If you have a firebrat infestation in your home, don’t panic. Firebrats are ugly, creepy, and unpleasant insects, but they’re relatively harmless. Firebrats can contaminate food and do some damage to fabrics (this is similar to the problems caused by moths); however, they’re not overly destructive. They’re also not aggressive toward humans, so painful bites and stings are not a problem. However, they are stubborn insects, and they can be difficult to get rid of. Fortunately, while getting rid of firebrats is tricky, it’s certainly not impossible. There are several ways to get rid of firebrats successfully.
Meet the Firebrat
Before you figure out how to get rid of firebrats in your home, make sure that you have an infestation firebrat and not a similar-looking insect. Because of the way they look, firebrats tend to be compared to earwigs and silverfish. They are similar species in terms of their appearance and behavior. Firebrats are usually brown or gray with an elongated, cylindrical-shaped body. They have distinctive, long antennae and three hair-like, long structures that extend outward from their body. The body itself is usually about one centimeter in length. This is where their common name, “bristletails” comes from. They have six legs, making them hexapods. This allows them to scutter quickly across the floor, which can be quite startling. Once you know definitively that you do have a firebrat infestation, you can figure out how to get rid of firebrats in your home.
Why are there Firebrats in my House?
Before determining how to get rid of firebrats in your home, it’s helpful to understand why they’re there in the first place. Firebrats, like all creatures, seek out shelter and safety to satisfy their basic needs, which is why they often try to come indoors. They like damp, dark areas such as basements. And, more than anything, firebrats like to be warm. They are therefore attracted to furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, bathtubs, sinks and so forth.
Firebrats may enter your home because they’ve found a food source. Like most pests, they’ll target any food that’s available to them. If you have food out in the open in your kitchen, such as on the countertops, or if you leave a dog food bowl on the floor, the firebrats will undoubtedly find it. For firebrats, food that’s out in the open is a welcoming buffet.
It’s not difficult for firebrats to get inside your home. The presence of firebrats does not indicate an unsanitary home. They frequently accidentally carried inside a home, such as in cardboard moving boxes, on a dog’s coat, or with groceries. Your home is more prone to a firebrat infestation if it is an older home with outdated or problematic plumbing. If you live in a warm, humid area, your home is also more susceptible to firebrats simply because of the environment.
How to Get Rid of Firebrats in Your Home
The first step in getting rid of firebrats in your home is figuring out how they’re getting inside, and then putting a stop to it.
- Cracks in the walls
- Tears in the window screens
- Gaps in the flooring
- Spaces under the doorway
- Leaking pipes
- Holes in the siding or wood
If you spot any of the access points listed above, perform any necessary repairs to seal them off. Pay special attention to any leaking pipes that you may find. This not only creates the wet environment that the firebrats are drawn to, but it also increases the presence of mold and mildew. Perform any necessary plumbing repairs, seal any cracks in the walls and repair any holes. This will prevent any additional firebrats (or any other pests) from coming in. Additionally, repairing any cracks, holes or gaps will help to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It can also boost overall energy efficiency on top of pest-proofing your home.
Importantly, if you are unable to figure out where the firebrats are coming from, one technique is to put down insect bait. The firebrats will essentially lead a trail for you, leading you directly to the point or points of entry. Entry points are not always obvious. Firebrats can get into your attic, your garage, or your basement. They could even be getting in through the roof. There could be a crack in the wall in a place that’s not easily seen. For example, they could be getting in through a light fixture, an outlet, or in out-of-the-way storage space. To get rid of the infestation, you may need to move heavy items like furniture or storage boxes.
The next approach on how to get rid of firebrats in your home is to cut off their food source. Put away any food that’s out in the open. Clear off the countertops and store food in the refrigerator or in sealed, secure containers. Do not leave bowls of pet food on the floor for extended periods of time. Keeping your home free of pest-attracting food is a good idea in general and an effective way of getting rid of firebrats.
Firebrats may also feed on certain soft materials like fabric, paper, and wallpaper paste. Of course, these items can’t be removed to get rid of firebrats. However, removing all extraneous clutter, such as stacks of paper you no longer need, is a step in the right direction. They also feed on fungi, mold, and mildew. Fungi, mold, and mildew can be detrimental to your health and should be mitigated regardless of the presence of firebrats.
Regular cleaning, including the use of bleach, can help to get rid of mold, mildew, and fungi. That said, it can be extremely difficult to get rid of certain types of mold. The spores can be microscopic and invisible to the naked eye. You can clean your house regularly but still have a mold problem due to things like humidity or water damage. Special tests can confirm the presence of mold. Mildew and fungi are typically easier to remove with aggressive cleaning. So, cleaning and sterilization is a good way to get rid of firebrats in your home, while getting rid of harmful microbes at the same time. To reduce humidity in your home, a dehumidifier can be helpful. Regular use of an air conditioner can also help. Even fans can help to circulate the air and reduce microbial growth.
Trapping and Spraying Firebrats
Another way to get rid of firebrats in your home is to set traps that the insects can’t escape from. Sticky traps are available online or at home improvement stores. The firebrats are drawn to the traps by a chemical attractant. They become immobilized due to an adhesive on the surface of the trap, preventing them from escaping. The traps are quite effective at collecting the insects in an enclosed area for easy control and disposal.
Alternatively, or in addition to the sticky traps, you can spray a liquid insecticide around the perimeter of your home and in any areas where you’ve observed the firebrats. The insecticides are odorless and non-toxic to people and pets. After you thoroughly spray your home, the application should last for several months. This allows you to eradicate the current infestation and prevent any firebrat activity from happening in the near future. Regular, scheduled applications are recommended. Make sure that you check the label to verify that the insecticide is safe for indoor use. Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions. Read the directions carefully.
Conclusion: How to Get Rid of Firebrats
Firebrats are unsightly, unwelcome and creepy insects that are quite adept at getting indoors. They seek out warm, humid areas. They have tiny, slim bodies that allow them to fit through extremely small spaces. Fortunately, they are relatively harmless creatures, and they do not aggressively bite or sting humans. Getting rid of firebrats can take a few steps. It can be a time-consuming process, but it is not overly difficult. Strategies include:
- Sealing off all points of entry, preventing the firebrats from getting inside
- Applying bait to confirm where the firebrats are coming from
- Fixing any leaking pipes
- Removing any exposed food from the countertops and properly storing it
- Thoroughly cleaning all surfaces with an antimicrobial disinfectant to reduce mold, mildew, and fungi
- Reducing humidity with fans and a dehumidifier
- Removing any extraneous clutter, especially paper products
- Setting sticky traps; and
- Spraying a liquid insecticide.
If the above-listed steps do not work and you are still seeing firebrat activity, you might have an advanced or unusually complicated infestation on your hands. If this is the case, you may want to hire a pest control professional to get rid of the firebrats in your home. The infestation may require advanced tools, techniques, and knowledge that only an expert has. This will give you the peace of mind and assurance of knowing that the job has been done right; the firebrats are gone, and they’re not coming back.