True or false: Mice love cheese, bedbugs hate light, and having pets means zero pests. Popular TV home-remodeling host Bob Vila takes on eight common pest myths and offers reality checks for homeowners:
- Pests mean you have a dirty home—Having a pest problem is inconvenient, but it can also be embarrassing if you fear that the presence of bugs or rodents in your home is a direct reflection on your housekeeping skills. In reality, even the tidiest houses can fall victim to invasion by insects and mice. No amount of cleaning will guarantee that pests won’t find a way inside, so don’t take it personally.
- Cheese attracts mice—Cartoons to blame for this one: Cheese has long been thought to be a mouse’s favorite treat, and as a result, it’s often used in traps. However, research shows mice actually prefer sweet foods high in carbohydrates. So smear mouse traps with sugary spread like peanut butter and save the cheese for household humans.
- Pet owners don’t have pests—Many people think that cats and dogs serve as natural pest deterrents. But most domesticated pets are unmotivated to hunt and eradicate bugs and rodents because they’re already well nourished by the kibble you feed them. In fact, having pets can actually attract more pests to your home because they can bring in fleas and other unwanted bugs, and those leftover bits in their food bowls can attract hungry critters.
- Club soda kills fire ants—Wouldn’t it be great if killing fire ants was as easy as pouring carbonated water on their mound? Unfortunately, despite rumors that the carbon dioxide in club soda will cause them to suffocate, this is not a viable solution. Neither is sprinkling them with instant grits, vinegar, or plaster of paris. A proper insecticide is the most effective way to get rid of fire ants in your home or garden.
- Daddy longlegs are poisonous—While daddy longlegs may be some of the creepiest household pests, they’re almost completely harmless. Rumors have persisted for years that these spider cousins (Opeliones or Pholcidae) are poisonous, but their fangs simply aren’t long enough to bite humans.
- Bedbugs only come out in the dark—Bedbugs are among the most dreaded pests in part because they’re notoriously difficult to get rid of. One of the common myths surrounding these little bloodsuckers is that they come out only in the dark, so if you keep the lights on, you won’t be bitten. Not true. According to the S. Environmental Protection Agency, bedbugs do prefer darkness, but a bright room won’t stop them from biting you.
- Once poisoned, rodents aren’t a problem—Rodent pest solutions aren’t just “set it and forget it.” You can’t simply call it a day after a rodent has been trapped or eaten poison. The poisons used in rodenticides typically take several days to take effect after they have been ingested. This means that the critters are likely to die inside your home, leading to unpleasant smells and possibly attracting even more pests if carrion flies come to feast on the remains.
- Ignore them and they’ll go away—If you find traces of pests in your house, they’ve probably settled in for the long haul. While it may be tempting to hope for the best and assume any pests will eventually decide to go away, you should instead take actionas soon as possible when you notice signs of mice, cockroaches, bedbugs, ants, or other concerning creatures to ensure that the problem doesn’t become worse.
Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Structural Pest Control Board can help you address pest concerns professionally and safely; check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov.