Fend off unwelcome guests such as raccoons, rats and mice

When it comes to household invaders, the larger pests with fur and teeth are particularly alarming. Dealing with one or more ensconced in your home is often a nasty undertaking, at best. Before calling someone like reality TV’s Billy the Exterminator to fend off the hairy critters, do a little investigative work to discover what’s attracting them — and take a few simple steps to deny them entry.

The Big Guys

squirrel coming through window

Cute, yes. But these critters are better admired from afar.

Opossums, raccoons and squirrels, oh my. Did you hear that ker-plunk on the roof? Overhanging limbs create treetop highways for animals to gain access to a structure’s interior. Experts advise taming tree limbs to give a 5-foot clearance from the roof. While you’re at it, inspect overgrown bushes and woodpiles where creatures can hide. And check your home’s exterior for entry points, including the prime under-house real estate. Animals can live quite happily in a crawlspace and will burrow under porches and decks. From any of these areas, it’s a hop and a skip to the inside.

Smaller gnawers

Small rodents such as mice and rats need a warm place to raise their young. Food and shelter are their prime motivators for heading inside, so store pet food in sealed containers. Both mice and rats sneak in through small gaps, but mice need only a quarter-inch to slip in. Seal off small foundation cracks and fill or fix gaps near water pipes, vents and utility cables. Inspect broken screens and watch for gnawing or droppings. Remove nests carefully and wash hands thoroughly. Make sure to inspect Fido’s doghouse, too. Excess kibble advertises like a neon vacancy sign.

Quick Tip

The time-tested mousetrap

Should you choose to use them, conventional wooden or plastic snap mousetraps work well with a little peanut butter. Check traps regularly because failure to remove the catch can attract followers. Set several traps — rodents tend to be prolific breeders. Place traps along walls, in corners or at locations where droppings have appeared. And always take precautions to prevent small children or pets from coming in contact with either traps or poisons.

Don’t Catch Anything You Don’t Want

rubber gloves

Avoid vacuuming or sweeping up mouse or rat droppings, because either action can release the toxic airborne Hantavirus.

Cases of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease, have been reported in 34 of the 50 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Rodent species that can carry the pathogen include the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse, the rice rat and the cotton rat, the CDC reports.

When clearing away droppings, use rubber gloves and a disinfectant like bleach water or Lysol. Also use caution when removing a dead rodent, again because of the possibility of disease.

Quick! Hide the food

dry foods

Keep a lookout for any sign of infestation

Watch for evidence like webbing, larvae, eggs or carcasses. If the insects appear to be present, dump out the affected food and use a vacuum to remove any in-cabinet debris left behind by the bugs. Then wash reusable containers and shelves thoroughly with soap and water.

Mice love a well-stocked and ill-protected pantry

However, they’re certainly not the only undesirables vying for a place at the table. Moths and beetles love to munch on and nest in dry goods — from flour and bread to cereal and pasta. Since larval infestations often start at food-processing plants, we can bring the insects home unknowingly in boxes and bags of pantry staples. Pantry moths, in particular, are a real headache to get rid of once they’re established

To lessen the possibility of a bug takeover…

Store dry goods in airtight containers and zipper-style plastic bags, suggest the experts at the University of California, Davis.

Folk remedies for the moths include…

Wiping shelves with white vinegar and placing bay leaves in the pantry to repel them. Home-improvement and pest-control stores also sell special pheromone-baited traps for pantry moths.

5 ways to give other insect pests a send-off

  1. Instead of harsh pesticides, opt for insecticide dusts such as silica gel, diatomaceous earth and boric acid for ants and roaches.
  2. man fixing pipe

    Leaky pipes and other sources of moisture can be a big attraction for infestations.

    Add this to the honey-do list: Fix leaky pipes. Excess moisture attracts all kinds of insects.
  3. While you’re at it, run a dehumidifier in the basement to deter centipedes, earwigs and silverfish.
  4. Run the garbage disposal regularly because trapped, rotting food creates an inviting pest buffet.
  5. Show non-threatening spiders a little respect. These eight-legged predators are one of the top-ranking natural insect exterminators. Spiders eat more insects than the combined efforts of birds and bats, according to Discovery.com.

Learn something new? Want to pass an idea to a friend?
Share the knowledge with your network! Share to your network!