small house with magnifying glass showing bug

How to Keep Bugs and Pests Out of Your Home

While the days are getting warmer and many of us are getting our homes ready for spring, it is also a great time to check your wall, soffit vents, and chimney boxes for any signs of bugs and/or critters. You would not want to happen upon a yellowjacket nest in the height of summer nor upset a protective racoon mother who decided to take up residence in your basement. 

In some cases, it may be too late to take preventative measures and the problem must be dealt with directly, but the good news is that the majority of most common household pests can be dealt with quickly, humanely, and in many cases with proper maintenance and upkeep, permanently.

Without further ado, here’s a list of common household pests, what to do about them if you encounter them, and how to keep them from coming back.

Birds

Nesting birds, like chimney swifts, will find your unprotected chimney and attic vents very attractive real estate. Chimney caps can be effective at keeping these pests out of your chimney, and some models can even come with an insect screen (more on some of these guys later) for increased protection. If birds have already taken up residence in the chimney, please contact an animal control specialist.

Raccoons

Racoons are relentless hunter/gatherers who eat just about everything and can be very hard to get rid of once they move in.

  • Pregnant racoons will seek out unprotected chimneys and crawl spaces to nest in. Prevents both via a chimney cap and closing off any possible entry points with secured ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth.
  • Trim back any overhanging branches to prevent access to the roof.
  • Secure trash cans and protect any outdoor gardens with electric fencing.
  • Racoons already have a den? Make it as annoying as possible for them by putting flashing lights, a radio, or noise maker in it until they leave. To ensure that they’re gone, stuff the entryway with newspaper; if it is still undisturbed several days later, secure the den and seal the entry with hardware cloth.

Boxelder Bugs

While these black/red-orange bugs may not be dangerous to humans or pets, they do have a tendency to swarm in the thousands and can stain lighter color fabrics with their foul-smelling fecal matter.

  • Wash insects off of the exterior of the house with soapy water.
  • If the insects are inside the house, vacuum or sweep them up, then dispose of them outside.
  • Install screens on chimney caps, windows, and all wall vents.
  • Install and/or replace weatherstripping on all doors.
  • Spray a low-toxicity pesticide into the infested tree(s) in the spring to eliminate the new nymphs.

Spiders

These creepy crawlies, like every other living thing in this list, enjoy certain living conditions, so when proactive steps are taken to not provide those optimal conditions, the spiders will choose somewhere else to live. In this case, keeping your basement at about 40% humidity and free of cobwebs will encourage our 8-legged friends to find somewhere else to call home.

Yellowjackets

Territorial and aggressive, yellowjackets can be dangerous to both humans and pets, and can grow huge colonies that only grow bigger each year if left unchecked.

  • Caulk any cracks between trim and wall.
  • Check underneath the overhang for any nesting/swarming activity.
  • One DIY trap that is very effective is to fill a tub with soapy water, smear wet cat food on a board, and lay the board cat food facedown. The soap eliminates the surface tension of the water, so when the yellowjackets attempts to fly away after eating it’s fill, it sinks and drowns instead.
  • For more complex infestations, please contact a professional.
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