As temperatures fall, bugs and rodents seek warm shelter in homes across the country. If that cozy new accommodation also has a handy source of food and water, all the better. Make sure yours doesn't.
According to pest control expert Lisa Jo Lupo, you should "seal your home against insects." Weatherproof windows and doors. Caulk cracks along bathroom and kitchen fixtures. And "check your home for light leaks." An easy way to check is for one person to walk along the outside of the house and shine a flashlight onto the house and another person to walk along inside to watch for any light shining through holes. Mice can get through a hole slightly larger than a quarter-inch, according to pest professional Simon Berenyi. Fill any gaps that can't be repaired with steel wool.
"Firewood can be home to ants and termites. Store wood at least 20 feet from your house," says According to Boyd Huneycutt, co-founder of Mosquito Squad, firewood should be placed at least 20 feet from your house. That way, any ants, termites or other bugs that may live in the pile won't easily transition to your house. For the same reason, keep trees and shrubs well-groomed and away from your house.
*Clean and Defend
Clean up leaves, mulch and any other debris that might provide hiding places around your home's foundation, says a Family Handyman article titled "14 Ways to Keep Out Fall Pests." Also inspect your crawl space and basement for "large, obvious nests of shredded material," which indicates the presence of rodents." And install a chimney cap and screen to keep away rodents, birds and other creatures you don't want inside your home.
Be sure that all dishes and inside surfaces are thoroughly cleaned each day and that all food products are tightly sealed and stored.
Thoroughly rinse recyclables, and store them in bins outside your home.
Vacuum the house at least once a week, and be sure to seal all trash bins that aren't emptied daily.
Cleanliness is the key, according to an article by Michael Pomranz for Grandparents.com. "Cockroaches hate light and love the smell of paper, so try to avoid (creating) clutter areas where bugs can congregate, especially things like stacks of magazines, boxes or bags."
Place moth traps near but not inside food pantries and clothes closets to catch moths without attracting them to the very places you want them to avoid. To use borax or diatomaceous earth as an organic alternative to toxic pesticides, simply sprinkle the powder across door thresholds and in susceptible corners of your basement, pantry and attic, where bugs are likely to enter, congregate and travel.
Mice need water. Make sure that pipes in kitchen and bathroom sink base cabinets don't leak, that basement drains are dry and that sinks are emptied of all dishes, food and water before bed each night. Even condensation on pipes is attractive, according to Family Handyman.
*Bedbugs, Termites, Lice or Fleas?
If you notice red, itchy bites on your arms and legs, piles of wings or droppings, nits in anyone's hair, or other signs of particularly pesky problem bugs, it may be time to call a licensed professional. These problems spread fast and are hard to get rid of. Know when to call for help.