Houston has a bug problem.
One 2017 survey named the city as the most-pest-infested city in America.
We’ve singled out the worst creepy-crawly pests and how to get rid of them.
Cockroaches love hot and humid urban environments, which means Houston is perfect. About 38 species of cockroaches live in Texas, and Houston generously hosts all of the four most-common —the German, the brown-banded, the Asian and the American cockroach. According to the 2017 Realtor.com survey, Houston has the worst cockroach problem in the United States, with roaches present in 38% of its homes.
It’s not just that they’re numerous — they’re huge.
In 1982, The New York Times’ profiled the city of Houston. Much of the article was devoted to the legendary size of Houston’s bugs.
“The Houston cockroach is a creature of altogether different dimension,” the Times wrote. “There are those who maintain that it clanks when it walks, bellows like a wounded water buffalo, and stands flat-footed as high as a turkey. One man, new to Houston, upon first seeing a local cockroach, thought it was a Volkswagen and tried to drive it away. Their shadows weigh 15 pounds. ”
Cockroaches live both inside and outside — really, they live wherever they want in Houston. But most species live outside and rarely hazard the indoors.
They enter your home looking for food and water, so preventive measures will help keep them away. Clean up after cooking or eating, seal outside garbage cans tightly. Boric acid mixed with cornstarch is another popular potion. Roaches love the sweet starch, and the poison will kill them. Note: Boric acid is toxic, so keep it away from pets and kids.
Ants are high on the list of Houston’s worst pests. Pharaoh, fire, carpenter, odorous, and crazy ants are among the most common species. Their colonies can be huge with as many as 400,000 ants. It’s crucial to eliminate them to make sure they don’t relocate somewhere else. If you’re looking to do your own ant removal, bait boxes are more effective than sprays. Ants take the bait back to their nest and spread it. The poison gets to and kills the queen, preventing future populations. To keep from attracting ants, eliminate food and water sources in your home. Do this by keeping food sealed and cleaning up spills and crumbs. Check for cracks and leaks around windows, floorboards and doors so ants can’t enter your home. Maintain a healthy lawn to give ants fewer places to hide.
Houston’s subtropical climate attracts mosquitoes like a magnet. It doesn’t help that Houston also has lots of bayous. The wet and humid conditions are breeding grounds for these bloodsuckers. And they breed quickly: females can lay 100 eggs at a time, and those eggs hatch within a couple of days. They need a water source to lay their eggs, so one way to control them is to remove standing water from your property. Make sure windows and screens are in good repair to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning whenever possible. Yellow light bulbs, citronella candles, and mosquito foggers can provide temporary relief. You can also see if your community has a mosquito control program. Use insect repellent when you’re outside and avoid the outdoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. You can also plant mosquito repelling plants such as marigolds, basil, lavender, and chrysanthemums.
Black Widow and Brown Recluse Spiders
The humidity in Houston attracts many types of spiders, (and all of them bite), but only two are considered deadly. The black widow is easy to recognize by the hourglass-shaped red marking on her back. (Yes, only the female is poisonous.) The brown recluse is tougher to spot, but it has a violin-shaped marking on its back and six eyes. Like most spiders, both of these find dark corners to hide and can live months without food. But they need water to survive, so it’s best to seal all cracks around leaking pipes avoid leaving standing water around.
Termites also love Houston’s wet conditions. These persistent pests do significant and costly damage to homes, buildings, and crops. Prevention is going to be your best friend and a termite’s worst enemy:
- Reduce moisture inside and outside of your home
- Repair leaking faucets and pipes.
- Replace any water-damaged or rotted wood.
- Remove yard debris, stumps, and dying trees.
- Make sure wood piles are a good distance from your house.
- Inspect wood foundations regularly.
You can treat infestations yourself or hire a pest control service.
If any of these pests have checked in with no plans to check out, you may want to hire a professional exterminator. These experts can de-bug your house and help you keep them away for good.
Interested in more information about lawns and landscapes in Houston? Make sure to visit our Houston, TX lawn care page.