What Attracts Moles to Your Yard?

What Attracts Moles to Your Yard?

The last thing any homeowner wants is damage to their yard after all the hard work they’ve put in to get it just right. One of the most destructive pests to yards is the mole. What attracts moles to your yard? How do you get rid of them?

Moles are burrowing insectivores, feasting on a wide variety of lawn insects. They are usually about 6 to 8 inches long with gray to black velvety fur. Moles have slender, hairless snouts and small eyes and ears. They have large front feet with long claws that they use to dig through the dirt. They breed in early spring and are most active then and in the fall. Other than during mating season, moles prefer to be alone; if you have a mole problem you are usually only dealing with one.

Moles are attracted to food sources in your yard, digging through leaving behind tunnels, holes, and mounds of dirt. Moles require quite a bit of food to survive. Common signs of moles include: surface tunnels, dying grass and plants, an increase in weeds, and molehills (which are piles of dirt less than 6 inches tall and shaped like footballs or volcanoes). Moles can dig up to 18 feet per hour. As they dig they detach the roots of plants which not only allows weeds to take root but also kills the lawn, plants, and trees.

Treatment

  1. Eliminate food sources. Primary food sources for moles include earthworms, grubs, ants, mole crickets, and other lawn insects. Use products specifically labeled to treat these pests and employ methods to minimize their presence in your yard to also help prevent moles from coming in search of them.
  2. Don’t overwater. Moles like soft, damp earth (and so do earthworms, which they love to eat). Try not to overwater your lawn to limit both mole and earthworm activity. Most lawns only need 1″ of water per week (whether through irrigation or rain). Set sprinklers on timers and turn them off on days it rains. Try to water early in the morning so the water has time to evaporate before nightfall, helping keep the soil dry.
  3. Apply repellents. Moles dislike the smell and taste of castor oil. Most mole repellents utilize this as the base product, making them effective at deterring them from your yard. Mole repellents should be applied monthly while moles are active.
  4. Use traps and baits. These methods are best used in fall and spring when mole activity is at its peak. The first step is to identify an active runway the mole is using. This can be done by poking holes in the top of a tunnel and watching it; if the damage is repaired within 1 to 2 days, that is an active tunnel. Place the trap or bait in this active tunnel.
  5. Call a professional. Moles can be difficult to eliminate without the professional expertise of a wildlife control specialist. These technicians know how to track moles, where to place traps, what baits to use, how to treat the tunnels so new moles don’t replace the eliminated ones, and how to monitor the tunnels to ensure the moles have been removed properly.

If you have a problem with moles or any other wildlife, contact your local pest control company for a comprehensive evaluation and elimination plan.

 

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Wildlife on the Move!

Wildlife on the Move!

The temperatures have dropped, the warm heat is running throughout the house, and we are all bundled up under a blanket come nightfall. While we enjoy the indoor warmth, the creatures outside could be a bit envious. Most wildlife animals are looking for shelter to keep them warm and provide them with a food source. We breakdown some common wildlife that roam about during the colder months and why they can be harmful to your home and family. 

Norway Rats 

One common pest encountered in the fall and winter is the Norway rat. These rodents are most active at night, when they begin their search for food and water. They exist in large numbers and are known to produce up to 5 litters per year with an average of 7 babies per litter! If given the opportunity, Norway rats will enter through open holes and gaps leading inside your home. If they gain access, they can be dangerous as they will chew electrical wires, putting you at risk of house fires.

Raccoons  

While raccoons can look cute to some, having them destroy your property is not ideal for any homeowner. These animals are talented, capable of using their paws to open doors and lids. They often live in hollowed trees or caves but can also sneak inside the attic and garage to find warmth and food. Once these pests find a food source, they will keep returning to search for more. This can be not only dangerous, as there is potential they could have rabies, but it is also a nuisance as they can cause considerable damage to your roof or inside the home. 

Squirrels  

Squirrels spend most of their time in trees foraging for food. While these animals might look harmless, they can easily become a threat if they find themselves inside your home. These pests are looking for a food source and will commonly invade bird feeders, garbage cans, and attics. If access is gained into your attic, squirrels can cause damage to the wood, insulation, wires, and even storage boxes. Their urine and droppings can also contaminate attic insulation, which can be extremely costly to replace.  

If you suspect that one or more of these wildlife creatures have gotten inside your home, it’s best to contact your local wildlife control company. A professional will be able to locate any entry points, create a customized plan, and prevent them from returning in the future. 

When Is Snake Season?

When Is Snake Season?

The last thing anyone wants to encounter when spending time outdoors is a snake. In Georgia, there are 46 native species of snakes and only 6 of those are venomous (the copperhead, pigmy rattlesnake, timber rattlesnake, cottonmouth, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and eastern coral snake). Although they can be quite scary when stumbled upon, they are actually quite beneficial to have around. Snakes are top predators, eating rats, mice, and other small mammals. Some even eat other venomous snakes! There are only an average of 8000 snakebites nationwide each year.

Snakes are most commonly found in backyards, parks, and woodlands. Many species will spend most of their time underground, only coming out to hunt and feed. Larger snakes will often shelter in brush piles or stacks of firewood. Water snakes are usually found in areas that border streams, lakes, swamps, and ponds.

Snake season officially begins in the spring, usually around March or April, and runs through late fall and winter. The end of snake season depends on weather patterns and geographic locations. In southern states with warmer climates, snakes will remain active longer than in northern states when it gets colder sooner.

Because snakes are coldblooded, they are less active in cooler months. Where do snakes go in the winter? Many snakes will go into a state of brumation, which is similar to hibernation but doesn’t require the same amount of sleep. In brumation, snakes will wake to forage for food and water, especially during warm snaps when temperatures increase periodically. Because they use less energy, they can go longer between feedings.

If you encounter a snake, whether outdoors or inside your home, there are a few tips you should keep in mind:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the venomous snake species common in your area and how to recognize them.
  2. Try to identify the snake without getting too close to it.
  3. Give the snake space.
  4. If spending time outdoors, wear closed-toed shoes and long pants.
  5. Remove any brush, log piles and other attractants for rodents from around your home.
  6. Seal up any cracks, gaps, and holes that snakes can use to get into.
  7. Remember that non-venomous snakes are protected by law in Georgia.

Although snake bites are rare, it’s best to leave handling and removal of snakes to the professionals. If you encounter a snake in or near your property, contact a wildlife control company who can safely and quickly remove the offending snake.

 

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What’s Attracting Birds into My House?

What’s Attracting Birds into My House?

Many of us enjoy the pleasure of bird watching and seeing these wildlife creatures in their natural habitat. Unfortunately, some birds tend to take over houses and make them their own. Birds are known to build their nests in places such as attics, gutters, vents, chimneys, and more. So why are birds especially attracted to building their nests near our houses? How do we prevent them from building nests and entering our homes in a safe, humane way?

Birds prefer to build their nests in higher places as this helps them survey the area around them. A house gives them a perfect vantage point with spots that are high enough for them to feel safe from predators, look for food, hatch their eggs, and even protect them from extreme temperatures. In addition to the common places that birds are found (gutters and attics), they can also take shelter in less obvious places like gaps in siding and small light fixtures.

Surprisingly, nests and what birds leave behind in them can be dangerous to humans. Bird droppings contain acid that corrodes metal and concrete and can even damage your car paint. Nesting sites can also cause damage to your home. Nests can easily clog drains and gutters which lead to moisture issues inside your home. If a nest is built in a dryer or fan, it can restrict airflow, causing lint buildup and increasing the risk of a fire.

With all of this in mind, how do we prevent birds from entering and building their nests in our homes? Here are some easy, humane ways to keep birds out of your house:

  • Use aluminum foil as repellent. Place pieces of foil in high points around your home or on tree limbs. The sun will reflect off the shiny surface and bother their eyes, deterring them from coming near unwanted places.
  • Sprinkle baking soda. Birds do not like the feeling of baking soda on their toes. Try sprinkling baking soda on the edges of your windowsills or patios.
  • Place predator decoys in your yard. A rubber snake or plastic owl can easily scare off birds and keep them from landing in your yard. Be sure to periodically move the decoys to different spots so birds don’t realize they aren’t real.

There are laws and regulations regarding bird nest removal and bird protection in each state. It’s usually best to call a professional wildlife exclusion company to handle bird nests and birds inside the house. 

Nuisance Pests and How To Control Them

Nuisance Pests and How To Control Them

A nuisance pest (also referred to as nuisance wildlife) is any animal that interferes with other human activities or that is menacing or destructive; for example, animals that eat our birdseed, dig up gardens or landscaping, populate a place where they are unwanted (like your attic), damage buildings and public parks, or threaten human health and safety by spreading diseases, directly attacking us, or colliding with cars, planes, and trains. Some common nuisance animals include opossums, raccoons, moles and voles, bats, birds, deer, and skunks.

Studies have shown that deer vs car collisions cost Americans $1 billion per year. Birds vs airplanes also cost the same amount of damage annually. Squirrels, beavers, and other similar nuisance pests cause millions of dollars in damage to roadways, bridges, and dams each year. These creatures can also threaten already endangered species.

Wildlife in general search for 3 main things necessary for survival: food, water, and shelter. As human development spreads, interactions with wildlife will become more frequent. Competition for food, water and shelter will increase, making them more daring in their quest for survival. As they become accustomed to the proximity of humans, they will continue to adapt and increase their populations.

So what can you do to help prevent nuisance wildlife? The first step is to identify the pest you are dealing with. Federal and state laws protect most wildlife and regulate which species can be trapped, hunted, harvested, or harmed. In fact, all native birds are federally protected and some non-native species (including the house sparrow, European starling, and domestic pigeon which are all considered nuisance birds) have federal protection, as well. It is illegal to hunt, pursue, take, capture, kill or possess any migratory bird, nest, or egg.

Once you have identified the animal you are dealing with, the next step is to treat the problem, not the symptom. By removing the 3 things wildlife are searching for (food, water, and shelter), they will go elsewhere in their search. If a nuisance pest is eating your dog’s food, don’t just trap or relocate the offending animal. Store the dog food in a lidded container and take the bowls in overnight.

The University of Georgia Wildlife Extension recommends the following steps to prevent nuisance wildlife from taking over your yard.

Habitat Modification/Harassment

One of the best ways to prevent wildlife is to make your yard or home undesirable to them. Once you identify the type of animal you are dealing with, do some research and learn their habits and preferences and modify your home or yard to make it more unattractive to them. Remove anything they can use for cover. Keep tall grass mowed short; remove piles of brush, logs, rocks, debris, firewood, trash, bricks, buckets, flower pots, old cars, used tires, and toys. Use an herbicide to get rid of weeds, briars, and vines. Cut away dead trees and limbs as these provide nesting and roosting spots for nuisance birds and bats.

Harassment is another prevention method you can use where you disturb or scare the wildlife away from your property. The effectiveness of harassment depends on the diligence of the homeowner. These methods must be utilized on a regular basis and moved frequently (every few days) otherwise the animals become accustomed to them and they are less effective. Tactile harassment methods include water spray and motion sensored sprinklers; light methods include bright lights, strobes, and lasers; and scare methods include eye balloons, scarecrows, silhouettes on windows, predatory figurines, and pyrotechnics.

Exclusion

Wildlife exclusion refers to utilizing physical barriers to keep wildlife out of your yard or home, usually through fencing or other materials. This is one of the best options for nuisance wildlife. All fencing should be staked or secured firmly to the ground. For large animals such as hogs, dogs, or deer, welded wire, chain link, or wood fencing is preferred. If you have a problem with deer, the fencing should be at least 8 feet tall. Smaller animals like opossums, raccoons, foxes, and squirrels do better with chicken wire, hardware cloth, or electric fence that is at least 2 feet tall and buried 6″ to 12″ into the ground.

Exclusion from your house is also possible. Cap chimneys to prevent raccoons, bats, birds, and squirrels. Keep soffit vents in good repair and screened to prevent insects, birds, and bats. Use hardware cloth or screens that still allow airflow to protect the gabled ends of homes or barns to keep out squirrels, bats, and birds. Keep windows and doors, including those to garages and sheds shut and make sure they have proper sealing and that screens and weather seals are in good repair to prevent snakes, bugs, mice, raccoons, and opossums. Cover dryer vents with a screen and clean them regularly to prevent snakes and mice. You can also seal around them with expanding foam or weather seal. Finally, prevent mice and bats from getting in around electric lines, phone lines, cables, and pipes by sealing them with expanding foam or weather seal.

Removal and Repellents

Removal and relocation of nuisance wildlife is discouraged as it can oftentimes be illegal. You can remove these pests from your home and release them onto your own property but steps must be taken to seal off entry points back into the home to keep them from coming back in. It is illegal to relocate nuisance pests onto someone else’s property. This option is usually deferred to a professional wildlife company who is familiar with trapping and relocation laws in your area.

Repellents can also be utilized to keep out offensive animals. Research shows that most soundwave repellents are not very effective at keeping animals at bay. The most effective repellents are those that use taste, fear, and odor. Different species respond to different repellents so identification of your problem critter is essential. The success of repellents depends on timing, how many of those types of animals are present, how hungry they are, and if they have been conditioned prior to coming onto your property. In general, the most effective methods combine repellents with physical barriers.

Lethal Control

Lethal control of nuisance wildlife requires permits from federal and/or state wildlife agencies. While these permits can be given to non-professionals, it is not recommended due to the risk of bites, rabies, and other diseases that can be spread by these animals.

If you have a problem with nuisance wildlife, contact a local pest control company that specializes in wildlife control so they can help properly identify the animal you are dealing with and provide the most up-to-date, safe, and legal exclusion methods for your situation.

 

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Attic Invaders

Attic Invaders

It’s already known that wildlife are out and about in the fall. With temperatures dropping, these animals are in search of a nice warm place to make their homes. Your attic is the perfect place to find refuge and search for food sources. Here are some of the most common fall wildlife that you can find roaming around and some wildlife prevention tips to ensure they don’t enter your attic.

Roof Rats

Smaller than a Norway rat, the roof rat got its name from its tendency to find shelter in the upper parts of building structures. Adult roof rats measure about 6 to 9 inches, with their tails notably longer than their heads and bodies. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries when they are in season. Surprisingly, they will also feed on insects such as American cockroaches and brown-banded cockroaches.

Rats will usually feed at dusk and again before dawn, although they will also forage several times throughout the day and night. A common sign of rats in your attic is seeing fresh rat droppings, gnaw marks, damaged electrical wire, and obvious noises coming from above.

Bats

Nocturnal animals that are known for inhabiting dark and secluded locations, bats are a common attic invader during the fall and winter months. An adult bat can weigh less than 1 ounce or up to 3 pounds. Most bats will leave their habitat at dusk and return around dawn. Bats are an important part of the pollination process as they will feed on insects that visit flowers. They will also feed on various types of fruit that help disperse seeds.

One of the biggest concerns with bats in the home is whether or not they have rabies. While bats don’t randomly bite humans, they will bite if they feel threatened. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to tell if bats have rabies, so it’s better to ensure these creatures don’t enter your home at all. A major sign that you have a bat infestation is seeing bat droppings throughout your attic.

Gray Squirrels 

Gray squirrels are common attic invaders as they frequently enter them seeking food and warmth. These animals are gray in color with short, thick fur and bushy tails. They are typically found in urban areas with trees which they use to nest in order to avoid predators and harvest food. Gray squirrels will eat small insects such as caterpillars and even small animals like young snakes.

Signs of a squirrel infestation include hearing noises from attics, chimneys, walls, or vents; holes in the siding; chewed wires; and even attic insulation damage. A major concern with these animals getting into homes and attics is the risk of fire from chewing through electrical wires.

If you suspect that you have one of these creatures in your attic, consider calling your local pest control company to help locate entry points, safely remove the animals with the most up to date wildlife control techniques, and prevent them from entering your house again.

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