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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Five ways you are attracting pests to your home

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Don’t invite pests into your home

A big part of maintaining a pest-free home is not encouraging an infestation in the first place. But simple things we do every day can make our homes more attractive to pests. By avoiding these pitfalls, you can help maintain a safer home for you and your family.

Feeding wildlife

Bird feeders attract more than feathered friends. Many animals love birdseed. Mice, rats, squirrels, and chipmunks will all invade outdoor feeders. Improperly stored bags of seed will encourage infestations inside your home. Store all seed outside in a tightly closed metal container. Mice can chew through plastic, and once rodents have learned where you store seed, they will continue to return until the source of food is removed. If you do need to store seed indoors, treat it as you would treat your own food: tightly sealed and in an area where rodents will not get to it.

Pet food

Leaving pet food outside or bowls of water can encourage other animals with a free meal. Large rodents like rats and raccoons will eat pet food, and once an animal has discovered an unattended source of food, it will continue to return to the same area. Do not leave food outdoors for long periods of time and never over night. Make sure you store pet food in tightly sealed, pest-proof sturdy containers. Rodents can easily chew through paper bags and light-duty plastic. Raccoons are capable of working latches and other simple closing mechanisms, so if you must store pet food outdoors or in a shed, make sure the containers are impossible for them to open.
While you are likely filling water bowls with fresh water when your puppers needs a drink, you should empty it when he’s finished. Otherwise, pests will identify it as a source of fresh water and continue to return to your living spaces.

Trash

Raccoons, rats, and other rodents can thrive from your rubbish. While it might be tempting to store garbage outside during the summer months, rodents can access your garbage and learn to identify it as a food source. Consider storing garbage indoors. If that is not an option, take steps to minimize food waste. Rinse food containers before placing them in the trash/recycling. Consider vermicomposting kitchen scraps or using a sink disposal unit to keep food out of the trash. If your city has community composting, follow their recommendations carefully to prevent vermin from invading you compost bins.

Deferred maintenance

Small projects around the house can make a big difference in deterring insects and other pests from establishing a presence in your home. Sealing cracks, repairing caulk around windows and doors and other small projects can keep insects out. Repairing leaky faucets and other drips will remove sources of water in kitchens. Repairing leaky roofs and flashing will keep your attic dry and clear of pests.
Keeping your lawn and garden free for debris, stagnant water and diseased plants will help deter pests by removing conditions that help them thrive.

Cleaning up

While keeping your home clean can seem like and endless task, making the effort will help deter pests from making a home in your house. Clutter provides dark places for insects to hide and breed. Those potato chip crumbs under the couch and a pan of leftovers on the stove are perfect food sources for a range of pests. Make the effort to clean up food before it has a chance to attract pests. Wipe up spills and sweep up crumbs daily. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink as this will encourage flies and gnats to breed. Also, consider storing fruit in the refrigerator or sealed containers to discourage fruit flies.

Your house does not need to become a haven for pests. By controlling food and water sources and keeping your home and lawn free from the clutter, you can remove the conditions that encourage them and create an environment that is better for you and your family.

MicheleFive ways you are attracting pests to your home
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Carpenter Ant Prevention

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Preventing Carpenter Ants: Northeast Ohio’s most Destructive Pest

Carpenter Ants are one of Northeast Ohio’s most destructive pests. These small creatures are responsible for millions of dollars in damage every year, but with a few simple precautions, your house doesn’t have to be part of that statistic.

Identifying Carpenter Ants

In Ohio, the black carpenter ant, *Camponotus pennsylvanicus*, is the most common species. This ant is black, with very fine whitish or yellowish hairs on the abdomen. Minor workers of the black carpenter ant generally are about ¼ inch long and major workers are approximately ½ inch.
Carpenter ants create their nests in soft, damp wood, or wood that’s been damaged by fungus. They do not nest in mounds in open fields. This is the *formica* or field ant. These are common in Ohio and easily confused with carpenter ants since they are also large and black.

Why are Carpenter so Destructive?

Carpenter ants like to nest in soft, damp wood which makes Cleveland’s aging housing stock particularly vulnerable. Unfortunately, once established, the colony will move to undamaged adjacent wood to increase the colony’s size. While they do no eat the wood, as termites do, they tunnel through it creating small channels that weaken the wood, compromising the structure. Carpenter ants can be difficult to detect because the colony can take years before it begins satellite colonies. By this time the nest can have 2000-4000 individuals.

Detecting Carpenter Ants

These large black ants are usually discovered by the sawdust-like shavings they leave behind. Carpenter ants don’t eat the wood. They tunnel through it, and those shavings must go somewhere. Inspect baseboards, toe kicks, and basement rim joists for unexplained sawdust. If you spot sawdust near a hole anywhere around your house, it’s a good indication there are carpenter ants. If you see sawdust around the base of a tree around your property, have it treated as well since carpenter ants can quickly spread into your house. Buying a home? Consider having a pest inspection so you are not buying someone else’s pest problem.
Carpenter ants are most active at night, making this a good time to look for signs of activity. Leaky plumbing, kitchen sinks and any sources of water or food are good places to check. Carpenter ants also make noise as they chew through wood. This noise is described as cellophane crinkling. If you hear this coming from your walls at night, it’s a good chance there could be carpenter ant activity inside.

Preventing Infestations

Keep your house maintained. Carpenter ants prefer old, damp wood, so making sure your home is free from leaks and repairing any rotting wood immediately will help discourage a colony from establishing.
Avoid placing mulch against the foundation of your house. Leave a barrier of stone at least 9 inches to prevent insects from entering.
Seal any cracks in your foundation and around basement windows.
Stack firewood away from structures, and keep it dry with a tarp to prevent ants from nesting.
Eliminate any sources of water in and around your home as carpenter ants will need it to survive.
Trim back branches and shrubbery from contact with your home.
Keep tall grasses and weeds trimmed.
Remove debris and rotting logs from your property.
Inspect any trees on your property for damage and treat any that have signs of carpenter ant infestation.

Carpenter ants don’t have to become a destructive force on your property. With these simple precautions, you can minimize your risk, potentially saving yourself from thousands of dollars in costs down the road.

If you find signs of carpenter ant activity, don’t wait. Call us today. (440)528-1234

MicheleCarpenter Ant Prevention
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