Protect Your Home From Pests and Save Your Property Value
When outside, animals and insects are an invaluable element of the circle of life. But once they come inside our homes, they are not only a risk to our health but also a detriment to our property value. Termites alone account for $5 billion in property damage, which may not be covered by your insurance. You want to enjoy your home, and eventually get top dollar for it when you sell, and part of both those equations is to protect your home from pests, both inside and outside the property.
However, this is not meant to make you run to your phone for the exterminator. The thought is to help you establish a simple but effective system in dealing with pests before they become a problem. Read on to find out how to protect your home from pests.
Do a Thorough Home Search
First off, do a thorough search of your property perimeter. That means inside and out. Depending on the climate you are in (Florida and Maine pests will definitely vary), you will find different critters in different places, each bringing a unique set of concerns and/or issues.
Check all the vital places they could hide in such as the bedroom, kitchen, your backyard, basement, attic, roof, etc.. Look in every nook and cranny, as pests can be crafty little critters when it comes to hiding. But what exactly should you check and why is it important to do so?
Clear the Outdoors
The main thing about prevention is not constant scouting and checking, it is about eliminating all pest appeal. You too have a life, and should not spend it checking for possible pest invaders every other day. What you should do is find out what the most common pests in your area are, as well as what attracts them.
If there is something about your yard that they might find enticing, either get rid of it or eliminate the problem (such as standing or stagnant water). Just as some homeowners have to fence off their property to ward off animal encroachment from the pets in their backyard, others need to keep their trash cans sealed from possums and raccoons, and their backyards trimmed because of ticks or fleas.
The key is to make your property as inhospitable as possible for bugs and pests. If they do not find what they desire, they will move on to other homes. It is really that simple, and a side benefit is the improved curb appeal your home will have too!
Before starting to work on pest prevention, do your homework and learn about the best and safest products to use. What works for someone else’s household, might not work for yours. Furthermore, consider who lives in your home and who will be exposed to those chemicals. Household pets and small children are especially susceptible.
Home remedies include:
- Cayenne/Chili Pepper
- Citrus Oil
- Mineral Oil (lavender, peppermint, rosemary, etc.)
- Neem Oil (tree leaf extract)
Store bought repellants include:
- Home Pest Organic Spray
- Hotshot Foggers
- Ortho Home Defense
- Raid Bug Killer
- Talstar Pro Insecticide
Some more abrasive pesticides will also damage your property in the long run, or end up costing you money due to needed home repairs. For example, having to constantly repaint the woodwork, or seal in the cracks in the façade, adds up, especially if you also consider the time involved with these tasks.
Keep the Kitchen Clean
It is vitally important to ensure your kitchen has no tempting edible leftovers that might attract the likes of ants, cockroaches and flies. Especially in the summer, flies can find their way in through unscreened windows, locate any rotting food in your trash cans and lay eggs. Before you know it, your kitchen is swarming with young flies taking up residence in your windows and curtains. So, make sure your kitchen floors and spaces between cupboards are always clean.
If you have ever been in a home that has roaches or ants, you know how invasive these pests can be. Keep your kitchen clean and you minimize the likelihood these bugs will want to stick around. If they are persistently present, even after thoroughly cleaning your kitchen, it may be worthwhile to call in a professional or spray the space yourself.
When it comes to every other room in your house, vacuum often, especially if you have carpet or area rugs. Dusty and musty corners are a delight for numerous insects. Regular vacuuming will ward them off from nesting, while the noise can help with somewhat “larger” pests, like mice.
Take special care to vacuum your furniture and mattresses, to prevent an onslaught of bed bugs, as those require professional exterminators to get rid of. The cleaner and tidier you are, the less likely household pests will want to get cozy and call your abode their home.
Seal all Entry Points
When outdoors, insects and small animals are literally a part of nature. But as soon as they enter your home, they become pests. To prevent them from coming in, seal the nooks and crannies that separate your house and the great outdoors. The more entry points you cover, the less likely it will be that pests enter and want to stay.
Install door sweeps at the bottom of your door to fill the gap between the door and the frame, and use a liquid sealant on your window panes and other potential openings. Check the woodwork and outer façade of your house every now and then for wear/tear and to ensure there are no visible gaps that allow entry to bugs.
Decluttering is another important step in pest prevention. Before vacuuming, look into your attic, basement and garage for boxes and stacks of clutter such as old clothes, rotting old newspaper, furniture, toys, and items that are still waiting on that garage sale or that need to be donated or thrown out.
These types of items are an absolute delight for insects and mice. The sooner you clear out the clutter, the lower the odds are you will find something that belongs in an Indiana Jones movie crypt and not a family home. If you have not used the item in the past year, it is a prime candidate to be moved on or pitched out.
Check the Roof
We either need to check ourselves or we should pay someone to perform periodic roof checks and ultimately any roof repairs that may be necessary. Since this endeavor has a little risk and takes time and effort, many consumers tend to put it off until it is absolutely necessary to climb up. This is a huge oversight on our part.
Tree branches that come into contact with the roof make for an excellent bridge that animals can use to reach your attic. Pigeons also make for noisy uninvited guests, while mice climb brick walls to reach roofs. Make it a habit to check the top of your house regularly.
Fire Ant Bait
Fire ants are perhaps the most common enemy of every U.S. household. So, it is only natural to expect buyers who are checking out your home to be concerned if they spot them (or feel them!). To prevent fire ants from invading your property and becoming an infestation concern, it is advisable to use fire ant bait.
If used according to instructions, the success rate is pretty high, often between 85% and 95%. The ants transfer the bait to the rest of the colony which, depending on the type of bait, either kills them with insecticide ingestion, or by making their eggs infertile, killing the colony gradually. Take note that eliminating ants completely is extremely difficult to do but you can minimize their presence.
Mosquitoes are not conventionally seen as pests, but think of how they behave, and you may disagree. If you have a porch or a terrace by any body of water (be it canal, lake, backyard pond, or even a birdbath) you are bound to be swarmed with them. That means evening outdoor time with friends and family can be a real challenge.
To avoid being held hostage in your own home by these blood buzzards, plant some lemongrass, lavender, rosemary, or scented geraniums that naturally deter mosquitoes. Refrain from using any pesticides, as they might harm other useful insects in your yard or garden.
Check for Wasps and Hornets
Bees are not hostile unless you try to remove the beehive on your own. If you spot one in your attic or porch, call a professional to safely take it down. Bees are becoming endangered, and every beehive is a step towards conserving our future.
That said, wasps and hornets are hostile, especially when drawn to leftover food, especially meat. Like experts at Pestworks point out, they nest between sealed windows in attics, in corners of your porches, and under roofs. They tend to swarm and can be very dangerous, especially around young children. If you are unable to tackle their nest on your own, a professional can quickly get rid of the colony for you.
While on the topic of the roofs, your gutters can become the next target for mosquitoes and other pesky water-based insects that can easily invade your interior. Clean out the gutters frequently, especially during the rainy season. With debris in your gutters, it can be a breeding ground for a variety of creepy crawlies!
Damp leaves and water in clogged gutters make for excellent homes for water insects. The easier it is for them to breed and multiply, the quicker they will become a concern. In addition to bugs, rust can eat through the gutters fairly easily and make them waste away, costing you money and effort that could have been prevented.
If, despite your best efforts, you managed to provide a home for pests, the best course of action would be to call an expert. Companies that specialize in pest removal and/or remediation can offer tips and advice for smaller invasions as well as information about serious cases that requires their attention.
They will know best what to do, as internet do-it-yourself advice, while handy, does not always work for every household or DIY skill level. When it comes to pest invasion, it is typically safer and the outcome is often better to hire a professional than to play one.
Final Pest Thoughts
Keeping your home safe and intact is all about prevention. Regular checking of your household can save you a lot of headaches and a hole in your wallet down the road. The more motivated you are to take matters into your own hands, the less you will typically spend to rid your home of pests.
However, when things do get serious, under no circumstances should you deal with the pest invasion alone. Hire someone who knows how to get rid of them without damaging your property. Hopefully you will never need their services, but it is good to know assistance is available if you need it.
Additional Pest Control Resources
Common Household Pests via Orkin
Preparing for Pest Control on The Spruce
Pest Identification on PestWorld
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