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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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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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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Spring Insect Pests to Watch For

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CARPENTER ANTS
Carpenter ants are the most common destructive pest in North East Ohio. These small creatures are responsible for millions of dollars in damage every year. Fortunately, they can be treated once they are detected.
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. 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.

PAVEMENT ANTS
Pavement ants are frequently found in kitchens and any areas where food is present. This includes garbage and compost areas inside and outside your home. While pavement ants aren’t as destructive as carpenter ants, they are a nuisance because they contaminate food and food-prep surfaces. Keeping a clean kitchen will not eliminate these pests. It’s impossible to keep every crumb and drop of water out of the space.

BEES AND WASPS
While pollinators are important, allowing stinging insects to nest in close proximity to people can be dangerous. Under decks, children’s play equipment, and flower beds are prime places to consider preventative treatment. If a nest does appear, we can safely remove it, keeping your family safe.

SPIDERS
The recluse and black widow are the two spiders in Northeast Ohio that are considered dangerous to humans. Most spiders prefer basements and other sheltered places. They also prefer areas that have insect activity. If you see many spiders in your home, it may indicate another pest problem.

RATS AND MICE
Rodents are a year-round nuisance. These pests contaminate surfaces, gnaw through food containers, and ruin your furniture and finishes. They also destroy your home from the inside, by tunneling through insulation and cause fire hazards by chewing through wiring. They also carry disease and leave their droppings everywhere they go. Electronic deterrents are not effective at controlling these pests. Your pest control expert can help with a comprehensive program that includes prevention and remediation to control these rodents inside and out.

Don’t wait to treat spring insect pests

If you have seen signs of any of these pests, call right away. Pest problems are more easily treated when they are small. Don’t let a pest problem become established in your home. Call Mulholland Pest Control for a free quote. We can get you started on your journey to a pest-free home today!

Call (440)528-1234

MicheleSpring Insect Pests to Watch For
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