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From the return of football on the weekends to the arrival of pumpkin coffee at the local donut shop, there are so many reasons why fall is a favorite time of year for much of the population. However, the change in season also indicates the need for small critters to find a safe haven from the looming cold weather – and, all to often, homes are the perfect place for mice, squirrels, rats, raccoons, spiders, cockroaches and other pests to hunker down.
Unfortunately, these pests can become more than just a nuisance if they find a way inside. Rodents, for example, can contaminate food, spread disease and damage electrical wires, which may lead to a fire. Cockroaches are known to trigger allergies and asthma, especially in children. And, some spiders may bite if they are disturbed.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to schedule some time over the next couple of weeks to complete a few simple home maintenance projects in preparation for the fall and winter. Being proactive will go a long way in preventing these common fall invaders from becoming unwelcome houseguests when the air turns crisp
Consider the following tips from the NPMA:
• Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Seal any cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure.
• Fill larger gaps and holes inside your home with pieces of steel wool, as pests are deterred away from the roughness of the steel fibers, especially rodents who are unable to gnaw through the material.
• Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens. Torn window screens and cracks under doors are an ideal entry point for household pests.
• Screen attic vents, openings to chimneys, and any other areas where homes may be open to the outdoors—mail slots, for instance, or pet doors.
• Replace weatherstripping and repair loose mortar around basement foundation and windows. These are easy ways to keep pests (and cold air) out of the house.
• Clean leaves and other debris from your gutters to prevent standing water, the perfect breeding ground for many pests.
• Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry by using a dehumidifier.
• Properly landscape to avoid providing pest harborage sites. Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed.
• Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the perimeter of the home.
Following these tips will reduce the likelihood of having to deal with pest problems in the later part of the year. However, there’s always a chance that a mouse or cockroach could still sneak by unnoticed. If you suspect an infestation in the home, it’s important to contact a licensed pest control professional to assess the situation and recommend treatment. Use the zip code locator on PestWorld.org to find a pest control company that services your area.
This post has been brought to you by the National Pest Management Association. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.