Spring is around the corner! Is your home prepared to keep pests out?

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Spring is around the corner! Is your home prepared to keep pests out?

Spring is around the corner! Many types of insects and wildlife will become more active. Is your home ready for possible invaders? Here is a list of tips and things to look out for to help you identify pest problems and how to prevent or correct those problems. The first thing you want to do is inspect the exterior of your home from top to bottom. Does your chimney have a cap on it? Are there holes in the brick or around the flashing? Many animals such as birds and squirrels fall in the chimney to become trapped inside. Raccoon females often find their way down chimneys to have their young right above the damper door of fireplaces! Another place to look is at any vents or attic fans on the roof. They can be pulled off by a determined raccoon or chewed into by squirrel.

How are your gutters? Gutters are overlooked by many property owners. Why is a pest control guy concerned with gutters you may ask? Gutters serve an important function in protecting your home. The biggest reason is to direct water away from the structure. If they are not properly installed, water can leak into your home at the roofline, the wall or foundation. As a pest and wildlife professional, I cannot tell you how much work that I get due to poorly installed roofing and gutters. Rain, melting ice and snow should drain from the roof into gutters without contacting the wood of fascia (the board under the bottom of roof and is behind the gutter) or the exterior wall. Most roofs have a drip edge which is made of aluminum that is positioned at the edge of the roof to allow the water to roll directly into the gutter. To add further protection, most fascia is covered in sheet metal flashing. It helps to prevent the wood underneath from being expose to water. What happens to wood that is exposed to water?

Water-logged wood gets soft begins to break down. Squirrels, raccoon and insects such as carpenter ants like softer wood to bore into.
Water collected into the gutters should flow unobstructed down the downspouts. There should be a splash block or downspout extension at the bottom of the downspout. The water should be drained about five feet from the foundation. What if I do not have gutters? Rain water just drips over the roof onto the siding of the house. Any gaps in the siding or around window and door trim may trap water. Another issue that arises from having no gutters is that the soil near your foundation can erode. We often find a trench in the soil directly below the roof line. Water can pool up around your foundation if you have a trench from no gutters or no downspout extensions. That water could leak into the foundation.

Do you have a lot of plants next to your home? Many of us have ornamental plants and bushes in manicured mulch beds around the foundation of our homes. These are areas that require continual maintenance to make them look nice but also to prevent problems. Pests can be attracted to plants and decaying matter that are next to your house. It becomes a matter of time before they migrate in towards your home. Some plants damage the house by growing up underneath the siding and cause it to pull away as they continue to grow. Vines and under growth that surround your home can prevent you from seeing the ground underneath. These become hiding places for pests right next to your home. We recommend trimming vegetation back at least a foot from your foundation.

Trees should be trimmed back at least ten feet, especially if they are over hanging or touching the home. Pests use branches from trees and bushes as a bridge to gain access to higher locations on structures.
Grass growing right on the foundation should be trimmed low. Leaves and wood that are piled up along the foundation should be removed. Leaf piles trap moisture next to the foundation. Along with rotten wood, leaves attract an assortment of insects whose job is to break down the matter. Trash cans that are placed right next to your home will attract may types of pests and wildlife. Trash cans should have lids secured and be placed away from the structure. Keeping the areas around your foundation dry and clear of debris will reduce potential water damage and pest invasion.

When snow melts away and reveals tracks in the grass that branch out from mulch beds, from under bushes or gardens; you may have voles. Voles are active year-round and will tunnel under the snow. They are herbivores that will eat bulbs, vegetables and chew on the base of wooded plants. Trapping, baiting during the colder months and landscape modification are used to reduce their numbers.

Removing rotten wood and wood piles from the foundation reduces the attraction towards your home for certain pests. Do you have any tree stumps or dead trees in the yard? Are you on a wooded lot where there are rotten trees that have fallen over beyond the tree line? Insects such as carpenter ants make homes out of stumps and dead trees. Cutting down trees sometimes inflames carpenter ant activity for a short while. They also forage for sugars and proteins like most ants and can create satellite colonies inside buildings if conditions are right. Keeping your lawn trimmed low reduces aphids and other insect populations at bay. Some ants collect aphids as the excrete sucrose which the ants will use as a food source. If you have a food garden, we recommend placing it so that it is not next to your home. A plethora of pests and wildlife will be attracted to your home. Another huge attractant to buildings are bird feeders. Bird feeders will bring the birds to that location but will also bring rodents of every type, raccoon, skunks, and even bear. The bird feeders used to attract humming birds that have a sugary bait will attract ants.

Sometimes you need to trap, exclude or use chemical means to assist in repelling or removing unwanted pests. Making sure your home is sealed up appropriately, well maintained and removing things that are attractive to pests and wildlife will greatly reduce pest issues around the home and the need to use pesticides to correct them.

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