Skip to main content

Want to keep bugs out? Here are the 7 best preventative pest control methods we’ve seen

Want to keep bugs out? Here are the 7 best preventative pest control methods we’ve seen

Image used with permission by copyright holder

When it comes to protecting our homes from pests, some of us have more difficulty than others. Try as we might to fend them off, we just always seem to end up with some type of household, garden, or yard pest infestation every year, and every time we end up calling the exterminator. What else can be done?

We’ve consulted a group of pros and gathered tidbits of wisdom to share on the subject. Bothered by ticks? We know what to do. Got cockroaches? We’ve got the goods to send them packing. Aphids eating your roses? Not anymore! Come check out our top preventative pest control methods to see which you can use!

Recommended Videos

Do this first

To start with, do a full examination of your home. Pests have limited needs, and generally only visit your home to satisfy the basics. Your home is likely either providing them a food source or a nesting source. You’ll need to figure out and eliminate that source, or find a way to block their access to it. Make sure to do the following in every area:

  • Remove clutter
  • Clean each area thoroughly — especially where food has been cooked or served
  • Figure out where any leaks are coming from, i.e. consistently damp or wet areas, and fix them so they are dry
  • Make sure food is covered right away after meals and leftovers are stored in air-tight containers (preferably in the fridge)
  • Look for any holes or cracks in window screens, walls, doors, etc., and seal them thoroughly with caulk or other means (this can easily be done by turning all the indoor lights on, outdoor lights off, and going outside at night to check for light coming out from anywhere it shouldn’t. Look closely and you’ll see any little holes and cracks that need to be sealed)
  • Do not store wood near or against your home — this makes a great hangout for everything from rodents to snakes to carpenter ants. Keep it at least 20 feet away
  • Keep bird feeders at least 25 feet from your house; rodents are attracted to the seeds that fall from them
  • Do you have shrubs or trees with branches growing against your house or windows? Trim these back so they aren’t touching your house
  • Keep your outdoor lights on at night to keep creeps of all kinds from crawling in (this may not always be advisable, and surely is not good for eliminating light pollution, so use only as needed)
  • Any outdoor food storage containers must be kept tightly closed, in a container that cannot be chewed or clawed through. Same with garbage containers
  • If you have a chimney, cap it

Once you’ve taken these steps, keep an eye out and see if anything additional is necessary to prevent pests from continued efforts to enter your home. Here’s what the pros have suggested:


Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Eliminate standing water in the yard, gutters, outdoor furnishings or toys, etc. in order to prevent mosquito breeding in the warm months.
  • The citronella geranium, more commonly known as the mosquito plant, contains citronella oil which is released when the plant’s leaves are pulled, ripped or chewed. This is said to repel mosquitoes from the area. Give it a try!
  • Note: Even as much as a bottle cap full of water can result in hundreds of mosquitoes. Be sure you dump anything that rain gathers in or snows melts in as soon as you notice it.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Keep flies from congregating and breeding on your property by cleaning up all animal feces immediately and keeping trash cans tightly closed.

Fleas, ticks, mites, etc.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mix up a blend of pure organic cedar oil and water and spray it every night around your lawn and shrubs. It smells fresh and repels a variety of insects, many of which bite and cause a plethora of problems. It is said to kill their eggs as well.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

Cut back any long grasses, weeds, or large open areas in your yard, and watch out for trees as well. Ticks like to hang around waiting for a pet, passing wild animal, or human to waltz by and then jump on them for dinner. Eliminate their hiding/jumping off points, and you’re halfway there.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

While wasps and hornets are generally beneficial and harmless, they can be problematic when building their nests in areas where people congregate, children play, etc. It’s best to prevent them by doing the following:

  • rinse out all pop cans and bottles thoroughly before putting in recycling bins
  • clean up any spilled sweet drinks or foods immediately
  • bag up and dispose of garbage immediately
  • if you have fruit trees or bushes, clean up all the fallen fruits ASAP
  • keep your home clutter-free, including the attic and garage
  • avoid hanging anything colorful or bright out where they may be attracted; they are often drawn to bright things mistaking them for flowers

Garden pests

Image used with permission by copyright holder

A variety of garden pests like aphids, spiders, beetles, mosquitoes, ticks, mites, and more are often controlled by this remedy. Blend up a quarter teaspoon of mild (preferably color-free, fragrance-free) liquid dish soap and two tablespoons of ground cayenne pepper into a quart of water (not too hot or cold). Shake thoroughly, let sit for several hours, then spray with plenty of pressure all over the plants. Spray from above, spray from below, spray from all directions. Do this in the evening or very early in the morning, and not if it’s a super hot day. Must be done weekly at least until you notice the pests have moved on.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

While you’ll definitely need to remove their food or nesting source too (pay particular attention to areas of consistent moisture), this remedy may also assist you in showing cockroaches their way out of your home. Make a dough out of equal parts flour, sugar, and boric acid. Sit them around your home where you suspect or have seen roaches. The smell of the sugar should attract them. Once they start snacking, the boric acid will kill them.

While this is only 7 pests out of many, the task list we mentioned first should be sufficient to rid your home of all types of pests if done correctly and often enough. If you find you’ve tried everything and nothing works, contact an exterminator for help.

Editors' Recommendations

Do these 7 things to keep bugs away from your next party
adult guests at an outdoor party

Depending on the size of your bash, you may spend weeks or months planning an awesome outdoor party. The food may be sumptuous, the music perfect, and the decor gorgeous, but the guests will be miserable if they are harassed by bugs the whole time. Protecting your guests from flying pests is a consideration that you should handle well in advance of the party. 

Summer pest control starts with the condition of the landscape itself. The most common summer bugs, mosquitoes and ticks, have very specific habitat requirements that you can either reduce or eliminate altogether. With these few subtle bug control elements, you can ensure your guests will enjoy a great time without suffering itchy welts and blood loss.
Let plants do the work
Plants with fragrant foliage can help chase bugs away. Marigolds, catnip, basil, lavender, scented geranium, and lemongrass, to name a few, harbor a variety of insect-repelling volatile compounds that they release when the foliage is disturbed. Plant them in the yard, add potted plants to the patio, or fill your flower arrangements with them. The more of these plants in the area, the more effective they will be. Pro tip: Just before guests arrive, crush some of the foliage and scatter it in key locations to boost the fragrance and clear the bugs.
Tidy up the landscape
Tall grass, overgrown shrubs, and moist shady areas all harbor breeding mosquitoes and other bugs. Don’t wait until the day of the party to mow, as displaced bugs will simply fly around searching for a new place to hang out. A few days before the event, give the landscape a good trim to reduce insect breeding habitat, improve sunlight penetration, and boost air circulation, all of which deter pests.
Eliminate standing water
Any standing water can quickly become a mosquito breeding habitat. Run sprinkler systems on the lawn or garden only in the morning so that the excess can evaporate in the daytime when mosquitoes are most likely to stay away. Treat landscape water features, rain barrels, and other intentional water sources with Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits that kill mosquito larvae but have no effect on people or pets.

Read more
Pest control considerations for families with pets and small kids
black lab and little girl on a bed

Pests in your home are not only a downright yucky problem, but one that can cause damages to your home or even health risks to your family. If you've noticed a pest problem in your home, you may already be developing a plan for extermination. Whether you're whipping up a DIY fix to your pest invasion or you've contacted a professional exterminator, there are some things to think about when it comes to pest control safety and protecting your family and your pets.

Consider non-chemical preventative measures first
When it comes to pest control for families with small children and pets, the ideal solution to your pest problem is one that doesn't require harsh chemicals. Depending on the severity of the pest invasion, you may be able to eradicate the problem with some sessions of heavy cleaning. Remove exposed food items, place them in airtight containers, get rid of built-up clutter, and thoroughly clean affected areas. You can even do a bit of research into how to repel or kill your specific pests with natural methods. Black pepper and peppermint, for example, are natural ant repellants, and they are perfectly safe for people. Note, however, that even some of these natural repellants are toxic to pets, so check the ingredients label and with your vet to make sure you're picking products safe for your furry friend.
Inform the pest control company
If you're bringing in a professional, inform them in advance of the presence of small children or pets in your home. They may have alternate chemical options that can be used, or they may alter their extermination plan based on the presence of animals and children. Most importantly, they will have some cautions or advice for you when it comes to treating specific areas of the house where your pets and kids tend to hang out. It's always best to discuss the plan in full with the pest control company to ensure your family is safe from toxins.
Discuss your plan with the family doctor and the vet
In cases where large-scale fumigation will be required, it's a good idea to contact your family doctor as well as your veterinarian about the upcoming pest control treatment plan. Discuss which chemicals will be used and ask the doctor what warning signs to look out for that may indicate ingested or inhaled chemicals. Knowing the signs will allow you to respond quickly if the worst happens and your family is overexposed to harmful chemicals.

Read more
Pest control for birds? What to know, and who to hire
the best metal wall art decoration abstract birds 1200x9999

Birds are beautiful and majestic creatures that are commonly welcomed in our backyards. We invite them onto our property and entice them with birdfeeders and birdbaths so we can catch a glimpse of their breathtaking beauty. Birds can, however, become a nuisance quickly. When they nest in an inopportune place, eat and destroy crops or landscapes, or even start to infest an area on your property, that's when their status moves from enjoyable visitor to annoying pest. Pest control for birds can be a bit tricky since many birds are protected species, and it is illegal to kill or relocate them. We're going to help you navigate the solutions to your bird pest problem here today.

The negative effects of bird problems
While they're relatively harmless in small numbers and are even beneficial in areas like insect control, a growing concentration of birds in one area on your property can pose some pretty serious problems.
Property damage
Since birds nest in high, sheltered areas, a common issue is that they start to create nests in your outdoor vents, sheds, chimneys, or garage. They attract more birds when they nest, and since their nests contain organic matter, they can attract insects and other pests. This can cause costly damage to your property due to mold as well as infestations.

Read more