Pest Management Hints and Tips: Ant & Cockroach Prevention
It’s an understandable impulse to grab a can of supermarket spray to deal with cockroaches and ants when they find their way inside in search of food and water. Yet, its wise to be cautious about the use of home insecticides and pesticides. Applications can be haphazard, the solution short-lived, and continued use can put children at risk of ongoing pesticide exposure.
So what are the best ways to keep your home free of common creepy crawlies without putting your family (and pets) at risk of unnecessary pesticide exposure?
Each pesty critter has their own ideal environment depending on their feeding and breeding habits, the weather, competition and ease of access to food and shelter. So the first step is to reduce their opportunities to feed and breed inside. Let’s look at the two most common house insects – ants and cockroaches:
Ants will come inside looking for either sweet foods or protein (depending on their species) and water (especially in summer when its dry and hot outside). You may find them seeking out unwashed dishes and fallen foods and crumbs. You may even wonder what on earth they are doing in the bathroom – most likely they’ve found a protein or carbohydrate (sugar) source in your favourite soaps or body lotion.
To keep them out of your building:
- Wipe down surfaces and clear away protein and sugary foods to keep ants creating a freeway to your sugar bowl, honey pot or nut paste jar.
- Clean away pet food bowls as ants will make a direct line to clean up their left overs
- If possible, block entry points where ants are accessing the house. This may require the use of fillers, door seals and insect screens.
Firstly, if you spot one cockroach, there’s no reason to jump to the conclusion that a whole family has invaded & set up home. There are Australian bush species that can find their way into homes and would be much happier outside amongst the mulch. Of course there are also cockroach species that you will want gone – most commonly the German and American imports are the ones that will find the warmth of your refrigerator or dishwasher motor a great place to breed, and they’ll come looking for food when all is dark. These are the species you hear about that can cause allergies, asthma attacks and spread disease like salmonella & gastroenteritis1.
To keep cockroaches from making your place their home:
- Store cardboard outside, or place in the recycling bin as soon as possible after they’ve been emptied. Cockroaches find their way into homes on egg casings laid inside cardboard.
- Use sticky baits to monitor cockroaches behind fridges and under dishwashers – if you find any size cockroach on the sticky bait, wipe surfaces with a cleaner that has orange oil in it. Orange oil deters many insects including cockroaches and also cleans away the pheromones that attract more cockroaches into an area.
- Wipe down all surfaces as soon as possible after food preparation to remove any food sources. Keep floors swept at the end of each day. Mop floors weekly with an orange oil cleaner. BEWARE: Orange oil may cause an allergic skin reaction for people with sensitive skin. Always use diluted and follow the instructions for cleaning.
These tips and tricks can keep ants and cockroaches from becoming problematic, yet professional assistance is recommended when populations get out of hand. If you find yourself frustrated by ants or cockroaches that have set up camp and aren’t moving on, give us a call and we can support you with a solution that will send your uninvited squatters packing.
- Urban Pest Management of Australia by J.Gerozisis; P.Haddlington & I.Staunton 5th Edition 2010: Pg156