As the climate takes a turn for the worse and only the hardiest amongst us continues to venture outside, it’s little wonder we find ourselves joined in our homes by more than just members of our own family. Mice, spiders and ants, although often associated with a summer infestation, will seek the warmth of the indoors in order to survive the harsher months of the year.
The start of a New Year is a less than ideal time to find your house is overrun by pests, so it’s best to safeguard your home from these unwanted visitors before they cause any real damage. Here are a set of simple resolutions that can make a big difference in the war against vermin.
1 – Deny entry
Mice, rats and other rodents are a year round menace, but they are especially active in the winter when food supplies are low and the temperature plummets below freezing. These cunning critters will sniff out any entry point left unsecured and are surprisingly flexible when it comes to navigating tight spaces.
This means cracks of any shape or size are potential entrances, so it’s advisable to seal any faults you find immediately. There are a number of ways of doing this, including the use of wire wool for smaller holes, and fine wire mesh for larger ones, with sealant and paint completing the barrier. If you already suspect an infestation, check entry sites like these for droppings or gnaw marks, as they are often strong indicators of a recent intrusion.
2 – Kick bad habits
Once access to newcomers has been restricted, it’s important to flush out any remaining inhabitants. The average Brown Rat can work its way through half a pound of food in a week, burrowing into kitchen cupboards and other means of storage. More concerning still, is the amount of produce that a foraging animal can contaminate. Food preservation is a must in cases where an invasion is suspected.
A tidy kitchen is a safe kitchen when it comes to averting wildlife from your larder, not only with rats, but with many other kinds of pest. Unsealed boxes are paradise to ants, mice and beetles, who find other sources of food difficult to come by in the frost. Unfortunately, where one nests, more are sure to follow. In order to avoid cockroaches in your cornflakes, make sure all plastic bags are closed up and any loose produce is stored in an airtight container. Reducing the food supply should reduce the rate at which an animal breeds and will, in time, stop reproduction altogether.
3 – Watch your wood
Trees and bushes are notorious harbourers of insects and spiders, with overhanging branches acting as a causeway between the house and the garden. Cutting back any unruly vegetation will remove this risk, as well as discouraging larger pests, such as mice and squirrels from attempting to enter your household. Since you may not want to spend your free time toiling in the wind and rain, it is advisable to hire a professional who can trim your hedges to a desirable length.
Pests are not only confined to living bark; many are found instead in the deadwood we use for kindling. Termites and other wood-dwelling insects will set up shop in any timber left in direct contact with mud or soil, burrowing deep into the grain, where their removal becomes increasingly more difficult. To prevent the transfer of these creatures to your floors and furniture, store your woodpile on a raised, outdoor platform and be sure to discard any logs that display signs of mud tracks or burrows. You can cover the pile with plastic sheeting during the summer months, as the higher temperatures ensure an uninhabitable environment for most creatures.
4 – Seek specialist help
Even the most fastidious amongst us can fall victim to an infestation, especially if the problem has been going on far longer than previously thought. The expression ‘quiet as a mouse’ sometimes takes on a very literal meaning, as pests are accustomed to sneaking around the house unseen. If you are aware of a breach (or have deduced from careful investigation that one may be occurring), you should contact a professional right away, so they can eliminate the problem.
In cases of rodent infestation, a house can be cleared within three to four weeks, with no lingering side-effects for you or your children. For incidents where more potent measures need to be taken, insecticides may be used, but in areas such as the kitchen, a high-risk zone, gels are preferred to sprays, limiting the necessary concentration of chemicals.
Though prevention remains the most effective defence against pests, it can often be too little too late. By following the resolutions above you can guarantee the safety of your family this winter and focus instead on eliminating other bad habits from your life.
EBS Pest Control are pest and bird control specialists who have been operating in London since 2002. Jeff Nelson, the founding Director of EBS has over 20 years of practical industry experience.