The 3 Biggest Pest Control Mistakes

A cartoon spray bottle and a dead cockroach.

Bugs, rodents, deer, and other small wild animals can all have damaging effects on the well-being of your home or yard. Even more importantly, pests can affect the health of yourself and those you care about. But not all methods of prevention and elimination are created equal. If you're considering taking action against threatening critters, you may want to weigh all your options first. There are so many things that can go wrong with pest control. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid.

1. Not Keeping a Tidy Home

A woman vacuuming a rug in a clean, white room.

The best pest control is prevention. It may seem obvious, but often there is something you are doing that is causing the pest problem in the first place. And even if you do take measures to eliminate pests, with a dirty house they will just find new hiding places and all your hard work will be for nothing. You'd be amazed at how many pest invasions can be avoided by just keeping a house clean.

Spiders, roaches, and mice all love unkempt living spaces. Vacuum often to keep crumbs off the carpets. Wash the dishes to keep bugs from eating your leftover food. Take out the trash frequently. Cockroaches especially like cardboard because they eat it and it gives them a dark place to hide, so make sure to keep cardboard trash out of your home. Store your food in airtight containers. These simple tasks may seem like a given, but they can save you quite a headache later on.

2. Poor Trap Placement

A mouse hiding by a pipe on the floor.

Sometimes a pest control method can be right, but only in theory. Without proper placement, you're setting your trap up for failure.

For example, if you're putting roach traps or mouse traps in the middle of a room, you most likely won't have any results. Both critters like to move along the walls and flat surfaces. Some common places for crawling critters to be found include under stoves, behind refrigerators, and in other dark spaces. If you're trying to catch dangerous spiders, place sticky traps along garage walls and between garage door sections.

If you're using sticky traps or homemade mixtures to catch flying pests, they don't always fall for the plot. Again, this could be because of the placement. Consider the things they are attracted to. Sticky traps are often colored to attract flying insects, so keep them in a well-lit area where you see the most flies. Clear sticky traps should be placed near a window for maximum impact because most flying insects are attracted to light. As they buzz around the window, they are more likely to come across the trap.

3. Using Harsh Chemicals

A spray bottle with a couple sprigs of lavender next to it.

In your yard and especially in your home, pesticides can be very dangerous. Even pesticides labeled for home use can cause illness and may be linked to cancer or even death. Children and pets are especially at risk. What many people don't realize is that there are natural alternatives to many pest issues. You don't need the harmful pesticides to deter unwanted visitors.

Indoors, a variety of essential oils have been known to ward off unwanted insects. Mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, ticks, and flies dislike lavender oil. Peppermint essential oil can keep spiders and ants away. Even pesky gnats can be taken care of with patchouli essential oil. Just mix two and a half teaspoons of the desired oil in a bottle with a cup of grain alcohol, such as vodka, and mist the problem areas.

In your yard, you can plant certain flowers to keep pests at bay. Plants like lemongrass and mint in your garden can keep mosquitoes away. Rosemary even protects other various vegetable plants from harmful insects. Chrysanthemums repel roaches, ants, beetles, bedbugs, silverfish, and lice—to name a few. Even large nuisances like deer can be run off with a simple mixture of egg and water. You just need to pour the concoction into a spray bottle and administer it to the plants the deer has been nibbling on. The mixture should deter the deer.