I have had a discussion with several family members and friends this year about the invasion of mice into their homes. That just makes me shiver!
During a recent self reliance class I taught about providing refuge following a disaster, one of the things we discussed was the necessity of having traps and sprays and other ways of discouraging mosquitoes, mice, rats and snakes following a natural disaster. You must remember that their homes have been disturbed too and they need a new place to live. One of the women in the audience asked how to prevent the mice and rats from getting into her home. I guess it’s time for a few pointers since winter is a time when we are all trying to get out of the cold, pests included.
First: Stop Feeding
Mice and rats prefer making their homes in places where food is easily available. Pest control operators will tell you mice and rats love to make their home in your barbecue grill. There are scraps of food for eating and a perfect place to make a nice warn little nest. The lesson, clean up thoroughly any time your prepare food, indoors or out.
Pests also love the foods you keep in the garage and in your cupboards that are stored in paper, cardboard and mylar bags. Those storage containers make feasting so easy.
Pet foods are also a favorite for these invaders so be sure to repackage them in rodent resistant containers and never leave out food dishes with food in them for more than a short period of time. If the pets don’t eat it, put it away.
Second: Check Your Foundation
Pests can also enter your home through cracks in the foundation of your home. They can fit through very small spaces so check all those cracks and seal them. Using a combination of steel wool and sealant makes an easy and effective treatment. Also be sure your vents have small gauge screening over them that is securely fastened down.
Third: Weather Stripping
Check your window and door frames for worn weather stripping. This is easy access for mice. Don’t forget the weather stripping on the bottom of your garage door. We often forget this entry method but as weather stripping ages it becomes more brittle and easy for pests to chew through.
Fourth: Check under eaves
Mice can climb. Be sure to check under the eaves in the attic. Mice can eat through wood so if you find a small hole, attach a very fine metal mesh over the spot and consider placing a metal flashing over the wooden eave.
Fifth: Inspect the roof
While on the ladder check your roofing to be sure tiles are secured and have not slipped. Check flashing to be sure it is still properly secured. Remember pests can enter very small openings.
Sixth: Check the trash
Be sure your trash can always has a secure lid and is placed away from the house. Having mice in the trash would not be a big deal if they remained there until the garbage truck collects them, but they won’t.
Seventh: Set traps
If you have had problems in the past in a specific area set some traps even after you think you have repaired the holes and entrance points. Spring traps are still those used by the professionals but I still like the sticky traps if you can get past a live mouse caught on them. I just use a shovel and dump them in the trash. Check your traps several times a day and replace them as soon as you catch a mouse. I don’t like poison but if you don’t have kids or pets or if you have a big problem, that may be your best solutions. Don’t forget traps in the garage, shed, and wood pile.
Mice and rats love to nest. They really enjoy newspaper and cardboard so recycle these as soon as they come into your home.
Rake those leaves and burn them or dispose of them in a way approved for your neighborhood. Again, mice, rats, bugs, even snakes, love to build nests. Get rid of the temptation.
If you find a nest be sure to wear gloves and a N95 mask (the ones you stored for a pandemic) when cleaning it up. Be sure to use a disinfectant cleaner or a water and bleach solution to clean everything within a few feet of the nest. Rats and mice love to potty near their nest, need I say more? This cleaning will also help to eliminate any smell left behind.
If you find signs of an invasion ask yourself, why this place? Why did they choose to hang out there? Eliminate the attraction.
There are many wonderful things about winter, pest invasion is not one of them.
Eliminate the temptaion and you will never have to worry about step number ten.
Practice discouraging pests now and when the need arises after a disaster you will be prepared to jump into action.
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