The word Prevention is a powerful word when it comes to things that have the potential to harm us, our family and our food supply. No I am not talking about natural disaster or civil unrest; I am talking about Pest Prevention.
Many of the more serious issues with pest infestations can be avoided altogether if you know a little about the things you could do to help eliminate the threat or mitigate the damage after a pest issue is discovered.
Here are lists of things that can help prevent or eliminate pest infestations in your home.
Exclusion is the process of sealing openings that would allow pest to gain access to your home. This can be done not only for rodents of all size, but insects. Typically any opening larger than ¼” would allow not only insects, but rats and mice. Cracks around pipes and electrical boxes can be sealed with caulking as an example of a common material used in exclusion work. Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors will keep pests from walking in and help keep dirt out as well.
Most living things need Food, Water and Warmth to survive. When we move around our home we typically focus on the inside and the outside. But what about what is under our home and above it. Subarea and attic are normally places we would rather not go in. The fact is these two voids can be a great place for pests, since it’s dark and quiet and humans aren’t in the way.
Here in California many homes are built with a raised foundation. Vents are installed all around the foundation which was designed to keep the subarea ventilated. The fact is this is a bad idea since it creates the very issue that builders were trying to avoid. Moisture is an enemy to wood, but life sustaining to pest. These areas are ideal for pests, but often the homeowner has never gone under their home, and who can blame them. Dirt filled crawl spaces are, well just nasty. They are “bone yards” for plumbers, contractors and electricians. Usually the “replaced” items that these trades remove such as old pipes, sinks, heaters etc. are just left under the house. These items become harborage for many pests, much like a sunken ship in the ocean. Making sure the screens are in good shape will keep out rodents such as rats, mice, cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks etc. You should check these once a month because these vents are used as access points for plumbers, cable service, phone lines and air conditioning contractors when they install their equipment. I rarely see all the vents on a home totally secure for one reason or another.
Attics are another favorite place for all kinds of pests because they are normally warm and dark. Fiberglass insulation is a favorite among rats and animals. feces and urine can saturate attic insulation and create a foul smell in your living space. Attics many times have unique “built in” access because of roof gables, pitches and roof vents designed to keep water out, but not pests. Tile roofs are also a challenge since older homes have no underlying sheeting and rodents can crawl right into the attic from the eve line. Roofers can resolve these issues.
There are many issues around homes that can be addressed that will greatly reduce the likelihood of pest issue with minor adjustments. Firewood stored on the ground and against a structure is a bad idea. They become home to termites, beetles, rodents and carpenter ants. Firewood should be stored off the ground and as far away from the structure as possible so pests are away from the house. Wood should only be brought into the house when ready to burn.
Standing water is also a common problem around houses. Wheel barrels, wagons, tires, pots, buckets, trash cans, ponds that no longer circulate water are great breeding sites for mosquitoes.
Obviously there are good and bad choices in landscape design and types of plants you choose. Many landscape projects start with some kind of weed barrier. The two most common types are a thick plastic or a meshed fabric which can be covered with bark. Plastic created a serious environment that harbors ants and other pests. The plastic allows moisture to build underneath and at the same time won’t allow a pesticide or fertilizer to reach the soil should it need treatment. The cloth type works very well as a barrier for weeds and it also allows moisture to pass both directions making it the product of choice and will last much longer than plastic sheeting. Keeping plants health discourages pests eating their leaves and reduces fungus and various plant diseases.
Trash cans are also another highly place for pests. Flies, rodents, nuisance animals and odors can be an issue if stored near the house. Tight fitting lids are a must and these trash receptors should be washed out after before taken back to where they are stored.
If you love pets as I do, then you know they also can be a source for pests such as fleas and ticks. Our pets may spend a lot of time outdoors which puts them at risk for bringing in fleas and ticks. It’s important to keep your pets health and well groomed. Where, and how you feed your pet is also can be a key source for pests. You should have a designated time to feed your pets, this way you can pick up their food when their done so food isn’t just sitting left out. Food should not be left out inside or outside longer than is absolutely necessary. Many health concerns that relate to your pets can be from food that has sat too long, allowing flies and other harmful pathogens to be ingested that can make them very sick.
Prevention is always the best way to deal with pest issues, but when they arise we’re here to help.