Why Do You Need Pest Control?

Raccoon in a wooden house
Ronald Wittek / Getty Images

Some pests are just that – pests that do not really cause any harm or danger in or around our homes or yards, but they do pester us and we simply don’t want them around. Other insects, rodent, and wildlife pests can cause significant damage or spread a disease to people or our pets.

Pest control efforts can reduce or eliminate both pesty pests and harmful pests, but it is the second group that is of most concern.

Examples of each are:

Pesty Pests

Harmful Pests

  • Rats and mice – rodents not only cause significant damage with their gnawing and nesting, their urine and droppings can spread disease, and their numbers can grow very quickly, increasing the damage and potential for disease.
  • Bedbugs – having reinvaded the U.S. in the last couple decades after being relatively extinct, bedbugs are biting more and more sleeping children and adults in hotels, homes and other places.
  • Mosquitoes and ticks – with their bites, these insects not only cause irritation, their feeding on our blood can be a transmitting disease directly back into our systems.
  • Termites – which cause more than $1,000,000,000 (a billion dollars!) in damage every year in the U.S. alone.
  • Cockroaches – known to contaminate food and spread disease (such as the foodborne disease Salmonellosis), cockroaches’ tendency to shelter behind walls and in other hidden areas during the day and appear at night to seek out food and water, means that they are often unseen until their populations have built to incredible numbers – and their potential for harm is significant.
  • House flies – although flies are definitely a pesty pest, they also can transmit Salmonella, E. coli, Vibrio, and Shigella in their feces and the vomit they regurgitate to digest their food.
  • Ants – such as fire ants—whose bites have been known to kill, and small ants that get into and contaminate food in the home.
  • Raccoons – These wildlife animals can be very aggressive if approached; they will seek shelter and breed in attics and crawlspaces, and their bite can spread disease.

As it would take an entire website to list all the pests that exist in the U.S. and the world, this is just a small sampling, but sufficient for the purpose of explaining why we need pest control. It is also important to mention that there are, of course, many insects and wildlife animals that live outdoors and do not invade our homes, damage our yards, or otherwise cause us harm. Since we do not consider these to be pests, we do not address them here.

Other Reasons for Pest Control

The Harmful Pests listing above included a number of ways that specific insects, rodents, and wildlife can be a threat to humans and domestic animals. But there are also general reasons that apply to many different pests, such as:

Like people, insects, rodents, and wildlife have basic survival needs of food, water, and shelter.

And the reason they become pests is often that they find that piggybacking off the food, water, and shelter of humans is a great way of fulfilling these needs. Thus, they invade our homes and our property.

Then, as they forage for these survival needs, pests can contaminate or consume our foods; walk across or rest on food preparation surfaces or packaging, leaving bacteria behind; or even use people and pets themselves as food sources (e.g., mosquitoes, bedbugs, ticks).

Pest control can be the removal, reduction or complete elimination of insects, rodents, or wildlife that have become pests of our environments. It can be natural and non-chemical or involve pesticides, fumigants or herbicides. Often homeowners can purchase products at retail, garden and home goods stores, but other pests require professional expertise.