Environmental Home Safety

Home Safety Measures: Pest Control

Written by Anthony Emecheta

Any organism found where it is not wanted is a pest. Insects like cockroaches, ants, stink bugs, termites, and bedbugs as well as rodents are common household pests. When pets are not destroying things at home, they may serve as vectors for the spread of contagious and sometimes deadly diseases. 

For example, termites feed on cellulose, normally found in wood, leaves, grass, and so on. Therefore, when termites invade your home, they can reduce your furniture and other wood construction to rubble. What is more troubling is that a termite queen can lay as many as 25 eggs in a minute and up to 30,000 eggs daily. Therefore, a small colony can become massive in a short time.

Just like termites, rodents are notorious for the destruction of books and furniture. In addition to that, they can also serve as a vector for Lassa fever, a highly contagious and deadly viral disease first discovered in Nigeria. They transfer these organisms to humans when they urinate or excrete on food or household items.

The different methods for pest control

Pest control can be done biologically, mechanically, or chemically. The choice of pest control method will depend on the scale of the invasion and safety. For example, you must be careful with your choice of trap and where you place them if you have pets at home to avoid accidentally harming your pets.

Biological method

The biological method makes use of a living organism that is the natural predator of the pest. For example, chickens naturally feed on insects. In the biological control, you can get chickens to eat up the termite colony around your home. If you have a rodent problem, get a pet cat to handle them for you. The good thing about biological pest control is that it is not harmful to the home or the environment.

Mechanical method

Mechanical or physical pest control involves the use of devices to trap them, building barriers, or heat treatment. For example, there are myriads of traps designed for rodents that can be purchased and baited to lure them in. If for moral reasons you don’t feel comfortable with killing pests, the best alternative is to trap them and release them far away from your home.

Chemical method

The chemical pest control method is by far the most popular when it comes to household pest control. They are usually named based on the type of pests they control; pesticide, herbicide, rodenticide, etc. While they are highly effective, the indiscriminate use of chemicals can pose harm to humans and pets.

When choosing a pesticide, make sure you carefully examine the label. Pesticides with the label “selective” will be effective against selected pests while those labeled “broad spectrum” can kill a wide variety of pests. Also, watch out for the following signs on the label which tell you how dangerous the pesticides can be to humans;

  • Caution – for hazardous chemicals
  • Warning – for moderately hazardous chemicals
  • Danger – for corrosive or poisonous chemicals

Sadly, a peer-reviewed study titled “Pesticides and Environmental Injustice in the USA: Root Causes, Current Regulatory Reinforcement, and a Path Forward” revealed that Black people and low-income communities disproportionately bear the burden of pesticides in the United States.

Out of 14 biomarkers for harmful pesticide exposure, the authors of the study found twelve in a representative sample of the U.S. population over a 20-year period. The biomarkers were found in the blood and urine of Black people at an average that is as much as five times higher than in Whites.

This underscores the importance of properly disposing of pesticides after use. Don’t just pour leftover pesticides down the drain or throw them on the lawn. When in doubt, check with your public works department to determine the best way to dispose pesticides to avoid polluting the environment—and potentially humans too.

Pest control starts with prevention

There is a popular saying that prevention is better than cure. Preventing pests is far cheaper than trying to control them. Stagnant water, a dirty, and cluttered home is usually an open invitation for pets to invade. Insects, especially cockroaches, love to hide in clutters like stacks of old newspapers.

Pests need water to survive. Therefore, if you remove all standing water in and around the home and fix leaks, you will make your home uncomfortable for pets. Likewise, pets will not stay in a location where there is nothing to eat. It is not surprising that kitchens are usually the hotspots for pets.

Ripe fruits will attract fruit flies while rodents, flies, and cockroaches will be happy to feast on leftovers or mop up the crumbs from dirty plates. Make sure your foods are properly stored in sealed containers.

Wash dishes immediately after use or submerge them in soapy water. Keeping your kitchen clean is one of the first lines of defense against pest infestation. Seal every opening through which pests can gain access to your home. Finally, don’t forget to take out the trash daily.

For more reading

https://www.britannica.com/animal/termite/Nutrition#:~:text=The%20food%20of%20termites%20is,either%20sound%20or%20partly%20decayed.

https://www.terminix.com/termites/life-cycle/#:~:text=A%20termite%20queen%2C%20depending%20on,thrive%20in%20the%20long%2Dterm.

https://www.who.int/health-topics/lassa-fever#:~:text=Lassa%20fever%20is%20an%20acute,faeces%20of%20infected%20Mastomys%20rats.

https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-022-13057-4

https://biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/pesticides-and-environmental-justice/

About the author

Anthony Emecheta

Anthony Emecheta holds a master’s degree in microbiology. He is a passionate educator and particularly an advocate of racial equality. He strongly believes the world will be a better place if we all see ourselves as humans first before anything else.

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