Your home is your castle, but just like any fortress, it still has weak points that can allow pests to infiltrate. Insects and rodents aren’t looking to stage a coup, but they are seeking the food, water and shelter they need to survive and thrive. If potential entry points aren’t addressed, it can result in infestations that may cause structural or wiring damage, the entrance of pests carrying disease, food loss, or simply some very undesirable roommates. Here are seven places where pests can find their way into your home:
Chimneys and Vents
Any part of your home that opens directly to the outside can be a corridor for pests. Chimneys can be the entry point for larger pests such as rodents, raccoons, bats and squirrels, while air vents are one of the easiest ways for insects to enter your home. To protect your chimneys, add a chimney cap or screen to the chimney opening, and ensure that your fireplace flue is always closed when the fireplace is not in use. To prevent bugs from entering vents, check vent dampers to make sure they are operating properly, and add a screen over the opening. You also want to make sure that vents fit snugly and that there are no gaps or cracks around where the vent enters the house. If there are, seal up any gaps with steel wool, copper mesh or caulk.
Door & Window Gaps
Not only do gaps around doors and windows let in air from the outside, potentially affecting your energy bills, but they also let in any bugs looking for a place to hide. It’s important to inspect the weatherstripping around doors and windows to ensure that it isn’t worn or brittle, and replace any that isn’t doing its job. Adding door sweeps to doors can seal larger gaps at the bottoms of doors. It may also be necessary to replace your door’s threshold if it does not fit securely.
Attic & Roof
Your attic is a warm and safe place for rodents and insects to hide, and it’s typically filled with boxes, insulation and other materials that make perfect nests. The easiest way for those pests to enter the attic is from atop your roof. First, ensure that trees and branches aren’t touching your roof and providing a bridge to your home. Secure any cracks or gaps along the roof line, as mice, bats, snakes and squirrels can squeeze through holes much smaller than their body appears. Check your attic often for signs of pests, such as mice, rat or bat droppings, which can have pungent odors and spread disease. Snakes may be harder to notice, but be on the lookout for nests, eggs or shed skin.
Utility Lines & Drain Pipes
The utility lines that bring power or water into your home can lead right to vulnerabilities in your house's facade. Power lines provide a path right to your home, and any gaps around where they enter the house may be just large enough for mice or bugs to squeeze through. Fruit flies, cockroaches and rats love pipes and drains, and can live off the waste from your sinks or sewer lines. It’s important to seal around anywhere that a line or pipe enters your home to minimize entry points. Regularly maintenance drains by cleaning and unclogging them, and add drain screens to prevent pests from crawling inside pipes. Rats are excellent swimmers, and can find their way in all the way from the sewer, exiting via the toilet, but minimizing any exposed food or edibles may prevent them from being lured into other areas of your home.
Sometimes we are the ones responsible for bringing pests into our own homes, carrying them in with the items we bring inside. Lots of pests love cardboard boxes, and may find their way into the packages that are delivered to our homes. When you receive deliveries, always inspect the packages for signs of gnaw marks, droppings, pests and eggs. Once your purchased items are unpacked, break down any boxes or packaging and move them to a garbage or recycling area outside and away from the house.
Pests are always on the hunt for food, so an infestation can happen long before it enters your home. When grocery shopping, always inspect food packaging for any holes, webbing, eggs or signs of chewing. Once groceries are unloaded and packages are opened in your home, continue to look for any signs of pests in food or packaging. Pantry moths commonly enter the home through items such as flour, pasta, cereal, spices, dried fruit, nuts or processed snacks. The most obvious signs of these moths are typically their silk or cocoons, which may cause grains to clump together, or their larvae, which are small and white with dark heads. Always store pantry items in airtight containers, so that even if pantry moths emerge from food, they will be restricted to only contaminating that container.
Finally, during the winter, Christmas trees can frequently bring hitchikers into your home. Beetles, mites, spiders, flies, aphids and praying mantises all find refuge in pine trees, and we’ve all seen the movie where a squirrel finds its way into the house on the family Christmas tree. Always inspect your Christmas tree before purchasing it so you can spot any signs of pests. Ask the tree lot attendant to vigorously shake your tree by hand or with a tree shaker before loading the tree on your car. Once your tree is home, it’s recommended that you leave the tree in your garage or a covered area for a few days before bringing it inside, and give it a final shake before carrying it in the house. Finally, if you spot any pests on the tree when decorating it, pick or vacuum them off, but never use pesticides on your tree.
There’s plenty you can do to proactively prevent pests from finding their way into your home, but once an infestation has started, it’s time to call in a professional. Thomas Pest Control can not only address the pests that are in your home, but we can also help to identify and rectify potential causes for pests, such as moisture.