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Insect Control

 How to Control Insects in Your Home and Garden
Few things are more frustrating than harmful insects that won't leave your garden alone or, worse, find their way into your walls. Fortunately, there are a number of insect control options available to help you control pest populations and virtually eliminate them from your lawn, garden and home. Taking steps to prevent and curtail infestation will reduce the need to use chemicals to get rid of pests, but despite your best efforts they sometimes manage to propagate in large numbers. When this happens, you need to know what forms of pesticides are available and in what situations each pest control method is most effective. Consider the questions below as you shop for do it yourself pest control tools to hone in on the most effective solution for the problem at hand:
        • Are the bugs inside or outside your home?
        • What situations are contact insecticides appropriate for?
        • What situations are systemic insecticides appropriate for?
        • What different forms of pesticide are available?
        • How can you help minimize the chances of a pest problem before it starts?

Types, Form and Prevention

The first and most important step in controlling pests is to identify exactly what the pest is. If you see holes in the leaves of some of your garden plants, they may have been caused by a number of different insects. You'll need to know which type you're trying to eliminate in order to decide on the most effective course of action. If you act on the wrong assumption or simply use the most powerful pesticide you may end up killing helpful insects or make pets and children sick. Worst of all, you may not get rid of the offending pest. Consider the pest-control options available to make sure you remove the right bugs.

Contact Insecticides:

These chemicals are used to kill insects by direct application. They generally come in spray, granular or powder form to make application easy. While contact insecticides are at their most potent upon initial contact, a residual effect will linger in areas where the chemicals are applied, eliminating or at least weakening insects (and deterring them from returning) that might come into contact after the initial application. When applying to plants, make sure to cover the entire area, particularly the undersides of leaves where insects like to hide and feed. Apply powdery chemicals only when there's little wind to prevent pesticide from spreading to other areas. Read labels thoroughly to ensure proper application and to minimize the chances of killing helpful insects such as bees and ladybugs.
        • Contact insecticides are usually absorbed through insects' exoskeletons
        • Reapply chemicals after heavy rains to renew effectiveness as needed
        • Use bait traps inside the house to minimize exposure to chemicals
        • Apply chemicals when insects feed, usually in the early morning or evening
        • Applying dust to wet leaves will help it stick better

Systemic Insecticides:

Systemic insecticides are used outdoors and minimize the risk of chemicals spreading to areas you don't want them affecting. Rather than killing pests on contact, systemic chemicals are absorbed directly into plants through the roots and eliminate insects as they feed on the plants. This method makes them particularly effective when it comes to taking care of pests who like to hide in areas that are tough to spray, such as the underside of leaves. Even if the systemic chemicals don't kill insects, they may deter them from returning to feed on the same plant again.
        • Systemic insecticides last longer than contact chemicals
        • Less likely to wash off during rainstorms
        • Do not use on vegetables or other edible plants as they may cause illness
        • Particularly effective against bugs with piercing mouths, such as aphids and whiteflies
        • Apply to plants that have extensive and established root systems for maximum effect


Insecticides are available in a wide range of forms. Use the chart below to compare and contrast some of the more common types.


Benefits and Uses

Points to Consider

Aerosols • Used for small areas indoors or
• Easy to store
• Have a long shelf life
• Relatively more expensive than other
Baits and Traps • Ideal for cabinets, pantries
  and under sinks
• May be poison free
• Use in conjunction with sprays and
  powders for  best protection
Foggers • Used inside the home 
• Penetrate cracks and crevices
  where pests nest
• Usually require you to vacate
  premises during use
Granules • Easy to apply 
• Ideal for large areas
• Kill soil-dwelling insects 
• Offer quick results 
• Ideal for large areas
• Require a spreader to ensure
  uniform distribution
Liquid Concentrates • Offer quick results
• Ideal for large areas
• Require mixing and measuring 
• Require a sprayer
Powders • Ideal for indoor use under
  sinks dishwashers and stoves
• Waterproof 
• Provide long-lasting protection
Ready-to-Spray Concentrates • Offer quick results 
• Ideal for large areas
• Premixed 
• Feature an attached hose-end
  sprayer for convenience
Ready-to-Use Sprays • Best for smaller areas 
• Offer quick results
• Premixed 
• Feature an attached hose-end
  sprayer for convenience


In addition to using chemical pesticides to eliminate insect problems, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent infestation, and using nonchemical solutions may prove effectual. Clean up leaves, weeds and dead plants that can shelter insects and choose plant species that are bug-resistant. Install window and door screens around your house and check them to ensure they remain intact. Use a mixture of dish soap and water to create a spray that can eliminate insects by smothering them, or turn the power of your garden hose on plants to chase pests away. Introduce friendly insects, such as ladybugs, praying mantises and ground beetles that feed on harmful bugs.
        • Caulk and seal openings around your home where bugs may be able to gain entry
        • Treat foundations around your house to deter entry
        • Store flour and dried foods in air-tight containers to stop bugs from getting in
        • Nontoxic methods help prevent pests from building up an immunity to insecticides
        • Repair rotted wood to help deter infestation by termites and other bugs


Organic Pesticides:

These chemicals will get rid of pesky pests without harming humans and animals. Some, such as BT, actually focus in on harmful insects, such as caterpillars, without killing beneficial bugs, such as bees.

Milky Spore:

If you have frequent problems with Japanese beetles, use this powder to deter them from eating their way through your leaves.


When you want to spend time relaxing on your back porch on a beautiful summer evening, light up a citronella candle to discourage pests from bothering you and spoiling your night.