Best Wildlife Removal & Pest Control Tips
Depending on where you live, winter may be a prime time of year for pests. With the crazy weather and the warmer winters, some pests are surviving, even thriving, in the coldest months.
Keep Unwelcome Animal Guests Out of Your Home this Winter
Food, water, and shelter are the basic needs for every animal on this planet, from elephants to ants, and that includes humans. Human beings are pretty good at constructing homes that supply those needs — piping in water, storing food, keeping the weather out and the heat in. Unfortunately, human success makes homes inviting to surrounding wildlife as well, and when autumn winds begin to blow, animal neighbours can attempt to move into your walls, attic, or basement.
Common Winter Animal Pests
The most common winter invaders are rodents: rats and mice. They are also the biggest problem because when they move in, they do it in numbers and they make themselves at home. With warmth and a steady food supply, they settle down to bearing generations of descendants and creating travel routes through walls, floors, and ceilings. They can chew up clothing and books for nesting material, and make holes in plastic pipes to get at the water inside.
Other animal pests keep a lower profile. Raccoons, opossums, and squirrels aren’t likely to invade your kitchen for food, but they will seize the chance to create a snug winter den in your attic or crawlspace.
Keeping Animals Out of Your Home
In the fall, as raccoons and other small mammals are searching for denning locations, be sure to inspect your home carefully for means of access. Check that access doors to your basement or crawlspace are well-fitted and secure, and get up on a ladder to look for holes and other access points in your eaves, fascia, and around chimneys and vents. Cut back overhanging limbs that can provide a path from trees to your roof.
Mice can squeeze into your home through openings as small as a dime, and rats only require an opening the size of a quarter. You will need to be vigilant and spot the smallest holes. Check door frames and sweeps to make sure that they fit snugly, and caulk around windows if the seals appear worn. Plug cracks, crevices, and openings around plumbing and wiring with steel wool held in place with caulk or insulating foam.
Pay special attention to areas under kitchen and bathroom sinks, as poorly sealed pipe entry points are a convenient path from inside walls into your living areas with their plentiful supplies of food.
Speaking of food, make yours harder to access by moving shelf-stable items (baking ingredients, dried fruits, snacks, cereals, rice and pasta, etc.) from paper or plastic packaging to sealed containers. Don’t leave dishes and standing water in your sink overnight, and wipe crumbs from countertops and tables. Put away food and water dishes for pets at bedtime as well.
You can also take steps to make the property around your home less inviting to animals. Seal off outbuildings as you do your house. Clean up underbrush and trim back shrubs and trees. Firewood piles are attractive to rodents, so store your firewood well away from your house and carefully inspect the wood before bringing it indoors.
Watch For Signs of Animal Activity
Strange noises can signal the presence of an animal in your home, especially larger ones like squirrels. If you hear rustling in the attic or basement or scrabbling inside of your walls, it’s time to call an expert for help.
Other signs to watch for include the presence of feces on floors and kitchen counters (rat and mice feces look like small pellets the shape and size of rice grains) and gnaw marks on containers in cabinets and pantries.
Once you have an infestation, you will probably need the help of a professional to eradicate it, trapping and removing the larger animals, and using poison and traps to kill rodents. It is unpleasant and often expensive. Therefore, your best approach is to be proactive in keeping the animals from getting into your home in the first place.
Insects and Their Different Forms
Mosquitoes and deer flies are often seen as plagues of summer. The adult deer fly season is most active from late spring to mid-to-late-fall, although they are around all year long. However, this is true of every insect, beneficial or otherwise.
Insects have different forms. When the adult deer fly population is no longer causing terror with their sharp, piercing, and flesh-rendering mandibles, you might think they’re gone — and most of them are.
Insects can be grouped by those that complete a lifecycle and those that don’t. A complete cycle goes from egg to larva to pupa to adult. An incomplete life cycle begins with the egg and then goes from nymph to adult.
When the adult deer flies have died off, the next generation remains in the ground as larvae. When the cold weather kills off the adult mosquitoes, the next population is in a pool of water somewhere as eggs. This is because mosquitoes are aquatic during the larval state and deer flies are terrestrial.
Winter Pest Control is Essential
Winter pest-control measures are just as important as are summertime measures. The focus and techniques are different, but successful strategies target larvae and eggs to reduce the number of adults that emerge in spring.
Some easily done winter tasks for pest control are the DIY types. These include:
. Making sure that your house is sealed, including cracks in boards and gaps between your home and its foundation. The underside of your home is a cozy spot for insects, even in the dead of winter.
. Making sure that fall leaf debris is removed and disposed of properly. Piles of vegetation are snug dens that insulate insects from the cold.
. Making sure that your yard is free of clutter, such as boards, which make perfect winter homes for insects.
. Check for standing water and moisture zones in your home. In the dead of winter, especially in snow, freshwater is difficult to find. An available water source is a beacon for insects.
. Double bag stored dried foods, such as crackers, cereal, flour, and other foods that insects will appreciate. A good tip to control pantry pests such as weevils is to store your flour and other dry baking ingredients in the freezer. The colder temperature keeps insect eggs in flour from hatching.
. Position garbage cans and refuse cans away from your home and garage. Garbage is a banquet for insects. Moving those containers away from your building helps to eliminate a bridge from garbage to home.
Use a Professional Service
Professional pest control services understand how insects in your local area work, including which types of insects, are present during the winter and which are not. Specialized chemicals help to reduce insect populations, even in the larval form. Time-release granules are one such tool. Laying down a contact barrier that kills on contact will not do much in the winter, as rain will wash it away and snow will cover it up. The other options are granules and baits.
. Baits are especially important in late summer and fall. The adult insects will take the bait back to their colony, where it will work over the winter to reduce the colony’s size. This tactic works well on ants, termites, and other colonizing insects.
. Treating exposed wood with natural products such as orange oil can also help to reduce insect populations, especially termites.
. Green pest-control treatments for inside your home will help to reduce populations of spiders and insects such as stink bugs, boxelder bugs, and fleas.
Smart planning and the use of a professional can help to reduce the incidents of pests in and around your home. Winter is a prime time to help reduce the emerging population of adult pests such as mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, fleas, and pests that not only are annoying, but that also may carry disease.
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