Winter Damage, Spring Pests: Protect Your Home by Kevin McCabe

Spring is coming. I know how the landscape looks now: sludge and snow piled along curbs, a biting 30 mph wind gust that seems to go right through you, and every day looks as dark and as dreary as the last; but believe me, spring is coming. Although the calendar doesn’t vary from year to year, we humans have no idea which exact day in 2017 Mother Nature will let us know that the season of rebirth has begun. But the insects know. And the animals know. The development of all the creatures that we call pests actually started months ago in the fall or winter of the previous year. When you see your first ant or bee of spring, the animal kingdom has already been awake and working for weeks, preparing to invade your home and garden. But it’s not too late to protect yourself. Here are three easy steps:

ONE. Clear out and clean up debris, starting with the areas around the foundation of the house and working outward. Cut back all bushes/plants within 12 inches of the foundation. This will eliminate nesting areas for mice and insects. Tree branches should be cut back so they’re no closer than 6 feet from the house. This prevents squirrels and raccoons, even rats, from accessing your roof and making holes so they can nest inside your attic. Any areas of standing water should be eliminated, and gutter downspouts should be checked for proper drainage. Too much water around your foundation can lead to rotting of wooden structures and trim, creating a nice home for termites, carpenter ants, fungus and mold.

TWO. Wash the insides of all interior trash cans and waste baskets and, if the can is stored inside a cabinet, wipe down the inside cabinet walls. Ants are attracted to these areas. Rinse all recyclables before putting them in the bin, especially jelly jars, beer and soda cans, because these can attract bees and wasps. Make sure the kitchen counter stays clean of food particles or open food items. Outside, wash your trash cans (again, this prevents ants, flies and rodents). Scrape your grill clean (including removing any grease that’s trapped) to discourage bees/wasps from nesting inside and surprising you the next time you light it!

THREE. Caulk every area you find where you can see daylight or feel a breeze from inside the house, such as window frames and spaces around chimneys or pipes. It’s good to caulk gaps you find from inside, but even better to caulk gaps outside the structure. For most situations, I recommend a latex caulk with silicone added. You can use it inside and outside. It cleans up with soap and hot water while wet, so you can correct mistakes (and get it off your hands!), but once dry it is an excellent barrier to both insects and weather. It can also be painted to match your house’s woodwork or siding. Pure silicone caulk is the best for durability, but you need a solvent for cleanup and after it’s dry, it isn’t paintable. Latex caulk is available in multiple colors, including white, clear, several browns, some greys and off-white.

I enjoy offering these suggestions as first steps to having a pest-free home. If you have any questions, or wish to make an appointment for a consultation, please call Total Home Management LLC, a Lehigh Valley small business that specializes in pest management and handyman services, at (610)438-4190, or visit our website at www.totalhomemanagementllc.com. Follow us on Twitter @totalhomemgmt.