I've worked in the IT field for over 35 years with companies like Sprint, IBM, and Boeing.
After hurricanes Ivan and Dennis, my computer-repair shop took in dozens of computers that wouldn't power on. Many were caused by the power surges from generators, the utility company, or electrical storms. However, there were many that had picked up bugs—literally.
How and Why Do Insects Get Into Computers?
Between the downed vegetation, the destroyed buildings, and the other debris, everything was displaced, including humans, other animals, and especially insects. These insects moved into new living spaces—not unlike those of us that had to seek temporary homes and rentals. Many of these found refuge in our computers.
Insects seem to especially like to move into the main power box in a computer—also known as the power supply. This box-within-a-box would seem a safe place to hide, but as they walk around when the computer is on, they can cause shorts and electrocute themselves, potentially taking your power supply and even your computer with them to their grave.
What Not to Do
If you've discovered insects living in your computer (or if you suspect that they might be), there are a couple of things you definitely shouldn't do if you don't want to make the problem worse.
1. Don't Use Bug Spray
Unfortunately, many customers chose to use bug spray not only around their computers but often on and inside them as well. This can lead to a multitude of problems including explosion, fire, poisoning, and computer damage.
If it's not obvious, never spray bug spray, which is often flammable, near electronics. It doesn't matter if the device is on or not, as most devices have stored electricity in them waiting to do work. It's there at the on-off switch ready for you to push the button and can be stored in components called capacitors that can hold a charge for hours and days after power is off.
Any discharge of energy can ignite a flammable mist (like bug spray) causing fire or an explosion. If the poison isn't ignited, and the computer is on, the fans can increase the circulation or blow the poison back into the room and introduce it into your system.
A fire or explosion can damage your computer, but so can the bug spray, which turns sticky like glue after it dries. Even if the chemicals don't corrode the computer boards (the case often corrodes like a car battery), it can act as a big fly strip, catching additional bugs and attracting dust to the computer components. This can result in higher heat retention and possible short circuits.
2. Don't Use Insect Baits
Some customers took the advice of some of my competitors and avoided the bug sprays but went with a roach motel. We have seen them near a computer, on a computer, and in a computer. Again, this a bad idea. Roach motels are designed to attract roaches to them and lure them into a trap.
The problem is that you are baiting roaches to come near, on, or into your computer. Some roaches are smart (or maybe just have insect attention deficit disorder) and don't move into the hotel, but just hang out nearby. Luring more insects to your computer is not the goal. If you use traps, do so at a point far away from the computer.
What to Do Instead
A better way to remove the roaches is to use a vacuum cleaner with a hose, and let the suction remove the insects. This allows you to eject them from the computer and your home without a sticky and risky mess. You can always spray the garbage can outside as you dump the bag to kill the bugs.
Just remember to unplug the computer before trying to open the case, and remember that if you have a name brand with an active warranty, opening the case can and will likely void your warranty. I wish you pleasant computing, and may your experience be bug-free.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Potterville
Aryan on April 21, 2020:
It was very informative. Got good advice from the Author.
Thanks, a Lot
Cecil Kenmill from Osaka, Japan on January 01, 2019:
Very good info here. You know your stuff!