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Catchmaster’s Fall Pest Checklist

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There is no denying it now, summer is over. Fall, with its cool, but not yet freezing cold weather is the perfect time to make sure that your house will not become the winter wonderland for a variety of insects and pests including mice. Get your home ready for winter with our checklist for a pest-free home:

  • Remove debris from the foundation of your property. Leaves, grass clippings, and other debris is an excellent place for a variety of pests, from spiders to mice, to hide. Keeping debris away from your home helps keep pests away from your home.
  • Check outside water sources for leaks. Pests are naturally drawn to sources of water. If the outside faucet that you attach your hose to for watering your plants is leaking it will attract pests. The best option is to turn off all outside water during the cold months, but if that is not possible, make sure to inspect it carefully and repair any damage you see.
  • Examine the foundation of your home for cracks and holes. Once the debris is away from the foundation of your home it will be easier for you to see if there are any cracks or holes. Pests use these holes in your foundation as an easy access tunnel into your home. You should be on the lookout for even small holes; a mouse can fit through a hole the size of a pencil! If you find these holes, fill them will silicone or silicon-latex caulk.
  • Inspect your windows and doors. Windows and doors that are not properly installed or have lost their weather stripping can allow space for pest to gain entrance. If you have not already done so, add a door sweep to all your exterior doors. Not only does this help reduce drafts, and therefore reduce your energy bill, it will also help to keep pests out.
  • Survey the areas in which your utilities are entering your home. You will have more to complain about than just your cable bill if a squirrel decides to use the cable wires as a highway into your home! Make sure that these areas are sealed. The best way to seal the area around utility wires is to use steel wool. Mice are unable to chew through steel wool which makes its use very beneficial.
  • Invest in a monitoring system. Purchasing a monitoring system, like glue boards, is an important part of the fall checklist. Both rodents and insects can crawl into very small holes. Sometimes holes are small enough that you might miss them during your inspection. Having glue boards in place will alert you to where the pests are entering your home.

If you check off the above six simple steps this fall then you will be well on your way to securing a safe, pest-free home this winter. Remember, when it comes to pests, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

The Three Keys to a Pest-Free Fall Season

pest-freefall - canstockphoto5655842Fall is here! According to a recent Good Reads poll, fall is America’s favorite season. That is not surprising. There are many reasons to love fall including the crisp weather, football and pumpkin spice everything. But even though fall has a lot going for it, there are some real problems with the season. One of the biggest problems is that fall is the season that pests move into homes in order to get ready for cold winters. Luckily, with a few tips, and a little bit of work, when you hear the word fall you will think of fun not pests.

The three words that will help you to keep your fall pest free are: inspect, fill and monitor.

  • Inspect: When the weather is still relatively warm it is a good time to inspect the perimeter of your house for places mice, squirrels, bugs and other pests can enter. Inspection sounds easy, but it can be a daunting task. Remember, a mouse can fit in a hole that is a quarter of an inch in diameter. That means, if you can fit a #2 pencil through a hole, then a mouse can use that hole to get inside your home. There are a few places that you should take the most time inspecting; they are near window and doorframes, where utilities enter your home and your foundation. Although you could have entry points in a variety of areas of your home these three places are the most common. The most important windows to check are the basement windows and the windows on the first floor of your home. Be sure to check the frame around all exterior doors. Lastly, check your foundation. Freezing and melting cycles as well as excess moisture can lead to cracks in your foundation large enough for mice and other pests to enter.
  • Fill: Once you have found possible entry points you need to fill them. Be sure cracks and holes are sealed with silicone or silicone-latex caulk. If the holes are around utilities fill them with steel wool. Installing door sweeps on your exterior doors will also help prevent mice and bugs from entering.
  • Monitor: How do you know that you have secured the holes in your house properly? The best way is to monitor your home. Signs of a pest problem may not be obvious until the number of pests get out of hand. To really make sure that pests are not entering your home a monitoring devise is key. Luckily, monitoring systems are relatively inexpensive and will save you a great deal of money in the long run if you are able to catch the unwanted guests before they multiply. To monitor your home, strategically place traps and glue boards or glue trays around your home in areas where you are most likely to find pests (near food, windows, doors and exterior walls as well as in the basement and attic). These devices can alert you to insects and rodents before they become an issue. Noticing an infestation early always makes control easier.

Bring Back Memories, Not Bed Bugs, from This Summer Vacation

nobedbugs - canstockphoto7094848Schools are getting out for the summer and families across the country are looking forward to summer vacations. Whether you get the chance to take a week off and go somewhere exotic or can only spare a Saturday night away from home, vacations allow us all to unwind, relax, and refresh. Unfortunately, all of the relaxation benefits we reap from our vacations can disappear in an instant if we are unfortunate enough to bring bed bugs back home with us. There are two very important components to keeping bed bugs out of your home; the first is prevention, the second is monitoring.

Although bed bugs have long been associated with seedy motels, that is no longer the case. Bed bugs are now being found everywhere from upscale hotels to resorts. It is no longer possible to prevent getting bed bugs by simply lodging somewhere expensive.

There are some important prevention tips you can follow to avoid bringing bed bugs home from vacation. One is to pack, keep, and bring your clothes home in sealed plastic bags. Upon returning home put the dirty clothes directly from the plastic bags into the washer. Set the washer at the highest temperature the clothes will allow and wash and dry the clothing. The plastic bags should be disposed of outside so that no bugs will find their way into your home. Never return your luggage to your bedroom or sleeping area. Instead store it away in an attic or basement.

Some of your habits while in a hotel can also help you to avoid bed bugs. Never place your suitcase directly on the bed. The best place to put your bag is on a suitcase rack, wooden dresser or other hard surface. Bed bugs prefer soft surfaces like fabrics so avoid storing luggage on or near bedding, carpeting, curtains, etc. Do not keep your shoes under the bed.

No matter what you do to prevent bringing bed bugs home from your vacation, after you have been away it is a good idea to monitor your house for bed bugs. You can do this by inspecting your mattress, box spring and bedding for bed bugs. Look for small (typically the size of a small grain of rice) rust-colored, wingless insects that are relatively flat and oval in shape. Many people think they look similar to a flat apple seed. If you find one, you may have bed bugs. It is also important to look for small dark spots (blood stains) often described as looking like sprinkled pepper. If you notice dark blood stain spots or bug casings in or around your bedding, mattress or box spring areas there is a possibility that they are either solid feces, eggs, shed skin, or blood blots from a bed bug. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard for untrained eyes to identify bed bugs in their home. Unexplained small itchy welts on someone’s body are another sign of bed bugs. This is an allergic reaction to the bed bug bites. It is important to note that two people can sleep in the same bed and both be bitten but just one have this itchy allergic reaction.

A more convenient and time effective way to monitor your house is with bed bug monitors. Catchmaster’s® BBEDS™ (Bedbug Early Detection System) and the Slider™ bed bug monitor are designed to detect bed bugs early, before an infestation sets in. Unlike having to check many different places, you simply place the BBEDS between your mattress and box spring and check the monitors when you change your bedding (typically weekly). The monitor was designed to create an attractive harborage area for bed bugs and the pest will get stuck to its adhesive pad when they enter it. Taking this simple step to monitor your home and sleeping area for bed bugs can alert you early on to a bed bug infestation and decrease the likelihood and severity of a future infestation if you take action promptly.

How a Mouse Infestation Could Put You in Danger for Tick-Borne Diseases

catchmaster - tick canstockphoto2086066For years we have known that rodents carry diseases, some research shows that they can carry over two hundred diseases. Now we are realizing that Lyme disease and Powassan virus are two diseases that can be transferred to humans by mice. Unlike other diseases that are spread through urine or saliva, mice can increase our risk of these danger by transporting ticks into our homes as ticks are commonly found on mice. Once mice are in the home, ticks may leave the mice looking for other sources of food. Unfortunately, the other sources of food would be the people living in our homes.

As the number of cases of Lyme disease and now Powassan Virus continue to increase across the country, especially in the Northeastern section of the United States, people have learned numerous ways to try to prevent from contracting it. We have all been taught to be careful wherever there is tall grass: we must wear long pants tucked into our socks and do a thorough tick check as soon as we come inside. But what if the tick was actually in our house? We don’t take these precautions when we are sitting in our own homes and we should not have to.

To make sure that ticks are not coming into your home it is important to eliminate the source of the ticks, mice. Pest control experts suggest that homeowners make sure they repair any holes in windows, doors, or in attic spaces as mice can squeeze into a hole the size of a dime! In order to give yourself peace of mind that you have safe guarded your home, installing a monitoring system is imperative.

A monitoring system sounds expensive, but in fact it is very economical. Monitoring systems can include a variety of different traps like glue boards as well as mechanical traps and even humane traps. Not only do traps alert a homeowner to where a mouse may be entering their home, the traps will help get rid of any mice that are in the house already.

Once you have the traps, it is important to strategically place them in areas where mice might enter your home. Monitors should be placed near attics and garages where small, unperceived holes might be. Mice tend to run along walls as opposed to out in the open, so placing the traps adjacent to a wall is important. Lastly, once a mouse enters a home it will look for food, so placing traps in areas with food, such as a kitchen or pantry, is a smart placement choice.

Lyme disease can be a very scary ailment. It is best to take precautions both inside and outside of your home to lessen your chance of contracting it. Taking the right steps in controlling a mouse population in your house will help protect you from a variety of diseases and is in the best interest of your family. To learn more about our glue boards and traps simply click here.

Checklist for a Pest-Free Home This Winter

BrokenVentWhen it is cold outside rodents and pests seek out warm shelter, and unfortunately they often find it in homes. Pest and rodent invasions are common during the winter months. If you can be alerted early to the problem you can take steps to address the infestation before it becomes too severe. There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that pests will not find shelter in your home.

Whether you are battling an ongoing pest or rodent infestation this winter or want to be proactive and avoid it, you can use the following checklist for a pest-free home this winter:

x        Check and replace pest monitors. Since many pests like insects and mice are small, they can enter your home without you knowing. You might not even realize they are there until there is an infestation. It is important to have pest monitors around your house so that you can catch them quickly, before they are able to multiply. Some pest monitoring systems, like standard glue boards, become less effective in cold weather. If you are using standard glue boards you may want to consider ones made especially for cold weather like the Catchmaster 48WRG Cold Temperature Glue Board Traps. These boards are non-toxic and unlike standard glue boards they are effective in temperatures as low as 0 degrees F; because they can withstand very cold temperatures, they work well in attics, garages, unheated basements, and winterized vacation homes.

x        Check garage doors. Garages can be an easy entry point for pests, especially rodents. Although unheated garages are cool, they are still warmer than many places outdoors, so they are inviting to pests seeking warmth. First, make sure that you close your garage doors as soon as you take your car in or out of the garage. Just a few minutes is all it takes for a pest to come into your garage and find a place to hide. Second, check your garage doors to make sure there are not large gaps between the door and the floor. If there are large gaps consider having a professional installer look at them or even have new doors put in. Having garage doors that are in good working order will both keep pests out and keep the warmth in your garage.

x        Install door sweeps. It is easy for a rodent to enter through an open garage door, but did you know that a mouse can squeeze under some doors? You don’t need to leave your door wide open to invite in unwanted guests. A mouse can get through a hole about the size of a pencil so even a small gap between your exterior door and the floor can allow a mouse to enter.One of the best ways to stop a mouse from squeezing under a door is to install door sweeps. Door sweeps can be found at hardware and home improvement stores. Many door sweeps are easily installed by homeowners.

x        Store seasonal items properly. Just because you don’t want to use your holiday decorations in February doesn’t mean that a rodent wouldn’t want to use them for warmth and shelter. Storing holiday decorations in sealed plastic containers makes your attic or garage storage space more organized as well as making it less hospitable for pests. Rodents and insects are always looking for places to hide, and rodents are also always on the search for material to make nests. If you store your items in sealed plastic containers (like those made by Rubber Maid) pests will not be able to get to your decorations. By doing so, you reduce nesting materials as well as nesting sites.

x        Check your pipes. It may seem that checking your pipes is a home improvement tip, but it is a pest control tip as well. Water expands as it freezes causing pressure in your pipes that can lead to a break or crack. The pipes that are in most danger of freezing are supply pipes in unheated interior areas like attics, garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Pipes that run against exterior walls that are poorly insulated are also in danger of freezing. Both hot water and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. Tubular-sleeve insulation is usually considered the most DIY friendly and comes in a variety of sizes at home improvement stores. To install, simply cut the sleeve to length and wrap it around the pipe. In addition to insulating pipes, when it is very cold outside, you should let the cold water drip from the faucet attached to pipes that run against exterior walls. Running water through the pipes helps to prevent them from freezing. If your pipes do burst you are likely to have a moisture problem. Moisture problems encourage many different pests like termites, cockroaches, rodents and mold.

x        Install Approved Dryer Vent Covers. Your dryer vent can be a beacon of heat for rodents in the winter, guiding them directly into your dryer! Check to see that your vent cover is clean, designed to exclude pests out and is functioning properly. If necessary, install a new approved vent cover to keep rodents out.

By following the above Checklist for a Pest-Free Winter Home you can lessen your chance of an infestation during the cold months of the year. As always, we recommend you monitor your home with glue boards and trays to alert you should a pest find a way indoors.

5 Steps to Properly Storing Your Holiday Décor

When the holiday season comes to a close it would be nice if we could dump all of our decorations quickly into cardboard boxes and throw them in the attic or garage not to be seen again until the following year. Although this seems like a time saving idea, it is not. Properly storing your holiday belongings will not only make it easier when you decorate next season, it will also help to keep your home and decorations safe from pests and help you to enjoy your decor for years to come. Holiday decor and cardboard boxes can be ideal harborage and breeding areas for pests. Following these five steps to storing your decorations will save you both time and money in the long run.

1. Invest in plastic tubs to store your holiday decorations. Decorations stored in cardboard can become moldy and are prime targets for a variety of pests from mice to roaches. Pests can easily chew through cardboard to get to the contents inside of a box. According to the University of Minnesota, cardboard boxes provide a climate suitable for cockroaches to live in and reproduce in.

2. Determine how many tubs you will need to properly organize your decorations. The best way to do this is to separate your decorations first into indoor and outdoor. Once you have done this, separate the decorations into groups by where they are placed in your home. Once you have determined the number of tubs you need, and purchased them, place the decorations in the tub and clearly label what room the tub will be used in the next year. Next year you will be able to decorate an area at a time without having to empty all your boxes at once.

3. Store wreaths, garland and larger decor items properly. This year, natural looking wreaths with real twigs and dried berries were very popular. If you would like to store a wreath like that until next year your best option is to get a plastic wreath holder that will keep your wreath off of the ground preventing rodents access that might be looking to feed on the dried berries. If you have a traditional artificial wreath, decorated with man-made adornments, you can wrap it loosely in plastic and hang it from a nail on an attic rafter to ensure spiders and other bugs do not use it for shelter.

4. Protect tablecloths, napkins, tree skirts, and other textiles from mice, moths and other pests. In order to keep your holiday linens safe from those pests as well as from moisture, mold, and dust, store them in a hanging vacuum-storage bag. Not only does it keep your fabrics safe, it is a space saver.

5. Did you decorate your home with a live tree this year? Did you decorate your interior with beautiful greens or flowers? If either answer is yes, it is important to dispose of them properly. Do not throw greenery away close to the home. Much like firewood that is stored close to a home, dead trees and greens are an invitation for mice and other small pest animals. It is recommended that all natural debris be place at least twenty feet from your home. If you don’t have space on your property, most towns now recycle old Christmas trees and turn them into mulch.

Catchmaster-Glue-Board_Covered-TrapAs an added step to protect your decor and your home, consider placing pest monitors (glue boards) along baseboard walls and around your stored plastic tubs. By placing and regularly inspecting monitors when switching out seasonal decor from your storage area, like your attic or basement, you can take a proactive step towards keeping not only your home but also your decor pest-free.

Bonus Tip: When using glue boards as pest monitors in storage areas, fold the glue board as a covered trap to protect the adhesive from dust and debris.

Holiday decorations should be enjoyed by you and your family for years to come. By following these few steps, your holiday decorations should look as good as new when you take them out again next year.