Thursday, January 18th, 2018 by Bill Cowley
Rodents, other wildlife and a wide variety of insects seek entry into our homes to seek shelter and forage for food and water. The likelihood that homeowners will find themselves with one of these infestations substantially increases during the winter months. The harsh outdoor elements pushes them indoors for their very survival. For them, your cozy home is the perfect winter retreat.
The two most common rodents faced by homeowners during the winter months are mice and squirrels. Any rodents that take up residence inside your home pose a health hazard to you and your family. These animals carry and transmit dangerous diseases to humans, including salmonella and hantavirus. You don’t need to come into contact with the rodents. Just inhaling airborne particles containing dried rodent urine or feces can make you seriously ill. Also, these incessant gnawers can expose and chew through electrical wires, creating a serious fire hazard.
Be a detective and find potential entry points:
Check for gaps, cracks and holes in your home. Most rodents enter homes through openings around the foundation, entering through the basement, crawl space, or garage. During the winter, take advantage of the cold air! Wherever you feel a draft of cold air entering the home, it's a potential entry point for pests.
Holes and cracks that seem small and insignificant to us are, for rodents, a “mi casa es su casa” invitation to come in and relax. A rat can enter through a hole the size of a quarter; a mouse can through a hole the size of a dime; and tiny insects can enter through even smaller cracks.
If there is a gap or crack where you can see sunlight coming through it or feel cool air coming in, don’t debate whether it’s large enough for an invading pest. Think of the Nike slogan and "Just Patch It!"
Patch small holes that often appear around windows and doors with silicone caulk. For larger spaces, such as gaps around utility pipes that run into our homes, plug the holes with chew-proof steel wool.
This is time-consuming work, but is necessary to keeps pests from entering your home. Finally, garages are common pest entry points. Even a small gap between the garage door and the floor is like the Holland tunnel for mice. Needless to say, immediately shut your garage door after entering or leaving. It can take a mouse a split second to enter through your garage and find shelter inside your home.
If you are not up to doing this exclusion work yourself, have a pest control service or someone else do it for you. Locating and sealing these openings is essential protective home maintenance.
Remove outdoor attractants:
A great way to reduce the likelihood of a winter pest infestation is to not entice them onto your property in the first place. When you have rodents hovering outside of your home, it's only a matter of time before they find their way inside.
Keep trees from your roofline to remove that "natural bridge" for tree squirrels and raccoons to make their way onto your roof and find an entry point into your attic. Also, firewood is a magnet for termites and other insects.
Keep firewood and yard debris like leaf litter and fallen branches away from the exterior perimeter of your home. Never store firewood next to your home and don't bring it inside until you are ready to use it.