Your Guide to DIY Pest Control

Photo of Hilary Walker's mom's two-story brick house with trees on the sides and in front and a driveway leading to the home

When it comes to DIY projects around the house, we can’t help you master the art of crafting and upcycling. But DIY pest control? We’ve got tips for days.

Here’s how you can rid your space of pest problems on your own terms.

Why DIY Your Pest Control?

Short answer: Because you can and it saves you money.

With easy access to how-to guides (like this one!), YouTube tutorials, and commercial pest control products, you can decide the methods used and save major bank.

The cost of an exterminator ranges from $250 to $525 on average. Your actual price depends on the type of pest, the extent of the infestation, and where that infestation is located in your home..

But with DIY pest control, you don’t have to spend a lot to ensure success.

What Pests Can You Control Yourself?

For the most part, no matter the pest, there’s a DIY solution to control or exterminate it. A few exceptions do exist, though. Let’s look at the pest problems DIYers can tackle themselves.

Insects and arachnids

1. Bees

Photo Credit: Pexels

Unless these beneficial pollinators pose a risk to your family and pets (e.g. they’ve established a colony inside your walls or too close to your house), let them be. If elimination turns out to be necessary, control your bee population with repellents, traps, hive relocation, and insecticides.

For details on implementing these options, How to Get Rid of Bees.

See also: How Much Does Bee Hive Removal Cost?

2. Wasps

These include common wasps, paper wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and mud daubers. Aggressive defenders of their territory, wasps won’t hesitate to sting those who dare come close.

Prevent colonies from forming near your home by reducing attractants — seal garbage cans and clean up any food debris and spills.

To get rid of already-established nests, suit up in protective clothing and spray the nest with a foaming insecticide at night. Wasp traps are another option, which you can learn more about in our article How to Get Rid of Wasps.

3. Ants

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From fire ants to carpenter ants to pavement ants, these tiny pests are well-known nuisances for yards and home interiors alike. Evict them from the premises with baits, as well as insecticide dusts, sprays, or liquids.

Determine which type of treatment is best for you then this guide will show you How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Home and Yard.

See also: How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

See also: How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

4. Termites

According to Orkin, termites damage around 600,000 American homes each year, resulting in approximately $5 billion in damage and termite control costs.

Safeguard your home from a fate such as this by caulking potential entry points and setting other physical barriers; repairing leaks; storing termite food sources, such as woodpiles and mulch at least 25 feet away from your house; and installing screened vents on crawl spaces and attics.

You can learn more in our guide to How to Identify and Get Rid of Termites

Note: While you can DIY termite prevention and purchase termiticides from your local store, experts recommend infestations be controlled by exterminators.

“Ridding a home of termites requires special skills. A knowledge of building construction is needed to identify critical areas where termites are likely to enter,” says the University of Kentucky‘s entomology department.

“Many of these potential points of entry are hidden and difficult to access. Termite control also utilizes specialized equipment such as powerful masonry drills, large-capacity spray tanks, and long metal rods for injecting soil.”

See also: Pricing Guide: How Much Does Termite Treatment Cost? 

5. Bed bugs

Photo Credit: Pxhere

Bed bugs hitch rides on things like luggage and used furniture. They can also move freely between hotel rooms and apartments. 

If you have a minimal infestation on your hands, get it under control by cleaning all surfaces, vacuuming cracks and crevices, and encasing mattresses to suffocate any bed bugs that may be inside.

Extreme heat and cold, steam cleaning, traps, sprays, and insecticide dusts are other effective ways to kill these blood-sucking insects. Start your plan of attack by reading How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs.

Note: Yes, you can DIY getting rid of the bed bugs in your home, but experts recommend bed bug infestations be controlled by exterminators. Heat and cold treatments, and steam cleaning, for example, are best left to the pros who have the equipment.

See also: Pricing Guide: How Much Does Bed Bug Treatment Cost?

6. Cockroaches

Besides giving you the chills at the very thought of them, roaches can spread disease and trigger allergic reactions. Keep them out by sealing potential entry points, eliminating food and water sources, storing woodpiles and mulch away from the house, and trimming back trees and shrubs.

Chemical solutions include baits and sprays made with the insecticide bifen. Compare the various cockroach control methods in our guide to Cockroach Control: How to Get Rid of Cockroaches for Good.

See Also: Pricing Guide: How Much Does a Cockroach Exterminator Cost? 

7. Kissing bugs

Photo Credit: Glenn Seplak / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Kissing bugs, aka “assassin bugs,” feed on the blood of animals and people. And while rare, they can transmit Chagas disease, a parasitic infection.

Exclude them by sealing cracks and gaps around your home and storing woodpiles and rocks away from entry points. If you find a kissing bug inside your home, kill it with an insecticide spray. For more on these tactics, see How to Get Rid of Kissing Bugs.

8. Dust mites

Reducing the amount of dust mites in your home can help stem allergies and asthma-related problems. The best way to do this? Regularly clean surfaces and vacuum floors.

Other methods include using allergy-friendly bedding, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers.

Your typical pesticides won’t work against these insects, but clove oil kills on contact. Read more about that in our guide to How to Get Rid of Dust Mites.

9. Moths

Photo Credit: Pxhere

Moths ravage everything from clothing to orchards to dried pantry goods. Keep these pests under control by storing items in airtight containers, maintaining a clean home, using sticky traps, and applying insecticides.

There are lots of different kinds of moths, so read this to learn How to Get Rid of Moths (the most common types). 

10. Carpet beetles

Most damaging as larvae, carpet beetles feed on animal products — think furs, wool, dead insects, and hair. They’ll also dine on dried pantry foods.

Expel these insects from your home by regularly cleaning fabrics, vacuuming carpets and rugs, setting sticky traps, and spraying insecticide. Find other DIY methods in How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles.

11. Gnats

Photo Credit: John Tann / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

One of the most annoying flying insects, gnats can be controlled through methods such as houseplant management, fungus gnat traps, essential oils, and natural predators.

Looking for chemical solutions to your pest problem? Try a spray made with pyrethrin or slow-release insecticide spikes and granules. You can read more about that in our guide to How to Get Rid of Gnats.

12. Fruit flies

To get rid of young fruit flies, eliminate breeding sites by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and removing all unrefrigerated produce.

Tackle adult fruit flies already on the loose with traps, essential oil repellents, and insecticide sprays. Our guide to How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for the goods on each control method, plus answers to some fruit fly FAQs.

13. Silverfish

Photo Credit: AJC1 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Harmless to humans but super destructive to papers, books, magazines, and even dried foods, silverfish hide out in woodpiles, basements, crawl spaces, and other damp, cool environments.

Oust these crawling insects from your bookshelves or paper piles with sticky traps, insecticide dusts and sprays, and repellents. Read the full story here: Silverfish: How to Kill Them, Repel Them, and Prevent Them

14. Spider mites

Protect your plant life from becoming these nearly invisible arachnids’ next meal with biological control methods, home remedies, and pesticides.

A range of solutions, including essential oils, natural predators, insecticidal soap, and diatomaceous earth, can help eradicate these critters for good. Get the details in How to Get Rid of Spider Mites.

15. Spiders

Photo Credits: Pexels

Whether it’s the common house spider or the more fear-inducing types, such as the black widow and the brown recluse, getting rid of one or two spiders here and there is a pretty simple task.

Vacuum them up, repel them, trap and release them, or kill them — with a stomp or with pesticides.

Prevent spiders from getting inside in the first place by sealing cracks and crevices and applying barrier sprays.

Note: Preventive pest control by a professional will keep spiders away from your home. Visits often can be scheduled quarterly or even monthly.

16. Scorpions

If one of these venomous arachnids makes its way inside your home, you can set stick traps, capture and release the scorpion, use pesticides, or squish the critter to kill it.

Your best bet, though, is to prevent this pest from entering by sealing cracks, trimming overhanging vegetation, and keeping woodpiles and mulch away from your house.

If you live in the Southwest, you’ll want to read How to Get Rid of Scorpions

Rodents

1. Rats

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Rats transmit disease, chew through wires and structures, and wreak general havoc on our living spaces. Use a three-pronged approach to get rid of these rodents: sanitation, exclusion, and population control.

Learn tips on implementing each method in our guide to How to Get Rid of Rats Outside Your Home.

2. Mice

Like rats, these rapidly reproducing rodents live alongside humans. You’ll know you have a mouse infestation if you notice gnaw marks, droppings, nesting materials, or see the mice themselves.

Our How to Get Rid of Mice guide includes all you need to know, including how to trap, repel, and poison them. 

3. Voles

Signs of vole damage include above-ground tunnel systems or “runways,” gnaw marks on trees, and burrow holes in your yard. Catch and release traps and habitat modification are examples of natural DIY methods for getting rid of voles.

Repellents and rodenticides are chemical options.

4. Groundhogs

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Another burrowing rodent, the groundhog, tears through gardens, digs up foundations and other structures, and leaves unsightly dirt mounds across your yard. 

Harass them in their burrows, use repellents, try trapping and releasing, or employ one of the other pest control solutions spotlighted in How to Get Rid of Groundhogs.

5. Gophers

Opposite of voles, gophers travel via underground tunnel systems. Like voles, gophers will also tear through your lawn and garden.

Manage a pest infestation like this with traps, poison baits, underground fencing, and repellents, and by reading How to Get Rid of Gophers.

6. Squirrels

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As long as squirrels stick to fallen acorns and other tree foods they’re accustomed to, they won’t be any problem. But, if they start helping themselves to the fruits and vegetables of your garden, dig up your yard, or nest inside your attic, get rid of them by trapping and releasing.

To keep them out, use repellents, exclusion, and habitat modification. Our guide to How to Get Rid of Squirrels has all the details.

7. Chipmunks

Not naturally troublesome, these rodents cause issues only if they dig up your patio, sidewalk, or foundation or feast on your flower bulbs, fruits, and veggies. (Or if Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, aka Alvin and The Chipmunks, are singing too loudly.)

Avoid chipmunk problems with underground fencing, habitat modification, and repellents.

And if those don’t work, trap and release the critters — you can read more on that in How to Get Rid of Chipmunks.

Other animals

1. Moles

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In their search for food — grubs, earthworms, and insect pests — moles disrupt lawns by burrowing underground. Besides constructing deep tunnels right below your feet, moles also leave behind mole hills and surface runways.

To get rid of moles, try using mole traps, baits, repellents, and other options.

2. Armadillos

Common across the Southeast, armadillos have a reputation for digging holes in yards looking for earthworms, arachnids, and insects.

Get rid of them by restricting their food supply, installing underground or electric fencing, and trapping them. Find more examples of armadillo control in How to Get Rid of Armadillos

3. Snakes

Snakes are problematic when they pose a threat to your family and pets. Such snakes include rattlesnakes, coral snakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads.

Keep your loved ones safe by removing any reasons for these reptiles to come onto your property. These can include keeping grass cut short, eliminating a snake’s food supply, removing piles of debris, and repelling them with essential oils.

4. Skunks

Photo Credit: Pxhere

Skunks are nocturnal, so it’s rare you’ll cross one’s path directly. But, if they burrow under your foundation or other structure, they could potentially get inside or damage wiring.

Prevent this from happening by sealing any gaps, storing woodpiles and leaf piles away from your home, and repelling them from the area. 

Find out more about these methods — and why traps are not a good idea — in How to Get Rid of Skunks.

5. Opossums

Feasting at night on everything from fruits and veggies to other animals and animal products, opossums become a nuisance when they rip through your home’s insulation, damage your wiring, or create entryways to your home, shed, or barn. 

Sealing entry points with wire mesh, removing debris piles, and trapping are just a few control measures you can take on your own. Find more ways in How to Get Rid of Opossums

6. Grasshoppers

Photo Credit: Pixnio

The bane of every farmer’s and gardener’s existence, grasshoppers feed on veggies and flowers. You can keep grasshoppers at bay by tilling and weeding; using insecticide sprays, baits, or dusts; installing row covers; or trying home remedies, such as neem oil, vinegar, and repellent plants. 

7. Ticks

Ticks carry a variety of diseases — from Rocky Mountain spotted fever to Lyme disease. Control the tick population around your property through habitat modification, physical barriers, and pesticides. 

To get started, you need to know about the Types of Ticks: What Do Ticks Look Like?

What You Need for DIY Pest Control

Now that you have an idea of how to handle your pest infestation, it’s time to build your arsenal of products.

Pesticides

Photo Credit: Scot Nelson / Flickr / CC0 1.0

For insect pests and arachnids, look for sprays containing active ingredients, such as pyrethrins, which are chemicals derived from the chrysanthemum flower. Dusts, such as diatomaceous earth also kill these pests by dehydrating their exoskeletons. 

Another option? Insect growth regulators. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, these insecticides work by mimicking hormones in larva and eggs, preventing the pests from reaching adulthood.

Sticky traps

Sticky traps can be as simple as laying down duct tape, or you can pick up a set at your local store. When an insect, arachnid, or rodent runs across a sticky trap, they’ll get caught. 

What do do next: Simply pick up the trap and discard it along with the pest.

Live traps

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A more humane way of catching (and later releasing) larger pests — think gophers, squirrels, and voles — live traps lure the target animal inside with bait. Bait can be anything from peanut butter to nuts to seeds to fruit.

Foggers

Foggers aren’t recommended for indoor use. For one thing, they’re not effective. 

Here’s why: The target pests (bed bugs, ants, silverfish, and others) typically remain close to the ground, but foggers spray poisons into the air. 

If you’re considering using a bug bomb, do it outdoors to help control flying insects, such as mosquitoes.

Repellent plants

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The standout plant in this case is peppermint. Peppermint tends to repel many insects, as well as spiders and scorpions. 

Other plants that may deter certain pests include hot peppers, chamomile, cedar, coriander, spearmint, and rosemary.

Ultrasonic devices

Save your money. There is no evidence to back up the claims that these devices work at repelling any sort of pest.

Cleaning supplies

You don’t need to spend money on anything fancy, simply keep your home stocked with dish soap, your favorite sanitizing spray, and furniture polish. Clean your kitchen daily and dust, vacuum, and mop weekly.

When to Call a Pest Control Pro

If you find the DIY methods aren’t providing the results you seek, or your infestation is too large for you to tackle on your own, get help from a pest control pro near you.

Pest control pros have access to professional-grade products you may not be able to get, and they can help determine the best course of action for your pest control problem. The cost of professional wildlife removal typically starts at about $250, and general pest control can cost even less. 

Then, you can get back to those other do-it-yourself projects — ones that require needles, thread, and paint, rather than fencing, traps, and pesticides.

Main Photo Credit: Hilary Walker / LawnStarter (Hilary’s mom’s house with text overlay)

Andréa Butler

Andréa Butler has a passion for writing and editing — but a phobia of bees and wasps. Living near the woods, she's dealt with her fair share of mice, skinks, and other outside critters that sometimes find their way inside. Besides learning new ways to keep homes pest-free, she also enjoys singing, reading, and binge-watching just about every show that ever existed.

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