By Brentnie Daggett
Spring is here, and we aren't the only ones excited for longer days and warmer weather. Spring also means small animals, vermin and other pests are out and looking for food (and maybe some warmth on those cooler nights). It's time to take preventative measures and implement some pest control strategies to avoid unwelcome guests in your home.
Related: Pests Causing Property Damage? 4 Warning Signs to Look For
Pests can cause damage to your home if unaddressed, and even introduce disease to your family. Also, vermin can chew through walls, water lines and electrical wiring, which can lead to costly repairs and hazardous conditions. Here are some best practices to prevent critters from entering your home, and how to remove them if they do make it in:
It's key for homeowners to take preventative steps to keep animals from entering the home in the first place. Inspect your home as the weather gets warmer, paying close attention to the exterior of your home. Holes and cracks are ideal spaces for small animals to take shelter, so be sure to seal, caulk and cover as necessary. Also, pay attention to your landscaping to ensure branches and limbs aren't encouraging pests to habitat close to your home. And never feed animals you encounter near your home—they're likely to come back for more.
If you find yourself dealing with pests despite your best deterrent efforts, it's time to implement repellent strategies to try and drive them away. Timing is critical, so as soon as you're aware of any unwanted guests, it's time to act. There are a variety of solutions to help repel pests and vermin, including repellent sprays, bright lights and electronic noise devices. Do some research to find out what kind of pest you're dealing with, and what the best solution is to repel them.
It may be time to call in the professionals when nothing seems to be driving pests away. Keep contact information for your local animal control department and/or pest control service on hand so you can easily reach out to them in these scenarios. Animal control or exterminators will be able to help you evict pests and vermin and ensure they don't return.
- Depending on what kind of rodent you are dealing with, you may be looking at climbers (squirrels and chipmunks) or burrowers (gophers.) Some rodents, like rats and mice, seem to be both climbers and burrowers, making them the most difficult to deal with.
- Try to locate entry points as soon as you find evidence of rodents in your home, like droppings or chew marks. One trick is to sprinkle baby powder or baking powder on the floor near suspected areas before bed, and look for footprints in the morning.
- Look for any holes or large cracks and fill them quickly. Rodents can fit through much smaller holes than you might think—a general rule to follow is to fill anything larger than your pinky finger. Use caulk or try filling the holes with steel wool—rodents can't chew through it.
- Rodents can carry disease, along with their droppings and urine. Urine can also attract other rodents to the area, making the situation even worse. Use gloves and masks when dealing with these pests, and be sure to disinfect any affected areas thoroughly. The CDC does not recommend using glue or live traps as they can scare rodents, causing them to urinate. Stick to snap traps, if necessary.
Skunks and Raccoons
- Skunks and raccoons are scavengers and will feed on almost anything they can find. Secure all trash and compost receptacles tightly and consider using an extra rope or bungee cord. Bird feeders are beautiful for bird-watching, but fallen seeds can attract unwanted pests. Fence or enclose all gardens, vegetables, fruit or berries that are growing on your property to prevent these critters from snacking.
- Use rocks or fencing to block access to space under decks, porches and stairs.
- Skunks and raccoons are both nocturnal and sensitive to light. Consider installing motion sensor lights, if either becomes an issue, to make the area less appealing.
- When all else fails, remove and relocate them from your property. Consult with a wildlife or animal control organization for assistance.
- Cats are usually looking for warmth. You might find them under your home, porch or deck, or even under your cars. Look for a collar or other evidence of care to determine whether or not the cat is indeed feral. Cats who have just strayed too far away from their homes will typically be more friendly and easily coaxed out of their hiding spot.
- The easiest way to ensure a stray cat will come back is to feed it. As tempting as it might be, avoid feeding visiting cats unless you're willing to feed them again.
- If you need help, reach out to your local animal shelter or animal control facility to help trap and relocate the cat. If it is a stray, the program can likely help find the owners or rehome the cat. If you're looking at a feral cat, many programs will trap, neuter and relocate the animal to stop the breeding cycle.
Always take preventative measures to ensure these critters can't make it into your home in the first place. If they do make their way inside, understand the steps necessary to resolve the situation, and if all else fails, call in the professionals.
Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master for the rental and property management industry. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett, and to discover more great tips for renters, visit www.rentecdirect.com.