There are a few things we can be sure of when fall comes to The Okanagan: the leaves will turn a vibrant shades of color, the air will grow crisp, and small creatures will start crawling into our homes. Pests would prefer to be tucked in our house rather than a hole as the nights get colder. They are looking for moist dark places with food and water sources nearby. They want some rotted wood to chew on, and some warmth from the cold.
Fall is inevitable, but pest infestation is not.
We can protect our homes and our families from fall intruders. But this requires recognizing the threat and using the proper implementation of exclusion methods. The best way to keep pests out of our homes is to make them feel unwanted. The goal of exclusion is to make our homes comfortable for us, but uncomfortable for pests.
Here are some simple things we can do this fall to minimize our risk of a winter-long pest infestation. We might just be able to enjoy fall and winter this year without the bugs and the critters!
Pest hotspots in your home
Below is a list of common areas in our homes that are vulnerable to pest problems. As well as explaining the reason it is at risk, we will offer advice on how to possibly prevent a problem before it happens.
Your attic offers a fantastic retreat for rodents like rats and mice to spend their winter. It gives them shelter and warmth, and places them fairly close to a food source – your kitchen. If you are really unlucky, you may also find wasps nesting in your attic too!
Replace all damaged roof tiles
Repair cracks with roofing cement
Inspect roof space regularly for pest activity
Keep attic tidy and clutter free
Store items in plastic boxes (not cardboard) to prevent rodent nesting.
Pipes & Drains
With more rain than sunshine this time of year, it is easier to spot any leaks in your gutters. Many times, this presents itself in the form of a waterfall gushing out of the gutter, probably while you’re trying to get to sleep.
Insects & rodents are attracted to moisture and excess water. A badly maintained downpipe or guttering is very attractive to them.
Check downpipes regularly for leaks
Repair any damage with gutter sealants
Check that drains are free flowing and remove obstructions such as fallen leaves
You are likely preparing to swap your summer clothes for your cold weather collection - dragging winter wool sweaters from the back of the closet to the front and vice versa. You might notice signs of a moth problem in the form of an unsightly hole in your treasured sweater. While this means you already have moths, it also means you can prevent further damage to
other valuables in your collection.
Check clothes regularly for signs of damage
Use sticky traps or moth killer strips to confirm signs of activity
Wash all clothes and store in sealed bags
Vacuum and clean the inside of closets regularly
Birds, bats and squirrels like to make homes in chimneys. The main risks are from damaged property, nuisance noise and potential secondary pest infestations.
Install a suitably-sized chimney cap to keep animals out and prevent secondary pest infestations
The kitchen is often the one room singled out by pest control technicians as most at risk of a pest problem.
This usually comes down to the fact of how plentiful the food is in just this one room. As pests need food for survival, this is the area of your home they gravitate towards.
Store food in air-tight containers
Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink
Regularly empty contents of garbage cans
Clear food debris off the floor
Regularly clean and inspect under sinks, cookers and behind the fridge.
Most people use their garage more for storing items rather than their car. Rodents love to find nesting sites among all your valuable junk.
Cover air vents with galvanized mesh to prevent entry
Store items in plastic containers and keep off the floor to prevent nesting sites
It is really easy to overlook gaps around new pipes and even old pipework and dismiss them as no major cause for concern.
However, young mice only need a gap the width of a pencil to gain entry inside- will this make you think more differently about those gaps?
Seal holes around any old or new pipework
Caulk, expanding foam and other DIY products are available to fill cracks
Cracks around windows & doors are easy to overlook. When the temperature outside drops you will start to notice the drafts in your hallways. It pays to cover these gaps for energy savings and pest prevention.
Install bristle strips under doors and replace worn weather strips on all windows
Rodents are not fussy eaters. As well as being attracted to human food, their powerful strength of smell will also attract them to your pet’s food bowl.
Remove pet food before night fall
Store pet food in airtight, plastic containers.
Garden & Outdoor Bins
If shrubs, grass, and trees are left unmanaged and overgrown they can provide great hiding spots, shelter and even an easy access route into your home. Black rats in particular are very good climbers (like ninjas).
Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the house
Keep compost in a sealed area, a good distance away from the home
Ensure outside garbage can lids are secure
Do not leave garbage bags out in the open
Fall is the perfect time for preventative pest maintenance because it’s warm enough that we can still go outside and get work done without freezing. The earlier we pest-proof our homes, the fewer pests will be able to use our homes as their own personal winter vacation pad.
Consult a professional on other exclusion methods specific to your home, and have your exterior walls or perimeter sprayed. This will keep bugs and mammals from sticking around, and give your home and your family added protection against these fall invaders.