Autumn has officially arrived and with it the need to maintain your home for two very good reasons. One, to efficiently keep out the colder, wetter weather and two, to prevent common autumn pests.
Both these reasons make good financial sense too.
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If you seal gaps and holes in your home, you will help conserve your heating and save on energy bills.
At the same time, you will also prevent the need to spend money on professional pest control to get rid of pests that have gained entry indoors.
In the northern hemisphere, wasps and flies will be reducing in numbers. At the same time, though, the colder weather signifies increased risk of other common household pests like rats, mice, and fleas.
Around the world, the seasons are different. Whilst in Europe we mentally psyche ourselves up for colder and darker days, countries like South Africa and Australia are preparing for a beach party (sorry- cliché!)
Common Autumn Pests
- bed bugs
Depending on where you live, from North America through to New Zealand, you may also find problems with termites (though they are a menace all your long) as well as mosquitoes!
Pest hotspots in your home
Below is a list of common areas in your home vulnerable to pest problems. As well as explaining the reason it is at risk, I will offer advice on how to possibly prevent a problem before it happens.
Your attic offers a fantastic retreat for rodents like rats and mice to spend their winter. It gives them shelter and warmth and places them fairly close to a food source – your kitchen.
If you are really unlucky, you may also find wasps overwintering up in your attic too!
- Replace all damaged roof tiles
- Fill cracks with roofing cement
- Inspect roof space regularly for pest activity
- Keep attic tidy and clutter free
- Store items in plastic boxes (not cardboard) to prevent rodent nesting.
2. Pipes & Drains
With more rain than the sunshine at this time of year, it is also easier to spot any defaults in your guttering. In my experience, this usually presents itself in the form of a waterfall gushing out of my gutter, and usually when I am trying to get to sleep.
Some insects like cockroaches are attracted to moisture and excess water. A badly maintained downpipe or guttering is very attractive in their eyes.
- Check downpipes regularly for leaks
- Repair any damage with gutter sealants
- Check drains are free flowing and remove obstructions such as fallen leaves
Fashionistas might now be preparing to swap their summer clothes for their a/w collection. In other words, dragging winter wool jumpers from the back of the cupboard to the front and vice versa. This may also be the time you notice a possible sign of a moth problem in the form of an unsightly hole in your treasured cashmere sweater. Whilst this means you already have moths, it also means you can prevent further damage to other valuables in your collection.
- Check clothes regularly for signs of damage
- Use sticky traps or moth killer strips to confirm signs of activity
- Wash all clothes and store in sealed bags
- Vacuum and clean the inside of clothes cupboards regularly
Another common problem in the bedroom is with bed bugs. This pest never goes away and is a problem all year round, peaking during and after the holiday season. So, if you have been on holiday recently or have invested in some second-hand furniture it pays to just check your room for any signs of bedbugs.
Bed Bug Prevention Tips:
- Check all areas of your bed for signs (blood spots, droppings, shed skin)
- Inspect furniture and carpet
- Wash holiday clothes and bedding on a high-temperature setting
- Clean and vacuum the bedroom thoroughly and regularly
If you live in a flat, apartment or a serviced housing estate you can probably ignore and skip this part. However facilities managers and private homeowners should take note. Birds, bats, and squirrels like to make homes in chimneys.
The main risks are from damaged property, nuisance noise and potential secondary pest infestations.
- Install a suitably-sized chimney cap to keep animals out and prevent secondary pest infestations
Most people I know use their garage more for storing items like back issues of certain magazines, albums (LPs) and even furniture rather than their car. Be warned, though, that rodents love to find nesting sites amongst all your valuable junk.
- Cover air vents with galvanised mesh to prevent entry
- Store items in plastic containers and keep off the floor to prevent nesting sites
The kitchen is often the one room singled out by pest controllers as most at risk of a pest problem.
This usually comes down to the fact of how plentiful the food is in just this one room of your house. As pests need food for survival, this is the area of your home they gravitate towards.
- Store food in air-tight containers
- Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink
- Regularly empty contents of rubbish bins
- Clear food debris off the floor
- Regularly clean and inspect under sinks, cookers and behind the fridge
7. Laundry room
I have a new extension in my home, which added a utility room to my property. It now houses a new washing machine and tumble dryer. In other words, there are lots of new pipes in this part of my home.
It is really easy to overlook gaps around new pipes and even old pipework and dismiss them as no major cause for concern.
However, if I now tell you that young mice only need a gap the width of a pencil to gain entry inside- will this make you think more differently about those gaps?
- Seal holes around any old or new pipework
- Caulk, expanding foam and other DIY products are available to fill cracks
8. Garden & Outdoor Bins
I am a fair weather gardener. That’s to say that I like to do my gardening in warm sunshine and leave the hard labour and back-breaking work to my lovely husband.
Nevertheless, I am aware that if shrubs, grass, and trees are left unmanaged and overgrown in the autumn they can provide great hiding spots, shelter and even an easy access route to your home. Black rats, in particular, are very good climbers ( I once heard them referred to as ninjas).
- Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the house
- Keep compost in a sealed area, a good distance away from the home
- Ensure outside bin lids and secure
- Do not leave rubbish bags out in the open
9. Pet Food
Rodents are not fussy eaters. As well as being attracted to our human food, their powerful strength of smell will also attract them to your pet’s food bowl.
- Remove pet food before nightfall
- Store pet food in airtight, plastic containers
Cracks around windows, front doors, balcony and patio doors are easy to overlook. At this time of year though when the temperature outside drops you might think of it more as a nuisance because you will start to notice the draft in your hallway or lounge.
It pays to cover these gaps somehow both from an energy saving and a pest prevention point of view.
- Install bristle strips under doors and replace worn weatherstrips on all windows
Worried you may already have a pest problem?
Contact us for advice and solutions on how to get rid of pests from your home.
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