Dropping temperatures and winter weather often prompt pests to move their homes into yours. If you want to avoid this situation, you need to know how to keep insects and rodents away from your basement, garage, shed, and living spaces. Don’t wait until you see signs of an invasion; overwintering pests often stay out of sight until warmer weather encourages them to become more active.
Eradication of Existing Pests
One of the first steps to take to prevent pests from settling down for the winter in your home is addressing any existing pest problems. Take a close look around your home, and you may notice a lot of warning signs:
- Pest droppings
- Holes in walls near the floor
- Scratching noises at night
- Gnaw marks or bits of hair
Once you spot these signs in your home, the best approach is to hire a pest control professional. Getting rid of colonies of insects or mouse nests will be a temporary fix if you don’t get to the heart of the problem. It is also easy to overlook newly forming colonies. There are things you can do around your home to avoid future infestations.
Preventing more pests from getting into your home is a great step to take. The pest control technician may be willing to share specific tactics that are relevant to your community. Prevention is key to avoiding overwintering pests because they often creep into your home where you are least likely to notice.
Appropriate Food Storage
The cold weather may motivate pests to move into your home, but open food containers provide a lot of incentive for them to stay. You may have food on the counters and an open trash container. Snacks in unsealed containers attract the attention of mice and insects. If you have pets, the bags of pet food are also a great source of nutrition for unwanted pests. Invest in hard containers that tightly seal for your cereals, grains, leftovers, and pet food.
After sealing up any possible source of food, make a schedule for completing home inspections. It’s a good idea to have a pest control technician complete an inspection when the seasons change. In addition to these professional checks, you should regularly look for new damage around your home. Check light fixtures, entry points, and cracks around windows and doors. Keep a record of problem areas, so you can closely watch for new damage and take extra steps for prevention.
Recognition of Problem Areas
There are several areas in your home that are more likely to appeal to small home invaders. These include the attic, basement, crawlspace, and outside sheds. As you conduct your own investigations, pay special attention to these parts of your home. Take extra care to be sure there aren’t any food or water sources. Look for damage that may allow pests into the area and watch out for unexplained changes.
With the information you gathered during your inspections, you’re ready to tackle several home maintenance tasks that go a long way toward keeping pests out. If there are gaps around windows and doors, for example, use a silicone sealant to cut off those entry points. Keep mice out of attic vents and other openings by installing protective screens. Replace worn weather-stripping and make sure your doors and windows close tightly. Doublecheck your exterior dryer vents to be sure the damper hasn’t been damaged or become stuck. Make sure the seal around the vent hasn’t been damaged and is secure.
There are some tasks that you should focus on during each season. For example, when cold, wet weather comes around, it’s often easier to notice a draft around exterior doors and older windows. When you upgrade the seals around these openings, the improvement may be more apparent than during warmer weather. When the weather is warm enough to leave doors and windows open, take a look at including herbs and other plants in your landscape that discourage pests.
In addition to maintenance inside your home, you can do several things in your yard to keep pests at bay. One of the most effective steps is to keep shrubs and trees pruned away from the roof and siding of the house. Overhanging branches often provide an easy path into your home. Your goal should be three to six inches between your home and any landscaping plants. If you have stacks of firewood next to your home, move them away. This single task may help you become aware of the need for rodent removal. Keep an eye on your lawn for signs of pests, such as bare spots, holes, and hills. After mowing the lawn or raking leaves, bag up the leavings.
The more you know about the available treatment options, the better you can make informed choices about their use. Reputable companies, such as Blue Chip Pest Control, generally use a variety of products that are adapted to regions, climates, and time of year. You may see some of the products available at home improvement stores year-round, so you need to understand when and why they are used.
Spray insecticides are often brought out when you notice insects in your garden, but the best time of application is before you notice them. Powdered insecticides may be used to treat pests that are low to the ground, but they may also be applied when the weather drops below freezing or is very wet. Pesticides are most effective when insects are in a younger point in their development, and the ideal time to address one type of insect is often different for other insects.
It’s also important to understand how to avoid getting the pesticide into the groundwater and nearby landscaping. One of the most valuable reasons to hire professionals is their familiarity with the many treatment options and knowledge about when, where, and how to use pesticides properly.
The good news is that once you get into the habit of watching out for and addressing any signs of pest entry, keeping insects and rodents out of your home becomes easier. As you incorporate professional treatments with your prevention and home maintenance, you should see fewer signs of trouble with each season.