Preventive Pest Control - Do-It-Yourself Tips for Homeowners


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Rats, mice, and other rodents and insects are everywhere... including, sometimes, in our homes. They come in seeking warmth and shelter as well as food. While there are ways to deal with an invasion or infestation, (also called preventative pest control) is an important part of managing and controlling pests around the home. It's also the most humane way of managing pests! Here are a few things you can do as a homeowner, to help stop pests before they become a problem.

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Sealing Areas In and Around the House

  • Regularly inspect your home for any cracks or holes, both on the inside and outside of the house. Be sure to check areas that aren't so easily visible, like underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Also check areas around pipes, utilities, and wiring (both inside and outside) and seal up any spaces there too.

  • Seal up all small cracks and holes and crevices that you can safely do.

  • Hire a professional pest control service to seal up larger areas, or areas where you can't easily or safely reach.

  • Cover vents with mesh.

  • Seal around your windows.

  • Make sure all windows have screens. Replace any which have holes or are ripped or torn.

  • Check and replace weatherstripping around doors if needed.

  • Fix leaky faucets, appliances, and pipes. Water attracts pests.

Cleaning and De-Cluttering

  • Vacuum regularly. If you're short on time and find it hard to squeeze in this chore, consider a robotic vacuum.

  • Get rid of unnecessary clutter (including papers), which can provide hiding and nesting places, or even nesting materials, to all sorts of pests.

  • Store stuff in sturdy plastic or metal bins, if possible. Cardboard boxes can easily be chewed through.

  • Keep garbage closed and dispose of it regularly. If you're in an area where wildlife (such as raccoon or rats) are a nuisance, don't leave the garbage outside for them to dig through. Put it in a closed bin on garbage pick-up day, or take it to the dump. Nuisance wildlife may return again and again if they learn that an easy meal can be found in your garbage.

  • Return recyclables regularly. Avoid large piles of them, as once again rodents or other pests can hide in them. Rinse out food container recyclables to help prevent the scent from attracting pests.

  • Rinse out garbage containers and bins regularly. Even a bit of food or liquid left on the bottom can attract pests.

Food Storage

  • Store food in sealed containers and/or in the refrigerator.

  • Immediately wipe up any spilled food, crumbs, liquids, etc..

  • Remove dirty dishes immediately and wash or place in dishwasher.

  • Inspect your groceries (including packaging and bags/boxes) as you're putting them away, to prevent any unwanted insects from making your home, their home.

  • Keep pet food in sealed containers.

  • Do not leave pet food outside (it's highly attractive to rodents in particular). If you feed your pet outdoors, immediately remove the dish after he's done eating. Do not leave 'leftovers' outdoors.

  • Try not to leave pet food lying around, even indoors.

  • Store food in sturdy plastic containers, glass jars, or metal containers where possible.

Outside the House, In the Yard and Garden

  • Trim tree branches, shrubs, and plants to keep them away from the house.

  • Don't stack firewood or other items close to the house - it provides a place for rodents and insects to hide and nest.

  • If possible, raise firewood stacks 12 to 18 inches off the ground.

  • Rake mulch away from the house foundation.

  • If you put out a bird feeder, make sure it is squirrel-proof. Promptly clean up any spilled seed.

  • Clean gutters regularly and thoroughly. The wet, soggy contents of the gutter are a natural breeding area for insects. Be sure to unclog the downspouts if needed.

  • Point downspouts away from the house.

  • Clean up any items where water can pool (empty flower pots, buckets or pails, old tires, etc). Pooled water is an excellent place for insects to breed.

  • Fill in any low-lying areas of the yard where water can accumulate.

  • If you have a composter: don't put eggs, oil (or greasy foods), or meat into the composter. Add a heavy metal mesh screen between the soil and the bottom of your composter to deter rodents from burrowing in.

  • Keep your BBQ clean: dispose of ashes and wipe away any bits of food. Keep the barbecue cover and all vents closed to prevent rodents from getting inside.

  • Keep your garage door closed to prevent birds, rodents or other wildlife from entering.

  • Keep your garage tidy. Cluttered areas or stacks of boxes or other items offer rodents and wildlife places to hide and to nest.

  • Monitor your home for any moisture problems and rectify them promptly.

Having a pest management control plan is just a part of living with wildlife. While we can't blame wildlife for wanting a warm place to live and ample food, pests can cause all sorts of damage in the home as well as transmit diseases and illnesses to humans. Remove access to what pests want -- namely, shelter, water, and food -- and they will go elsewhere. These preventive pest control tips can help to make your home unattractive to wildlife and insects, and hopefully stop them from entering the house and becoming a problem. Prevention is the most humane pest control method available to us.