As the temperature rises, many homeowners find themselves leaving doors and windows open more frequently. Unfortunately, this can seem like a “hotel vacancy” sign to insects and rodents. Whether the invaders are as small as an ant or as big as a family of skunks, you can take action to protect your home. So don’t let critters and pests invade your home this summer! Read on for some tips to protect your space from unwanted guests.
Just keep in mind that while these DIY tips can help prevent pests. However, if you have any wildlife making itself comfy in your home do NOT attempt a DIY removal. That’s when it’s time to call the pros.
Protect Your Home
Evaluate the Exterior
A mouse can sneak in through a hole no bigger than a dime, while a raccoon-size creature can enter through a 6-inch opening. When examining your home's exterior walls, experts say to look for light coming through cracks. Also, feel for air movement, which can sometimes point you to a crack you can't see. Your house should be sealed against the elements anyway. If it's not, you're wasting energy, not just letting critters in.
Focus on Windows and Doors
These are the most likely entry points for pests. If you plan on ever leaving your windows or doors open, you should fit them with screens, or check the existing screens for tears. Seal any cracks around windows and door frames with inexpensive caulk or foam. Weatherstripping and door sweeps can seal the moving parts of the door, so make sure it's in good condition. Repair
Window screens, screen doors, and similar barriers protect against summer pests. But only if they provide complete protection! Repair or replace torn screens to keep pests out.
Keep Weatherstripping in Working Order
Weatherstripping refers to the bristles and felt around your doors and windows. Each spring you should do a check and replace any worn-away weatherstripping. Make sure there are no gaps and keep windows tightly closed unless they have screens.
Look for all of the possible ways that pests might be sneaking into your home. Make sure to watch out for small, unsealed gaps like where electrical lines and pipes enter your house. Bugs, mice, and other pests love these small gaps, so caulk them closed or use expanding foam insulation to deny entry.
Plug Holes with Copper Mesh
If you’ve found a hole that’s too large for just caulking or foam, try this step. Stuff in a generous amount of copper mesh with a screwdriver, leaving about half an inch of space for expanding foam sealant. Finish off sealing the gaps with foam to permanently keep house pests out.
Check Your Crawl Spaces
Grab a flashlight and peek into your crawlspaces and/or basement. Look for large, obvious nests of shredded material, which indicate rodents. Watch for smaller signs too, like lines of ants or scrambling cockroaches.
Guard Your Chimney
Install a chimney cap and screen on to keep out pests like rodents and birds. Not only can they do damage, but they often bring in smaller bugs that can take up residence in your home.
Household Tips & Tricks
Use White Vinegar to Eliminate Ants
Ants leave a trail to make it easier for other ants from the colony to find their way to food. To wash away the trail, use a natural solution made from 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 10 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to help eliminate these tiny pests.
An easy trick to eliminate spiders in your basement involves maintaining a 40 percent humidity level with a humidifier and vigilantly sweeping down cobwebs whenever they appear. Keep the basement windowsills brushed clean, too. In a matter of weeks, the spider population will die down significantly and you won’t have to worry about these pests much at all.
Another Use for Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are good for more than just your morning cup of joe. Try using your leftover coffee grounds in spots around the outside of your home where you think house pests are coming in. Many critters can’t stand the smell of the grounds and will steer clear.
Trim Plants Against Your House
Trim back bushes, shrubs, and trees that brush against your siding or roof, as these can provide a bridge for ants and other critters to reach your house. Keep a 3-in. to 6-in. clearance space between the soil around the foundation and the bottom row of the siding, as well. This will prevent ants from nesting in the siding.
Monitor the Enemy
One of the best ways to stay on top of pests is to set out glue traps in attics or other pest-prone areas. Since glue traps grab both rodents and insects, you'll know what you're dealing with if an infestation starts.
Pests typically mount their primary attacks on homes twice a year: once when the temperature drops at the beginning of winter, and once when it goes up again as summer starts.
If You're Invaded
Pests can be relentless, and despite your best efforts, unwanted critters may sneak into your home and set up camp. Here's what to do if you have an infestation on your hands:
Identify the Intruder
You can't fight back if you don't know what you're dealing with. If you've caught sight of the pest, a quick Internet search should help you ID it. But sometimes you can only catch signs of infestation. For example, you might notice a chewed baseboard or a few droppings, indicating rodents. If this is the case, or if you've spotted the invader but can't tell what it is, reach out to an experienced pest control company.
Plan a Course of Action
Many pests can be treated with over-the-counter products you can buy yourself. But make sure you know what you're doing before you start spraying. The wrong product can be a waste of money. Or even worse, instead of getting rid of the pest, you could drive them into the walls. Think of pest killers as a kind of prescription medicine. You need to get the proper diagnosis before you start using them!
Know When to Leave It to a Pro
You can't beat all invading pests, and it's smart to recognize when to put down the pesticide and pick up the phone. Bedbugs are a problem best left to the pros. Most over-the-counter pesticides with "bedbug" on the label don't kill them effectively. You also don’t want to tackle a rodent problem on your own, because they carry disease. And if you're dealing with wood-eating insects like termites or carpenter ants, call a pro immediately. They have insurance that can protect you even if your house sustains severe damage.
Large, potentially dangerous animals like raccoons should ALWAYS be handled by a professional. And you should always make sure your pest company is licensed in wild animal control. When you use a TrustDALE certified professional, you're always protected by Dale's trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right Guarantee. So start looking for a trusted professional pest control company in your area today!