Spring Cleaning Series: Pest-proofing your home
Being inside the home for an extended time, I am sure most of us have cleaned an already clean countertop just to make sure we didn’t miss any germs the first, second, or third time! There is nothing wrong with wiping germs away, but while you’re in the cleaning-mode, why not be proactive and add pest-proofing to the list? I can say the most asked question I get from customers seeking help in identifying insects is, “how in the world did they get into my house?” I am talking about small insect pests: ants, cockroaches, beetles, gnats, and spiders. In this blog we’ll go over a few general ways to keep insects from coming into your home and we’ll address specific insect pests in the following series of blogs- so stay tuned!
Insects are not under stay-at-home orders and they are starting to show up with these warmer days. I am amazed by bugs, I can watch them for hours, but I will be the first to admit that I definitely do not want them in my home! Just like us, insects need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. When they come into your home, they are searching for at least one of those three necessities. So, keeping that in mind – here are a few inexpensive, easy, and quick ways to pest-proof your home and stop entry of the unwanted 6-legged guests.
What you will need to seal up areas in and around your home:
- Expandable foam in a can
- caulk gun
- steel wool
- weather stripping
- mesh screen
- spray bottle
Pest-Proofing Inside the Home:
- Seal the opening around pipes and wires where they come through the walls. This would be in places such as the bathroom, kitchen, and utility room. You can use calk, steel wool and/or expanding foam (only the steel wool will keep rodents out). Don’t forget to seal behind the metal faceplate that surrounds the plumbing under the sink.
- Replace the weatherstripping and caulking around windows, sliding doors, and exterior entry doors. These items shrink and crack with age and heat – leaving very small opening that are big enough for insects to pass through. A good way to check if there are tiny opening is to darken the room and have a helper go outside and shine a flashlight around each door and window. You will want to get down close to the floor to see entry points at the floor level. Wherever light comes in- this is an area that an insect can enter. Pay close attention to the corners!
- Install a threshold at the base of exterior entry doors. Don’t forget the door going out to the garage!
- Repair any tears or rips in window screens and screen doors. This will help keep out small flying insects such as flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and midges. Fiberglass screen repair tape can be purchased at any hardware store. It is self-adhesive, so all you do is cut it to the size needed.
- Check the baseboards. Caulk any gaps or cracks in the boards.
Pest-Proofing Outside the Home:
- Caulk or seal the areas where utilities, pipes, or wires enter the foundation. This includes hose bibs, utility meters, and dryer vents. The holes can be plugged with the same products used for inside the home, but if the entry points are large, using a small mesh metal screen for the repair is recommended. This will keep larger critters from entering the home – wasps, yellowjackets, mice, cockroaches, etc.
- Place a vented cage over the dryer vent access. This can help keep larger critters out of the house. Be careful – it should not block the dryer from venting properly. These can be found at any hardware store.
- Keep landscape and bushes trimmed away from the house and doors. They should not be allowed to touch the house. Shrubs can become insect highways if touching the house. Also keep foliage away from your entry doors. Many insects (especially mosquitoes) rest in shrubs and plants. If there are bushes next to your front door, any resting insects could get pulled into the house when the door is opened.
- Keep stacked wood or landscape piles as far away from the house as possible. Insects such as cockroaches, beetles, and ants love to make their homes in these piles and can easily transition into the house if they are too close.
General Spring Cleaning for Insects:
- Keep you counters clean. Wipe up any spills – no matter how small- with a 50% vinegar solution. Small ants can become your biggest nightmare if they find their way to small crumbs left on the countertop. Ants lay pheromone trails which show other ants the way to the food. The vinegar will help ‘erase’ these trails.
- Clean the floors. Clean up any crumbs or spills. A haze of oil can be a feast for cockroaches or ants.
- Pick up pet food bowls. If left out they can attract insects. Placing the pet bowls on a plastic try or mat will assist with easy clean-up of spills.
- Take out the trash. Leaving garbage in the kitchen too long is guaranteed to attract insects!
- Place cat litter or baking soda in the bottom of the garbage can under the bag. This will help with any leaks that might happen in the bag and helps to keep odors at bay.
These tips are part of an integrated pest management approach that focuses mainly on prevention -not chemicals- for insect control. Although chemical applications are a part of a comprehensive pest management strategy – being proactive with insect control will help keep insects out of the home without the need for chemical intervention. Being able to control insects without the use of chemicals is a win-win for us and the environment!
Stay tuned to this blog series for more tips on keeping the most common home-invading insects out of your home and where they belong – outside!