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Bug-proof your home to prevent an infestation

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Experts provide top tips to guard your home against pesky household plagues

People are encouraged to pest-proof their homes as best as possible to prevent pest invasions, says Stuart Steele, business development manager at Flick Pest Control.

This can be done in three steps:

  1. Proofing: Seal off entry points such as spaces under doors, holes in walls, and gaps between your roof and walls to prevent rodents and even birds from squeezing in.
  2. Securing food sources: Pests are not fussy eaters and once they find a source of food and water, they are “notorious for overstaying their welcome and inviting their friends and family”. “Because pests can thrive in even the cleanest of houses, homeowners should remove any temptation by sweeping up spills and crumbs immediately to prevent vermin, cockroaches or ants from being attracted to the area.
  3. Good housekeeping practices: Ensure you don’t have any clutter in your yard such as building rubble, stacks of firewood, old tyres or other debris leaning against your exterior walls, around your home, or against perimeter walls. “We don’t recommend the use of a compost heap as they provide ideal breeding grounds for rodents and flies. “Keep your gutters clean and remove dead leaves to prevent them being blocked as this will retain stagnant water and can cause fly and mosquito problems.” Steele also advises calling in certified professionals as soon as an infestation occurs. “Waiting until it’s too late to can be dangerous and lead to major damage, costing you time and money.” 

DIY natural prevention for flying insects, creepy crawlies

Peppermint and spearmint are natural insect repellents. Picture: Al Kawasa/Unsplash

  • Cucumber peels: ants are turned off by cucumber peels, so sprinkling them around areas of your home that serve as entrance points for ant colonies is a great pest preventative.
  • Mint leaves: peppermint and spearmint are natural insect deterrents, especially for ants and aphids. Plant varieties around your home and you should see a noticeable drop in ant populations. 
  • All-natural sprays: you can make eco-friendly pest control sprays at home. Mixing water with isopropyl alcohol, concentrated garlic oil, salt or boiled elder leaves makes deterrents you can spray on indoor and outdoor plants to help control infestations. 
  • Baking soda and powdered sugar: if cockroaches are a problem, mix baking soda with powdered sugar and sprinkle it around problem areas. The sugar attracts the pests and the baking soda kills them. 
  • Eucalyptus oil: drop some on a cloth and place near areas of fly and moth infestation. 
  • Soapy water: if you want to instantly kill an insect, mix water and soap in a spray bottle to kill all bugs on contact. The soap component breaks down the waxy exoskeleton and lets the water enter and drown the insect. 
  • Cedar oil: is lethal to termites but is non-toxic, organic and chemical-free. It is a very effective contact killer and repellent for termites and can be used on any wood structure. The product penetrates the wood and the aromas from the cedar oil disrupt termite pheromone systems in a lethal manner.
  • Lemon juice: mix lemon juice and water 5/50 in a spray bottle and add essential oils.
  • Various natural oils are also effective: * Lemongrass for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and flies. * Lavender for fleas, ticks, flies, lice, nits, fishmoths, mosquitoes and moths. * Tea tree oil for centipedes, fleas, flies and other insects. * Lemon, orange and other citrus for fleas, ants, cockroaches, lice, nits and flies.

Rodents more likely to move in during winter 

Cape Town homes are not only sought after by property investors and buyers, but also critters and pests seeking warmth, food sources and shelter in the winter.

At some point, virtually every home experiences some type of pest problem, meaning even the cleanest and most well-kept properties face invasion, says Craig Hutchison, chief executive of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

Although pest control is important throughout the year and not just in winter, cold periods make homes more inviting for pests. Hutchison says signs that a pest professional is required include:

Property damage: Pests pose a big risk to your home, and many will leave their mark in the form of gnawed furniture, fabrics and electrical wiring. You’re most likely to see this at a low level, so inspect all skirting boards and floorboards for chewed materials.

Picture: Supplied

Droppings and urine: One of the most obvious signs of pest invasion is waste, particularly in the case of rodents. You’ll notice small, raisin-shaped droppings close to food stores. The darker the colour, the fresher the dropping. Black waste indicates an active mouse or rat. 

Nocturnal noises: It’s common to hear rodents moving inside the roof, mostly at night. These sounds are most likely to be made by mice or rats. 

Sticky doors and windows: Stiff door frames are often thought to be a sign of subsidence or other structural problems, but they may be a consequence of termite activity. The moisture termites produce when tunnelling through wood can cause frames to warp. If you notice this, check around the house to see if there are more warning signs.

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