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I have to admit, this book is all about my inner nerd. Most people, including other inspectors, don’t care about knowing their enemy. Most people believe pests in the home are enemies. Many times with good reason. Jones’s book is a broad look at the pests that inhabit our homes and how they got there.
If you think about it, most pests that move into our homes have millions of years of evolution that have made them very adept at living outside our homes. So, why do pests move into our homes? Mice and rats move in because of the food we leave around. Birds move in because they can’t tell the difference between a rocky outcrop, which they naturally live in, and your overhangs. Insects, however, are a different story.
All insects evolved to live in nature. Over time though, they have adapted themselves to living with humans. A few insects have gone so far that they have evolved to live with humans. Lice and bedbugs have been living with humans so long that their natural habitat is now us. Many beetles originally ate grains in the wild before moving into our cupboards. Some beetles originally ate carrion before moving into our kitchens.
The book provides great insight into why pests move into our homes. Knowing why lets us fight them better. Many of the small bugs you find wandering your home come in because of the dry shelter our homes offer. Insects find it hard dealing with rain. When you’re a little bug, raindrops can end you. So, insects wander into our houses to escape the rain. Fortunately, these insects often find our homes too dry and die.
Are all insects pests? Not according to Jones. Pests are only pests when they reach pest proportions. A wasp can be a pest while an ant may not. The wasp can cause physical danger while and ant can do very little.
Over time, the pests that inhabit our lives have changed. Carpet beetles used to be a way of life until the vacuum came along. Bed bugs were accepted as a way of life until DEET did them in in the 1970s. Now that DEET is no longer used, bed bugs have returned. Is it really necessary to chemically treat a house with pesticides because it has insects but not a pest problem? Pesticides are strong chemicals and should not be used indiscriminately.
By understanding where our pests come from we can more effectively prevent the conditions that lead to these guests. Jones takes a refreshing look at exactly what constitutes a pest. It’s not a pest until it’s a pest.