Wednesday, June 17, 2020
When you’re a home owner there are many things to think about. Not only house expenses and real estate tax but also upkeep and maintenance. It’s very important to periodically inspect and look around the inside of your house but also the external parts of your house.
There are many things you can do to help keep out pests and unwanted guests in your home.
First you should do weekly vacuuming. This helps keep down the amount of allergens, dust mites, and other build up of tiny microscopic foreign objects in your home.
Secondly, a lot of people wait to do dishes and often let them pile up in the sink or in the dishwasher. But this is bad practice as it invites laziness and also possibly can become a source of decay or food for ants and roaches in a home. When you have dirty dishes try to clean them up as soon as you can after eating. A little bit goes a long way.
Another thing you can do is to mow your grass low. It is recommended to not mow more than two thirds of the top of the grass off so you have at least a third of its length left. That way it won’t weaken the plant. Mowing helps make your lawn nice and neat and also helps expose if there are any insects or pests hiding in your grass. You also don’t want to mow your grass too low though as it can be used to crowd out weeds.
A place most people find pride is maintaining the exterior of the house but the interior can be just as time consuming. For example, it is not a difficult task to buy toilet bowl cleaners to add to your tank. Not only does it make it quicker to clean your bathroom bowl, but it keeps it fresher and pest free. Some people are not aware of the u-shaped drain in the house plumbing not just keeping out noxious gases but also to keep out pests. It’s recommended to run a little bit of water through your pipes periodically so that the u-shaped section can retain water and act as a seal to keep out gases that may enter the home as well as pests that may try to enter the pipes and use them as tunnel ways.
I often am surprised that people let the maintenance of the bowl go for so long as it not only reflects on the own but also is not good for sanitation reasons. Consider also the chemicals being used. Perhaps a bleach or borax based mixture is useful also for the purpose of keeping away mildew as well as pest growth in pipes.
Pest control can involve insects or animals.
Recently in the area there have been a lot of voles, gophers and moles. These often are unwanted simply because they cause structural damage to your yard that you maintain and will create visible tunnels or holes thereby damaging soils, plants, trees and your grassy lawn. There are methods to control these animals ranging from poisons to traps to repellants. There are advantages and disadvantages of each.
For example, using a trap will catch the animal so they can no longer dig, but the negative is trying to find out how to dispose of the animal in a human or sanitary way. Often there are traps that either trap the animal or use scissors or spikes for instance. Or create a way they go into a trap and can’t come back out.
You can also use repellants on these animals. These can range from castor oil to spicy homemade remedies to smoke bombs.
Then there are also baits like worms or blocks or pellets for some of these rodentlike creatures. Some of these may contain for instance zinc phosphide.
The smallest animal is a vole which looks like a small mouse and eats mostly plant based food. It creates cracks in soils.
The next biggest is a mole which has digging claws and can’t really see because of its virtually nonexistent eyes that only detect light. They usually only eat grubs and worms and not plants. But they kick up quite a bit of dirt and can create visible tunnels across your yard and spots with mounds of dirt. The biggest of them all are the gophers which create large mounds of dirt that had deep extensive holes and often goes in two directions. These don’t have usually connected tunnels and are isolated holes.
These animals may not be the only unwanted items in your lawn. You may also have a desire or need to control weeds. Often it is good to do a few things:
1) Identify the pest or weed. Example: dandelion or spurge
2) Find out what may be causing them to show and if there’s a way to prevent. Example: Too many plants going to seed or lawn is too sparse. Therefore one can mow more often to remove the seed heads before it goes to seed, or try to make the grass healthier to crowd out the weeds.
3) Figure a way to try to control the pest or weed using simple methods first. Example: Pull or remove the weed by hand or digging it out first a few times or cover up the area to block out sunlight.
4) Identify a chemical control if needed. If you need to use a chemical herbicide for example because the flowers have already invaded your lawn and mixed in with your grass you may want to consider herbicides.
5) The most important thing is to read the label! And then reread it again to make sure you instead what kind of chemical you’re using and what method of action it is using and what safety precautions need to be taken such as wearing long clothing to prevent spraying on skin and potential causing allergic reactions or carcinogenic effects. Some of the most common herbicides are:
- 2,4-D, dimethylamine salt
- Dicamba, dimethylamine salt
Often these three come together to form a really effective combination of selective vegetation control.
You may also see various brand names or trade names but often you want to check the active ingredient to know what you’re getting. For example you might see Trimec or Ortho or Weed B Gon for instance but you want to check the label and the inserts or foldouts.
You may also see for instance triclopyr or dithiopyr for example. The first one instance is good for dealing with certain clover and ivy and tough weeds not controlled by the other sprays.
There are also broad vegetation killers that kill everything whereas the other ones are selective and do not hurt your grass if used correctly. This is often based on the different type of plants being treated such as monocots and dicots are slightly different and also the herbicides typically get onto the big plant leaves and absorbed into plants.
Some chemicals like glyphosate can be used to control driveways or big walkways where no grass or flowering plants of any kind are wanted and will kill all vegetation. You might also see brush killers that also destroy large ivy and bushy plants. And these are more concentrated versions of some of the other chemicals. However as stated before the chemicals can be dangerous to humans possibly so make sure to use the chemicals responsibly and take precautions to prevent runoff. It is considered unlawful in many places for the chemicals to run into sewers where it can kill aquatic wildlife and also affect the food chain.
Many sites allow you to “do my own” or “do your own pest control”. You can find professional grade products which include extensive product descriptions and labels and safety data sheets or SDS.
There are many interesting things about herbicides to think about such as when to apply, how often to apply and pre-emergent and post-emergent capabilities. You can also find generic brands versus name brands like mesotrione versus Tenacity. There are other chemicals like sulfentrazone and Prodiamine for instance. For more information do a bit of online research.
One more area of control is dealing with insects. No one likes ants, mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, spiders or roaches but these often come into our living space unknowingly seeking food, water, and shelter from the elements.
As before you need to take basic logical rational steps:
1) Identify the pest
2) Identify any ways to prevent the problem
3) Find a solution to elimate them from your space
4) If need be consider getting an exterminator or doing it yourself.
5) Retreat periodically and do maintenance.
Now here’s an important point not mentioned above, but in all cases these animals, plants and insects are living creatures and as such all have a natural ability to survive and thrive. And as such they often will adapt or change as needed to continue to live. Either they learn new behaviors such as moles or they can eventually become resistant. So it is very, very, very important to try to use methods that are safe, effective and sustainable.
For example, let’s say you have a roach or termite problem. You can use baits, gels, sprays and / or granules to control the problem. There are many different ways for control and you might see common scientific names such as:
- Gamma Cyhalothrin
- Beta Cyfluthrin
- Zeta Cypermethrin
The problem is out of the list most of them have the same method of actions of killing the insect and over time an insect and adapt or form a resistance to the chemicals to such a degree that the toxicity of the chemical no longer affects them! Same thing with plants. That’s why if you see plants becoming resistant then you need to change up the chemical. And you need to do it before it gets there and also before the resistant plant or crop breeds even more to create more resistance in other generations.
You can often use other things like sticky traps for instance that doesn’t use chemicals to temporarily outsmart the pests. Or simply eliminate food sources and crumbs and sealing and caulking up holes. as well as, take out the trash and mopping floors first to prevent problems from happening in the first place to begin with.
Similarly you don’t want to use for instance bifenthrin and then even more deltamethrin and cypermthrin because they are all from the pemethrin group. It’s thus important to read labels as they often tell you how much and how often to apply. And it’s good to change what you use also after a season. Farmers are very knowledgeable about the ethics and what chemicals they use to prevent resistance and the affect on the environment and often will consider using less as more when needed in conjunction with other solutions.
You can find various products that often you can use spreaders to sprinkle granules over your lawn or sometimes you might find concentrated liquid that you can add to a pump sprayer or backpack sprayer to spray to your lawn. It’s important also to:
- Measure how much chemical is needed by multiplying the length of area to be treated in feet by the width of the area in feet. This looks like:
[ length in feet x width in feet = square feet]
And then if lets say you have to use 1 pound per 1000 square feet and you have 2500 square feet to treat then you might end up using 2.5 lbs of the product.
(2500 divide by 1000 = 2.5) These all have various advantages and disavantages and costs to consider. Often the granules are good for treating large areas and great for spreading weed and feed and fertilizer for instance while spraying is good for large areas for specific plant control for instance or forming a insect proof barrier region.
It all depends.
As with all items, it is important to give it time for your products to work. Some herbicides for instance take a few hours to days and sometimes even weeks for you plant to absorb the chemical and die off. For instance some chemicals prevent certain protein formation or photosynthesis.
It is also important for example that you may need to water in your product. For example, often the granule herbicides also recommend you water in the product lightly so the product can be activated. The products are nice also because when it rains a bit more of the chemical dissolves and is activated by the water to continue its residual control effects. This can be good so that your product controls your yard all season long. Make sure to not apply right before really wet rainstorms or windy conditions.
Keeping and maintaining a home doesn’t have to be difficult or hard. You can have a beautiful yard and house without the need to spend a lot of money and break the bank to keep up with the Jones. With daily maintenance and a little care and effort your house can truly be a welcoming and wonderful place to call home.
Did you enjoy the article? Tell us your favorite lawn or house cleaning and maintenance activity.