While it’s still pretty warm out right now, the temperature will start dipping soon, and all of Mother Nature’s creatures will start looking for a warm spot to spend the fall and winter. Here are some tips to prepare your home to help keep those autumn pests out!
Sealing up cracks and spaces help with your heating bills – it will also prevent bugs and critters from moving in. Do a walk around with some caulking and steel wool to seal up any areas that are open. Take your time with this and really look. Mice can fit through spaces as small as a dime and bugs can creep in through even smaller spaces. Use a heavier gauge of steel wool to stuff into cracks or holes. I’ve found a screwdriver helpful for really getting the wool in as deep as possible. Then cover well with caulking.
If there are smaller crevices that you can’t fit steel wool into, seal them up with caulking for safe measure. Check all these areas often as mice love to chew and will quickly and easily make a small crack big enough to squeeze through.
Places to check; around outside and inside vents (dryer or exhaust vents), around outlets, through all cupboards, around baseboards, and all exterior doors. When we had mice, we had an open section of drywall where our pipes for the washing machine were accessed. We quickly sealed that up with spray foam and drywall.
Any parts of your walls that are open should be checked and closed off. Keep under your kitchen sink clean and clear of clutter. Check around the pipes for cracks that critters could fit through.
Weather stripping and door sweeps should be checked and replaced if needed. Last year, we had mice and traced their entry to our back mudroom. We replaced the door sweep and they were still getting in! I checked the bottom of the door and quickly realized our mistake – we installed a rubber sweep and they chewed right through it! I swapped it out for a metal one and the problem was solved.
Check your windows as well. Any old weather stripping should be replaced, and loose mortar or torn screens repaired. Mice can jump and climb extremely well, so don’t limit your check to lower level windows or vents. Pet doors and chimneys should be screened off, too. If you do have a fireplace, store your firewood far from the house as wood piles are a perfect place for mice to nest.
If you’re seeing evidence of mice-like droppings or chewed food containers, then chances are you have mice and should consult a professional. Trust me, it is not a battle you can win without help!
Make sure all your dry goods are stored in sturdy containers like glass jars or plastic tupperware. Sweep up all food crumbs every night so there is nothing for pests to snack on. Make sure your garbage is emptied regularly, that your containers inside are well sealed, and if possible, keep your outside bins as far from your house as possible. Keeping your pets food up and away while they aren’t eating is a good idea, too, as well as storing their food in a secure container. Insects or mice aren’t picky about what they eat.
Some other pests to keep an eye out for in fall are stinging insects like wasps or hornets. In the fall, when their food source is dying, they can become aggressive, so if you find evidence of a nest, be very careful. It’s best to consult a professional in these cases. We had a wasps nest in our garage wall a few years ago and foolishly thought that filling the small hole with foam in the winter when they were dormant would take care of things – it did not. They were back and had found a new entrance that summer.
Cockroaches and spiders love moisture, so if your basement is damp, run a humidifier to deter these insects from setting up camp.
Box Elder bugs are a pest we deal with every year. Around this time of year, they start congregating in large numbers in our backyard as they love the late afternoon heat. They also love hiding in piles of leaves or garden waste, so keeping that in check is helpful. While they look alarming (striking black and red insects), they are harmless. They don’t bite or eat your food and they won’t reproduce inside. They do move indoors in the colder weather and we’ve just taken to squishing the few that we find.
Pro Tip: Do not squish these bugs on fabric! They will leave a stain. If there are many, a vacuum works well, but if it’s so many that it’s causing you discomfort, then you can consult a professional. They are mostly just a pain and won’t damage or infest your home.
Take a few hours to run through this list of suggestions to ensure that it’s only you and your family who enjoy the warmth of your home this fall!
By Jen Lehman