Publications Plus online catalog
This Land
57 Ways To Protect Your Home Environment (and Yourself)
50 ways 57 ways 60 ways

48. Select The Right Household Pesticide

spraying pesticide

Once you have identified a pest and decided that using a pesticide is necessary, select an appropriate treatment method. Choices include residual pesticides, baits, and space sprays. Remember to read the pesticide label carefully to find out which products can be used for the treatment you have in mind.

Residual pesticides are sprayed on surfaces and allowed to dry; they are intended to work against pests for a few days or weeks after application. They remain toxic to insects and to pets and humans, so use them with care.


The most effective and safest use for residual pesticides is to apply them in cracks and crevices where ants, roaches, and other insects hide. Key application sites are the gaps and spaces along baseboards and behind appliances, where humans and pets are unlikely to contact the residue.
spraying foundation

Certain residual pesticides can be sprayed along a doorway threshold, around the foundation, or along windowsills to keep out some crawling insects. Before using a pesticide as a chemical barrier, however, first determine whether the places where insects enter can be plugged with caulk or weatherstripping. This way, you may be able to avoid insecticides.
family at dinner

It is not a good idea to use residual pesticides to spray surfaces throughout the interior of a house. Most of the pesticides will wind up on surfaces that the pests will not contact, but humans will.
rodent bait box

Rodent baits can be deadly, so place them only where they are inaccessible to children and pets. Always place them inside lockable bait boxes, which can be purchased where baits are sold. Never place a rodent bait in an open container under the sink. Traps, including those that do not kill the offending rodent, are alternatives to baits.
ant bait under sink

Some labels state that roach and ant baits are safe enough to place on countertops, but logic suggests this is a poor idea. You will have much more success if you place baits where the insects enter the room or emerge from cracks and voids. Good sites for bait containers are near pipes, corners, and damp areas.

Space sprays, usually aerosols, are sprayed or otherwise released into the air to control such pests as flies and mosquitoes. In general, space sprays are not very effective for the control of most pests. Additionally, tiny aerosol droplets of the pesticide settle on surfaces throughout the house—many of them on surfaces where pests are not active.

University of Illinois Logo