When you’re watching nature documentaries or heading to the zoo, wildlife is fascinating and often beautiful. When it makes its way into your home though, not so much. Rodents can get into your food, cause a number of diseases, and chew through electrical wires. Many bugs, snakes, and scorpions can bite or sting, and even the ones that won’t hurt you give most people the heebie jeebies.
Most of us don’t think much about the possibility of pests in our homes until they’re already there. But by then, you’re having to deal with the consequences of having them around and the trouble of getting them out – which is no small thing. Obviously, prevention is preferable, but here are a few tips you can use to pest-proof your home now and save yourself future trouble.
1. Find and seal off any entry points
For pests to come into your home, they have to find a way in. And they’re good at it – even the smallest hole or opening can be enough, and critters like squirrels can chew their own openings if they have trouble finding an existing one.
Make a habit of going around your house to look for trouble spots – also a very good idea to do if you’re looking to buy a home! They could be:
- Holes in your siding or trim
- Broken screens in your windows or in the vents in your attics
- Spots where the door or window doesn’t close all the way
- Cracks or gaps in the foundation
- Extra space in the holes made to run the wires for utilities into the home (like your washer and dryer)
If you have pests and can’t figure out an entry point, keep an eye out for where they seem to show up. After trying everything he could to get rid of rodents in his house, Alex Rohen called in professionals. “They told me that the rodents were not coming from the garbage, but coming from my pipes,” he explains. He’d noticed they seem to show up first around the garbage disposal, but hadn’t realized rats could enter pipes.
Plus: don’t forget to block both the obvious (and not-so-obvious) “shelters”
Depending on where you grew up and where you live now, there might be certain objects or spaces that appeal to critters that you might not overlook. Consider gutters, drain pipes, window boxes, chimneys, porches, basements and attics – everything.
Tom, a homeowner with a backyard gazebo that gets few visitors in the cold midwest winter, told us the cold doesn’t stop skunks from seeking shelter under it. Tom had to go inside the gazebo to stomp around and scare the skunk out (fortunately spooking it enough to run away and not spray him), and then he blocked off the entry points with cinder blocks.
2. Keep things clean and dry
Trash looks and smells pretty good to bugs, and having lots of clutter or litter in your home or yard gives rodents and snakes more places to hide. It’s also a good idea to store your trash away from the house. The bugs that are attracted to it are less likely to move from the trash bin to the house if you store it a few feet away from the structure.
And when you clean regularly, you have lots of chances to notice the signs of possible infestations by seeing bugs themselves or noticing rodent droppings, so you’ll know to address the problem before it gets too bad.
And clean means dry, too. Particularly in drier climates, critters (including cockroaches – halp!) seek water inside. So don’t leave standing water in your home and make sure to close up entry points in sinks to keep them from seeking a drink in your humble abode.
3. Seal your food (and your pup’s)
Let’s not give rodents and bugs too much credit. They are interested in food, water, and staying alive. So that means if there is a food source, those lil buggers will find it.
You can’t stop eating in your home, but you can make the food you have less noticeable and accessible to the pests in your area. Keep the food and ingredients in your pantry stored in sealed containers that lock all things out (except you, of course, you have a cookie – just clean up the crumbs.)
Also, don’t leave pet food out for long periods of time or let dirty dishes pile up in the sink. Just because it’s not appetizing to you doesn’t mean other living beings won’t drool over it.
4. Keep your trees and brush trimmed
Tree branches that hang close to the side of your house or your roof give rodents an easy way to access your house. Any overgrown grass and bushes around your house serve as good hiding spots for scorpions, snakes, and rodents. If you’re helping them hide from their predators, you’re giving them a reason to stay close.
Also walk the yard to look for holes that snakes may want to use as a den and fill them in. If they don’t have comfy spots to curl up in, they’re less likely to stick around.
5. Don’t kill snakes or spiders if you can help it
This tip may sound counterintuitive, but spiders eat other bugs and snakes eat rodents. You don’t want snakes and spiders in your home, but having them around will mean dealing with other types of pests less.
Timmy Griffin from 24/7 Pest Control recalls a huge spider that settled into a spot on the outside of his window for weeks. “While he was up in that corner not a single fly came in even though the window was opened.”
If you can stand to keep these particular pests around, they’ll help you with the others.
Pests are a part of life, but they don’t have to be a part of the time you spend at home. Doing some preventative work now can help you keep most bugs and rodents out of your space so you can enjoy it yourself in peace.