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How to Banish the Unwanted Houseguest

mouse-closeup-300x300From beetles to bats, grasshoppers to groundhogs, there are so many creatures out in the world just itching for the chance to become your permanent houseguest. It can sometimes even feel as though they’re trying to take over! So it’s important to remind yourself from time to time that you are the king (or queen!) of your castle and there are several things you can personally do to defend your domain against any unwanted intruders.

While there are certainly specific remedies associated with each individual pest, you’ll also find that a wide variety of insects and wildlife can be discouraged by taking action with some very general, simple preventative measures.

Don’t give them a way in.

Just like you need the door to be open in order to walk into your house, pests also need to find an opening to sneak through. (We have yet to hear of any bugs possessing the ability to teleport…) So step one is simply to seal up or close off any direct points of access. Make sure that all of your windows have screens and that all of your screens are free of holes. Install door sweeps to prevent bugs from creeping underneath.

Don’t forget, this applies to garage doors and sliding doors as well. Seal up cracks around window and door frames, and around utility openings; anywhere pipes or wires run into your home. This includes gas meters, water faucets and even cable lines. Larger openings (such as chimneys or vents) can be more difficult to cover as they do need to continue to have air or exhaust pass through them. Use a fine wire mesh to cover these entry points.

Don’t create a welcoming environment.

Damp, dark environments are places that a wide variety of pests seek out. By eliminating these conditions in and around your home, creatures will have to find other, more accommodating locations to nest and breed. Seal up any leaks in pipes and faucets, no matter how small. If you experience flooding in your basement or crawl space be sure to get rid of the water immediately. In homes that flood frequently due to elevation, climate or their proximity to a body of water, the instillation of a drainage system may be required. Sometimes water will not be so obvious.

If the weather has been particularly humid, consider that the moisture lingering in the air is also imperceptibly working its way into your wood. The use of a dehumidifier can do wonders to suck the moisture out of the air before it weakens your walls. You should also check for damp areas out in your yard. Make sure you dry up any pools of still water (the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes…) and clear away all piles of leaves, sticks and branches that are likely to hold water and begin to rot after a rain.

Don’t feed the animals.

Pests primarily wander onto your property searching for two things: shelter and FOOD. If there is no food to be found, they are far more likely to move on. Keeping a clean kitchen can do wonders to prevent unwanted creatures from feasting on your dime. Do not leave dirty dishes out overnight. Make sure all food refuse is disposed of in lidded garbage cans and take out this trash as frequently as possible. Clean up all spills and sweep up all dropped crumbs immediately. All dry foods such as pasta, cereal and chips should be stored in well sealed containers. You should also be aware of the garbage stored outside. Always keep a lid on any outdoor garbage cans. Make sure you rinse and wipe down trash and recycling bins every few weeks, and bleach them a few times per year. Also keep in mind that the further away from your home you can store your trash, the better. This will help prevent pest from making the transition from outdoor neighbor to indoor houseguest.

Always keep in mind that your home is your home. Pests don’t pay rent and they have no business setting up shop in your yard, walls, floors, attics, basements, clothing, rugs or furniture. As long as you don’t live in a sealed off lab, you will probably always have a bug or two, but if you keep up simple, general maintenance it is far less likely that you will ever find yourself dealing with a full infestation.