Pest Damage: Which Critters Should Concern You
As the weather gets colder, everyone is finding ways to warm up a bit, including those pesky bugs and mice around your house. In fact, fall and winter are when you will most likely see the signs that pests have taken up residence in your home, but only some will actually do damage.
Fortunately, only a few insects can really damage the wood of your home’s structure, particularly if the wood is solid and dry. These damaging pests include:
- Termites (subterranean termites and drywood termites)
- Carpenter ants
- Certain powder post beetles
- Wood boring carpenter bees, which resemble bumble bees, but they excavate tunnels in wood to make a nest whereas bumble bees nest in soil. This nest building can damage wood trim, doors, and so forth. While carpenter bee damage is usually minor, it should be repaired to prevent water infiltration and rot.
Which insects invade but cause no real damage?
Ladybugs are one. They are really only a considered a pest because having many of them inside your home is annoying. Ladybugs do not feed on or damage anything in the home, they don’t carry diseases or sting, and they don’t breed indoors.
Then there are the stink bugs. We all hate them, but stink bugs do not do any structural damage to homes and they do not sting or bite. These pests release foul smelling chemicals to avoid predators. They also give off other chemicals to attract other stink bugs.
Spiders, as you probably know, do not damage your home either, and in general don't deserve their scary reputation. They rarely bite people, and most species' venom is not dangerous.
What about other invaders?
Rodents (mice, chipmunks, rats or squirrels) that seek shelter in your humble abode can cause damage by chewing through wiring, timber, drywall, pipes and brickwork. If you see one mouse in your house, there are other mice there that you did not see.
Why do they invade? Basically, they are looking for heat, shelter, and food – all things your home offers readily. The best way to prevent a mouse family from moving in and multiplying (they do that pretty quickly) is to take away access to what they seek.
Ways to keep mice away
There are natural and DIY methods to keeping mice away, like repellent sprays including peppermint, placing dryer sheets at points of entry, and cotton balls soaked in oil and cayenne pepper. They work well, but the best defense is preventing entry in the first place.
- Look for entry points and fill with caulk or steel wool. Mice are able to fit through openings the size of a dime, but they cannot eat through caulk and steel wool.
- Pay close attention to the points where pipes enter the house and along basement foundations.
- Make sure you've screened the vents and the openings of your chimneys.
- Keep stacks of firewood at least 20 feet from the house. Mice like to nests there.
- Seek advice and an inspection from a professional exterminator.
It is wise to take precautions to prevent pests from invading your home, no matter what time of year it is. Not only is the presence of rodents and certain insects unhealthy and potentially dangerous to your home and family, it may send potential buyers running when you try and sell your home.
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