Pest Control Prevention Tips for your Northern Virginia Home
Insect and rodent pests are more than just a benign nuisance. Perhaps, it’s mice that contaminate food surfaces with their bacteria-laden feces causing food poisoning. Or termites and other wood-destroying insects which cause an estimated $5 billion dollars in structural damage every year in the U.S. Certain beetles and moths can turn valuable wool and fur clothing and rugs into patchy piles of dusts. And then there are cockroaches, bed bugs, flesh flies, fleas, mosquitoes, and a nearly endless list of critters that we would rather not share our homes with!
Fortunately, while all pests have unique and distinct behaviors, all pests require food, moisture, and shelter. So, by focusing on those three features, you can prevent many pest problems from taking hold.
Store food in airtight containers
Plastic and paper bags are no match for the a rodent’s teeth or tiny insect pests. Products should be stored in insect-resistant packaging such as hard plastic or glass containers with tight fitting lids. Don’t forget about bird seed and pet food (a favorite of mice) – these should also be stored inside trash can-type containers with tight-fitting lids.
Keep garbage cans sealed, clean and away from the home
Pretty much everything you put in the garbage is going to have a certain allure to wildlife, rodent, and insect pests. Rodents and cockroaches will appreciate the proximity of a good meal to your warm home and will start looking for ways to get in. Therefore, it is best to keep your bins about 10 feet away from the house. This way pest won’t associate the trash with your house and start looking for a way in. Always put trash in garbage bags and rinse out containers – the sugary residue is sure to attract ants and yellow jackets. Finally, fasten the lids with bungee cords. Make sure there’s no slack in the cord to ensure the lids are tight.
Reduce possible moisture sources
We mentioned above that all pests need moisture to survive. Some pests, like mosquitoes, requiring standing water to lay eggs and complete their life cycle. Other pests rely on water to damage and weaken wood before they begin building nests inside the timber. Plumbing should be checked regularly for leaking pipes. In addition, you should check the seals around your bathtubs and toilets. If the seal is old and deteriorating, caulk it to prevent infestations. Gutters are another source of excess moisture outside the home. Gutters should be free of clogs with downspouts properly draining away from the foundation. Crawlspaces are often overlooked as sources of moisture. Our inspectors use moisture meters to determine if conditions are favorable for infestations. If the humidity in wood is too high, it may be colonized by termites or wood destroying insects and fungus.
Eliminate and reduce clutter
Not only will clutter offer pests a quiet spot to live but it will also make you less likely to notice a problem. Stored boxes that are seldom observed and disturbed means pest infestations can grow. Particular attention should be made when storing wool and natural fiber items as these are a favorite for clothing moths and carpet and dermestid beetles. Silverfish feed on glue, paper, books, and wallpaper. Therefore you should regularly discard newspapers and other items saved for recycling. Anything that must be stored for an extended time should be put in tightly sealed containers after they are washed or dry cleaned.
Weatherize your home
Your home may have a few hidden passageways that pests are using to get inside your home. Schedule a time every few months to make a visual inspection of your home’s exterior to look for small cracks and holes. Door sweeps, window and vent screens, and patching holes around exterior faucets and wires are critical to keeping pests outside. This step is most critical in the fall when the weather cools and insects and rodents begin looking for a warm spot to spend the winter. Most repairs can be done with caulk and cement. Not sure where to start? Our exclusion teams can help you locate the small cracks and holes that could become potential entrance points and install lasting protection.
Clean your home regularly
Vacuum carpets and furniture regularly, especially if you have cats or dogs that can pick up fleas outdoors. Wipe counters, wash dishes and sweep the kitchen floor daily. Inspect your pantry and spice cabinets regularly for meal moths and flour beetles that can enter the house in boxed grain products from the store. Our experts can find the damage and help you identify the life stages of pests you may have.
By following these tips, not only can you reduce the abundance of pests around your home but also the likelihood they will become a problem in the future.