As the fall temps roll in, the same cooler weather that sends us all outdoors leaf peeping drives insects and rodents indoors – and potentially into our homes — looking for shelter. Mice, squirrels, cockroaches, spiders – these are the most common threats to your home this time of year. They pose not only health hazards through bites and bacteria, but also can cause structural damage as well, chewing through electrical wires and insulation. There are steps you can take to protect your home at this critical time – here are our Top Ten:
- Critters look for points of entry – don’t make it easy for them! Check your home thoroughly for cracks and crevices they can squeeze through, paying close attention to the areas where utility pipes come in. Seal any openings properly with caulk and steel wool.
- Check for tears in screens and repair them. Consider installing door sweeps to seal up those door-to-floor spaces.
- Schedule a chimney inspection to check for structural weakness, and screen any chimney and vent openings.
- Check the basement foundation and windows for loose mortar. Repair where necessary, and install weather stripping around the windows.
- When you schedule that first firewood delivery, make sure to store it a minimum of twenty feet from the house and garage.
- Eliminate water collection spots, like leaking pipes and clogged drains.
- Check garbage barrels and recycling bins for cracks and replace where necessary.
- When it comes time to bring in those holiday decorations, be sure to inspect the boxes thoroughly before carrying them into your home. They’re often prime nesting sites for mice.
- Check room and basement corners for evidence of spider activity, like webs and egg sacs. Vacuum up promptly; each sac can release up to 1,000 baby spiders!
- Be vigilant about keeping food containers sealed to keep the cockroaches out!
- Need more information? We’re happy to help! Call us at 1-877-PESTS-55 to speak to one of our specialists anytime.
If only this were the case when the real thing comes to your house (although we might be out of a job)! Carpenter ants are a fact of life in New England, and can do a real number on your home, both inside and out. But they’re just one variety of several types of ants you’re likely to encounter – do you know the differences, and what to look for? Here’s a basic rundown of the most common types of ants you could run into in your home:
Pavement Ants – Pavement ants are part of a larger category we call sugar ants. They are black in color, varying in size from about 1/8” to 1/6” long. They live under slabs of concrete or asphalt, and tend to form a feeding trail from a food source to home and back. Once they find food (usually protein- or sugar-based, depending on what the queen dictates), they communicate this to one another through pheromones.
Little Black Ants – Joining pavement ants in the sugar ant family, little black ants also carry the hallmark of a feeding trail between food source and home. They’re about 1/16” (so, yeah, they’re tiny) and live in moist areas like underneath rotting trees, leaves, or piles of lumber. They’re omnivorous, feasting on meat, grease, rotting fruits and vegetables (think garbage cans and compost piles), as well as plant secretions and honeydew. They live in large colonies that are tough to eradicate without a professional treatment plan.
Citronella Ants – These amber-colored ants fall into two general categories, large and small; large are the ones most commonly found in the Northeast. Their name comes from the citronella-like smell they emit when they feel threatened. Citronella ants most typically live outside underneath woodpiles and concrete slabs, or against a foundation. They don’t normally forage for food inside your home, like other ant varieties, and first appear as winged swarmers, which often gets them confused for termites.
Carpenter Ants – These are the type to do your home the most damage, as they excavate living quarters out of your house’s wooden infrastructure. The myth is that they actually eat the wood; rather, carpenter ants chew it and spit it out, eating basically any food that humans eat. They’re one of the largest ants in the species, averaging about 1/3 to 1/2 “ long.
They’re not all the same size, and, depending on the time of year, you’ll see them with wings. Carpenter ants like to build colonies or nests in moist wood – like under a doorway or window that has been insufficiently flashed, or in rotting fence posts. In the case of these types of ants, prevention is absolutely key to protecting your home from major damage. Having regular periodic inspections for vulnerable soft spots around your home will go a long way in ensuring against infestation.
Are you overdue for a home inspection? Call our team today for a free onsite evaluation! 877.PESTS.55
Unlike some of the more exotic insects out there, mosquitoes are a known quantity for all of us. But how much do you know about these annoying summer visitors, and how to prevent them from ruining your outdoor fun? Here’s a little game of True or False to help test your mosquito knowledge:
- You’re safe from mosquitoes if you live away from wetlands. FALSE. It’s true that mosquitoes do prefer moist soil and/or still water to lay their eggs. But as we discussed in an earlier blog post, all mosquitoes need is any standing water source to breed, which of course can exist just about anywhere.
- Being pregnant doesn’t necessarily make you more of a target. TRUE. Pregnant women do give off more heat and carbon dioxide, which does attract mosquitoes for sure. But anyone who’s had a good workout falls under that category – so, if you’ve recently exercised, make sure you cool down and shower before sitting outside.
- Bug zappers and citronella candles are an effective and inexpensive way to deter mosquitoes. FALSE. While bug zappers do kill the occasional mosquito, the majority of what they zap are moths and beetles. Citronella candles smell nice, but do nothing to keep the bugs away. You’d have to crush citronella leaves and use the oil directly on your skin to repel mosquitoes – a scented candle won’t do the trick.
- You can’t get bitten if you stay indoors. This is MOSTLY true. Spending most of your time indoors with the windows shut does significantly lower your risk. But there are instances of mosquitoes breeding indoors, in nooks and crannies like boiler rooms and potted plant containers.
- You can repel mosquitoes with your diet. FALSE. It’s a common belief particularly in more holistic circles that eating lots of garlic or Vitamin B will protect you from being bitten. That’s been proven to be false in multiple scientific studies; researchers believe that your metabolism and how much carbon dioxide you give out can be more of a factor – but lots more investigating needs to happen before this theory gets close to being proven.
Want to learn more about how to protect yourself and your family? Give us a call to schedule a visit from our Mosquito Busters team! (877) 628-7837