How to Prevent Household and Yard Pests

Wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, bats, and birds are part of nature and can be wonderful to observe. However, they can be troublesome and threaten our health and safety when these creatures invade our property and home. Unwelcome vermin can spread disease, cause structural damage, and inflict bodily injury to humans and pets. Here are some signs that you may have wildlife inhabitants and helpful tips to avoid infestation.

Check for Signs of Infestation—General indications are fecal droppings, odor, holes, tunneling, nests, odd sounds, and gnawed or pecked at siding, flooring, walls, and roofing. Signs of specific wildlife will help you target a particular species to eliminate. For instance, five-toed paw tracks, barks, growls, shuffling, bent rain gutters, and chewed-up wiring could be a sign of raccoons, while stains on the ceiling and squeaking sounds could mean the infestation of bats. Damage to your garden, bird feeder, and insulation may indicate that squirrels are your problem. If you hear scratching sounds in the walls and ceilings, see tracks, and notice that food has been gotten into, that could be mice. Birds are another common home invader. You could have a trapped bird or two if you hear scratching and shuffling of wings. Holes in the roof and nesting materials are other signs that you have a feathered housemate.

Seal openings—Holes and crevices in your attic, floorboards, ceiling, roof, and other areas of your home are an open invitation for pests to invade and make their nests. Identify any openings and shut or seal them off. For example, install chimney caps and steel screens on vents. Use silicon caulk or cement to discourage other vermin that can gnaw through plastic, rubber, vinyl, or wood. The best time to do this is in the fall or winter after some species of animals have left the nest or to anticipate creatures looking for a warm haven to escape to.

Manage garbage disposal—Deter animals from getting into your trash by keeping cans indoors or tightly securing lids. Avoid spilled food scraps that can attract wild animals.

Trim tree limbs—Discourage climbing by regularly cutting back large branches and tall brush.

Ensure cleanliness inside and out—Declutter areas of your home that tend to amass the most trash, such as your garage or attic. Eliminate newspapers, empty boxes, piles of wood, and other materials that animals can use to build their nests. Mop, sweep, and vacuum regularly. Wash your pet’s bedding often to avoid fleas and fix leaky pipes to prevent insects drawn to excessive moisture build-up, such as ants. Infected linens and other materials should be washed or discarded.

When all else fails and you are already facing an infestation problem, it’s always important to practice safety and seek professional intervention. Pesticides should only be used as a last resort. Use safe methods such as non-toxic bait and friendly traps to capture and release. Protecting humans, beneficial plants and insects, and non-threatening animals from accidental poisoning are important. Protecting the air, water, and soil from toxicity is equally essential. Call on an exterminator or animal control expert if the problem is beyond your scope of knowledge to control. They have the expertise and proper products to identify entry points and safely dispose of dangerous and disease-breeding wildlife. In addition, they can schedule follow-up visits and offer solutions to prevent further outbreaks.