also a good remedy, but disposing of them could be a hard task so I still would recommend getting a professional to consult.
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One way to describe ant infestation is widespread “food thievery” because they invade homes in search of food. Although some ants usually nest outside (Odorous House Ants), this can be different when winter comes and they decided to march inside a house. There are also ant species such as Carpenter Ants which destroys properties.
Natural DIY: Get Rid of Ants
DIY remedies for odorous house ants include homemade ant baits which include sugar (to attract them) and borax to kill them, according to UC Master Gardeners of Monterey. That’s what my husband and I did to get rid of our house ant infestation (when an ant hill appeared one day right next to our front yard.)
It took us 3 to 4 weeks of using Terro ant gel to effectively get rid of ants. Towards the end of the 4th week, the ants became smart and started avoiding the Terro gels so we got creative – we used real food (sugary cake, fruit, meatballs, etc.) and mixed it in Terro gel so the ants wouldn’t be able to resist the delicious poisonous cake. Odorous house ants carry the food in their nests, which kills the whole colony.
Carpenter Ants, on the other hand, don’t carry their food in their nests, so the best way to get rid of them is to kill them on the spot. Diatomaceous Earth is an organic and safe remedy to kill carpenter ants.
4. Dealing With Wasps
Wasps are dangerous, and even more so if they decide to build their nest in your home. These insects usually appear when the days start to become warmer. Wasps are known as territorial insects which attack in groups with their stings.
Don’t DIY Wasps
This is one of the insects where DIY methods are not recommended, even for the people with brave hearts. You can’t remove them with water or fire because this will only irritate them more. A large wasp nest can contain more than 25,000 wasps and you don’t want those wasps to attack you. Professional help is needed for this kind of infestation!
5. Get Rid of Rats
Rats are one of the greatest headaches when it comes to pests. They pose danger in everyone’s health, as well as in everyone’s homes. Transmission of diseases, damage in insulation, as well as destroying simple housing objects (chewing of walls, clothes, and other things) makes these rodents unwelcome in anybody’s home. Freak accidents like houses catching on fire can happen because of chewed electrical cables.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, when you see a rat in the house, it is proof that an infestation is likely already severe. Maintaining the cleanliness of the house, especially in the kitchen, is a key step in preventing rat infestation.
One of the most common DIY methods of getting rid of rats is by using rat traps. You can make a homemade mouse trap by using a toilet roll tube, peanut butter, and a plastic container. You would have to check every single possible opening and close it off.
When the infestation is more severe than previously thought, inexpensive DIY pest controls won’t be effective for so long so it’s best to consult a local exterminator. If you want an exterminator to come and do that it would likely cost around $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the severity and home size.
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6. Get Rid of Termites
Termites are one of the most destructive pests in the country, if not the most. They usually destroy properties made out of wood and even concrete. If you’re a homeowner, you wouldn’t want to see these insects inside your house. They can cost up to $8,000 worth of damage before it’s noticeable.
What’s even worse is that these damages are not covered by most insurance policies. According to National Pesticide Information Center, ants and termites are easily confused because of similar appearance.
One way to get rid of termites is to use parasitic nematodes that feed on small insects. This is a good alternative from injecting liquid termiticides. Just like in ants, boric acid is also an effective termite killer.
Simply exposing the insects to the sun can help kill them. Termites thrive in areas that are rich with moisture, so eliminating the moisture can help in eliminating these pests.
7. Get Rid of Cockroaches
Usually seen in people’s kitchens, or other warm spaces at home, cockroaches are one of the most resilient pests out there. They have been around for millions of years, some say they are the most successful species out there and will probably outlast even humans.
They can hide well in dark places and will only appear if they need food. Cockroaches are known for triggering asthma and other allergies which can be deadly. In addition, because they crawl in a lot of places, they can trigger food poisoning.
There are cockroach traps and baits used in order to remove cockroaches at home. Boric acid paste is a paste that contains boric acid and sugar and is effective as bait.
Pouring or spraying soap and water solution is also a good cockroach killer when the infestation is just starting. What makes this solution deadly is that it clogs the roach’s pores, making it harder to breathe and will eventually cause the cockroach to die.
Pest Removal Recipes Using Essential Oils
I fell in love with the potent power of essential oils when I found myself with a mild scalp infection in college. A few drops of tea tree essential oil in regular shampoo gave me the (inexpensive) cure I needed and also killed my on-going battle with dry dandruff. The best part was how cheap it was compared to the doctor prescribed chemical mixtures and fancy name brand shampoos.
Going off the potency of essential oils, I discovered some reliable, all-natural, easy, DIY essential oil recipes that deter pests:
Essential Oils for Repelling Woodpeckers
In some regions of the U.S., a visit from woodpeckers could cost hundreds to thousands in exterior siding damage. You can kill woodpeckers because U.S. Agriculture protects certain species so therefore it is against the law to bring them harm. However…we paid $1,000 to have our siding repaired because a woodpecker happened to like the sound of our house when his beak hit it. Ugh!
We had huge holes in our house for months. It turns out, woodpeckers HATE the taste of grapeseed oil (and anything that wood shouldn’t taste like). So all we had to do was spray (like you’re painting the house in an invisible coat of paint) grapeseed oil (plus any blend of minty essential oil, optional) on the siding of our house 1-2x a month to keep those woodpeckers away. Super easy!
Essential Oil for Fruit Flies
If you have essential oils on hand try using a diluted few drops of lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, basil, clove, or eucalyptus essential oils. These scents can become a very powerful room spray that will repel flies.
Another all-natural solution would be apple cider vinegar mixed with lemon halves accompanied with eucalyptus-scented essential oil solutions. Spread that picture on sticky strips to attract them in and kill them.
Essential Oil for Rats & House Mice
The best essential oil to use for rats is peppermint. Peppermint has a smell that mice find unpleasant and is naturally strong in odor. It can be found cheaply in any natural whole foods store or online. Bonus, peppermint essential oil diluted is completely natural and harmless to humans (and most of us think it smells great!)
Essential Oil for Termites
Garlic, cinnamon, orange, peppermint, and clove essential oils are effective for killing termites. Mix these essential oils (about 5% dilution, 5-10 drops per 1/2 gallon) with water in a spray bottle and spray as a quick spot treatment.
Pest Infestations That Can’t Be Fixed By DIY
There are times when an infestation can be addressed by DIY solutions and persistence. However, there are infestations that are just so bad and dangerous that it is better to let the professionals handle the situation.
On example, as mentioned above, is when there is a wasp infestation. Wasps and hornets are stinging insects which can cause a deadly allergy reaction. Bed bugs are also very stubborn and rats can be reccuring if the source of the problem is not addressed by a professional.
Another scenario is when instead of odorous and carpenter ants, a colony of fire ants decided to nest near or inside your house. Fire ants are extremely dangerous because will attack even humans in full force when their territory is threatened.
Although there are termite DIY remedies available, if the structure is very damaged, the danger for you and your family over collapsing structures are possible.
If any infestation keeps coming back even after a lot of successful DIY extermination, then it is likely that you are missing something, which is the reason why they keep coming back.
Hidden colonies or survivors are likely the keys why a lot of infestations are hard to fully exterminate. There are also situations where a full-on infestation is happening and that it’s a bit too late for DIY methods to work.
When these scenarios are already in play, calling a professional is a wiser choice as DIY methods are already ineffective or too dangerous and the money saved is not worth the injuries.
Pest control services are still the best way to thoroughly get rid of pest infestations. These services can be costly, but the money spent on these services could be worth it.
If the infestation is way too severe, or if there are multiple infestations in your home, DIY methods might not be sufficient to kill or repel the pests. Pest control services usually know techniques and other methods to skillfully remove infestations without harming your property.
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What’s important is the aftercare and the preventive methods that you will do after the extermination. To prevent the pests from coming back, make sure to follow the prevention advice of your exterminator. Always maintain cleanliness and check everything that you put into your homes as they can carry pests.
Do a routine habit to check spaces that are hard to reach and check if there is an infestation forming. In these cases, DIY methods are the best and more cost-effective. If you want to put trees and shrubberies near your home, make sure that these plants have a decent distance from your home so bugs and other critters will not find their way inside.
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
As someone who DID have to experience the awfulness of bed bugs, I would highly urge anyone who finds them to get a professional in to do a thorough job. The rest we would perhaps deal with ourselves, but bed bugs are no joke and you’ll just end up dealing with them six months after you think they’re gone if you try and tackle it yourself.
Agreed wholeheartedly on just getting an exterminator for the bed bug problem. I had bed bugs last year and tried everything against them. All the products that were “guaranteed to kill bed bugs”–including a product LITERALLY called “Kill Bed Bugs–only made the bed bugs stronger. A pest control professional was the only thing that eliminated the little bastards for good.
ARB–Angry Retail Banker
The Frugal Gene says
Could you share how much it cost? We dealt with almost everything on the list so far except bed bugs (KNOCK ON WOOD!!)
The Frugal Gene says
Thanks Angela!! 🙂 I updated the post, thankfully I have never dealt with bed bugs before (even luckier with 2 airbnbs we’re running!) Did you have experience on how much they cost professionally? I didn’t know bed bugs were common in the pacific northwest.
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
Wow great solutions! I have fruit flies. Whenever October rolls around, there are a bunch of fruit flies in our house every single year without fail. I will try the vinegar solution this year. But they are not as bad as mosquitoes since mosquito bites are just irritating. This post comes at perfect timing since summer is the season of bugs!
The Frugal Gene says
Oh god mosquitoes are the worst!!! Have you tried homemade fruit flies strips (like they hang them in restaurants) where it’s a scented strip of sticky paper, flies go into it, and get stuck. They’re not inexpensive if you do buy them. It’s like $8 for 2 rolls.
Dragon Guy says
We’re dealing with cockroaches now. Our cats don’t seem to help us out too much. They will just knock them around a bit but not kill them. We end up finding turned over cockroaches with their legs flailing.
Never knew about the soap and water solution. We’ll have to try that!
The Frugal Gene says
Cockroaches?! Where are they coming from? Make boric powder mixed with delicious cake >:D
Could you please elaborate on this one; “You can make a homemade mouse trap by using a toilet roll tube, peanut butter, and a plastic container.” Thanks!
The Frugal Gene says
Right here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfnub65F4Uw
SC | MissFunctional Money says
Ugh I HATEEEE bugs.
But as my Dad always said, if they’re in your house, they’re called Palmetto bugs. If they’re in someone else’s house, they’re called roaches 😉
The Frugal Gene says
Wild coincidence on 2 things:
I actually have a post on fruit flies on the schedule (I think posting next wk).
I just found out that I have a termite problem in my home. Luckily I have been paying Terminix annual protection fee so that whatever the damage/cost should be covered by them.
The Frugal Gene says
Can you let me know when do you post that flies one? I wanna know what it’s about exactly.
How much is your Terminix fee? I was so surprised it isn’t covered by homeowners insurance.
Will do on the fruit fly post.
I believe the Terminix termite protection is $350/yr (probably factors in house size etc). They really don’t do annual treatment but do annual inspections. Not sure if I come out ahead now or not but termite treatment and repair of damage may be expensive depending on extent.
Have to read the fine print as well as not every species of termite is apparently covered. Fortunately mine are.
Here is the fruit fly post you asked for 🙂 :
Some of these pests it just makes more sense to hire a professional so you don’t have to deal with it. 🙂