I was putting together some promotional materials for Exterm, and I came up with these tips that help keep house and property pest free. Some of these tips are directed at certain pests you, but most cover general pest problems that crop up from time to time.
Like us, all insects, spiders, and rodents need moisture or water to live. Knowing this, pests will seek out a moisture/water source to live near. This is why you’ll find some of the worst roach infestations near sinks, drains, in the bathroom, in piles of old unwashed clothing and under the fridge. You’ll also note that termites are always nested near a source of moisture – whether it be along a water main in your front year or under a leaky tap at your foundation despite the fact termites will eat 99% of hardwood they find, they need moisture to survive. Rats and mice too will setup camp near leaks, condensation points, and places where they can get outside to find water and get back into your home easily.
Simple inspection of your home you can do in your spare time will lead you to finding these problems and you should fix any leaks immediately and make repairs to any point of your home where moisture can gather, such as areas around air conditioners, central heat and air, and gutter spouts. Although these can be expensive, they are worth the savings in the long time and cut your overall pest control and management bills.
Naturally, should you find an active infestation – or suspect one, you should call a pest management provider like us, Exterm,Inc. (407 704-8780).
Sealing up Entry Points
Did you know mice only need a quarter of an inch gap to get into your home.? Now consider for a moment all the pests that are smaller than that you can see how important plugging all those little holes are. When you check your home, keep a sharp eye at points where phone lines, cable/satellite lines, water pipes, gas lines, dryer vents, and all are. Even tiny spaces can open your home up to an army of pests. Caulking is the best way to go about this. I’ve also heard of people injecting expanding foam into the holes to see where the opening on the outside is too (hey, expanding foam also insulates too!). Pay close attention to where different things, like your phone and power, enter your home. I’ve seem some homes put together by cheap builders where they punched (not drilled) a 3-inch hole into the side of a block building and put a phone line through it – then tape it over and paint it up.
If you have a garage or shed, pay close attention to the doors. Garage doors and roll-up doors are infamous for letting rodents in. Weather stripping will wear out over time needing replacing or it was put together wrong by the installer. either way you’ll need to replace it or redo it yourself. Garages are also prone to being home to things you only see once a year or two or ten. Make it a habit to keep stuff off the ground in your garage and leave plenty of space so you can sweep it out. I use carts with good-sized wheels and lots of shelves. Keep your eyes open too for silverfish in storage areas.
If you have an attic or crawl space, like me, you know all kinds of stuff can move in upstairs. Roof Rats, Squirrels, Birds, snakes, ants, wasps, bees, and silver fish can all move in there and will if you give them half a chance. Most attics have screens and vents that should be periodically checked for holes and tears. Best time is after a storm. In the south, many older homes also have an attic breeze-way, these can lead to ceiling leaks and water/moisture buildup in your attack and should be dealt with by either sealing it up with a solid door or reducing the size of breeze way. While you’re up there, check for holes in the roof and patch as needed. A reputable builder will always leave a few sheets or packs of shingles behind if you need to make repairs.
We all know insects love light – why else would humans need to invent the bug light? But spiders like to eat insects – like those hovering around your porch and patio and doorway lights. That means they’ll setup camp there so they can catch food easier, but think about all the times you or a family member has left a door open while doing something (bringing in groceries, talking to people, grabbing something you forgot, getting a toy to play with, etc). Each and every time that door opens they’ll get sneaky and try to get inside where they are more lights, it’s warm, and old food just sits in the sink waiting for them. The best solution is to use non-insect attracting light bulbs or yellow outdoor bulbs, put security/spotlights on a poll away from the home, and try to keep doors closed with a weather strip. Screen doors that close themselves also work great as long as the screen is kept in good condition.
Screen Doors and Window Screens
Make sure to replace any torn screens or repair screens with gaps in it. Also be sure to keep the seal around the screens in good condition. And, as always, make sure your screen is a fine mesh made from with a durable material that will last.
Food and Food Storage
The FDA fumigates all grain foods that we eat (like cereal, flour, dog food), but it’s not 100%. Sometimes a few insects get by the FDA and food processors and are passed on to you and your family and pets. A good rule of thumb is to avoid contamination and spread of insects by sealing all food and dry pet food (like bird seeds and dog food) in air tight containers or tubs. This should help deter mice as well, but mice will chew through plastic tubs and as such, tubs should be placed in areas nice and rats cannot reach easily and not jammed against walls inside the closet.
All That Old Stuff You Keep, The Clutter
I remember a George Carlin did a whole skit once about the stuff we collect and why we buy bigger houses (to more stuff in, of course!). It’s very true what he implied, we all accumulate tons and tons of things we use infrequently or no longer have time for. Eventually they get stuffed into boxes and bags and stored in your garage, shed, closets, attics, basements, and unused corners.
Well, Pests love that stuff. Insects, spiders, and rodents all love that stuff to death. Roaches like to breed in boxes that can keep moisture and mold, turning it into a breeding paradise. Spiders don’t like to be disturbed too much, so guess where you’ll find them – that’s right, any place you don’t disturb too much. Rats will nest inside of boxes, clothing, stored furniture and canvas — and if they nest, they breed like crazy.
Now your clutter also hurts you too, making it harder to inspect areas and treat problems. If you have store stuff, do so in sealed containers and tubs made from plastic. Cardboard boxes, while cheap and free, will only invite pests. Make sure all tubs are tightly sealed and kept off the ground and away from walls. You should also be able to move the tubs without too much effort so you can easily clean under them.
The Outside of Your Home
Many homes have gutters, but the homeowners / tenets hate cleaning them. When the people next door to me moved in, the first thing the husband did was tear down all the gutters because he hated cleaning them out every fall. But if you have them, they should be kept clean and free of clog each season. Standing water in gutters and decaying leaves can lead to wood rot and turn into a home of disease carrying insects like mosquitoes. Not to mention a clogged gutted can turn into a water source for insects and rodents that will then have access to your roof and home. Clean all gutters, each season, (you could get away with skipping winter if you’re good about it) and make sure that your gutters collect the water that drains off and empties away from the house via a downspout.
Now while you’re outside, up on a ladder near your roof, pay attention to any trees, shrubs, and vegetation that makes contact with your home. These turn into runways for insects and pests allowing easy access from areas beyond your property and into your home. No one likes to wake up to the sound of a raccoon or possum digging and nesting in the ceiling over them. Carpenter ants will abuse an overhanging tree to spread into your home and various rodents and pests will attempt entry towards the end of fall/ start of winter. They love shake shingles, by the way. Pests also don’t need a lot of room to sneak in a window or gap. Any vegetation or trees on, around, or hanging over your home are potential problems and should be kept in check and trimmed. I strongly recommend trimming back trees and ferns and shrubs away from the home while removing any vines or moss that grow son the house.