10 steps to keep pests out
Instead of waiting to go on the defense against an insect, rodent or bird that has entered your home, take the offense by implementing 10 steps to keep the pests out.
For the most part, insects play a vital role in our ecosystem. These tips will help you to have fewer pests. The fewer the pests you have feeding, harboring or breeding outside your home, the fewer issues you will have inside.
1. Plants and mulch: Trim back tree branches, shrubs or bushes touching your home. This will give insects and rodents fewer options for harborage and finding ways into your home. Mulch, such as wood chips, provides ideal harborage for pests. Instead of using these in areas that touch your foundation, place less pest-attractive ground cover, such as rock or stone. If you want to use a material between your ground cover and the soil, make sure it will allow the water to not stand but seep into the soil. Keep in mind when you landscape against your home that it is important to not create areas that will not allow the water to drain properly. Standing water against your home can play a vital role in creating termite infestations.
2. Doors and windows: Because pests can wiggle through tiny cracks and gaps, inspect and repair any cracks, warped or broken doors and windows. Check for and repair rips or tears in screens. A screen mesh size of at least 200 holes per square inch is generally available at home stores and is ideal for screening out pests. It is also important that your doors seal correctly when they are closed.
3. Cracks and gaps: Inspect the entire exterior of your home for other cracks, crevices and gaps through which pests could enter. Check for cracks in the foundation, loose siding, missing roof shingles and gaps around incoming utility lines, including pipes, electric and cable wiring. Seal any openings with coarse steel wool or quick set concrete. Expanding caulk or foam is less effective, as many pests can chew through it.
4. Trash and litter: Keep yards, patios, decks and garages free of litter, weeds and standing water. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and clean the cans and area regularly to remove debris and spills on which pests can feed. It is always a good idea to put something heavy, like a brick, on top of your outdoor trash lids so larger vermin cannot get into your trash.
5. Lights: To reduce flying insects around doors and windows, replace your standard light bulb with a colored one. Bulbs that have pink, yellow or orange tints will be least attractive to the flying insects. Although it is common to place lights on exterior walls near doors, it is better to place the light farther away, using pole lights when possible, with the light shining toward the door for safety.
Eliminating conditions in your home that appeal to pests will help reduce the attraction that brings them in. Don't forget the simple tasks of cleaning inside your home.
6. Interior gaps: Some cracks and gaps will be visible only from inside your home. Check in, under and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators and stoves, as well as between the floor and wall juncture and around pipes, floor and dryer vents. Seal any gaps found, especially those of ¼-inch or greater. I like to seal these areas up with materials like, steel wool, clear silicone, caulk or even a joint compound.
7. Drains: Sink and floor drains often accumulate gunk and debris which can attract pests and provide an ideal breeding site, especially for small flies. Inspect and maintain all sink, tub, basement and laundry room floor drains. It is always a good idea to boil some water and carefully dump it into all the drains in your home. This really hot water will dissolve many of your breeding sites, and insects cannot live when they have boiling hot water poured on them.
8. Recycled items: It is preferable to store recyclables outside and away from your home. If this is not possible, ensure that all containers are thoroughly rinsed and that the recycling bin has a tight-fitting lid. All recycling and trash containers should also be rodent proof and cleaned frequently. This commonly means that you put something heavy on top of these containers so rodents and small game cannot remove the lid off the container.
9. Stored foods: If opened bags and boxes cannot be completely closed, the food should be put into a resealable bag or plastic container to keep from attracting pests that hang out in kitchen cupboards. Using older foods first and cleaning out stale or uneaten foodstuffs will also keep attractants down.
10. Cleanliness: The cleaner your home, the less attraction it will have for pests, the less chance a pest will have to live and breed and the less likely it will be that you would need to go on the defense and pull out a can of bug spray or call your local pest control company.
Desert Green Pest Management is located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. As of March 28, 2012, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.