Scientists estimate there are approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 bugs on the planet right about now and if a few of them have decided to make themselves guests in your house, you need to act quickly. Perhaps a mouse in the house is keeping you up at night, and you just know he's starting a family right under your bed. Pests aren't only creepy, but they can leave unhealthy conditions in their wake, too, giving you even more to worry about.

Even with bugs and rodents, knowledge is power, though, so arm yourself with the information you need to tackle this problem successfully.

1. Examine The Outside Of Your Home

Most especially if you own your own home, you should monitor the outside of it to make sure you're not welcoming pests by any of your habits or by the condition of the building. Even if you're in an apartment, it's still important to know what's going on from the outside, in case that's how a pest might invade your home.

Whether you suspect you have a pest problem or are intent on avoiding one, go outside and address the following:

  • Make sure the roof and gutter systems divert water away from your home to a proper source of drainage.
  • Don't allow hedges and trees to grow thickly around your foundation; trim them for maximum aeration instead.
  • Look for standing water that may be pooling directly around the home.
  • Avoid stacking wood or leaving wood-based brush in the yard, especially close to the house.
  • See that no trash or food sources remain on the property for very long, including pet food, compost, or bird food.

2. Inspect The Inside

While you might bring a stray roach into your home via a grocery bag, most homes actually have a number of ways in which pests come and go as they please. Once inside, they'll pull recon missions to determine how well they could survive there. Only if you know how they entered can you stop them, and only if you know how they're keeping themselves alive can you cut the source off.

  • Look for gaps between walls and floors connecting to the outdoors or apartment neighbors, and seal them (or request your landlord to do so).
  • Check all your screens for holes and repair them with patches or replace the screens, if needed.
  • Go through the plumbing, looking for drips that may be leaving puddles of water; plug the leaks, tighten the nuts and bolts, or call a plumber.
  • Go through your cabinets, looking for entry and exit holes; also, check for crumbs and other food particles.
  • Leave pest strips under cabinets, in closets and vents, and behind appliances, such as the fridge and dryer (where it's very warm). Even if they come up empty, it's a good idea to leave them around at all times and check back periodically, to make sure there's no sign of invasion.

3. Contact A Pest Control Professional

Some circumstances call for a little DIY handiwork, but with most pests, consumers are more likely to underestimate the problem. Weigh the cost of purchasing a few cans of bug spray vs giving the bugs the time they need to really entrench themselves in your home and you can see the logic of calling in a professional right away.

  • Roaches: A single female German cockroach can hatch 40 little roaches at a time, meaning you need to nip this bug in the bud quickly.
  • Mice: Rodents carry all kinds of diseases, so beyond them scaring everyone onto table tops, they need to be eradicated at once.
  • Termites: Simply put, termites destroy a home from the inside out and require professional intervention beyond the DIY methods.
  • Bed Bugs: These biting critters cause mass hysteria for good reason and call for multiple emergency steps to be taken, including taking everything in the home apart, piece-by-piece, treating it, and treating every surface and piece of furniture, often a number of times.
  • Winged Ants Or Ants En Mass: Winged ants are mating ants; thus, if you see one inside, especially in winter, be alarmed. More than a few of any type of ant may mean you have hidden nests.

No matter how many bugs and rodents there are on the planet, none of them have to occupy your home. Know how they are likely to get in, how you can keep them out, and the steps you can take to make your house less inviting.