Ants, cockroaches, mice, rats, bats and squirrels … Most people associate household pests with warm summer weather. But as the temperature drops, these unwanted visitors emerge in search of food, water and shelter. In addition to being a creepy-crawly nuisance, pests also pose a health hazard to your family and pets, along with the risk of property damage. Keep critters at bay this fall with these helpful DIY tips.
Eliminate Outdoor Hiding Spots
Eradicate pest problems outside of your home before they make their way inside. To keep mice and rats away, place firewood at least 20 feet from your home and elevate it at least 18 inches from the ground. Wood chips also provide shelter for pests; use rocks or stones instead. Rake leaves and keep grass and shrubbery near your home well-trimmed. Trim tree branches at least eight to 10 feet from your roof to keep insects and rodents away.
Don’t Tempt Pests Outside of Your Home
After barbecuing, scrub residue from cooled grill grates and clean up food remnants immediately. Tightly seal trash and recycling bins. Place bird feeders away from your home and clean up spilled seeds and hulls regularly. Safeguard each bird feeder from destructive squirrels using a guard called a squirrel baffle. Because squirrels are skilled at climbing and jumping, it’s also helpful to string a line between two trees and use it to hang the feeder as high up and far away from the trees as possible.
Pests such as ants, roaches and termites are attracted to moisture. Draw water away from your home by installing new gutters or repairing existing ones. Clear fallen leaves from clogged gutters with these tips. Monitor bird baths, swing sets, tree houses, fire pits and catch basins often. Keep your basement, attic, garage and crawl spaces dry and well ventilated. Using dehumidifiers will help.
Seal Cracks and Holes
Pests can squeeze into very tight spaces. In fact, certain rodents can fit through a dime-sized hole and cockroaches can enter through a quarter-sized opening. Plug crevices and cracks in your home’s exterior using caulk and steel wool, paying special attention to gaps around utility and plumbing entry points. Caulk and seal dryer exhaust vents and attic exhausts. Repair loose mortar around the foundation, and seal gaps between the foundation and siding. Seal even the tiniest holes in your roof.
Inspect Your Doors and Windows
Cracks under doors and torn screens make easy entry points for pests. Seal off hinged doors with weather stripping or install door sweeps. Line the bottom track under sliding glass doors with weather stripping. You can also weather strip your windows or caulk window panes and gaps around the trim. Patch or replace damaged screens, including the ones in your basement.
Check Your Chimney
Birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons will hibernate and nest in chimneys, often carrying rabies, roundworm, fleas, ticks and lice. To make matters worse, their nests could cause smoke to back up and create a fire hazard. Have your chimney inspected for nests and cracks every year. Seal off entry points by installing a chimney cap and fireplace door. After using the fireplace, shut the flue once the embers die down; keep it shut when not in use.
Inspect Items Before Bringing Them Inside
Before bringing items such as plants, groceries, decorations, package deliveries and mail into your home, closely examine them for hidden pests. Never bring wet or rotted firewood indoors and always inspect it for tunnels and other signs of infestation. Check or shake out any items that have been stored outside.
Leave No Trace of Food or Garbage
Clean up after each meal and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Disinfect your kitchen counters and sink, and clean up crumbs and spills immediately. (Don’t forget the crumbs in and under your toaster or toaster oven.) Store food in airtight containers and throw out overripe fruit. Keep garbage in a sealed bin and dispose of it regularly. Clean pets’ bowls when they’re done eating, and don’t leave them out overnight. Vacuum and dust often, paying attention to hidden areas.
Rodents love to hide in clutter, especially in low-traffic areas like the garage, basement and attic. Declutter these spaces often. Remove stacks of old magazines, newspapers and cardboard boxes. Store remaining items on shelves in a cool, dry area.
Protect Your Clothing
Moths, silverfish and beetles lay eggs that hatch into larva, hungry for natural fabrics and stained clothing. Repel bugs from closets and drawers by vacuuming regularly and using cedar and lavender. Inspect and launder second-hand clothing before bringing it home. Wash clothes before storing them. Keep them in airtight plastic containers or vacuum-sealed storage bags off the floor, away from moisture and sunlight.
Set Bug Traps
Glue traps are a good option for catching insects like spiders, mites and stinkbugs. Keep them in a safe place away from family members and pets. For a natural ant repellant, mix one part white vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle. Spray windowsills and doorways to destroy the scent trails that ants follow. To eliminate fruit flies, set out a glass of apple cider vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap. The smell of the vinegar will attract the flies while the soap will trap them.
At Plymouth Rock, we care about your safety and peace of mind. We hope you find these preventative measures helpful in protecting your home from occasional pesky pests. However, we recommend consulting a professional exterminator, particularly if you suspect that you have a serious infestation.