The following are tips to keep your house and property pest free. Some are specific to certain pests, while others are generalities that cover a myriad of possible problems. There are also some lawn tips at the bottom of this page.
If you have questions regarding specific pests, try our Frequently Asked Questions.
All insects and rodents, like all living things need moisture to survive. Carpenter ants, for example, never nest in healthy dry wood. They will seek out a window sill that has been damp from a leak, or an area near a water pipe that leaks and will start a nest there. Termites will eat most hardwoods, but they must have moisture and will locate their nest near an available source. Although they wander and can find moisture from other sources, they must have a food source thus are often found near a moisture source. Inspect your home. If you detect any leaks have them fixed immediately. Although repairs are expensive, in the long run the repairs will save you money from pest control services as well as more extensive repairs.
Caulking (Entry points)
It does not take a very big hole for an insect to gain entrance into your home, and mice only need a quarter of an inch. Inspect your home. Check especially areas where phone lines, cable lines, gas lines, etc. enter your home. If you can see any daylight caulk it up. Garage doors are notorious for mouse entry. Often the weather strip wears out on the corners, or was put on wrong. Replace them. Attic vents have screens, or should have. If they are worn out, or not there, replace them. They are a favorite entry for birds, squirrels, wasps, and silverfish. Also, while in the attic check for other holes and gaps. They make easy entry and are usually forgotten about.
Lighting (Porch & Patio)
Porch and patio lights attract insects which in turn attract spiders to the food source. Then, when the kids leave the door open or the Pizza man is waiting to get paid both insects and spiders sneak into the house and you wonder why you suddenly have bugs. To circumvent this problem buy yellow, or non-insect attractive light bulbs, and try to keep the doors closed with a weather strip on the bottom.
All windows and screen doors should have a fine mesh screen and be in good shape. Any holes or pulls must be repaired or a variety of insects may enter.
Basements, Attics, Garages are all subject to clutter. Boxes and various other storage items are all subject to infestations of insects, spiders, and rodents. Roaches especially like the corrugation in boxes to breed. Spiders like to hide in areas that are rarely disturbed. Clutter also makes it difficult to inspect and treat areas should you have a problem. I know from experience that it is difficult to avoid clutter. If at all possible, buy plastic sealed tubs to use for storage and be sure they are tightly sealed and stacked six inches from the baseboards.
Grain fumigation is required by the F.D.A. on all flour, cereals, dog food, and other grain that is packaged and sold for consumption. Usually they do a good job, but upon occasion a few insects are missed and the consumer winds up with Confused Flour beetles, Indian Meal Moths, or other stored grain insects. A good rule to avoid contamination and spread of the insects is to seal all open foods in air tight containers, as well as bird seed and dog food. This will also stop mice from feeding on them should you ever have a mouse problem. (See page on Stored Grain Insects.)
Leaf clogged guttering is a pain that we have to deal with nearly every fall unless you’ve invested a lot of money to have clog free gutters put on. Many times cleaning them is put off until summer, and then forgotten about until excessive rain and waterfalls down the side of the house reminds us to clean them. Not only does this cause wood rot, but it is a breeding area for many insects and other pests. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, silverfish have a water source, then access into the attic, Carpenter ants have water soaked wood, and birds have a water source. Clean all gutters, and make sure the slope is such that they drain into the downspout.
Trees and shrubs that touch or overhang the house are runways for insects and squirrels allowing easy entry into your residence. Carpenter ants are especially guilty of this, especially if they have dead branches on the tree to have begun a colony already. Squirrels are often a problem in the winter months, especially if you have shake shingles, and tree branches allow easy access. Shrubs touching the house or windows allow a variety of insects access to the windows, and they do not need much space to wander through a window and into you house.
The best time is early morning watering will help decrease water waste and evaporation. This will also help prevent disease. Watering is the most important practice-Basic need.
Amount to Water:
1″ – 1-1/2″ per week during the hottest months. Deep watering is recommended to help stimulate a deep root zone. Applying _”–1″ 2-3 times per week will provide your lawn with proper moisture requirements. Place a “coffee can” in different location to turf to measure (you will be surprised). Is your irrigation system delivering enough water to your lawn?
Your turf should be mowed at the following height:
- St. Augustine: 3 1/2 – 4″
- Bahia: 2-3″
Increased height encourages a deeper root system. Remember, do not scalp your lawn, as this can cause the turf to burn in hot weather. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow and always use a sharp blade.