The colder months have 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 the common autumn and winter pests.
Both these reasons make good financial sense too.
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 invading your home, like rats, mice, and fleas .
Around the world, the seasons are different. Whilst in the northern hemisphere Europe we mentally psyche ourselves up for colder and darker days, people in 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 year long) as well as mosquitoes!
How to prevent pests in your home
Below is a list of common areas in your home vulnerable to pest problems. There is also a range of simple-to-use prevention tips you can adopt you help keep your home safe from pests this autumn and winter.
Your attic offers a fantastic retreat for rodents like rats and mice to spend during the winter. It gives them shelter and warmth and places them fairly close to a good food source — your kitchen and nesting material such as insulation, paper and cardboard.
If you are really unlucky, you may also find queen wasps overwintering up in your attic too!
How to prevent pests in your attic:
- 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
- Cut back branches and other vegetation touching or growing on your house — which can give rodents an easy route to your roof
- Check air vents, overflow pipes, flue pipes and cable entry points do not have gaps big enough for pests to enter
The pipes, drains, sinks, baths and shower units can all be responsible for attracting pests to your home.
Insects such as cockroaches and termites are attracted to moisture and excess water. A badly maintained downpipe or guttering and leaky plumbing are very attractive in their eyes.
How to prevent pests in your bathroom:
- Check downpipes regularly for leaks
- Repair any gutter damage with gutter sealants
- Check drains and gutters are free flowing and remove obstructions such as fallen leaves
- Repair leaky plumbing
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.
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.
How to prevent pests in your bedroom:
- Use sticky traps or moth killer strips to confirm signs of activity
- Wash all clothes and bedding on a high heat
- Vacuum and clean the entire room, don’t forget the inside of clothes cupboards and bedside tables as well as bed frames and mattresses.
- Inspect furniture and carpet for signs of bed bugs and moths.
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.
How to prevent pests in your chimney:
- 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 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.
How to prevent pests in your garage:
- Cover air vents with galvanised mesh to prevent entry
- Store items in plastic containers and keep off the floor to prevent nesting sites
- Install bristle strips to the bottom of doors connecting the garage to your home
- Seal any gaps and crevices in the brick work
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.
How to prevent pests in your kitchen:
- 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?
How to prevent pests in your laundry room:
- Seal holes around any old or new pipework
- Caulk, expanding foam and other DIY products are available to fill cracks
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.
How to prevent pests in your garden:
- Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the house
- Keep food-based compost in a sealed area, a good distance away from the home
- Ensure outside bin lids are secure
- Do not leave rubbish bags out in the open
- Store any potential food in sheds or garages such as seeds, bulbs and stored garden produce in sealed containers
9. Living room
Your living room (or lounge depending on where you live) can be a great place for a range of pests to inhabit.
Not only is it a warm place for them to harbour, but for the likes of textile pests it can provide them with a great source of food — wool, silk, fur or leather products.
How to prevent pests in your living room:
- Install bristle strips under doors with large gaps and replace worn weatherstrips on all windows
- Vacuum regularly, particularly carpets and sofas
- Dispose of old and used magazines and newspapers
- Clean up crumbs and drink spillages
- Dust and clean on a regular basis.
Worried you may already have a pest problem?
Contact us for advice and solutions on how to get rid of pests from your home.