Your home is your castle. The last thing you want is for it to wind up as a haven for a bunch of freeloading squirrels or as a meal for a roving gang of termites. Rather than wait until you have an enemy occupation, think preventively, and block their access before they can get inside and be a problem to eradicate. Here’s a basic primer on how to repel unwanted invaders.
Keep Them Out
Start by inspecting your home thoroughly. Walk the perimeter of your house, and look for gaps or cracks, from the foundation to the top of the roof. Entry-points need not be large to admit unwelcome critters.
- Seal holes or possible points of entry with paint, wadded steel wool, caulk, or expanding foam.
- Make sure the soil around your foundation is at least 8 inches below walls, and that water drains away from the house.
- Be sure that no bare wood touches the ground. Wooden stairs and railings should have concrete footings to avoid contact with the soil.
- Patch or replace loose soffits or trim that birds and squirrels can enter through.
- Cover roof and foundation vents with screens.
- Install chimney caps to keep out raccoons and squirrels.
- Keep trees at least 20 feet from your home. Their root systems can provide termites with an entry directly into your home.
- Inspect the attic, crawl space, or garage for possible points of entry.
- Caulk cracks and crevices around cabinets and baseboards.
- Check interior spaces during the day, and look for light coming in through cracks. If you can see daylight, pests can enter through these gaps. Use weather stripping to seal off minute cracks around doors.
- Regularly treat your pet with flea and tick medicine to keep them happy and healthy, and to prevent them from carrying the pests into your home.
Dry Them Out
- Find and correct leaking or dripping taps.
- Check under vanities and sinks for water damage or drips.
- Inspect water lines for possible leaks and drips. Pay special attention to seals, gaskets, or other places where pipes come together.
- Pick up water dishes, when your pet is not outside to drink from them.
- Don’t use mulch close to the house. Mulch traps moisture and attracts pests like termites that may then gravitate inside. Use gravel or flagstone instead.
- Remove standing water from indoor and outdoor plant trays.
Starve Them Out
Many pests won’t find your home attractive if they can’t find anything to eat. Encourage them to look elsewhere for a meal.
- Keep garbage covered when it’s in the home.
- Remove garbage regularly from your house.
- Seal outside garbage bins tightly.
- When your pet is done eating, pick up pet food and store it in sealed containers.
Well, Mister Too-Busy-to-Take-Preventive-Measures, the chickens have come home to roost, eh? Holy smokes, they’re inside the perimeter! Here’s a list of the usual suspects and recommended ways of banishing them.
Termites and carpenter ants need to be treated with serious respect. Don’t waste time trying to fight these beasts on your own. Hire a pro. Dithering with consumer-grade treatments for these voracious insects can allow them time to do serious damage to your home.
Common household ants can be easily dealt with through traps or bait-stations, with little or no risk of exposure to pesticides for you and yours. However, do take care to keep the traps out of reach of children and pets.
Spiders chiefly eat insects. Laying poisons rarely works as they move about on their tippy-toes, and residuals work only on insects when they drag their abdomens across them. Suck them up with a vacuum and flush them, or release them outdoors. Alternately you can hit them with poison sprays, or even a well placed boot. Watch the corners for webs, and eradicate other lingering pest problems to cut off their food supply. With no available prey, they won’t hang around for long. If you keep seeing them, double-check weather-stripping and window-screens that might provide points of entry.
Mice and rats can carry disease and might contaminate your food supply. Yes, the odd interloper can stumble in, and traps and glueboard might take care of them. It’s likely, however, that you have more than one, and the little buggers breed quickly. Generally speaking, any sign of rodents in your home should prompt you to call a professional exterminator immediately.
Squirrels can be amazingly destructive. Sure, they’re cute when they’re prancing around your yard and chasing each other around the elm tree. However, if they find a way into your house, they can chew through your woodwork, damage your roof, savage your electrical wiring, and infest your house with disease-carrying fleas and ticks. Yeah, not so cute now, are they? If squirrels have found a home in your attic, first force them outside by entering your attic and letting them know who’s boss. After they’ve vacated, seal their entry point with wadded steel wool or caulk, or replace damaged boards with new wood.
A Word About Pesticides
Pesticides are poisons, to pests and people alike. Because they don’t discriminate, you must.
- Apply chemicals only to cracks and crevices. Don’t spray them casually through the home.
- Use fogging devices only when absolutely necessary, and follow instructions for use.
- Always follow to the letter the instructions and safety warnings on pesticide labels.
- Use only those chemicals approved for indoor use inside your home. Under no circumstances use outdoor chemicals indoors.
Remember that it’s called “Pest Control”
You can never eradicate pests forever. The best you can hope for is to keep them at bay. They have a place in this world as well, but who can blame you for wanting them to keep to themselves? They don’t call it “The Great Outdoors” for nothing, but keeping it outdoors is perhaps one of the greatest things about it.
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