Don't put the welcome mat out! Pest Proofing
by Soni Cochran, Extension Associate
Cooler temperatures are coming and you may find a few uninvited guests making their way into your home. Millipedes, crickets and wolf spiders are some common "accidental invaders" that stumble into homes trying to escape the chill of fall. Most of these visitors are not going to cause a problem because they won't be able to survive in the home environment. Our homes are too dry and there probably won't be enough food to keep these pests alive. Many of these short-lived visitors can be controlled without pesticides—a flyswatter, broom or vaccum will work nicely. Gently sweep the beneficial wolf spider into a jar and release it outside away from the house. Snakes who find their way into the home should also be captured and released.
Accidental invaders are not the only creatures looking for a safe haven. Mice and rats quickly take advantage of unchecked openings around the home. These creatures, unlike accidental invaders, can take up permanent residence in your house. Their control can be more difficult and expensive if they become established.
Protect your home from unwanted guests by "pest-proofing." By taking a few moments now to inspect your property, you may prevent rodents, snakes and insects from using your home as a winter hideaway.
Here are some things you might look for:
Make sure all cracks around the outside of your house are sealed so mice, rats, snakes and insects can't squeeze in (rats can get through openings 1/2" in diameter—mice can get through holes no bigger than a dime). To fill openings, use something strong like cement, mortar or caulk. Steel wool can be used as a temporary fix. Stuffing cracks with cloth won't help and rodents may use it for bedding.
Holes and other rodent damage in your home or garage need to be repaired and protected. Make repairs and if necessary, cover the damage with hardware cloth (1/4" squares). If you cover rodent damage with a piece of wood, rodents may chew right through it again.
Doors, windows and screens should be in good repair and fit tightly. Caulking will also keep pests out and help lower fuel bills.
Do your floor drains need screens? If so, ask a professional to help you select the screen size.
Check around your dryer vent and other openings to make sure they aren't being used as a handy way to get into your house.
Removing leaves and grass clippings from around the foundation, cleaning out window wells and general yard clean-up will get rid of hiding places for pests near the home.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line insect pest and wildlife educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office