Checklist for a Pest-Free Spring

Spring will be warmly welcomed by many this year, particularly those of us living in cold climates. We know you are eager to get out there and enjoy the warm weather but a little home prep now will help ensure that your home remains pest-free all spring and summer long. Below is a checklist of actions you can take to ensure that you will not have to share your home with pests this spring.
  • Check for gutters and downspouts. This has been a harsh winter, many areas have withstood frigid temperatures, strong winds, and snow. A harsh winter can damage gutters and downspouts that help to remove water from your home’s foundation. That standing water at the foundation of your house can encourage a variety of pests from termites to mosquitoes to rodents.
  • Check your home’s perimeter for items that attract pests. When you do your outdoor spring clean-up and planting pay special attention to both the variety of plants as well as the products you use to mulch around the plants. Cut back branches of trees and shrubs as pests can use them like bridges into a home. Pine straw and some types of wood chips are attractive to many kinds of pests but both cedar and cypress work well as natural bug repellents.
  • Check your window and door screens for damage. Do a thorough inspection of window and door jams and screens around the home. Any number of pests including flies, ants, and even mice, can enter your home through screens that have been damaged. It is important to repair or replace all screens that have tears, rips, or holes before the warm spring days encourage you to open your windows.
  • Check and replace pest monitors. Spring is the time of year when many pest animals make their nests and have offspring. Since both insects and mice are small, without the help of a pest monitoring system you might not realize they are in your home until there is an infestation. It is important to have pest monitors around your house so that you can catch pests quickly, before they are able to multiply. If you have pests monitors (like traps or glue boards) in your home already, check to make sure that they were not damaged by the cold weather this winter. If your monitors were compromised, or if you don’t have monitors at all, spring is an excellent time to get them.
  • Check to make sure spring decorations are not enticing to pests. When spring finally arrives it is fun to celebrate the season with new decorations. Decorating is enjoyable, but make sure the decorations you use do not tempt pests. Keeping spring candy, like jelly beans, out in a dish may look nice, but it can lead to a serious pest problem. Many pests, especially ants, are attracted by sweet food items.
  • Check your pipes. During the winter the water in pipes that are not properly insulated may freeze. The expansion of the water when it freezes can create pressure in your pipes that can make the pipes break or crack; in the spring, when the ice melts, the broken or cracked pipes can leak. When the break is significant it will be obvious to any homeowner, however, if the pipe has a small crack water may slowly drip out making it less obvious. 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. If you have pipes that were poorly insulated during the winter make sure to inspect them for any small cracks. If cracks go unchecked your house will have a moisture problem which will encourage many different pests like termites, cockroaches, and mold.
  • Use that last coating of snow for the season as a roadmap to potential entryways to your home. A light coating of snow is great to "track" field mice and other small visitors that have found hidden entry points into your home. This indicates areas where you need to do some structural improvements to exclude unwanted pests in the future.
  • If you have electrical service in the attic, install an inexpensive Insect Light Trap (ILT) like the Catchmaster Silent Trap. Check this Insect light trap after the first couple of warm days in the spring. The ILT will be your first line of defense against lady bugs and stink bugs that are becoming active after a long dormant winter.
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