Keep your home pest free

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

The downside to our glorious South African summer is the proliferation of creepy crawlies at this time of the year. Here’s how to keep them at bay.

Speak to most homeowners and they will be able to tell you about encounters with pests in their home. Just about every home has been subjected to an infestation of some kind. The following are a few of the most common South African pests and how you can deter or eliminate them.

Cockroaches:

Cockroaches are arguably one of the most common – and reviled – pests which enter homes. There’s nothing quite like wondering into the kitchen or opening a cupboard only to be greeted by a cockroach dunking its head into your favourite snack. It’s an awful feeling and can make even the most level-headed person fly into a ludicrous, cockroach stamping fit. By and large cockroaches manage to escape though, leaving you to peer anxiously around cupboards and drain holes.

In South Africa, there are two main types of cockroaches – the German cockroach and American cockroach. German cockroaches are small, flat and scuttle around madly. American cockroaches are big and have wings which enable them to fly - usually right into your face or plate of food. Like most bugs, cockroaches can unwittingly be carried in via goods that you bring into your home. They can also come up through the drains or simply migrate from your next door neighbour.

The best defence against cockroaches is a clean home. Cockroaches can also be deterred and/or killed with a standard home pesticide or pest bait or a variety of natural remedies including catnip, a soapy water spray, mint or bay leaves. If you have an infestation however, it’s a good idea to call in the professionals.

Fish moths:

Although seemingly innocuous, fish moths can quickly become troublesome pests in the home. Fish moths gnaw away at books, pictures, linen and carpets and can be quite destructive.

Again, one of the best defences is to keep your home clean, well aired and dry. Vacuum often, distribute moth balls or if you want to go the natural route, make a few simple home-made sachets of mint, lavender, rosemary, cloves and cinnamon. Cedar blocks also deter these critters.

Termites and woodborer beetles Termites and woodborer beetles can become a real headache for homeowners. These bugs are by nature burrowers and can eat their way through a home with little effort.

Evidence of these pests is usually detected by the little mounds of detritus which are left behind by their burrowing activities. Left unchecked, these pests can cause serious damage to a home’s foundations and walls.

Although they can be deterred to an extent by natural home remedies, it’s best to call in the experts if you suspect you have an infestation as these pests can be very difficult to eradicate.

Ants:

Although not always seen as much of a threat to a house, ants can become prolific and problematic within a short space of time. Ants are attracted to food in a home which is why they are usually found around pantries. With this in mind, it’s best to keep all your food sealed in containers and your surfaces free of any food or crumbs.

There are numerous ant pesticides which can be bought at a supermarket but it is possible to deter ants with home remedies. Simply mix up some lemon juice or vinegar and spray it around the affected areas or crumble some mint leaves or chilli pepper flakes around cracks and ant pathways for maximum effect.

Flies:

Flies can be a particularly annoying pest, especially during the summer months when they tend to breed, well, like flies. Three types of flies tend to invade South African homes: The blow fly, the bottle fly and the common house fly. Blow flies are attracted to meat and bottle flies are the ones you see hovering around animal faeces. House flies are attracted to rubbish bins.

When attempting to deter flies, its best to simply remove anything which might attract them. In line with this, remove animal faeces often and empty your refuse bin regularly. Don’t leave food out and keep your surfaces clean and dry.

Flies can be deterred and/or killed by a number or household pesticides and fly traps or you can go the natural route and hang small sachets of mint, bay leaves, cloves or eucalyptus around windows and entrances. It really is as simple as that.

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