No one wants to have to call an exterminator. When you’re giving us a call, it’s because your pest problem is out of hand, and conventional do-it-yourself pest control methods aren’t helping. We’ll always be here for you when a problem comes up, but we’d rather you not get pests in the first place; as homeowners ourselves, we appreciate the mental and physical toll an infestation can take on your well-being. In light of that, we’ve created this document, a sort of pest prevention primer that will help you stop pests before the infestation starts.
We’ll break it down by types – birds, rodents, and insects – and we’ll give you a list of good practices that will help reduce the risk of pests. We’ll do this by limiting a pest’s access to your home, limiting their access to food, and limiting their ability to reproduce.
Rodents present an interesting challenge for pest prevention. In many ways, rodents are quite easy to deal with; mice and rats are landbound, and squirrels will tend to relegate themselves to your attic. On the flipside, rodents are also among the most intelligent pests you can encounter; they’re quite suspicious of new objects on their feeding routes, and they’re good at hiding until potential predators (like you) are out of sight.
The first step to rodent prevention is to keep food sources out of their reach. Rodents will eat almost anything, so keeping your home clean is vital to rodent prevention. Wash all of your dishes right away and clean up your spills. Get a durable garbage can with a tight-fitting lid, and use heavy-duty garbage bags. Store your food up high, and use resealable plastic containers for loose foodstuffs; don’t keep your cereal, pasta, or grains in their original boxes, as rodents can easily make their way through the cardboard.
Making the inside of your home less attractive to rodents is important; cleaning up your yard is important, too. Elevate your garbage bins so that they aren’t as easily accessed by rats and mice. Keep bird feeders well away from your house, so squirrels won’t be tempted to leap from your house to the feeder and back. Keep hiding places, like woodpiles or old wheelbarrows, away from your house; rodents like to hide in dark, covered places. Watch for pests when splitting wood or moving lumber to a different location.
The next step is to seal off access points for rodents. Make sure there aren’t any breaks in your shingles that would make your attic easily accessible to squirrels (though they might get in anyway). Looking for mouse holes is tricky because they can be pretty much anywhere, though they especially like hiding behind kitchen appliances. When you see a mouse hole, you can stuff it with steel wool, then use caulk to hold it in place; for larger holes, you might need cement, or redo your drywall.
We’ve covered limiting rodent access, and limiting food supply; the last step is limiting reproduction. This is done by exterminating the rodents before they reproduce; using snap traps is the best method for doing it yourself. Poison traps can lead to dead rodents in the walls, while glue traps are inhumane.
This category is particularly tricky because insects are a broad category with a lot of different traits. Some fly, some are tough, some are really hard to detect. The basic prevention strategies aren’t that different from the ones you’d employ to stop rodents, though; limit food sources by putting them high up and having a well-sealed garbage can, clean up after yourself, and get rid of spots where the insects could hide. Limiting food sources can be tough, however; cockroaches will eat anything from book bindings to the glue on the back of stamps, and bed bugs…well, bed bugs eat you.
You should be very cautious when purchasing second-hand furniture; bed bugs are extraordinarily hard to get rid of. They can survive extremely high temperatures, poison, starvation, and more. Check out this guide to finding bed bugs, and look at the seams of furniture, bedsheets, and mattresses to see if you can spot any.
Killing off insects is particularly tricky, so it’s hard to limit their reproduction. Ants and other colony insects can be poisoned rather readily, but for cockroaches and bed bugs, you’ll likely need a professional exterminator.
Birds are probably the least likely pests to cause you problems; for homeowners, the biggest problem they pose is getting into the attic. There are a few effective ways of stopping birds from getting into your home. You can put bird spikes on the ledges around your house; these spikes stop birds from being able to land, then enter. You can also use a wide variety of deterrent noises, like cries from predators. These noises can’t be constant, or the birds will learn that there’s no actual threat; fortunately, there are a variety of devices that activate when the wind blows, or on other triggers.
Limiting a bird’s access to food is relatively easy. Obviously, if you’re having bird trouble, and you’ve got a birdbath or a bird feeder, you’ll want to get rid of those right away; they’re only making your space more attractive to birds. When you have a barbecue or a picnic, or if you eat outdoors a lot, clean up your space; this holds true if you have a sunroom or gazebo you lunch in. Check your roof for any damaged or loose shingles, as these can provide birds access to your home.
The tips and tricks we give for prevention here are primarily targeted towards residential pest prevention. For businesses, pest prevention is more complex; warehouses need quite a bit more bird prevention, as they’ll usually have rafters the birds can perch in, and rodent protection is of the utmost importance for restaurants, so more time and effort should be spent investing in anti-rodent devices. When prevention isn’t enough, you can always call your pest control specialists to take care of the infestation; we’ll help you prevent it from happening again, too.