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How to Get Rid of Ants, Bedbugs, Fleas, and Silverfish in Your Home

A mother and freelance writer, Meagan loves to research and learn new things. Her biggest passion is sharing those things with other people.

This article shares tips on how to deal with ants, bed bugs, fleas, and silverfish.

This article shares tips on how to deal with ants, bed bugs, fleas, and silverfish.

Not the Insects!

Every year, when the weather begins to get warmer, I should be happily looking through my closet for flip-flops, but instead, I find myself stationed upstairs getting ready for a fight with a household insect. I clean my entire house top to bottom, careful not to miss one crumb or spill. I meticulously inspect every ceiling, wall, and floor: I check every crack or crevice that could allow entry to my home. It all helps, but at the end of the day, I get invaded, and no amount of preparation can keep it from happening entirely.

Pest control can become a very expensive endeavor. You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on products and services without even realizing it. On the other hand, if you do nothing, you could wind up with a large infestation. So what can you do? Well, fortunately, you have come to the right place, because I am going to share the best way to deal with some common household pests. This article will cover tips on dealing with the following household insects:

  • Ants
  • Bedbugs
  • Silverfish
  • Fleas

Ants Are Invading Your Kitchen

Ants are my biggest enemy! I hate them so much, and they don't seem to be fond of me either. For those of you who don't already know, ants send out scouts to find food. When the scouts find something interesting, they make a sticky trail back to the nest. Every ant in the colony can follow this trail back to the source of food and begin hauling it home. It is actually amazing to see when it is not going on in your kitchen! If you are tired of finding these little black demons in your home, then these tips might be just what you are looking for.

How to Get Rid of Ants

  • Peppermint oil: This works very well for some reason. Maybe the ants don't like the smell, but whatever it is, they stay away from it! I mix about four tablespoons in a squirt bottle full of water and start spraying anywhere I think they may be coming in from or where they have left their scent trails.
  • Cucumbers: Peel or grate some cucumber skins and leave them lying around in areas where you have seen ant activity. It deters them from returning, although I really don't know what it is about a cucumber that they don't like.
  • Vinegar: Remember the sticky trail we talked about earlier? A mixture that contains vinegar and water will eliminate all traces of that. Spray it in places where to suspect there is an ant trail. You may have to spray more than once but eventually, the trail will stop.
  • Nicotine: This is not only terrible for humans but is apparently just as deadly to ants. Soak a bag of pipe tobacco in water overnight, and in the morning, cover the anthill with the nicotine-infused water. It should kill the entire colony.
  • Cinnamon: Ants absolutely hate the smell of cinnamon. Sprinkle it around areas where you have seen ants congregate or leave a couple of sticks in places where you think they are coming in.
  • Borax: Mix with sugar and place wherever ants like to scout. What happens is the ants cannot distinguish between the borax and sugar crystals.
  • Lemon: This is a good way to clean any sticky trails off the surfaces in your home. Plus, it makes your house smell good.
  • Cornmeal or yeast: This is fascinating because the ants eat it but cannot digest it, so they end up exploding. If you sprinkle it around the house, they will take it back to the nest for the others to eat as well. Yeast essentially does the same thing and works just as well.
  • Boiling water: This will supposedly kill a nest if you pour it over one, but I honestly don't have the heart to try this myself. I hate the critters, and I don't want them anywhere near me. I don't think anything should be boiled to death, but someone else may not feel this way and this might work for you!
Bedbugs are nightmare insects.

Bedbugs are nightmare insects.

Bedbugs Are Giving You Nightmares

If you are dealing with a bedbug infestation, I'm sorry! These little critters are what nightmares are made of, and their diet is just as creepy. While you are sleeping, they feed on your blood. So why can't you sleep somewhere else for a while, forcing them to starve? Well, because they can live up to a year on just one midnight snack. The good news is that it is not impossible to get rid of them. Below you will find some tips and tricks to use when fighting the good fight against bedbugs!

Find the Problem

  • If you are waking up with mysterious bug bites, or your neighbor has bedbugs, you may want to check to see if you have an infestation. Check your mattress, box spring, headboard, walls behind the bed, outlets near your bed, dressers, and any other dark place they may be hiding in. A good indicator that the bugs are present in a certain area is the fecal matter they leave behind. Look for dark, rust-colored splotches, and if you find anything like this, you most likely have them.

Where Do Bedbugs Like to Hide?

If you find that you have bedbugs, try not to panic. Bedbugs are one of the only bugs that can affect your mental state since they are so difficult to deal with. People report becoming anxious, paranoid, and even depressed. But try to remain calm and remember that it may take time, but you will win. Hopefully, you will find the infestation confined to your bedroom, and if that is true, then clean-up will be a breeze. However, I will cover all the bases.

  • Furniture: Anything that is not nailed down will need to be vacuumed, washed, and sealed in bags with special products to make sure any remaining bugs are dead. This includes things such as clothing, stuffed animals, pillows, and any other soft items. If you have any furniture that can come apart, tear it down, wash it, vacuum every single crevice, and spray with bug spray before reassembling.
  • Electronics: Many people may not realize it, but because bedbugs are so thin, they can (and love to) get inside electronics. You can seal these in bags as well, but because you cannot wash them, you will need to spray them with certain chemicals to ensure no bugs are hiding inside.
  • Mattress: Vacuum your mattress really well, and scrub any of the spots where the bedbugs have left a mess. It would be wise to wash it with a green machine if you have access to one. Some people buy a new mattress to help ease their minds, but not everyone can afford to do this.
  • Cracks and Crevices: Sometimes, bugs will get into cracks and crevices along the walls or baseboards, and they can hide in there for a long time. This means you could do all of this cleaning just to be reinfected. This is what makes these little insects so maddening to get rid of. Make sure you check every place where a small critter could hide such as wall outlets, baseboard heating units, vents, and registers.

If you have cleaned everything yourself but are afraid to start taking things out of bags or putting the furniture back together, you can hire people to bring in dogs that have been trained to sniff out bedbugs.

If you can afford it and don't want to deal with the hassle yourself, you can hire exterminators to come and fumigate. They can tent your house and raise the temperature to a ridiculously high level that the bugs cannot endure. This kills every single one, so you do not have to worry about reinfestation later.

You're Finding Silverfish in the Shower

Despite the name, these creatures are not fish, but they are found in damp areas. The last thing you want crawling into a shower with you is these little guys. Fortunately, there are many ways you can prevent an infestation.

Where Do Silverfish Hide?

They like dark, moist areas, and you will usually find them in basements, kitchens, bathtubs, behind furniture, behind baseboards, and places where plumbing is present. They need large amounts of food that is high in starch to survive, and it is not uncommon to find them eating the binding of a book, the paste behind wallpaper, or mold. These critters are a nuisance year-round and generally come out at night. They will stay close to food sources even though they can move quickly.

There are a few key things to look for if you suspect you have a silverfish infestation. Look for small oddly shaped holes in fabric and wallpaper. Since Silverfish molt, if you find skin castings in dark areas (attics, basements, bathrooms, under cupboards, etc.) of your home, this is a good indicator that you have a problem. You may also find small black spots of excrement.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

You can make inexpensive traps for Silverfish and leave them in the areas where you suspect they are living. Many sites offer ideas on homemade traps, but below you'll find a couple of the best ones for you to try.

  • First homemade trap: Wrap masking tape around a mason jar and put bread (or another starchy food) in the bottom of the jar. The masking tape allows the bugs to crawl up the jar on the outside but the slippery inside of the glass keeps them trapped.
  • Second homemade trap: Roll up a newspaper and tie string or use rubber bands to keep it rolled up loosely. Hold the newspaper underwater so that it gets nice and squishy. Leave it in places you think the bugs are feeding and let it sit. Before it dries out, be sure to throw the paper away. Some people will burn the paper to make sure the bugs don't come back.
  • Silverfish hate the smell of cedar, so leaving wood chips scattered around will keep them away.
  • You can use some common spices to keep the insects from sneaking in and eating your food. If you eliminate the food source, the bugs will eventually have to leave. Cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, lavender, lemon, or any spice that has a strong scent will keep them away.
  • You can also make a spray out of these spices and spray it around your home. Your house will smell like a spice garden, but you won't have any silverfish bugging you in the shower!

Your Dog Brought Fleas Into the House

I'm sure most people are familiar with fleas. You cannot own a pet and not worry about them. They are literally everywhere!

The very first thing with any infestation is to find the source of the problem, and in this case, we already know it is probably because you have an animal. In some cases, you can end up with fleas even if you don't own an animal since you can also get them at the beach or park. Treating your animal is easily done with shampoo and collars that are specifically designed for flea removal. Keeping up with a strict regiment will help you keep your pet and home flea free.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Now that you have dealt with the source, you still have the problem to deal with. Fortunately, treating your home is really easy as well. Just follow the tips and ideas below, and you should be flea free in no time!

  • Clean everything that is fabric in your home, even your pet's bed. You may even want to invest in a new bed for your pet to make sure there are no hidden eggs. You will also want to treat any furniture that your dog lays on and change all of the bedding in the home. You can wash your bedding in your own wash machine and dryer, but some people like to go the extra step and take everything to a dry cleaner. The basic idea is to treat everything that fleas could live in or on.
  • If you have an area for your dog in the backyard, you can try replacing the dirt with cedar wood chips since fleas cannot survive in the chips.
  • If you want to repel fleas in your home, you can use pieces of flea collars strategically placed in areas that may be the most high-risk. Just be sure not to leave them in places where your pet might eat them.
  • Spraying areas, such as a dog house, with a saltwater solution is said to keep fleas at bay. Spray the walls and flooring every couple of days.
  • Rosemary can also help in a couple of ways. It's a natural anti-inflammatory, so if your animal is scratching a lot, giving them a bath in some cool rosemary tea will help soothe the inflammation. It will also ward off any fleas. You can sprinkle crushed rosemary around the areas they sleep and play to help keep them away as well.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do I get rid of flying ants?

Answer: First, make sure you're not confusing termites with flying ants. The difference between the two:

Flying ants have a pinched waist, and their front wings are larger than the second set of wings.

Termites have a larger midsection and their wings are all the same size.

If you find you're dealing with winged ants here are some things you can do:

You can make insect repellents from many different household items. Peppermint oil, vinegar, and lemon juice all work really well. If you know where the nest is, you would be smart to attack the source. Sprinkle yeast around the nest, and hope that the ants take that back to their queen who will eat it and die. Soap works remarkably well, and you can either mix dish soap with water and pour onto the nest, or lay bars of ivory soap in the corners of your home. Small ant traps will also work for flying ants, and can be bought at most hardware stores.

Question: How can I humanely get rid of slugs in my house?

Answer: Admittedly, slugs are not one of the cuter creatures in the world, and finding them in your home can be yucky. Still, they’re living creatures who don’t realize they’re inconveniencing us and don’t necessarily deserve a death sentence because we found them trespassing.  

So what can you do when your home is invaded by slugs but you don’t want to break out the salt?

The most obvious answer would be to tackle this problem at its source. Why are they in your home and how are they getting in? The slimy trails they leave behind, as gross as they seem, might be the key to answering those questions. 

If you can, try to follow the slime trails back to their entry point and then seal them up. It may help to find where the trail is leading to determine what is attracting them into your home in the first place. Are they visiting the pet bowls? House plants? 

Fun Fact: the slimy trails your foe leaves behind could be what keeps it coming back. Snails have a great sense of smell. In fact, because they cannot see well and do not have ears, the smell is their most developed sense. They can smell the trails that they’ve left, as well as trails from other snails, and will follow them. 

So, it’s not a bad idea to give the area a good scrubbing after you’ve sealed the entry points. Do the same outside. 

Copper is a nifty trick that many gardeners used to keep snails away from their crops/plants. Lay copper stripping down in doorways, windows, cracks, and holes around your home. Snails will not cross over the copper line. Apparently, the copper reacts with the chemical make-up of a slug and gives them a shock if they try to cross it. This may not be considered “humane” but it beats the salt alternative, and they continue on with their lives. 

Hopefully, this works well for you and you won’t have to resort to using baits or other methods that will kill the slugs. Remember that slugs can smell really well and may follow their trails back to your home, so it’s best to relocate them quite far away. 

Good luck, and kudos for trying to find a more humane way. 

Question: Can my dogs bring in silverfish?

Answer: They can't in the same way they might bring fleas into the home. I suppose a bug could crawl onto the pups, while they're snoozing on the lawn, and drop off when they come indoors, but I cannot imagine that would happen often.

Silverfish do not live or feed ob animals the way fleas, ticks and mites do. So they're less likely to be found crawling on a pet. They're attracted to old books and photos. That sort of stuff is like an all you can eat buffet to them. If you're finding them in your home, I would start looking for answers there

© 2016 Meagan Ireland


Meagan Ireland (author) from Maine on September 30, 2018:

Thank you!

Gill on September 29, 2018:

just thought I'd let you know.... ants do not like baby powder.... or any talcum powder !!!

Dania Madera-Lerman on August 16, 2018:

How do you get rid of silvefish in pillows?

Do they get into the couch?

Elizabeth on June 01, 2018:

How do you get rid of sticky bugs