Do bugs in your house wig you out?
Bug extraction was always my husband’s job. As a widow, that job is all mine. Generally, I have a “live and let live” philosophy about bugs, but there is something about those creepy little things crawling around at night that completely wigs me out.
Why are we so afraid of bugs when 97% of them are either beneficial to us or completely benign? That’s right, my friends, 97%! That means only 3% do harm to us or our environment. For example, fewer than 30 of the more than 43,000 spider species have been known to kill humans.
Most insects have no interest in us, and will only bite or sting if they sense that we pose danger to them. Hard to believe, I know. We picture all these little armies of insects marching around our houses looking to find us. Why? To bite us.
Remember, this isn’t true.
I put insects into 2 simple categories; Good Bugs and Bad Bugs.
My Favorite Good Bugs
The ladybug is a predatory species known to eat aphids, among other garden-harming insects. They dine only on insects and do not harm vegetation in any way. Some people buy them to release into their gardens to help with aphid (and other pest) infestations. To buy ladybugs, click on the picture below.
Butterflies are attracted to bright-colored flowers where they feed on nectar. The proboscis, which is a part of their mouths, works like a long straw that butterflies curl into a spiral when not using. They pick up pollen while they sip a flower’s nectar. When they fly off to another plant, the pollen goes with them, helping to pollinate the plant species. This helps fruits, vegetables, and flowers to produce new seeds.
And butterflies are beautiful! Just watching them flit around our gardens for a few moments is good for our mental health.
To find out more about the different kinds of butterflies, read this great article by Dave Mance III.
We can’t live without them, as they are one of the greatest pollinators in our environment. In fact, they pollinate around $15 billion in crops every year in the U.S.
As its name suggests, an aphid midge is a predatory insect that eats life-sucking aphids. Did you notice that? Aphids suck the nutrient-rich liquids out of your plants!
Signs of severe aphid feeding are twisted and curled leaves, yellowed leaves, stunted or dead shoots, and poor plant growth.
You may see this tiny, delicate fly flitting around and pollinating your garden, but the heavy work is done by the fly in the larva stage. A single larva is a ferocious and voracious aphid killer and can consume up to sixty-five aphids in just one day. Yay!
Like the aphid midge, the larvae of this insect also eat aphids, caterpillars, scale, and whiteflies. Green Lacewing eggs may be purchased to be released in your garden. Click on the picture below.
The Praying Mantis
Look at this cute guy! He is looking at the camera!
The Praying mantis is a most interesting and enjoyable beneficial insect to have around the garden and farm. It is the only known insect that can turn its head and look over its shoulder. Later they will eat larger insects, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other pest insects.
These good bugs and so many more are hard at work around our homes performing their duties:
- Soil aerating
- Breaking down dead materials
- Feeding wildlife
- Producing useful products such as honey and silk
Yes, yes, yes. This is all true. But those are mostly OUTDOOR bugs. But what about the creepy bugs that are inside my house, you ask?
News Flash…we all have bugs in our homes! It has nothing to do with how clean our homes are, either. As a matter of fact, our entire house is a complex bug ecosystem. A typical human household includes roughly 100 species of insects, spiders, and other arthropods.
Here are the most common insects found inside homes, according to the findings of “The Great Indoors Project” :
- Flies (Diptera) 23%
- Beetles 19%
- Spiders 16%
- Ants, bees, or wasps 15%
- Lice 4%
- Hemiptera 4%
They are living there contentedly, doing their thing. The good ones eating the bad ones. Not only in your basement, but also hiding behind baseboards, windowsills, and kitchen cabinets.
Interestingly, the bugs we often view as intruders could benefit our indoor biomes, points out study co-author and CAS entomologist Michelle Trautwein.
“While the idea of uninvited insect roommates sounds unappealing, bugs in houses may contribute to health in a roundabout way,” Trautwein says. “A growing body of evidence suggests some modern ailments are connected with our lack of exposure to wider biological diversity, particularly microorganisms — and insects may play a role in hosting and spreading that microbial diversity indoors.“
What to do? Nothing. I just don’t want them to poke their heads out where I can see them.
What causes this fear of bugs in humans?
The fear of spiders and creepy crawly insects is one of the most common phobias in the Western World. Why is that? Psychologists suggest that it could be learned behavior, from our parents trying to protect us from bites and illness. Those creepy bug-infested horror films of our childhoods surely didn’t help. Why do we watch this stuff?
To me, it is just plain torture!!
How many of you had nightmares after seeing these?
- The Swarm (1978)
- The Fly (1986)
- Arachnophobia (1990)
- Mimic (1997)
- The Mist (2007)
- The Hive (2008)
Could our fear be related to the fact that there are so darn many of them? Is it that they are so little that we may not see them sneaking around? Or maybe that they are so creepy looking. Maybe, like me, your fear could be of bug bites and not the bugs themselves. In any case, what we need to remember is that they are mostly harmless.
Now don’t get all huffy. The point is that you really can’t completely debug your home. Even if you did tent fumigation, the little darlings are going to creep back eventually.
So What To Do? Ignore the benign, harmless bugs that you know are there and try to discourage the bad bugs. What bugs are bad?
These Bugs Are The Worst
Ants, for me, are the biggest tiny nuisance. Ants spend their lives foraging for food and water. Once they find that in your house, they move in and are there to stay unless you give them the heave-ho. I definitely don’t mind vacuuming these buggers up. Ants can establish a colony within the walls of homes or behind baseboards. Each colony will have its queen as well as scouts who search for sustenance.
Besides being creepy little things that sometimes bite, they also introduce harmful bacteria which contaminate our food.
How to discourage ants
- Vinegar If you have ants in your kitchen, spray your counters with a solution of 50/50 vinegar and water. Ants hate the smell. They also hate the smell of peppermint oil.
- Peppermint Oil Mix 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil in 8 oz of water then shake and spray the mixture in areas around doorways, vents, and windows.
- Borax and Sugar This is what I use on my brick patio. Mix equal amounts of borax and sugar. Add a little honey. Dissolve in boiling water. Pour into a spray bottle and spray area of ant infestation. See this video.
- Poison Use this if all else fails.
Fruit Flies are my second biggest annoyance after ants. I really seem to hate the tiny bugs. I love fruit and always have it in a bowl in my kitchen. So pretty.
Who wants fruit surrounded by tiny flies?
Those fruit flies are more than an annoyance. Dangerous bacteria and other germs stick to their hairy bodies, which can get on the fruit and make us sick.
House Flies are in a category of flies known as “filth flies.” This is why:
“The habits of filth flies favor the spread of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. Filth flies often feed and lay eggs on garbage, manure, and carrion before contaminating human foods and food preparation surfaces by landing on them. When feeding, house flies regurgitate their stomach contents onto food to liquefy it before ingesting it. They also may contaminate food and surfaces by defecating on them.”
Did you catch that?? They poop on our food. Yuck.
How to get rid of house flies
The best way to get rid of flies is to trap them. You can use flypaper. I personally, don’t like this option as oftentimes the wrong things get stuck to that sticky stuff. My hair, for instance.
I just bought this Katchy ultraviolet light trap which is working well for me, collecting house flies, fruit flies, and other flying insects as well. It has 2 modes, automatic and manual. I keep it on automatic, which means it magically goes on after dark and off in the morning, all night sucking up the bugs.
I love this thing.
Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous animals in the world, according to Healthline magazine.
“They are the primary vectors for major human diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and dengue fever, which together infect hundreds of millions of humans worldwide and kill millions each year.”
Not only that, The World Health Organization reports that more than 50 percent of the world’s population is presently at risk from mosquito-borne diseases.
When feeding, mosquitos pierces the skin like a needle and inject saliva into a person’s skin, making them extremely efficient transmitters of disease. This allows the disease-causing agent, such as the Zika virus, directly into the site.
Biting Midges OMG, these things are awful. Biting midges attack exposed skin in large numbers and their bites can be irritating and painful. Only the females bite, using the blood they obtain as a protein source to develop their eggs. No redeeming features for these creatures.
Most tick bites are harmless and don’t need medical treatment. But some ticks (like the deer tick, wood tick, and others) can carry dangerous germs that cause diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. The deer tick is tiny, no larger than a pencil point. That makes it very tricky to notice. Examine your clothes and body after walking or hiking. Very carefully!
Fleas mainly feed on non-human animals but can bite and infect humans. They can be difficult to remove from the home and can survive for more than 100 days without a host. The house, the pet, and all bedding have to be intensively cleaned. The bites rarely have a serious impact on a person’s health.
Bed Bugs, unwelcome bed partners
Like mosquitoes, bed bugs depend on humans to survive and reproduce. In order to feed, they penetrate the skin of the host and inject a salivary fluid that contains an anticoagulant to help them obtain blood. Then they feed for 3 to 10 minutes!
Although the bites themselves aren’t harmful, their effects can cause health complications like sleep deprivation (no kidding!) and anemia from loss of blood. Just thinking about sharing my bed with these horrible creatures gives me the willies. The bites themselves are extremely itchy.
Termites, the silent house destroyer.
Even though they will not sting, bite, contaminate your food supply, or spread disease like some other types of pests, termites are one of the most dangerous types of pests you can get in your home. They work silently and invisibly chewing away at the structure of your house.
Once discovered, the termites infesting your home may have already damaged your property beyond repair.
Don’t Let Bugs Feel at Home In Your Home
- Keep the barrier between you and the bugs in good repair. Patch holes in screens and siding.
- Store food in airtight containers.
- Keep areas under sinks dry.
- For flying insects, I highly recommend the Katchy
- Spray scents around your home that bugs do not like. Read this great article to learn about which essential oils are best for repelling bugs and how to make your own bug-repellent sprays. Here is a quick list:
- lemon eucalyptus
- peppermint and spearmint
- sweet orange (+ other citrus essential oils like lemon & grapefruit)
- tea tree
- rosemary and thyme, especially for mosquitoes
- Wear scents that bugs don’t like (see above) or this soap which I’ve been using to keep nighttime bugs away. It works! :
- Spray counters with vinegar and water solution
- Treat areas abutting your house. (See above borax and sugar treatment for ants)
- For serious infestations of termites, fleas, or bedbugs, I would consider hiring a professional exterminator.
- Wear insect repellent. I recommend a repellent containing DEET, which is the most effective. DEET has a scary reputation, but it is actually quite safe. Read this article by the Cleveland Clinic about the safety of DEET here. This is the product I use and I like it a lot.
It contains 30% DEET, which is the highest recommended amount. While not exactly odorless as advertised, the scent is very mild and not objectionable. This is the best repellent I have ever used. It even keeps those biting midges from biting.
Widow Wrap-Up On Bugs
- First of all, remember that they are not out to get you.
- Remember that most bugs are harmless and don’t bite.
- Protect yourself from biting bugs by following my helpful suggestions.
As always, take care. You can do it
Some of the beautiful images in this post were provided by
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