Insecticides have been used to control insect pests of homes ever since the pest control industry emerged around the middle of the last century, but today insecticides are no longer the primary method of insect pest elimination. Modern pest control professionals practice “integrated pest management,” which aims to both eliminate and prevent infestations by means of multiple non-toxic methods. Insecticides are still necessary in many infestation cases, but they are always used minimally and as a last resort. One of the most overlooked weapons that is effective when combatting insect pests is, surprisingly, the vacuum.

Not only are vacuums useful for ridding homes of insect pests, but they are essential for removing dead insect pests following treatments performed by pest control professionals. Vacuums are most ideal for ridding homes of “occasional invaders,” which include silverfish, house centipedes, spiders, ground beetles, crickets, springtails, firebrats, root weevils, sow bugs, pill bugs, earwigs, clover mites, lady beetles, elm leaf beetles, stink bugs, boxelder bugs, and certain psocids. Vacuum cleaners outfitted with a HEPA filter are highly recommended for pest control purposes. HEPA filters help reduce the spread of all allergens, including insect allergens, when cleaning homes. Pests that are known to spread allergens include cockroaches, dust mites, and bed bugs.

Vacuuming also works well as a supplement to professional pest control operations. For example, one study found that vacuuming homes prior to professional flea treatments removes 60 percent of flea eggs and around 27 percent of larvae. Vacuuming causes certain insect pests in the pupal stage to panic and emerge from their cocoons early, thus robbing them of a protective barrier against pesticides. Perhaps most important, vacuuming removes tiny bits of decaying organic matter that disease-spreading flies rely on for breeding. Most of the time, insect pests will die after being sucked into a vacuum, but this is not always the case, especially with cockroaches. Promptly removing and discarding vacuum bags that contain insects will prevent reinfestations.

Have you used a vacuum to remove live or dead insect pests from your home?