How to control insects in domestic environments?
There are two types of products for insect control, insect repellents and insecticides. Insect repellents are less hazardous to the environment than insecticides, which kill insects. Insecticides and insect repellents require an authorisation before they can be placed on the market. Products authorised in Finland in accordance with the Finnish Chemicals Act and the Biocidal Products Regulation are listed in the Biocidal Products Register (currently only in Finnish and Swedish). Insecticides are under product-type 18 and insect repellents under product-type 19.
Use of insect repellents
The best protection against insects is to use clothing that covers most of the body. On your home yard, you can also reduce mosquitoes by removing any reservoirs of standing water, where mosquitoes breed. Open yards do not attract that many mosquitoes either.
- Read the product's instructions for use and follow the dosage and application instructions provided.
- Only apply repellent on places that cannot be covered by clothes.
- It is not recommended to apply the product on your face. Do not apply the product on young children's skin.
- Keep the product out of the reach of children and in a separate place from foodstuffs and animal foods.
- Please note that certain products (e.g. those containing the active substance DEET) may damage clothing materials.
Controlling insects indoors
You may sometimes have flying and crawling insects, such as flies and ants, indoors. You may also find insects in your kitchen cupboards. Control insects primarily by clearing any scraps of food and, for example, by using sticky insect traps. A clean and tidy house does not attract insects.
If you use insecticides
- follow the product’s instructions for use.
- select the insecticide according to the species of insect you intend to control.
- do not use the product with children present or do not let children use it.
- take pets out of the space being treated and cover any aquariums.
- if necessary, air the rooms after treatment.
Travelling has increased bed bug and cockroach infestations in Finland. Controlling them at home is challenging, and it usually only prolongs the problem and, in the worst case, spreads insects in your neighbourhood. If you notice any bed bugs in your house, do not hesitate to contact a pest control professional. If you live in a terraced house or multi-storey building, also contact your building manager directly, because bed bugs and cockroaches also spread from one apartment to the next.
How to prevent bed bugs from ending up in your home
- In your accommodation location, check the bed or sofa for any signs of bed bugs: small black dots on the mattress or the frame of the bed or sofa.
- Do not keep your luggage close to the bed or underneath it. Place any clothes to be washed into a plastic bag and empty its contents directly into a washing machine at home.
- If you have any itching bitemarks on your skin when you wake up, you may have come into contact with bed bugs.
When returning home
- If you suspect that you have stayed the night in a location infested with bed bugs, wash all your clothes or place all the items you carried with you inside a freezer.
- If possible, place the clothes and luggage you carried with you into a plastic bag before entering your home and place the bag inside a freezer. Do not spread your items around your home.
When buying second-hand furniture or clothes
- Before buying, check furniture for any signs of bed bugs.
- Heat- or cold-treat any second-hand furniture, if possible.
- Wash second-hand clothes at a sufficiently high temperature (60 °C).
Can you tell the difference between a long-tailed silverfish and a silverfish?
The long-tailed silverfish is a fairly new species in homes around Finland, and it is often mistaken for the more familiar silverfish. Distinguishing the insects can be challenging, as the long-tailed silverfish looks very much like the silverfish. The silverfish is known to thrive in humid places, and it is therefore usually found on the bathroom floor. The long-tailed silverfish tolerates lower humidity, and its habitat is not limited to the damp areas of your home.
The long-tailed silverfish (left) has a hairier appearance, and its filaments are longer than those of the silverfish (right).
The long-tailed silverfish is harmless to humans. It very rarely causes damage to the apartment or its furniture. So, there is no cause for concern if you find a long-tailed silverfish in your home. However, some may find them unpleasant. If you notice a long-tailed silverfish, follow these steps:
- Make sure your home is clean. Keep kitchen worktops and skirting boards clean. Also vacuum crumbs and food scraps from behind the cooker and other hard-to-reach places.
- Prevent and monitor the prevalence of long-tailed silverfish with glue traps.
- Do not control the long-tailed silverfish yourself with insecticides. It is very difficult to eliminate long-tailed silverfish with insecticides, and it is rarely successful with insecticides available for consumers.
- If there are many long-tailed silverfish, or you need to get rid of them completely, contact a pest control operator. Make sure that the extermination is done by baiting and not spraying, as bait products work better than spray products.
- If you live in a housing company, contact your property manager. It is important to find out how widespread the long-tailed silverfish are and to dispose of them simultaneously in all apartments.
In addition to the long-tailed silverfish and the silverfish, the firebrat, the four-lined silverfish and the ghost silverfish can also be found in Finland, which, like the long-tailed silverfish and the silverfish, are harmless to humans. All of the above belong to the insect order of Zygentoma.
Controlling insects outdoors
Many kinds of insects are flying and crawling outdoors. Without exception, almost all of these are harmless to people. Insects are an important part of biodiversity and an integral part of the functioning of our ecosystem. The impacts of insecticides are not limited to the species being controlled. If applied outdoors, they affect all insects in the area. Think carefully before controlling insects outdoors because they
- are pollinators
- are decomposers
- prevent the spread of invasive alien species
- are an important source of nutrition for various animals
- improve the soil