Food Quality and Safety From Common Household Pests

Household pests like cockroaches, ants, rats, fleas, bed bugs, etc. are common problems, especially in autumn, summer, and monsoon, as they like to hibernate in winter. In most cases, we ignore their presence as they don’t directly annoy us, though it's not entirely true. Getting rid of these pests is a real problem if you don’t know how to do and what to do.

Hiring pest control services can be a costly affair; rather, you can maintain some healthy habits on a regular basis to keep the creepy crawlers at bay. If you live with children and pets keep a strict eye on your food, don’t let them eat contaminated food as their digestive system is much more sensitive than adults.

If you ignore pests like rats and cockroaches, it may cost you a lot in terms of health and wealth. Rats roam around some of the nastiest places, that is why their body is always greasy. If you have a rat infestation in your home, you may find signs of greasiness along their path. Food safety must be your top priority as the health of your family members is directly related to the quality of food cooked from your kitchen.

Pests carry pathogens

Household pests are not at all innocent, so compromising with them cannot be an option. They can attack and contaminate food, damage your property, and spread many diseases. Some of which are maybe fatal for humans. Wherever these pests move, they leave faces; if those got mixed with your food, your health might deteriorate. So, quality control is must for cooked food.

Rats carry many diseases, some of which are-

  • Salmonella
  • Leptospirosis
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Colorado Tick Fever
  • Cutaneous Leishmaniasis
  • Tularemia
  • Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV)

Among the above-mentioned diseases, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) is an infectious rat borne disease that may be transmitted through urine and saliva of rats. Victims may experience long term effects of this disease with enormous discomfort. Another worth mentioned rat borne disease is bubonic plague, which is also termed as Black Plague it occurs when fleas from rat’s bite humans. They are also potential sources of allergens. It affects most of those who are suffering from asthma. Their dropping and other micro-body parts may result in sneezing, rashes, and itching in humans. Those diseases may result from direct biting.

Similarly, cockroaches also carry pathogens of harmful diseases, some of them are-

  • Typhoid
  • Salmonella Typhi
  • Poliomyelitis (causes Polio)
  • Dysentery

The main causes of cockroach diseases are their faces and body parts. If these somehow got mixed with your food, you may experience any of the above-mentioned diseases. Cockroaches are easier to detect than rats, though they like to hide, but they are not pro in this. Their crave for food forces them to be seen in your kitchen.

If you have pets like dogs, cats, birds, etc. you may face a flea problem. Flea bites are extremely itchy and poisonous to humans. Flea borne diseases are not as common as rat and cockroach borne diseases.

Some of the serious flea diseases are-

  • Bubonic plague
  • Murine typhus
  • Tungiasis
  • Tularemia
  • Allergies (from flea bites

Fleas are known to transmit tapeworm that primarily attacks pets. Keep your pets safe from fleas, use flea proof products recommended by your doctors. Change their bedding material once a week. Wash them regularly with shampoo, and don’t forget to apply anti-fungal powder.

Another annoying household pest is mosquito. Females mosquitoes bite to perform their special biological phases (reproduction), male mosquitoes generally do not bite, but in case unavailability of their food (sap), they may bite you. Not only their bites are painful, but they also transmit harmful diseases like:

  • Malaria
  • Dengue
  • Yellow fever
  • Zika fever
  • Rose River fever
 These diseases can be fatal if not treated in time. So, if you have mosquitoes remove them immediately before its too late. Children are more sensitive to mosquito bites than adults.
harmful diseases

Warning signs

Look out for signs of infestation regularly. It only takes a couple of weeks to spread an infestation, which may be cockroach, rat, bed bugs, or any other infestation. Cockroaches and rodents are quite shy in nature; they don’t prefer to be seen in the daylight. So, if you want to look for them, night is the ideal time.

Common infestation signs are:

  • Presence of scattered droppings in your kitchen.
  • Presence of large droppings with a stinky smell.
  • Small holes in furniture.
  • Increased cracks and crevices in your kitchen.
  • Gnawed goods or packaging.
  • Greasy animal footprints
  • Musty smell
  • Urine stains and smells
  • Seeing live cockroaches and rats around your kitchen.

How to keep your food safe?

  • When it comes to food safety, you must clean the kitchen regularly with a disinfectant.
  • Close the lid of your containers.
  • Seal all the cracks and crevices
  • Don’t lave spills.
  • Close the dustbin
  • Leave no gaps between the doors

Removing the attraction

  • Clean the food storage area regularly
  • Examine all the food, both raw and cooked before eating processing
  • Clean all the spillages with a disinfectant
  • Do not store foods on the store
  • Before opening, check the packaging of the food.
  • Secure the bin before leaving the kitchen
  • Don’t leave food and drink overnight
  • Do not accumulate cardboard or other discarded material as the pests may hide within them.
  • Clean your dustbin every day
  • Fix leakage in the water supplying pipe
  • Remove all stagnant water sources like a container that may house mosquitoes.

How to remove those pests?

It is difficult to keep all the pests away in spite of taking various measures. After an infestation, it is necessary to check it ASAP so that it may not spread further. There are two major ways to remove pests. One is a natural way, and another is a chemical way. Natural ways are safe, effective, but time taking whereas chemical ways, i.e. insecticides are faster but sometimes harmful to health.

#1 Natural ways 

There are various natural ingredients that repel different pests as effectively as insecticides; these are known as a natural insect repellent. Here we have listed some of the most effective natural insect repellents.

a. Citronella oil

Citronella oil repels insects, specially mosquitoes and ants. They don’t like the strong smell of it. If you sprinkle a little amount of citronella oil in your curtains and bedding material, mosquitoes won’t come near you. This is a completely natural product, does not possess any harm to human health.

Natural ways

b. Lavender oil 

You can add 30 to 50 drops of lavender essential oil into 500 ml water, mix it well and sprinkle it near the target area to keep mosquitoes and fleas away. You can directly apply it to your skin as it is natural and doesn’t contain any chemicals.

Citronella oil

c. Lemongrass oil 

Lemongrass oil is a wonderful ant repellent. Sprinkle it around the cracks and crevices from where an ant colony is crawling, leave it overnight. The ants will change their course as they don’t like the strong smell of lemongrass oil. It can be mixed with rosemary oil that creates a strong smell which keeps mosquitoes at bay. It also repels water bugs and cockroaches.

Lavender oil

d. Clove oil 

Clove oil is very effective against cockroaches and mosquitoes. You can sprinkle it the same way as citronella oil. It is believed to work best among the natural insect repellents.

Lemongrass oil

e. Mint oil 

If you want to repel your ant colony, naturally purchase mint oil. It required a small amount to work. You can apply it directly to the cloths as it does not have any staining property. You can sprinkle it on your kitchen floor, keep it overnight, and get rid of the painful mosquito bites.

Clove oil

f. Thyme oil 

Thyme oil is very effective in repelling mosquitoes and cockroaches. Sprinkle it around your dustbin and kitchen floor to get the best results.

Mint oil

g. Neem oil 

Neem oil repels mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, and rats. Instead of using costly insecticides, you can apply a small amount of neem oil to keep these pests at bay.

Thyme oil

h. Vinegar 

Another natural pest repellent is vinegar; in most cases, it is used as bait to kill pests like cockroaches, ants, and rats.

Neem oil

#2 Chemical control 

There are four major types of chemical control, those are-

a. Spray 

Which can be directly applied to the pests to kill them. Sometimes these sprays are harmful to humans, specially those with asthma or other respiratory illness. Sprays are considered as one of the fastest pests killing methods. Sprays are effective in case of large infestation. But in case of rat infestation, sprays won't work, whereas it works like magic in cockroach and mosquito infestation.

Chemical control


Powders are less effective than sprays. It contains diatomaceous earth and other poisonous materials. It needs to sprinkle on the target area from where you wish to remove the pests.


c. Bait 

Baits are effective in removing cockroaches and rats, but it won't work in case of mosquito infestation. Baits are available in different forms like powder, tablet, gel, liquid, etc. Baits are also efficient in removing ant colonies.

d. Trap

Traps are effective and free from harmful chemicals as these are specially designed to catch those target pests either alive or dead. Traps are useful for catching rats, cockroaches, bed bugs, and mosquitoes, but those are not effective in catching ants.

Foods are the main attraction and reason for infestation. Keep your foods secure, out of the reach of these pests. Do not apply any insecticides directly on your food as they contain poisonous chemicals specially designed to kill the pests. In case of a large infestation, hire an exterminator to tackle the situation. Do not apply insecticides on your own without proper information.


Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants

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