Home Defense Insecticides

The most cost effective insecticide for general home pest control is Bifenthrin. It is a pyrethroid insecticide with a lasting residual. It also has a higher LD50 (lower toxicity) than many other pesticides. Using this chemical as a preventative treatment around your home is very effective against most perimeter pests.

Spraying the exterior perimeter of your home with bifenthrin, is like digging a moat around your home. The pests are still there on the other side of the moat.
Unless of course they are already inside, and you just locked them in your home.

Although doing a perimeter treatment of your home can be very effective, there are some flaws. Many castles have moats around them. But no kingdom would rely only on their moat for protection. In order to protect your home from pests, you need to eliminate their essential requirements: Food, water, and shelter.

Integrated Pest Management

There are three methods you can use to control pests:

Chemical control, mechanical control, and cultural control.

  • Chemical control is the use of pesticides.
  • Mechanical control is vacuuming, mowing, debris removal, trapping, etc.
  • Cultural control is manipulating a pests environment to control their population.

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Pest control is most effective when multiple control methods (chemical, cultural, and mechanical) are integrated into one pest control strategy. Controls are then strategically applied, in a time and cost effective manner, during the most vulnerable points of the pest’s lifecycle. This form of pest control is called Integrated Pest Management.

How To Apply Integrated Pest Management Practices

Integrated pest management is more than using pesticides in conjuction with non-chemical controls. IPM entails setting a threshold level, and monitoring the pest for that threshold.
For Example:
If you don’t mind seeing two ants in your kitchen, then you don’t get out the can of ant killer.
If you see seven ants, and that is your limit, at that point you grab the can of ant killer.
This is a basic explanation of pest thresholds. Monitoring through trapping and inspection identifies when the pest population exceeds the threshold level, and consequently when action can be taken.

This monitoring aspect of IPM makes it the perfect system to manage pests long term. If you want to take a greener approach to your pest management efforts, IPM is a solid option. Here are some IPM tips to help you control common household pests that are found in Cleveland, OH. Please note that these are general tips for specific pest groups. Species within groups may have completely different lifecycles and a completely different lifestyle. Thus requiring the application of different control methods.

Spider Integrated Pest Management

Mechanical Control

Spiders lay egg sacs. These sacs are protected by woven silk blankets. This blanket protects the eggs from the detrimental effect of most pesticides. Spider egg sacs contain between 2 and 1000 eggs. If you don’t want that many spiders, you’ll have to remove the egg sacs.

Implement mechanical control methods by manually removing spider egg cases. This is easily done by hand or by broom. Vacuums are also useful; as long as you don’t forget to empty the vacuum afterwards. There is nothing like opening the door to your broom closet as 10,000 baby spiders ride that air current right into your kitchen.

Spiders are persistent web builders. You might find that you have hit your limit with these spiders. You grab your wife’s feather duster, or better yet your pressure washer, and go to town. After taking your frustration out on their webs, you wake the next day to find out that they have rebuilt. Knocking down spider webs will eventually move them into other areas. The key word is eventually.

Let me make a side note at this time:
Integrated pest management integrates all 3 control methods into one plan. The goal is to reduce pesticide use, and the potential harmful effects they have on health and the environment. This is accomplished by using cultural and mechanical controls over chemical controls, whenever possible. IPM gives you a choice though. Your control plan is based on your timetable for control, and the cost effectiveness of the control methods involved. You may find that knocking down spider webs everyday is just too time consuming. If it is going to work better to knock the spider population down with pesticides first, then maintain the population by knocking them down with a broom, then that is what you do.

Cultural Control

Lakeshore communities in Northeast Ohio harbor large populations of orb weaver spiders in season. Orb weaver spiders eat primarily nocturnal moths and flying insects. Most nocturnal flying insects are attracted to light. Turning off lights at night will stop the flying insects from gathering around your home. This will give spiders a lot less food to eat. Thus controlling the spider population naturally.

  • Purchase light blocking window treatments and cover your windows with them at night.
  • Turn off garage and porch lights at night.
  • Install motion detectors on your outdoor security lights.
  • Use yellow bug light bulbs instead of normal spectrum incandescent bulbs.

Chemical Control

Spiders are tricky to control with pesticides. Orb weaving spiders hide in cracks and crevices during the day, only to become active at night. Orb weaving spiders do not put their feet on treated surfaces very often. In case a traveler gets stuck in their web, they need to be connected to their web underfoot.

Strategically time your pesticide application for when spiders are active on their webs. Wait until dusk, go out there and spray them as they come down out of hiding. With spiders you really have to hit them directly to kill them.

Carpenter Ant Integrated Pest Management

Mechanical Control

Carpenter Ants burrow into wet, damaged wood to build their nests. It is important to locate the damaged wood in your home that contains carpenter ant nests. Moisture meters can help detect current problem areas. If practical, replace the damaged wood. Hot spots are behind gutters, above garage doors, floor joists close to plumbing, under door thresholds, and under windows.

Carpenter ant queens require high humidity to breed. The carpenter ant queen isn’t usually inside your home. Carpenter ants live primarily in the trunks of trees where the humidity is high. Locate woody plant material with wood decay. Cut dead out of trees and shrubs or remove unhealthy woody plants. Grind out the stumps.

Carpenter ants are primarily nocturnal. The best time to locate nests is right after dusk.

Cultural Control

Basically all ants do inside your living space is forage for food. The simple ant control solution is to remove their food source. It only takes a couple crumbs to sustain a constant trail of ants to that spot in your kitchen. Practice regular cleaning under kitchen appliances. Vacuum cracks and crevices in the floor, especially at cabinet bases.

Finding an ant colony is not always easy. The next best option is to combine sanitation with ant bait trailing techniques. It is worth noting here that you cannot use baits in conjunction with pyrethroid insecticides. The ants will be repelled from the bait. Pyrethroids are repellents by nature. Mint is also a repellent.

Chemical Control

To control ants, you must attack the nest itself. Spraying foraging ants with a contact spray will not be effective. Saturating the nest directly with a contact insecticide will be effective. If you see ants trailing inside your home, you cannot just spray their pheromone trails with a pyrethroid insecticide spray. This can agitate an ant colony and actually cause that colony to split.

Adult worker ants gather all required food for the hive. Worker ants feed the queen and the larvae. Instead of killing worker ants, you will want to use their foraging habits to your advantage. If you find an active pheromone trail do not spray it with a pyrethroid. Use it to your advantage. Place bait on their trails. One of them is likely to return to the nest and feed the ant bait to the queen. Ants do not have a replacement queen like termites do. Once the queen is dead, the rest of the hive dies too.

Bed Bug Integrated Pest Management

Cultural Control

Bed bugs are not adapted to live on the bodies of humans or animals. They feed on their host, then immediately return to hiding. The best way to control bed bugs is to eliminate the places where they seek shelter. This can be done by encasing bed sets, sealing holes, and removing clutter. Bed bugs like to be sandwiched between two objects. Keep this in mind when sealing. Also do not seal an untreated void if you are not positive that it is free from bed bugs.

Steam heat, flash freezing, and whole room heat treatments are very effective cultural controls. They work because they create an environment in which bed bugs cannot survive.

Mechanical Control

Visible adult bed bugs are easy to remove by hand and squish. Another mechanical control, focused vacuuming, is highly effective and highly recommended. Strong sanitation practices can actually remove early infestations when used as a stand alone treatment. With bed bugs becoming increasingly resistant to chemical control, focused vacuuming is a very important tool in the bed bug exterminating tool box.

Chemical Control

Bed bugs are human parasites. It is one thing to have ants in your kitchen because you never clean under your stove. But to have a bunch of little red vampires underneath your bed, waiting for you to fall asleep, so they can suck your blood? Let’s just say that a lot of pesticides are being used in the fight against bed bugs. Homeowners use pyrethroid insecticide sprays. Through over-application and misapplication, bed bugs have developed resistance to pyrethroid insecticides. Also keep in mind that pyrethroid pesticides are repellents.

See how chemical control of bed bugs plays out in the following situation:
What happens when you have a small bed bug infestation that is confined within five feet of the bed? You perform a detailed pesticide treatment to that area. Out of the ten bed bugs hiding around your bed, all ten of them came into contact with the wet pesticide spray. You did it, you got them all. Due to pesticide resistance, only seven of the ten treated bed bugs die. Now you have three live bed bugs. One was hiding on a mattress fold, one was along the carpet edge, and one was behind your nightstand. You inspect for bed bugs a couple days following your pesticide application. You do not see any bed bugs. You did it, they are gone. A week later you get bit again. You inspect but do not see any bed bugs. What is going on? Why can’t you find what is biting you? Do you remember that pyrethroid insecticides are repellents? Those three surviving bed bugs relocated away from the bed after your treatment because you put a repellent there. So one bed bug goes into your ceiling light, and the other two go into the wall. Due to chemical resistance issues and the repellency effect of our bug spray, we made what could have been a simple task and made it a lot harder.

There is a lot of cultural and mechanical controls that go into a bed bug treatment program. They are often termed “bed bug treatment preparation guidelines”. This is a way that exterminators can mandate that important nonchemical control methods are carried out. A lot of the time, when homeowners treat for bed bugs they only do the chemical control part. This often leads to failure. If cultural, mechanical and chemical controls are properly integrated then a homeowner can overcome pesticide resistance issues and the pyrethroid repellency factor. We recommend implementing chemical controls like dusting wall voids, wrapping furniture in plastic with DDVP pest strips, and using an aerosol to kill off bed bug eggs.

Home Defense Using Integrated Pest Management

Time was taken to explain common faults in chemical bed bug control because it is the most interesting and will sink into the brains of most people. The truth of the matter is, that you can run into the same issues using chemicals to control any pest. Most exterminators perform conventional pest control. This uses chemical control as the primary means to control pests. Most exterminators apply hopped up pyrethroid pesticides that last a really long time. Remember the beginning of the article when I mentioned building a moat with bifenthrin insecticide? Exterminators now have similar products that last three times as long as bifenthrin. Homeowners can build a really little moat, conventional exterminators can build a really big moat. No one is really solving pest problems by using long lasting repellents. At best, their numbers are reduced while nature is still providing the pest with favorable conditions for them to repopulate.

Pest problems are an imbalance in nature. Although conventional pest control is affordable, and it provides a quick knockdown, it isn’t the puzzle piece that restores the balance of nature. If you have a high pest population, you have two factors playing into it: There is an abundant food source. There are favorable environmental conditions present that are allowing them to readily reproduce. There may be a combination of both factors going on at the same time. Although nature is being very kind to the thriving pest, we see it as an imbalance in nature. Synthetic chemicals do not repair imbalances in nature, due to the fact that they are not a part of nature. In order to control a pest population you must restore the balance of nature. This is done through the implementation of cultural control methods.

We live as part of nature, yet we are slightly disconnected from much of it. Our monetary system and busy lifestyles make quick and affordable fixes a necessity. We don’t necessarily have time to learn the life cycle and diet of the odorous house ant. But we do have time to pick up a can of bug killer. Integrated pest management takes not only nature into consideration, but it considers how our society operates. Pesticides are negatively impacting our health and our environment. Pesticide use must be reduced. But the EPA cannot force feed strict organic pest control regulations down the throats of the working class. Our society is not structured for such a drastic recall to nature. Realizing this, integrated pest management was created by the authorities. The program is highly effective, yet is still not widely recognized and practised. We encourage everyone to learn about integrated pest management and do what they can to implement it into their daily lives.

IPM Tips

  • Properly identify each pest and study their lifecycle.
  • Research and plan out multiple control options utilizing as many practical control methods as possible.
  • Choose thresholds for each pest.
  • Plan out when to implement different controls. Consider your timeline for control and budget.
  • Always choose the least toxic control method that is still practical and effective.
  • Continually monitor pest populations and only take action when the threshold is reached.