With many of us tucked away at home, significantly more time is being spent in our living environments than ever before. This time at home is changing our routines, increasing the amount of food we are consuming and the waste we are generating. While our family social distances day in and day out, suddenly every meal is being eaten at home. That means more groceries stored in the pantry, more cooking in the kitchen and more messes made in the dining room. Not to mention, more food waste overall, both packages and organic waste, cycling through our homes. Where there’s food, pests will follow. Reports of intensifying pest encounters in many areas are evidence that pests are catching on to our new stay-at-home routines. What can we do to reduce pest issues?
1. Inspect all groceries – Pests including ants and squirrels appreciate the door-to-door service of groceries being delivered right to your door. Bring deliveries inside promptly and be sure to inspect all items first to avoid introducing insects into the home.
2. Check for damaged packages – Cardboard boxes offer a perfect avenue for pests to enter the home, so be sure to check for any signs of damage before opening any delivered packages, as pests like rodents are known to chew through cardboard in search of food.
3. Daily prevention inside the home - Make sure to clean up pet food in a timely manner before it has a chance to attract unwanted pests such as ants and cockroaches. Make sure your food is stored in pest-proof, airtight containers, especially if you have large quantities of bulk items on hand, like pasta, rice, flour or sugar.
Wash your dishes immediately after your done eating, so food scraps don’t stick around in the sink or dishwasher to attract pests. Clean up all food and drink messes as soon as they’re made, as well as any food prep areas after every meal. It’s a good idea as well to restrict meals to an area that is easy to clean, rather than a carpeted living room or den where food particles have more places to hide.
Give your home a regular thorough vacuuming, too, including in and around any sofas, armchairs and under everyone’s beds. Sweep and clean out behind and beneath large appliances, like the fridge, washing machine and dryer, as well as any heating components like radiators and ductwork.
4. Keep kids from hiding away food – Keeping a tidy kitchen and staying on top of kids’ snack trails can be hard to do for parents who are juggling a lot these days. At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to do a quick sweep and check every nook and cranny of playrooms, living rooms and even bedrooms for any abandoned snacks, cups and dishes left behind before hungry pests find them first.
5. Remove garbage from inside home regularly – Place all garbage and food waste in outdoor cans with tight fitting lids and don’t miss any garbage pickup days. The last thing you want is overflowing garbage cans that increase the likelihood that pests will find their way into the home. Keep garbage cans and recycling as far away as possible from any entry points into home – doors and windows.
Be sure to also discard the boxes from those online orders appropriately to avoid harborage sites. Break the boxes down, and minimize moisture from getting to them.
6. Look under the hood – Many people have left their cars in park the past few months and rodents have noticed. Squirrels and mice can quickly and easily take up residence under the hood, and unfortunately can gnaw through air filters and wiring. In March 2020 alone, there were more than 2 million online conversations around finding rodents in cars, so don’t forget to check and move your vehicle from time to time.
7. Seal up any cracks and crevices that can allow rodents entry – Make sure your home offers a solid defense against outside pests trying to gain entry. Remember that a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a dime, so use this rare stay-at-home time to do a thorough inspection of your home. Seal up any cracks or holes you find and trim nearby trees and bushes back away from the house. Keep firewood far away as well.
Spring is the time of year when pest activity picks up. They are awakening from the cold winter and are actively looking for food. Bugs and rodents thrive on finding vulnerabilities in our homes to locate sources of food, water and shelter. Vigilance is vital in keeping pests out while we are spending most of our time at home. In the battle to stay safe and healthy while everyone is home, it’s more important now than ever to be on guard against any uninvited guests entering our homes... including pests. Getting some professional eyes and equipment on-site to help keep them out for good is always a good idea for anyone serious about protecting their home and family.