The facts are concerning. In a 1997 study, “rats and mice infested 2.7 million of 97 million [American] housing units. A CDC-sponsored survey of two major American cities documented that nearly 50% of the premises were infected with rats and mice.” While October is known for decorating homes with fake creepy critters, the arrival of cold weather may force the real thing into your home. What can you do to prevent unwanted pests from making your home their own private winter retreat?
While the list of home invasive pests is extensive and includes flies, fleas and cockroaches, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights rodents as the pest of most concern.
According to the CDC:
Rodents destroy property, spread disease, compete for human food sources, and are aesthetically displeasing. Rodent-associated diseases affecting humans include plague, murine typhus, leptospirosis, rickettsialpox, and rat-bite fever…
The CDC identifies rodent species as commensal pests meaning they survive at the expense of humans. They prioritize the rodents of most concern to homeowners as the house mouse, roof rat and Norway Rat. All three of which can be found in Pennsylvania. According to Ryan Finkboner who is a pest control service technician for Ehrlich Pest Control:
A few simple tips that any homeowner can perform are:
Walk around the outside of your house and seal up all the cracks and crevices. You can get most of the items you need at your local hardware store. An example of some of points of entry, are the doors and windows of the house sealing properly. Do you have cracks in your foundation or is the mortar around the foundation bricks in need of maintenance? If the homeowner has vinyl siding are the corner ends capped, if not, use steel wool to fill the holes. In many cases, expanding foam will be a homeowner’s best friend. Expanding foam can be used to fill almost any crack or hole in the house.
Finkboner also said:
Some of the major pests that the Mid Atlantic region deals with are stinkbugs, which have been more prevalent in the last couple of years, termites, and various ant species. Of course, there are seasonal insects, such as bees and yellow jackets, you will see more of them in the summer and fall. Mice are prevalent during the fall and winter because they are looking for shelter.
When asked what pest presents the most common problem calls from Pennsylvania residents, Finkboner stated “[t]he most common complaint from customers by far is concerning spiders. People do not like spiders and some of them have an irrational fear. A pest control technician can help manage a spider issue; however, they can never really be eradicated from a location.”
While identification of what pest has invaded your home may be difficult and unpleasant to consider, Finkboner recommended the easiest way for a homeowner to determine exactly what pest is involved is for the homeowner to inspect for feces or droppings. (see slide show at left for ID photos).
While bedbugs are not as common as they once were and were almost eradicated with the introduction of the pesticide DDT during World War II, the banning of the chemical has led to a resurgence of this pest. When looking for bedbug infestation, the Mayo Clinic states that:
Bedbugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, about the size of an apple seed. During the day, they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and bed frames. It’s a daunting task to eliminate bedbugs from your home. Professional help is recommended.
There are numerous resources available to homeowners looking for assistance with pest problems. Just because a pest has invaded your home, it doesnt mean you have to live with an unwanted guest.