There are a number of things that can affect the integrity of your house should they get out of control. Things like structural damage or water damage are always potentially dangerous, but pests in the home can be a real nightmare. Pests such as roaches and rodents aren’t just nasty, but they can carry diseases or trigger allergies. If you already have structural damage to your home, such as cracks, you’re more likely to be visited by pests.
Once pests get inside your home and get settled, it’s hard to get rid of them without the help of professionals. Other pests you might run into include vectors, insects, rodents, or even microbes. According to Census.gov, 14 million homes in the United States were reported to have seen roaches somewhere in their home within the last 12 months. 14.8 million saw rodents, and 2.9 million homeowners reported seeing both.
Health Risks of Bugs and Rodents
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are significant health problems brought on by pests. This can include vector-borne diseases (diseases carried by mosquitos, ticks, and rodents), asthma and allergies brought on by indoor pests such as cockroaches, and microbial diseases and infections brought on by varying microorganisms, acellular particles, bacteria, viruses, prions, and protozoans.
It is said that rodents, such as rats and mice, can transfer diseases to humans directly through feces, urine, or saliva. They can also indirectly spread disease through ticks, mites, or fleas that came into contact with an infected rodent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Roaches can trigger asthma and allergy problems in the home through their saliva, feces, and shedding. The allergens filter through the air like dust mites and silently start to affect residents.
Knowing this, what can you do to prevent pests from entering your home and affecting your health? The trick is understanding what attracts pests both inside the home and outside of it, and furthermore, what you can remove or fix to keep these troublesome critters away!
What Attracts Pests To Your Home?
So, what is it that attracts unwanted pests into your home? Pests are scavengers, so where there’s trash, there’s potential. Accessible trash bins and unsealed food are pretty much fair game for rodents and roaches. Structural problems like cracks can welcome in small pests, and water leaks are definitely going to be attractive. Those are obvious, but sometimes what brings in pests is less obvious than common HVAC issues.
Inside the House
First, let’s cover what kinds of things inside the house can bring forth unwanted pests. All of which are easy to fix and preventable.
Do the members of your household throw away their food scraps as soon as they’re done? Or do you find to-go boxes lying around with food residue on them? If you’re leaving out any food unsealed, you’re basically inviting pests into your house for dinner.
Unsealed food can vary from the residue left on dishes from the night before to fast food packaging in an uncovered trash can. If you’re the kind of person that leaves their fruit out but doesn’t eat it fast enough, you’re offering a treat to potential pests.
Rodents and roaches are scavengers and will take what they can get. Excess spaghetti sauce left over on a plate? Fair game. A couple of stale french fries in the trash with no top? Bingo. You can’t leave any food out in the open unsealed. All your trash cans that contain food waste need to have tops to keep out pests. Furthermore, you should have designated trash cans for food waste and take them out of the house as soon as possible. If you have extra food scraps in your kitchen trash but don’t want to waste the bag just to get rid of it, add your bathroom trash or trash from some other room to the bag and remove that. That way, you’re not wasting any bags and getting rid of your trash sooner.
Keeping your food scraps sealed away in a trash can with a lid or leftovers in proper Tupperware, and emptying out your kitchen trash sooner will prevent roaches and rodents from taking residence in your kitchen.
But of course, that’s not the only thing you can do.
When your family is done with dinner for the night, does anyone take the dirty dishes and immediately clean them? Or do they sit out in the sink overnight?
Used dinnerware should be rinsed off completely at the very least. All the food scraps left over should either be tossed in a sealed trash can or properly sent down your kitchen garbage disposal. It’s always best to either handwash or put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, but if you’re in a rush or plan to do it later, be sure there aren’t any scraps, sauces, juices, etc left over on your plates, bowls, pots, pans, and cutlery.
If there is extra food left over in your pots or pans on the stove, don’t let them sit out too long. The last thing you want to do is go back for seconds and then find an unwanted guest taking a sample of your dinner! When everyone has been served, make it a point to cover your extra food with designated lids, or even go the extra mile and put all your leftovers in sealed Tupperware containers. If there is a sealed lid on them, your family can come back for seconds without having to reheat much. But if you’re done for the evening, send them off to the fridge!
Another kitchen mess to consider is your meal prep. When you’re done cooking, do you throw away leftover vegetables or other ingredients used to make your food, or do you leave them on the cutting board until later? If you’re guilty of leaving your cutting board scraps out, get in the habit of tossing them in your sealed trash bin or storing away what can be saved.
These common kitchen messes are a paradise for pests looking for a bite to eat, so don’t leave your leftovers and messes out for too long! For example, roaches will filter in from outdoors and follow the smell of food. Left-out food and kitchen scraps are what make the kitchen the most common hideout for pests!
This may surprise you, but high humidity is another attractor of pests! Some creatures actually thrive in high humidity, making your home’s indoor air quality beneficial to them. Bugs that enjoy high humidity include cockroaches, silverfish, centipedes, earwigs, and mosquitos.
If you live in an area with high humidity, you’re probably no stranger to these creepy crawlies. To combat these unwanted guests in your home, a dehumidifier is a good investment. Dehumidifiers work by removing water from the air until the humidity level is set at the amount you choose. This can not only discourage insects from coming inside but can make your home feel more comfortable too!
While a dehumidifier is a good option, your air conditioning quality overall can make a major difference in the appearance of unwanted bugs. Your home’s cooling system is best at controlling the humidity of your entire home and not just a single room. If you find your home is struggling to stay cool and comfortable or has a decline in quality, there may be something wrong with your air conditioning unit. In this case, the help of a professional HVAC technician like one of ours at AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical may be what you need to combat humidity problems.
If you sense you’re having issues with your air conditioning system, you may need a repair or replacement.
If there’s anything any common pest needs to survive, it’s water. Now, for the most part, you’re probably not leaving out open containers of water around the house. But, in areas like your basement, moisture can accumulate and attract unwanted guests inside.
Common causes of water in your basement can include things like interior water leaks, ineffective grading, missing or defective gutters, a cracked foundation, poor drain tile and sump pit, condensation, and window wells with leaks.
This accumulation of moisture in your basement can actually contribute to humidity levels in your home. So by neglecting water build up in your basement, you’re not only providing a watering hole for pests to gather but also affecting the humidity of your home, which only further provides refuge for small creatures to hide out.
Speaking of creatures, unfortunately, the ones you do like, can bring in unwarranted pests. If you’re a dog or cat owner, you may find that your furry best friend is bringing in more than just sticks from the backyard. If you have a dog, it will inevitably need to go outside. During his or her outdoor time, your dog might try to bring things back inside. A stick, a rock, perhaps a tennis ball that was left outside…and yes, perhaps even a bug or a rodent to chew on.
If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, they’re the most likely to bring in unwanted pests, dead or alive. Since cats have a hunter mentality, rodents and bugs are easy prey, and they have a tendency to bring their prey indoors. Believe it or not, they consider it a “gift” to you, as you are their family. But sometimes, cats will store what they’ve gathered from outdoors back inside to a place where it can be kept safe for later.
If a cat brings in a roach that’s still living or a rodent, they may get away from them and seek refuge in the cracks of your walls or your basement. The same applies to dogs. Oftentimes, we as pet owners can catch these things, but they can get away from us too if our pet has free range of the pet door.
The lesson here is this, if you have a pet that travels outdoors, keep an eye on what they return inside with.
Outside the House
Your first line of defense against pests is the outside of your house. The less of your outdoor environment that appeals to pests, the less likely they are to travel inside. Things like cracks in your walls, moisture or standing water, and even an uncleaned grill can attract unwelcome pests to your home. Let’s dive into what parts of your outdoor space can attract pests and what to do to prevent it.
Gaps and Cracks
The easiest point of entry for common pests is through gaps and cracks along your house. Obviously, windows and doors that are left open are easy targets, but even the smallest flaw on the outside of your home can work as an entryway.
Common Places for Gaps and Cracks that Let Pests in:
- House Siding
- Your Foundation
- Openings on the Roof
- Entryways for Pipes or Cables
- Windows and Doors
Be mindful of these areas if you suspect you have a pest problem or want to prevent one. For most of these problems, you can reach out to a professional for assistance.
Even everyday things you use can be attractive to pests, such as outdoor lighting. We’ve all seen it before, small gnats or other bugs swarm our outdoor lighting fixtures at night. While we don’t expect you to get rid of your outdoor lighting, there are things you can do to reduce the appearance of pests.
Insects are attracted to light because the effect it has on them is like a kind of hypnosis. Light completely throws off the insect’s navigational system. It’s a strange trance that often leaves them dead due to overheating or being eaten by their natural predators. However, openings near these light fixtures can allow insects to get inside the home if they aren’t too entranced by the light.
Some small improvements can be made to address this problem. Moving or replacing your outdoor light fixtures can reduce the number of bugs that are able to enter the home. While you can’t stop them from “coming towards the light,” you can limit their methods of entry. You can get more help with your outdoor lighting fixtures with lighting services from our team.
Like all trash and general waste build-up, clogged gutters can be very attractive to pests. Depending on the creature, pests can be drawn to clogged gutters due to the build-up of decaying leaves, rotting wood, and moisture. These damp areas can operate as breeding grounds and hideaways for mosquitos and termites. Carpenter ants love moist wood and will be attracted to your clogged gutters because of their proximity to your roof and siding. Cockroaches also thrive on moisture and can crawl up to your gutter and enter your home wherever there are cracks. You certainly do NOT want a pest nest inside your home.
To prevent these unsavory fellows from taking residence in your gutters and, inevitably, your home, it’s important to have your gutters cleared, especially after a storm. All it takes is scooping out the dead leaves and debris, giving your gutter a rinse, and voila!
Where there’s a mess, there are pests. But this doesn’t always mean waste or unsecured trash bins. If your yard has been neglected for some time, you might be housing pests right outside your back door. When not maintained properly, your yard can become an oasis for insects and rodents. For example, rodents will hang around trash outside of your home if they can get to it, as well as burrow in dark, moist places. This can include lumber or firewood you keep stored outside. If your backyard has become more of a dumping ground rather than a place to enjoy, it’s time for a makeover.
Things in Your Yard That Attract Pests:
- Tall, unmaintained grass
- Unsecured trash
- Standing water
- Poor landscaping
- Left out pet dishes
- Neglected pet waste
Your backyard grill is probably not the first thing you think of when it comes to things that attract pests. You’d be surprised how often this pest magnet can be the source of your troubles outside. Think about it, you use your grill for cooking delicious food time and time again. Even after cleaning it (which we hope you do), there can still be leftover food residue that is attractive to ants, roaches, and sometimes rodents! These critters not only use it as a food source but also as a place to seek shelter in.
The solution here is to clean your grill thoroughly and routinely and to keep it covered when it is not in use. You can also go the extra mile by seeking out preventative pest control or by surrounding your grilling area with scents insects do not like, such as undiluted white vinegar or lemon. Fun fact, bugs actually do not like the scent of onions, garlic, or chives- something you can include in your cooking that will deter them!
Pet Food and Waste
If you own at least one dog, a portion of their day will be spent outside, whether it’s for running around and playing or doing their business. Your dog may even have a food and water bowl outside for whatever reason. It’s easy to “set it and forget it” when it comes to your backyard, but the fact is that standing water and unsealed food are massive attractors when it comes to pests outside.
Open water sources like a water dish can not only attract bacteria over time but can be a breeding ground for unwelcome pests like mosquitos. Mosquitos can carry harmful viruses, not only to you but even to your dog. This can be in the form of tainting your dog’s water or simply getting bitten.
Additionally, leaving out dog food can attract rodents and even cockroaches to your dog’s food dish. Both of these unwanted pests carry disease and may result in your furry friend bringing these pests inside if they catch them trying to get into their food stash. It may not be an open container of fast food, but it’s still a food source for pests!
We trust that you pick up your dog’s waste immediately after they’ve done their business or at least relatively soon if they have free range of the backyard. Left-out dog waste, as gross as it sounds, can be an attractor for nasty pests like roaches. No one likes a roach, and no one likes left-out dog excrement, so the solution here is very simple. Pick up after your dog as soon as possible!
Professional HVAC Assistance
For some of these pesky pest magnets listed above, you may require the help of a skilled HVAC technician. At AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical, we’ve been providing our customers with quality heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical service since 1925. We’re proud to be one of the oldest and most dependable home services companies in the area. We provide our customers with 5-star service and get the job done the first time. We are a family-owned company that always practices service with a smile. We are proud to be affiliated with the Greater Farmington Chamber of Commerce and committed to serving our local community.