ShopTalk Sunday: DIY Pest Control Saves $$$

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

Inside Tasks

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,

18 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: DIY Pest Control Saves $$$”

  1. Got Skeeters and Lines of Ants? Got 2 solutions for ya …. check it out …


    3 stale bottles of beer. Just open and let sit for 2 days.
    1 large bottle of (Blue Mint) Mouthwash.
    3 Cups of Epsom Salt.

    Mix all that together in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk to dissolve the epsom salt completely. (Doesn’t make a lot but it don’t take much to be effective. Pour it in a sprayer and off ya go !! – spray it on grass, fence bushes etc. Use sparingly. Just dust areas.

    Doesn’t effect our dogs, birds still come and so does the neighbors cat when the birds are at the feeders. Never had adverse problems.

    We spray that early spring and again in late summer. No Skeeters. In fact, I’ve seen bugs fly past the yard but don’t stay. Interestingly, the good insects don’t seem to mind.

    Ants …

    1/4 of a Cup of Granulated White Sugar.

    1/2 tsp of Borax Laundry Soap.

    Mix them together and set a pile of it where the line of ants are. (Don’t kill the ants) They will take the Sugar and the Borax to their nest. It wipes out the whole nest in a day.


  2. Biting insects is the worst around here.. and I hate them.. We use to have a couple of mosquito magnets. that worked awesome.. but when they needed to be serviced.. well.. the company really falls short in that respect and we threw them out.. since the mosquito magnet isn’t anything more than a glorified ova trap.. I decided to figure out a way to make a decent one that would work as efficiently as the mosquito magnet..
    This style.. does not work efficiently.. and shouldn’t be used..
    instead invert it and hang it up.. this image is quite a bit like the one I make out of two two liter bottles..
    cut the top off of one and the bottom off of the other right at the ridgid point.. a small molded section that gives the bottle strength.. then put a silicone around the funnel ( top of the one bottle.) and insert it into the bottom giving it a half twist to seal up the base.. let it set up.. on the side I put the lure basket.. I used the top of a milk jug and a small net pot for gardening.. on the top put a uv lamp.. I use tea lights.. and am totally planning on making it solar charged.. using a two dollar walk way light. paint it black or green or whatever.. then hang it about twenty five feet from where you sit.. the bugs are drawn in at the bottom and can’t fly back out.. I use octinol.. bait.. but you can easily make your own hormone liquid attractant.. for pennies for a lifetimes worth.. pour beer or soda or sugar water and a little yeast into the trap till it gets just below the cone top of the bottom.. about two cups.. if you have a lot of pests.. then you will have to empty it more often.. one year I had to empty and recharge the beer daily for two weeks.. then it was once a week then once every three weeks.. I did send pictures of it they are pretty easy to make and use.. I usually keep three going in our yard.. and have people asking me all the time to make them one for theirs.. the hardest part is drinking the pop in the bottles..
    anyway the bugs fly up the cone and into the trap..

    • One made like this one.. does not work efficiently..×472.jpg
      it has to be hanging and upside down.. similar to the ones the military used for base camps.. they of course put dry ice in the top .. and had a battery pack with a fan in it.. to blow the bugs into the base.. the one I make the bugs fly up the cone and into the trap..
      I use UV light.. ( not really needed but when used there is about a thirty percent increase in bugs caught)
      then put the attractant basket.. the combination of the hormones that attract the biting insects and the uv light along with the co2 created by the sugar water makes the trap one of the best in my opinion..

      • LOOB, I’d love to see a picture or drawing — trying to picture your implementation of the basket, and your (undoubtedly) elegant means for cleanout. I have built the one pictured, but only for stinkbugs (and with a “puck light” in the bottom.) ‘Works well, but stinkbugs are lazy, and will allow themselves to slide down the funnel.

        George: Boric acid is cheap, and dissolves the critters from the exoskeleton in — works on ants, roaches, and any flying bug that’ll intrude through a crack or passage. I had a carpenter bee issue some years back. Called the exterminator, who sprayed every possible point of ingress/egress — 5 mins, $150. I asked him what he was using and he explained. I’d known since I was a kid that boric acid was the way to go for ants & roaches. Mr. Exterminator explained that it works on every insect that can be induced to track through it, and that they take it back to the nest so’s it can eat them all. I don’t KNOW, but am gonna guess that if you dust or ring an anthill with it, the hill and its contents will die off within a day. Boric acid is tremendous stuff to have lying around. As well as solving bug issues, it is both antiseptic and antifungal. [It is] the principal active ingredient in eye and ear drops and in most vaginal yeast infection douches, among other things…

      • “LOOB, I’d love to see a picture or drawing — trying to picture your implementation of the basket, and your (undoubtedly) elegant means for cleanout.”

        I sent a photo to george… for the longest time I was hanging the bait in the lid of the bottle.. but decided that I would make my own attractant.. it is much cheaper LOL LOL and some cotton swabs.. by doing it the way I did It is much easier.. in the photo I used a medicine bottle to hold the uv light..the thought was to take a two dollar solar path light and just wire it up to the uv tea light.. then hang the solar cell where ever.. but I see now that they actually have UV path lamps.. so i will just get a few of those.. all contained.. the net cup or plant basket I put on the side to easily change bait.. to clean the whole trap off I just take off the top cap and pour them out LOL.. although if I had my way the top would just unscrew.. but using two two liter pop bottles.. it is definitely easy to make and maintain.. and works….the grand son used it in a science fair.. showed the end results after one had filled up with mosquito’s.. and one was just made etc.. the stages of it.. seriously it is the hormones that attract them..I had played with the idea of having a chamber with stickey paper on it but then that would be overkill LOL..with in a short period of time you sit out with out any bugs pestering you..


        the bait basket I mounted the access port on the side.. the access port is a milk jug cap.. the bait basket is glued into place on the side and the milk jug port is glued on top of that.. the UV lamp goes through the top bottle lid.. the ones I use for many projects are cheap real cheap.. I use to make my own with LED’s.. but.. buying them in bulk they are cheap.. and has the battery to.. I use them for plants to.. great item to have around just in case..

  3. Back when I was a lad in Florida, my Dad had a novel way to deal with fire ant mounds in the yard. Every Spring Dad and I would walk the property and when we found a mound, I would poke a broomstick into the middle, down about 18″, Dad would light an M-80 (which were still legal then) drop it in the hole and set a paint can full of dirt on top. When the M-80 exploded, the shock was contained in the ground and the concussion was apparently enough to kill every ant in about a 1′ radius underground, which wiped out the mound. Pesticide free, ecologically friendly and for a 10-yo boy, it sure was a hell of a lot of fun!

  4. I don’t have the acreage you have, but we care for our own as you do, but without the glue traps. I can’t abide the drawn out agony that mice go through. Best to kill them quickly with a snap trap, or (my preference) a humane trap. The latter we take elsewhere and let them go. The ticks can still be bad around the wooded edges of our property, but hardly any to be found where we mow and tend gardens now. I actually started early this year on the nuisance weed issue and I think it’ll be a good year for less struggle with them. I’m expanding my developed flower and rock gardens for less mowing. Particularly around our pond. :) Looking forward to more peaceful, relaxing moments near the pond with a bonfire this summer. Cheers!


      You can make them to.. to bait it tip the nm lid upside down and smear peanut butter under the lid towards the inner most point.. then embed sunflower seeds in the peanut butter..
      They make a can lid in the uk called the can cat.. basically turns a vegitable can into a humane live trap. Unfortunately they aren’t for sale in the usa..3 for one pound..or buck and a half for three can caps..

    • For ticks…
      20 drops of cedar wood essential oil to a cup of water.. put in a spray bottle..
      You can use eucalyptus oil to same recipe. Gaye levy’s site has a lot of great information.
      She is an awesome woman filled with information.. the guru of essential oils

  5. Flying and crawling critters are less of a problem here, but the Chinese/Siberian Elm “trees” pop up out of the ground any time you turn your back. These things love to grow next to the foundations and are somewhere beyond a casual nuisance. Yes, I can and do hack them down, but removing all the roots is nearly impossible, even with a tractor, since they like to nest at or under the foundations. They propagate via runner roots, and I’m at wits end. Has anyone figured out a way to totally deny ground to invasive plants? I’d rather not concrete everything or load the ground with heavy duty toxics, but I’m in the mood for scorched earth around the house. Salt barely works, and is temporary. Fire doesn’t work at all. Any thoughts from others?

    Time is too valuable to waste just hacking down the same old plants every week!

    For the few bugs and spiders, I just sprinkle with diatomaceous earth. It works inside. I don’t bother the fire ants unless I’m working next to them.

    • Tordon kills wood plants even woodvine. put tordon on a cut tree stump and it will kill the roots
      Diatomaceous will not kill the spiders, they is not insects with a hard shell body

    • Flame thrower?

      A blowtorch, in theory, scorches the plant and its root system dies. Mine will get a workout this year, but I haven’t use it yet — George has used his, but I dunno if he was killing stuff or clearing ground…

  6. Roaches are the bane of Hawaii. The sticky trap ‘Roach Hotel’ are the best for catching them. I hate putting insect poison inside the house. I keep a couple trigger squirt bottles of 50% dilute Dawn dish detergent handy for the ‘night crawlers’… those giant roaches (I guess Floridians call them ‘palmetto bugs’). The big roaches actually live inside the sewage systems & pipes, and sometime find a way into the plumbed areas of the house. A shot with the Dawn liquid disables and kills them immediately, and cleans up easily.

    We also have a couple of green geckos in the house that we leave alone. They eat any bugs they find, including the occasional giant roach. Sometimes in the morning I will find a pile of wings on the floor and I know the monster gecko feasted on a monster roach. In Hawaiian lore, the gecko in the house is your friend, and is good luck.

    Outdoors, I got the concentrated BIFEN to mix up in my 2 gal. sprayer. The stuff is the active ingredient in Ortho’s ‘Home Defense’ product, and it is approved in Hawaii for ground treatment of termites. Spray the concrete apron around the house and bottoms of the exterior walls, and it kills anything that tries to crawl over it.

    Then there are the ‘Little Fire Ants” that invaded our big island. Tiny little things that like to climb trees and they get blown off and fall on you doing yard work. Nasty, burning itchy welts are your reward. The University ‘Ant Lab’ here devised a gel bait that uses “TANGO” insect growth regulator that sterilizes the colony and it dies out. Safe to use on fruit tree trunks, it is not a ‘poison’. Treatment required every six months or so.

    I have eliminated them on my lot, but next to me I have a ‘wild lot’ jungle forest that is full of them. I treat the perimeter areas along my fence line, but the little buggers climb the trees next door and they are upwind of me, so they still blow down on me at times.

    No snakes in Hawaii, but I have glue boards in the shed for the occasional, itinerant rat. Will not forget the time I was gone for a week when a rat chewed into the snail bait box, crawled under the water heater and died and festered in the heat for a week. That was a puker.

Comments are closed.