A recent survey by Harris Poll for the National Association of Landscape Professionals found that 67% of Americans agree professional landscaping can allow them to have a nicer yard. But unfortunately, your best gardening efforts may not do much to keep pests from wreaking havoc on your property. Whether it’s out in the yard or inside your own home, winter can invite unwanted visitors to come and stay a spell. If you want to protect everything you hold dear, you’ve got to take a proactive stance against these pests. Here’s how to do it.
First thing’s first: you’ve got to find the spots where pests are most likely to get in. That means sealing or caulking any cracks or gaps in your foundation, checking your windows and screens, and inspecting your siding, chimney, pipes, and wiring for any signs of activity or possible problems. You should replace your weather stripping, screen your vents, maintain and seal storage areas, and make a habit of cleaning up all messes right away. If you can identify the main areas of your home that could present an issue, you can take steps to catch the pests’ favorite spots before they move in.
You’ve got to pay attention to what’s happening outside your home, as well. If you have a working fireplace and store chopped firewood outdoors, it should be kept at least 20 feet away from your home on a raised structure. For the 87% of U.S. households with an air conditioning unit, it may be better to not put a cover on. While some think that this can protect the unit from the elements, it can actually do more harm than good. Not only are AC units meant to withstand the cold and snow, but covers can also encourage pests to take refuge inside for the winter. This can prove problematic when it’s time to power up the unit again, as animals may have damaged components during their stay. You should also take care to trim back branches and shrubs to prevent easy access and clean up brush piles.
Despite your best efforts, you may have an inkling it’s time to contact one of the 27,000 pest control businesses that operate all across the United States. It may help you to know the signs of a pest invasion first. Droppings, of course, are the most distinctive sign, but mice and rats may not be the only critters to worry about. Stink bugs, cluster flies, spiders, wasps, bed bugs, cockroaches, squirrels, chipmunks, and other animals can all make their way into your house and create a safety concern for your family.
If you hear strange noises, spot teeth marks or little tracks, or see evidence of holes or nesting habits, it’s time to take action. While some homeowners are inclined to handle it on their own, the DIY approach is often lacking. It may seem to take care of the issue at first, but if you don’t correctly identify the source of entry or actually remove or exterminate every creature, you could continue to have problems. It’s best to err on the side of caution and call a professional to take care of the invasion once and for all.