We used to spend $600+ per year on pest control. Now? Less than $150 and a little bit of time.
Pest Control and Time
This is a dandy example of the UrbanSurvival philosophy in action: Select the lowest cost Vendor. And remember, you can be the Vendor!
Begin by remembering that your time is worth something.
You have two things you can do with “personal time.” You can turn it into savings or you can turn it into income. Most people focus super-hard on the income side. Not enough on the “saving by doing.”
Pest Control is a marvelous example. Let’s go through it and compare:
- Pest control that’s any good will likely cost $600 per year (and up). Whether you need pest control depends where you live. Until hobo spiders moved to the Pacific Northwest and Northeast. there wasn’t much reason to hire a pest control outfit. Now? Fire ants and spiders (scorpions and fiddle-back (brown recluse) all make a pretty convincing sales job. $600 for five visits per year.
- DIY doesn’t make sense if you are working 70+ hours per week, though. Just remember that even IF your “billable” (to work for clients) time is $60 an hour, that still means you will be working 10-hours a year on pest control to make that $600. It’s even more, actually: You pay for pest control with after-tax dollars. So how about 12-hours per year?
Lazy people seldom get rich, in my experience. Those with “hustle” always move up the economic food chain. This is one way to do it.
Pictures: DIY Bug Killing
Let me run through some of the basics we go through four times a year. We will start with the “tools you will need” part.
- You will need glue boards – lots of ’em. We like Trapper Max. We generally buy the 72 trap packs from Amazon. Something like Trapper Max 11 Catcher’s Maximum 72 Glue Board Trap for $26. Depending on time of year, there are other brands that work the same. Glue boards are third of your arsenal – don’t be cheap. But lots.
- Second thing you will need are outside pellets. Something like Ortho 758399393714 2.5LB Home Def Killer 2-Pack which is all of $22-bucks from Amazon. But there are other brands and (near as I can figure) they all work about the same.
- Next you’ll need an indoor-outdoor bug spray. I’ve used both a Raid product and Ortho Home Defense Max Indoor Insect Barrier with equal results. Ortho is $19-bucks. Raid is more than half-again more money ($29 for Raid Max Bug Barrier Starter) but we don’t have enough data to pay more.
- For the Fire Ants, you’ll gear up with any of the recognized brands. Amdro Fire Ant Yard Treatment Bait, 5 Pound is $19. Amazon has a two-pack of Bengal 93625 Ultradust 2X Fire Ant Killer, 24 Oz on sale for $24 at the moment. And we have used both Ortho Fire Ant Killer, 2 Pack ($25) and aa few others.
- And – because at age 72 I’m lazy? A wooden basket (one of the SSWBasics One Peck Basket – Set of 3 which was $36) and a reacher (Vive Suction Cup Reacher Grabber (2 Pack), $30) because we don’t like to bend over a million times.
The Game Plan
Most important parts of DIY pest control is self-discipline (you actually have to do shit on something approaching a schedule). And you need to have a calendar – or set a “reminder” in Alexa, Outlook, Siri, or some other means to make sure you don’t miss.
Second thing you need is a 10-day weather forecast. When you go into serious “bug mode” you want to pick a time when it’s dry. Like I did mine right after a rain when we had five days of dry weather in the forecast.
Three Games to Play
- The indoor game: Which has two components to it:
- Setting or replacing the traps from last time you did pest control.
- Spraying with long-duration bug spray in key areas.
- The outside game – which is also two-parts:
- Spritzing a 10-foot wide “zone” from your foundation out about 10-feet.
- Using more of the long-duration pesticide granules around anything that opens, especially doors.
- The fire ant game: Don’t be shocked, two parts:
- After Rain day going into dry weather.
- The lawnmowing version.
Which sounds like 2-hours of work, done right. So let’s make the rounds, shall we?
First thing we do (using the one Pest/outdoor wood bucket) is collect the traps previously set and inspect them for bugs. Ideally, you will modulate your war-on-bugs so you find only an occasional spider, moth, or crawly when you replace traps.
This trap is squished flat and dropped into the bucket…
Which also collects the covering from the sticky-traps as you assemble them.
Art of the Trap
We like to “add style and professionalism” to any project worthy of our time. So the first thing to do is get a good “fold on your traps.”
When folded, you want at least the “fat side and base” to be at nice, sharp right angles with no curves or wow’s to the trap. If your traps don’t lay flat, bugs can simply crawl under or around them:
You will go through lots and lots of traps. Here’s how our joint lays out:
- My office: 2 by the door (either side). One under bench, two under counters. Total: 5.
- Shop: Three by the power center. Two at north door, two at south door, two at office door (you are smart enough to figure these are one either side, right?). Two at the east door and two going into the guest room/gym. Two by the drill press and along wall. Whew! See why we buy 72 at a whack? 12 traps in the shop alone.
- Storage Building: Two by door, two on walls. When you put traps against walls, make sure they fit “tight” so bugs will go through, not around, right? Total: 4
- House: Two at Porch door, two at master bath door, two along walls in dining, two in pantry, two under sink. 180-room: Two on house door, two on exterior door, two along wall (room is deliberately not too weather tight). Two at studio door, two in each bathroom (4) three in each bedroom along walls, two under head of bed in master, and three along walls in living room, behind sofa, and so forth. Total: 30.
51 traps – sounds like a lot. But, if next time around traps are still really clean and you’d trust ’em for another 3-4 months, then they can last a while. Because our “Bug Game” is so strong, the traps in the master bedroom (under head of bed) seldom have anything in them.
Art of Spraying
Not really hard too figure: Bugs like to run along walls, and so? A 1-2 foot “stripe” of the long-duration along the interior walls.
The real key area is doors. You want to spray so that anything coming in from outside will have to walk on the poison. I go up the wall about a foot around doors, too,
While the spraying is going on, Elaine and Zeus are outside for a half hour until the spray is dry. I stay out of my office for an hour after spraying. Door open.
Best places to spray? Anywhere there’s access, food, water. So I hit:
- Around the doors (inside and out).
- Around screen doors, too, inside and out.
- From the door a foot or three along the perimeter inside.
- A foot, or so, behind toilets.
- A foot or two either side of the pantry door.
- Under the kitchen cabinet “toe overhangs.”
- Outside on porches? Up top on all four corners of the screen porch since this is prime spider country.
- Around any air conditioning floor vents (once a year, these get opened and the inside around the outer part of the ducting is sprayed. Anywhere bugs can get it.
- Open vent/access doors under the house and spray both inside and outside.
- The whole perimeter of the shop is sprayed, inside and out.
This is a good “get started” plan I follow. You can add and change things up, depending on where you see any bugs.
After you have been through a few bug-cycles, populations will die back and you will have few, if any pests and your home will be a lot safer from things like scorpions…
The Fire Ant Battle
I try to have a can be Bengal on the lawn tractor while mowing. Run over any hills and on the return pass, a good shake of Bengal on the now (somewhat flattened) mound.
Main thing with fire ants is to get bait on ’em as soon as the rain has ended and you’re coming into a dry spell:
This is an untreated fire ant mound. Here’s one with bait all over it:
The idea is to get the bait on when you will get the most bang for the buck.
One reason I was driven to doing my own bug program was the cost, but also because the pest control firms like regular schedules. Which means doing outside spraying in rainy weather. Granules are OK in damp weather, but given a choice, I’d sure opt for any outside work being done when dry.
Is this as good as a professional? Well, depends how good your professional is. When comes to things like snakes and rats? They do make larger glue boards which will hold a modest rat and medium snake. Pro’s have better traps for vermin.
Use caution when placing these more aggressive traps, though. Because they will also catch birds and other small wildlife. Things like the lizards an geckos are your pals when comes to keeping down the bug food chain. So we’re not spraying plants and such since a little diatomaceous earth will kill and be a lot more environmentally friendly.
So, how’s that for a project?
From the Old Farmer’s Notebook
You’re out brush hogging a field.
Suddenly, 100 feet of long-forgotten antenna wire wraps around the brush hog. It stops turning. Insert invective.
How do you lift 300 pounds of mower at age 72?
- Disconnect the top link of the 3-point mower.
- Attach strong rope to lifting point.
- Route over ROPS (roll-over protection system, roll cage).
- Attached to fork on raised loader bucket.
- Lowering the bucker will pull the rope, raising the troublesome/heavy mower deck: Follow the pull of the white arrows here:
OK, sun’s about up.
Remember, lawn mowing is best done early – just before all the dew is gone. Keeps down the dust which reduces house-cleaning and dusting, right?
“I mow, I mow, so off to work I go…”
Write when you get rich,