We’re not the only creatures to retreat indoors when the temperatures start to drop.
During this time of year, many rodents and insects will begin to enter homes looking for a warm place to spend the winter. Here are some tips for keeping them outside. Most hardware and home improvement stores have the tools and materials you need to get started.
n Install door sills or thresholds at the base of all exterior doors.
n Lie on the floor and check for light leaks under the doors. Spaces 1 to 16 of an inch or less will allow insects and spiders to enter, and spaces as small as the diameter of the pencil (about 1/4 inch) are large enough for mice.
n Pay attention to the lower corners of the door, as this is often where rodents and insects enter.
n Fit the garage doors with a lower rubber seal. Fill in the gaps under the sliding glass doors by lining the bottom track with a foam weatherstripping half to three-quarters of an inch wide.
Seal openings where pipes and wires enter the foundation and sheathing with mortar, caulk, urethane foam or copper mesh. These are common entrances for ants, spiders, wasps, rodents, and other pests.
n Seal cracks around windows, doors, edge boards, etc. Use a good quality silicone or acrylic latex sealant. Before sealing, clean any cracks and remove any chipped caulk to promote adhesion. A key area to caulk inside basements is along the top of the foundation wall where the wood sill plate is attached.
n Repair holes and tears in screens to prevent cluster flies, ladybugs and other pests from entering. Some insects are small enough to fit through a standard screen, and the only way to deny entry to these tiny creatures is to keep windows and doors closed during times of fall adult emergence.
n Install 1/4 inch wire mesh (hardware rag) over attic, roof and crawl space vents to prevent entry of wildlife. Be sure to wear gloves when cutting and installing hardware fabric, as the edges of the threads are sharp. Supporting the wire mesh from the inside with a screen will give you extra protection against insects like ladybugs, paper wasps and yellow jackets. Invest in a chimney cap to exclude birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other pests. Raccoons, in particular, are a serious problem throughout Kentucky. Many chimneys are home to a family of raccoons, often infested with fleas.
n Consider applying an outdoor insecticide treatment. While sealing openings is the most permanent way to control pests, it is laborious and sometimes impractical. You can get the most out of your barrier treatment by applying longer lasting liquid formulations that contain pyrethroids.
Treat the base of all exterior doors, driveways and crawl spaces, around foundation vents and utility openings, under siding and around the exterior perimeter of the foundation. Be sure to follow all label directions. Do not apply insecticides indoors. While these can control the bugs you can see, they are usually not a long-term solution as these pests come in from the outside and will continue to do so until you stop their entry.
For more information, contact the Madison County office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.
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