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Home Improvement

How Not to Set Your House on Fire When Dealing With Insects

Ridding your home of insects, spiders, and other bugs with fire is about as bad an idea as bad ideas go; leave ridding your home of pests to the experts.

When Only a Flamethrower Will Deal With Your Insect Problems

Aside from entomologists and young people of a certain type, almost no one likes bugs. Sure, there are some bugs that we give a pass — butterflies, grasshoppers, ladybugs — but for the most part, we don’t like them. We know why we need some of them, but that doesn’t stop us from generally disliking them – after all, they bite, they sting, and they tend to annoy us in just about every season.

Some people really don’t like them though. Seriously. Have you ever wanted to go after a spider or other insect with a blowtorch? Well, maybe you wanted to, but you realized that it was overkill. Serious overkill. You’re a sane person – but the truth is, some people aren’t so sane, and these recent bits of news tell the story.

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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs were once relegated to antiquated sayings, like “sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Now they’re back, and in many parts of the country, they are becoming commonplace once again. They’re nasty, irritating little bugs that actually do bite, leaving their victims with itchy marks and plenty of sleep-related anxiety.

Apparently, one Cincinnati, Ohio woman wasn’t having any more of it from her bed bugs. Using rubbing alcohol to kill of the little buggers is a time-honored practice. But the thing about rubbing alcohol is that it’s highly flammable.

You generally don’t want to be throwing it around your house, dousing areas where you suspect the bed bugs to be hiding, especially if you have a candle lit nearby, or some other open flame. Bed bugs: one. Homeowners: zero.

get rid of spiders diy pest control gone wrong

And Spiders…

Spiders aren’t insects; they are arachnids. Many people lump them (and scorpions, and fleas, and…) in with insects and just call all the creepy crawlies, “bugs.” Those people don’t seem to understand that every dead spider equals something like 500 more bugs on the planet. But what are you going to tell those people… people like the Redding, California man who went after a wolf spider with a torch lighter.

Granted, it was a wolf spider – one of the scariest spiders in the world – and it was in his bedroom. But lighting a large, fast-running spider on fire in your bedroom is always going to be a bad idea.

First, the burning spider ran to the man’s mattress, and set it on fire. Then the spider ran to his flag collection and set that on fire. Then it ran into his closest and set all his clothes on fire. By the time the firefighters arrived and put the flames out, the whole building was forced to evacuate and find temporary shelter while damages were repaired. Spiders: one. Humans: zero.

And Wasps… Oh My

And then there are wasps. No other flying insect causes more fear in more people than the wasp. Maybe it’s the pain of their sting, or the fact that, unlike bees, they can sting you over and over again without dying.

A construction worker found a wasp’s nest in a storage shed behind a house they were helping to renovate in Northwest Dallas. Rather than leave the nest alone, or call in a professional to deal with it, the construction worker decided that employing an ad hoc flamethrower — a lighter and an aerosol can — was the best way to deal with the nest.

The end result was the destruction of the shed in question, the house it was behind, and a neighbor’s house as well. Wasps: three. Humans: 1 (arguably).

diy pest control gone wrong spraying

Only You Can Prevent Burning Your House Down to Kill Insects and Arachnids!

The conclusion of this post should be self-evident. Unless you wish to win a Darwin Award, do not attempt to handle your bug problems with fire. Neither by torch, blow torch, lighter, torch lighter, alcohol and flame, aerosol can and lighter, napalm, gasoline, nor by any other flame conveyance or flammable liquid should you attempt to kill a single insect or arachnid or multiple insects or arachnids. It’s never a good idea!

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Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.

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