As the colder weather approaches and you find yourself staying home to escape the chill, you may find yourself in some bad company. Because we’re not the only ones trying to stay warm this time of year. Say hello to your new, unwelcome housemates: rodents and bugs.
Now just because these critters have their methods when making their way into your home doesn’t mean you don’t have yours to keep them out. In fact, a national trade association of manufacturers, distributors and other industry leaders involved with specialty pesticide and fertilizer products has announced the start of its third annual National Inspect and Protect Week on Oct. 1 to 5. Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, or RISE, is using this campaign to give homeowners — particularly first-time or new homeowners — tips to prepare for the cold weather and keep out the pests. It’s as easy as RISE's helpful acronym, INSPECT: Investigate, Study, Prepare, Eliminate, Clean and Treat.
The first step to keeping rodents and insects out is to eliminate access by sealing spaces around pipes and electrical wires entering the house.
Remove food sources, water and shelter that can attract pests.
Remove stacks of cardboard (including moving boxes), which offer shelter to critters.
Check for water leaks under the sink, refrigerator and other related areas.
Store food in airtight and pest-proof containers, or in the refrigerator or freezer.
Remove standing water in such areas as pots, buckets, toys, pet bowls and birdbaths.
Clean out ornamental and flower beds and place mulch in the right places — at least 12 inches from your foundation. Pick up fallen leaves and branches to eliminate places where ticks like to hide.
Prune back tree branches that are touching the house or roof. Branches leading to your home form a bridge for insects and rodents.
For pier and beam foundations, keep the area under the house free of clutter and sealed.
And in case you weren’t freaked out enough, the National Pest Management Association is expecting higher populations of the brown marmorated stink bug this autumn. You can thank the hot weather we had this summer for that. Stink bugs, which are active from spring through late fall, are aptly named because they release an odor — we hear it smells like anything from skunk to cilantro — when disturbed. The NPMA offers these prevention tips:
Seal and caulk cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes, behind chimneys and underneath the wood fascia and other openings.
Repair or replace damaged screens on windows or doors.
Stinkbugs are attracted to lights, so keep outdoor lighting to a minimum.
If you spot stinkbugs in your home, use a vacuum cleaner to remove them — dead or alive. Always remove the bag to prevent odor from permeating the area.
Contact a licensed stink bug control operator if you have an infestation.