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October 25, 2017

Unwelcome Guests…Protect Your Home from Critters!

Once the temperatures start to drop, you need to keep an eye (and an ear!) out for little invaders. Nothing is more appealing to mice, bugs or other pests than a warm house where they can make themselves at home. If you want to keep these “party crashers” from taking over, there’s a few precautions you can take. Not So Grand Openings Holes, cracks or openings of any type are prime opportunities for creepy-crawlers and scamperers to find a way indoors. Never think a crack or hole is too small. Mice can enter a home through a hole no larger than a dime, while a six inch hole can accommodate a rodent the size of a raccoon. (Just ask a friend of ours, who found an opossum taking a nap in the laundry basket on top of her washing machine!) Insects can enter through even the tiniest cracks. When searching for cracks, the best time to identify them is at night. Shut the doors and windows, then examine the perimeter of your home from the outside for visible light. Some openings in your house are necessary; heating and air vents, dryer vents and similar throughways have important jobs to do. You can identify these planned openings easily; they’re usually evenly spaced and regular in size and shape. To keep critters out, cover them with fine gauge screens. Windows and doors are easy entry points that should be well sealed with caulk or foam. Make sure all screens are intact, with no holes or tears. Door sweeps or weather stripping can also help seal cracks, so make sure these tools are in good condition. You can also check the various entrances to your home for air movement, which can help you find cracks you can’t see. Not only will these little improvements help keep pests away, they’ll help you conserve energy as well. Know What You’re Up Against - Stay Alert Vigilance is your best weapon against pests. Nature makes critters relentless, so you have to be every bit as diligent if you want to keep them out of your house. If you aren’t sure what’s invading your space, simple glue traps will tell you what you want to know. Both rodents and insects are pulled in by the traps, and you will immediately identify the “enemy”. Homes and Gardens Make sure you keep plants at least a foot away from your house. Greenery is a great hiding place for pests, and if it’s too close to your home, it makes it easier for undercover agents to scuttle indoors without you noticing. Also, piles of leaves, debris or trash can attract pests – they’re excellent hiding places and breeding grounds. When Mr. Fix-It is the Problem… If you’ve had recent repairs done, or if you’ve commissioned an addition or revision to your home, be sure to carefully check the area involved for unsealed openings. Something as simple as installing a new dishwasher or washing machine can leave an unplanned hole large enough to attract pests. But keep in mind, not every precaution will work. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your home will be invaded. If you feel that you can tackle the issue yourself, make sure you know exactly what type of pest you have before you act. Remedies for pest infestations are very specific to the creature involved, much in the same way that certain medicines are prescribed to cure particular illnesses. If you use a rodent “cure” on insects, you won’t get the results you need. You also need to check “over the counter” cures found in hardware stores, discount chains and home and lawn stores for potential issues before using them in your home. Make sure they’re safe for pets and children, and read the instructions carefully before beginning. Last but not least, don’t hesitate to turn the problem over to the experts if your efforts fail or if you’re not comfortable with handling the problem yourself. Pest infestations are often persistent and difficult to conquer. In some cases, your best option is to let someone who has the perfect tools and a high level of experience take over.

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