Keeping Mice out of your Home and Garage

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Keeping Mice out of your Home

It’s autumn and that means mice. This time of year mice are entering homes in preparation for winter. While it’s impossible to never have a mouse, there are things you can do to make your house less attractive to them.

Why do mice like my house?

Mice love older homes. These houses have gaps and other small holes that make it easy for mice to get inside. Older homes often have detached garages, which are built like sheds rather than insulated homes. These garages are not airtight and there are usually large gaps around the garage door or between the foundation and the walls. Newer homes are much more energy efficient, which means steps have been taken to close these small holes, but that doesn’t mean the new homes are immune. Take a look around your yard and see if you have these features that make your house more attractive to mice.

Yard Features that attract mice:

  • Dense shrubbery. Mice are timid creatures and need places to hide. If these are against your home, it will give mice the perfect place to hide while they look for a way into your home.
  • Wood piles. Everyone loves a fire in autumn, but those wood piles can host a number of pests. Stack firewood away from your home and keep wood covered and dry to deter insects and rodents.
  • Scrap piles. Mice love to nest in any small space. That scrap pile in the yard is the perfect place for them to nest. If these piles are against your home, heat from you room will warm the space, providing the perfect environment for mice.
  • Bird feeders/baths. While feeding your feathered friends, keep in mind that many rodents love seed and that birdbath provides a source of fresh water as well.
mouse in grain

Can I get rid of the mice on my own?

While your pest professional is your best resource for rodent management, there are some things you can do on your own to combat the problem.

DO

  • Close off gaps in your home and garage- Use caulk and steel wool to fill in small holes and gaps leading into your home. Mice can squeeze through holes that seem smaller than they are. If you see a gap, caulk it.
  • Declutter and reorganize- Mice can chew through cardboard and plastic bags. Use heavy duty bins that seal tightly in your garage. Raise bins and other storage off the floor. This will reduce the number of potential nesting spots. If you see evidence of mice in your pantry, clean up open/spilled food and seal staples away in sturdy, tightly sealed containers
  • Clean up your garage and pantry- Grass seed, bird seed and pet food will feed mice all winter long. Open food containers in your pantry will attract these pests to your kitchen.
  • Outside keep your lawn and garden trimmed, and remove lawn debris and scrap piles. Tidy lawns are less prone to mice.

DON’T

  • Use scent repellants- Mice quickly become accustomed to repellants making any effects short-lived.
  • Rely on a cat. Cats can reduce the number of mice in an area, but they cannot reach all areas that mice tend to hide.
  • Use sound machines or ultrasonic repellers- They simply do not work.
  • Use cayenne pepper. Mice may not eat this spice, but it doesn’t deter them.
  • Ignore signs of an infestation. Mice breed rapidly!

While there’s no way to guarantee you will never have a mouse. There are things you can do to make you home less attractive to them. By following these tips you can help keep your home a safe haven for you and your family, not mice.

MicheleKeeping Mice out of your Home and Garage
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Wasp Prevention Tips and Tricks

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Don’t let wasps ruin your next picnic

This time of year wasps are especially annoying, but they don’t have to ruin your outdoor activities. A few simple tips can help you and the wasps stay out of each other’s way.

Why are wasps so bad this time of year?

While wasps are active all summer long, in late summer they become more aggressive as they prepare the hive for winter. Wasps can’t forage for food during the winter. In most species, workers and soldiers die off leaving the queen alone in the hive. This means that she will need to have all the energy she needs not only to survive the winter, but also to start the new hive next spring. This takes a lot of energy. Wasps gather this from sugar. In the wild, this sugar comes from natural sources like rotting fruit and nectar, but wasps can also collect it from human food sources as well. This is what attracts them to human activities.

Preventing wasps

Wasps are opportunistic feeders, and will readily feed from any source of sugar. The more concentrated, the better. Which is why wasps seem to prefer human food over natural food! Sticky sweets and sugary sodas are the perfect food source for wasps. Summer foods, like snow cones and Popscicles, are their favorites.

Tips for discouraging wasps:

  • Keep food covered when outdoors. This includes sauces and condiments.
  • Clean up spilled drinks immediately. Flush with water, if possible to prevent sticky residue from attracting wasps.
  • Avoid leaving drinks open and unattended. Children’s drinks should be closed using flip top lids, sippy cups, or straws too small for wasps to enter.
  • Keep trash tightly closed. And empty outdoor garbage immediately after your event.
  • If wasps are drinking from your swimming pool, place a container of fresh water at the far end of your property. Wasps and other insects will prefer to drink fresh water over chlorinated, and will learn to use this source instead.
  • Use wasp traps to lure wasps away from your gathering. Wasps will use the most accessible source of sugar. Give them a better alternative away from your activities.
  • If you find a nest on your property, give us a call. We can take care of it before your event. Next spring, we can treat structures on your property with a preventative to discourage them from nesting around your home.

While it’s impossible to keep your outdoor spaces wasp-free, these simple tips will make your event less attractive to wasps and encourage them to move along in search of easier sources of food.

MicheleWasp Prevention Tips and Tricks
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Fall Pest Prevention

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Fall is the best time to prevent new pest infestations. With the weather cooling down, insects and rodents are looking for a place to bed down for the winter. Don’t make your house more attractive to these critters. Follow these tips to keep pests out of your home this winter.

Locate Pest Entrances

Take the time to inspect the outside of your home. Insects can enter through any small gaps in your home’s exterior. Look for gaps in the caulking around windows and doors, around vents and pipes, even around cables. (Be extra careful around electrical wires.)

Next, check along the edges of your siding and where your siding meets window and door frames. Note any gaps. Look for small gaps where insects could get behind the siding and nest. Also look for larger gaps and holes or signs of rodent damage. Squirrels and mice will enlarge smaller gaps to accommodate their size. Look for chew marks or darker patches around holes. These are signs that small mammals are using these as entrances into your home.

Inspect weather stripping around your doors. Look for missing or worn areas. Next, check your screens. Look for holes in screens or gaps between screen and window frames. Repair, if possible.

Eliminating Pest Access Points

If it is safe for you to do so, fill small gaps and holes with a high quality caulk or other appropriate material. Use weather stripping around windows and doors. And don’t forget around your garage door. Adding weather stripping around your garage door will not only help keep pests out of your garage, it will keep your garage warmer and save you money on your winter heating bill.

If gaps are larger or show signs of rodent usage, stuff holes with steel wool or copper mesh. Rodents will not chew through metal mesh. You can also use expanding foam to fill larger gaps. Once foam has dried, use a utility knife to cut off excess.

Making your home less attractive to insects

Remove sources of moisture. Insects and rodents need water to survive. Make sure you are not providing it. Look for leaks in and around your home. Check your attack spaces for roof leaks and excess moisture and remediate these. Add a dehumidifier to your basement and keep the humidity at 40% or under. This will make your basement less hospitable for insects.

Around your exterior, clean out gutters and remove leaves and mulch from contact with your home’s foundation. Trim shrubs and trees away from your home and remove dead vegetation including autumn leaves promptly. Stack firewood away from your home’s exterior.

Deter Rodents from Your Home

Remove food sources by keeping rubbish contained in appropriate bins. Secure pet food and bird seed in metal containers with latching lids. Examine your home for other possible food sources and remove them.

Eliminate possible nesting areas my removing clutter from your garage and in dark hidden areas of your home such as in closets and under cabinets. Store items on raised shelving units that allow you to clean debris from beneath. You will be able to see signs of an infestation immediately, allowing you to remediate before the problem has a chance to grow.

While it’s impossible to make your home immune to pests, by following these tips you will make your home less attractive to them this fall. If you find signs of an infestation, give us a call. We can help you to locate the source of the problem and tailor a solution specific to your needs.

MicheleFall Pest Prevention
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Stink bugs: How to Eliminate them

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Fall is almost here and with it comes stink bugs. Find out how to keep them from ruining the changing seasons.

Where did they come from?

If it seems like stink bugs are a newer phenomenon, you are right. Stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys), also know as shield bugs, are an invasive species from Asia. Introduced to the United States in the mid-nineties, these pests have no natural enemies and as a result the population over the past thirty years has exploded. First identified in Allentown PA, the stink bug has since spread across much of the eastern United States. And every year, the problem seems to be getting worse.

Why are they called stink bugs?

The name stink bugs refers to the pungent scent the insects release when they are either disturbed or their bodies are crushed. While they are active through the summer, they are usually found inside and clustered on the sides of buildings during the late summer and early autumn until the first hard frost. While these insects are good flyers, they are slow-moving on legs making them easy to trap.

Are they dangerous?

Stink bugs are not dangerous. They do not bite or sting or transmit any known diseases. While they can cause damage to crops and ornamental plants, the main concern with this insect is the smell they generate, and their tendency to congregate in large numbers along and inside buildings.

Identifying an infestation

While it’s impossible to eliminate stink bugs in the environment, stink bugs infestations in and around your home can be treated. If you have a large cluster of stink bugs on or around your windows and doors, this is a sign of an infestation.

Controlling Stink Bugs

Your pest control professional can help you control your stink bug infestations. Our exterior power spray treats overhangs, vents, around windows, foundation and peaks. Interior windows and chimneys can be added if necessary. At Mulholland, we will customize your treatment to your existing problem.

Discouraging Re-infestations

After your treatment, you can help discourage stinkbugs from entering your home by sealing up cracks and crevices with a high quality silicone caulk. Repair holes in screens and plug any gaps in your home’s exterior. Stink bugs can are attracted to light, so consider changing your outdoor lighting to yellow bulbs. For stink bugs in your home, use your vacuum to capture them, but dispose of the bag or empty the canister to avoid spreading the scent through the rest of your home.

Stink bug infestations do not have to be an inevitable sign of fall. Let us help you regain your outdoor spaces in time for you to enjoy your pumpkin spice latte.

MicheleStink bugs: How to Eliminate them
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Eliminating Fleas from your Home

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Surprised you have fleas?

Any pet can get fleas. This can happen not only when you bring your pet outside, but when it is exposed to other animals. This can happen at the kennel, doggie day care, or even at the groomers.

While fleas are a common problem in households with dogs, it is possible to get fleas in your home even if you don’t have pets.

Any rodent can carry fleas. If you don’t have a pet, that could mean there is something else lurking in your walls. Mice, rats, and other small mammals can bring these pests into you home.

Once fleas are in your home, they will start breeding and infest your entire home.

Getting rid of fleas

Effective flea treatments must eliminate all sources of infestation. Only treating your pet won’t solve your flea problem. Fleas can be lurking anywhere your pet has visited throughout your home. This means if your pet has been on a surface, (carpet, upholstery, bedding) then these must be treated as well, and at the same time your pet is treated. If you stagger treatments, even by a few days, your pet and your home will continue to re-infest each other.

Treatment options

Pinterest is full of home remedies for fleas. Many of them are little better than old wives tales, and those that do trap fleas will not eliminate the entire population from your house. The only effective solution is to treat both your pet (or eliminate the rodent infestation) and household surfaces aggressively and simultaneously.

For your pet, ask your vet for recommendations for removing these pests from their coats. Different pets will require different treatments, so your vet is the best resource for this information.

For your home, talk to your pest control professional. He or she will be able to identify areas that need treatment and have the expertise to eliminate the problem without over treating, keeping you and your pets safe.

After your initial treatment, vacuum your home at least every other day for the first week, and twice a week for a month. Do a thorough job, making sure to get along baseboards, and in the hidden nooks and crannies where flea larva hide. This will eliminate any remaining fleas that may have developed resistance to conventional treatments before they have a chance to complete their life cycle.

Bringing home fleas doesn’t have to become a nightmare. If you find your pet has been exposed, don’t wait until the problem spreads through your entire home. Call your pest control professional right away.

MicheleEliminating Fleas from your Home
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6 Mosquito repellents that don’t work

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Think twice before picking up these products

Mosquitoes can quickly ruin any summer evening. These tiny menaces can start biting within minutes of leaving your house. For years, the only option was mosquito repellent sprays containing DEET. But covering your skin in a sticky chemical spray doesn’t sound appealing either. As a result, companies have been innovating new products to control these tiny insects, but many of them don’t work. Here’s a list of ones to avoid.

Sound repellents

Whether it’s a dedicated device or a smart app on your phone, ultrasonic devices claim that by emitting certain frequencies mosquitos are sensitive to, they can drive them from an area. The theory is by mimicking the sound of the mosquito’s predator, the dragonfly, mosquitos will naturally want to stay away. The theory makes sense on the surface, but these devices do not work. If they did, you would never see mosquitos in the same vicinity as dragonflies.

Repellent plants

The myth of the mosquito repellent plant pervades the whole world. Lavender, catnip, eucalyptus, lemongrass citronella, mints (peppermint, horsemint, mint), lemon balm, marigolds, petunias, basil, and dozens of others fill this list. While it’s tempting to believe that by adding a few to your landscape, you are guaranteed a reduction of mosquitos, they are not effective at repelling mosquitos over a large area. Unfortunately, the plants do not generate enough fragrance. It isn’t the plant, but the extracts from them plant that can be used to repel mosquitos.

Natural repellents

Natural mosquito repellents are a tempting alternative to slathering our children with a known neurotoxin. However, most natural repellents are not effective. Since these products do not use potentially harmful chemicals, they are regulated differently and do not have to prove their efficacy before being released. The most effective natural repellent is lemon-eucalyptus oil (sold as Repel®) However it is not as effective as DEET and is not recommended for heavily infested areas. It also needs to be reapplied to maintain effectiveness.

Citronella and other scented candles

Completely useless. I have personally seen dead mosquitos in my citronella candles, and in 2018 the FTC shut down a company’s claims of a mosquito repellent candle. They don’t work.

Wristbands

Another ineffective product shut down by the FTC. In 2016 a company was ordered to pay $300,000 when their mosquito control wristbands were found to be ineffective. Current products are not much better according to Consumer Reports testing.

Clip on fans

Rather than apply chemicals to your skin, this product surrounds you in a toxic fog which you can breath in. They also don’t provide effective protection since the repellent will blow away with even a small breeze and won’t follow you as you move.

Effective Mosquito Protection

While most mosquito repellent systems are not effective, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. DEET is the most effective repellent on the market. It is safe for most people, including children aged 3 years and up if used as directed. Picaridin (sold as Cutter) is another strong alternative. If you must use a natural product, choose a lemon-eucalyptus oil (such as Repel®) but keep in mind it isn’t as effective as chemical products.
Take steps to make you yard less appealing to mosquitos. Remove any sources of standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in the smallest pools of water. By carefully controlling water in your yard, you can help reduce you local population.
Consider a mosquito control system, either propane or electric based. These systems run continually removing large number of insects from your yard. While there haven’t been any definitive studies on whether this will impact the population in your yard, fewer mosquitoes breeding should mean fewer mosquitoes.

Summer fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down. Knowing which mosquito repellents work and which ones to avoid will mean you and your family can focus on making memories, not scratching bites.

Michele6 Mosquito repellents that don’t work
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