Fall Wildlife Proofing

Fall Wildlife Proofing

As cool weather approaches, we are all looking forward to spending time outdoors and enjoying the fall season. While we are enjoying time outside, some unwanted pests could be enjoying the inside of your home. Animals like squirrels, mice, and opossums begin their search for warm habitats in preparation for the colder months. Your home is the perfect place for these animals to find refuge and provides easy access to food and water. 

Before fall turns into winter and temperatures drop even lower, it’s important to prepare early to prevent animal intruders from getting indoors. Here are some of our favorite fall wildlife prevention tips.  

Make Sure It’s Sealed!

Screens, attic vents, and openings in chimneys that lead inside the house are perfect ways wildlife creatures can get inside. Animals like raccoons, squirrels, and birds can easily sneak inside and make your home theirs! Ensure that the attic vents and chimneys are fully screened and sealed off.

Cracks and crevices on the outside of your home are another easy access point these animals can get into. On the exterior of your house, check for holes in and around utility pipes. Rodents can easily fit through these points, even openings as small as a dime! If you find a hole use caulk and steel wool to seal it up.

Clean It Up!

Wildlife animals love food and your garbage can provide them with a buffet of options! Make sure your garbage isn’t overflowing out of the can. Clean up after each meal and properly close garbage cans whether hey are stored inside or outside! Keep your outside garbage cans secure with locking lids overnight.

Clogged gutters can block the drainage of rain and melting snow. This can cause damage to your home but can also invite wildlife, like birds, to build their nest in your gutters. Make sure your gutters are clean and your spouts are diverted away from the foundation. Consider investing in a gutter care system that will further protect gutters from animal nesting and keep them free of leaves and debris.

Tidy Up the Yard!

Certain wildlife, like squirrels, are known to use tree branches to gain access to the roof. This can allow them easy access inside your home via the attic or any other holes or openings. Be sure to cut your tree limbs or branches back so they are not touching the foundation or roof.

Cleaning up leaf piles, brush, and debris can help prevent small animals from invading. When cleaning these up, put them in waste bags and keep them in the garage until garbage day. Store your firewood is at least 2 feet off the ground to keep animals from nesting underneath.

Preventing wildlife from entering your property can be difficult and sometimes can feel impossible. If you’re constantly having to keep these animals out, consider contacting a professional wildlife control company. These professionals can inspect your home, identify where animals are getting in, and safely remove and prevent them from invading in the future!

Do Snakes Come Out In The Fall?

Do Snakes Come Out In The Fall?

Snakes are actually more active in the fall than any other season of the year. In the United States, most snakes are born between July and September. These baby snakes will be actively looking for their first meals in the fall, making them much more likely to be seen. By springtime, however, many of these young snakes will have been eaten by predators or run over by cars. Many snakes are also active in the fall as they are moving around in search of somewhere to hibernate or brumate over the winter months. There are even some types of snakes (like the canebrake rattlesnake) that mate in the fall, making them much more active as they go in search of a mate.

Snake activity picks up as the temperatures start to fall in late summer and early fall. Snakes cannot thrive when temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. With the weather still ideal and an abundance of rain from late summer storms and hurricanes, fall is prime time for snakes to be active. Falling leaves in the fall also provide ideal camouflage for snakes.

Snakes will go into hiding as early as September or as late as December depending on which part of the country you live in. Depending on where they are, snakes will either hibernate or brumate. Hibernation occurs when snakes enter a deep sleep state, usually in colder snowy climates. In brumation, snakes don’t actually sleep; instead their bodies acclimate to the lower temperatures, their metabolism slows down, and they become less active and less likely to feed. Brumating snakes may wake up and come out to bask in the sun on warmer days even in the middle of winter.

Just like snakes, many people become more active in the fall, as well, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to enjoy time outdoors. If you spend time outdoors in the fall, keep these snake prevention tips in mind.

  1. Cover Up. If you choose to spend time outdoors, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long pants if possible. Try to avoid sandals and flip flops as they leave your feet and toes exposed to potential snakebites.
  2. Avoid Habitats. Snakes like to hide in areas that provide them protection and coverage from predators. They can often be found in tall grass, overgrowth, on or under large rocks, rock piles, and wood piles. If you have to walk through these areas, keep your feet and legs protected, keep your eyes pealed, and make your presence known.
  3. Familiarize Yourself. Identifying snakes is critical to avoiding and preventing them. Do some research and find out which snakes are common in your area, what they look like, and where to find them. Identify any areas you spend time in outdoors that could potentially house snakes and try to avoid them.
  4. Keep an Eye on the Sky. Some types of snakes can actually climb trees and will even use overlapping branches to move from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. When walking or boating through wooded areas make sure to look up and keep an eye out for overhead snakes.
  5. Have Confidence. Snakes don’t have ears so they can’t actually hear you coming but they do respond to vibrations in the ground and can feel you coming before they actually see you. When walking outdoors walk with strong, confident steps and make your presence known.
  6. Be Aware. This one goes without saying but be aware of your surrounding when spending time outdoors. Look down when walking and check overhead when in wooded areas. Try to identify snakes before you walk right up on them.
  7. Check Your Car. Snakes will use anything to hide from predators, especially if it has a warm surface, including your car. Check under your hood before cranking your car, especially first thing in the morning or if you park in an area that is prone to snakes.
  8. Clean Up Your Home. Making your home and yard less inviting to snakes will help keep them from coming in. Seal any cracks and crevices on the outside of your home to keep snakes out in search of warmth and food. Remove any debris and clutter from your yard and garage. Keep woodpiles elevated and stored away from your home. Clear any overgrowth from your yard.
  9. Use snake repellent. There are many commercial snake repellent products on the market today. If you prefer a more green snake control option, there are also natural snake repellents you can make at home. Choose whichever option works best for you.

As the weather cools and we move into fall, snakes will be on the move! If you have a problem with snakes or any other wildlife in and around your home, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify the source of the problem and help with an elimination and prevention plan.

 

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Snake Repellent: What Works and What Doesn’t

Snake Repellent: What Works and What Doesn’t

Snakes are one of the most feared pests homeowners can find in their yards. The likelihood of snakes coming onto your property depends on several factors like your location, surrounding landscape, nearby water source, available food supply, and your landscaping and maintenance. While the first instinct is usually to either run or get rid of it quickly, snakes can actually be pretty beneficial to have around. Instead of killing snakes, some people prefer to try and repel them to keep them from coming into the yard in the first place, or deter them from staying there if they’ve already taken up residence. There are several snake repellent products on the market, but do any of them really work? Here are some of the most common snake repellents, the reasons why you should avoid them, and some snake prevention tips you can use around your home.

Mothballs

Mothballs are one of the most popular snake repellent products. The active ingredient in mothballs is either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Both of these products are known to be toxic to insects and mammals but are actually not effective on snakes (because they are actually reptiles). In fact, naphthalene has been proven to cause illness in humans (especially children) and pets. Additionally, using mothballs outside the home actually violates their product labels.

Sulfur

Sulfur is another common snake repellent ingredient and is often seen in many commercial snake repellent products on the market. Sulfur has been proven to not be effective against snakes, however, much the same as mothballs.

Fake Eggs

When snakes are terrorizing a chicken coop, many people will use ceramic or wooden eggs or even golf balls to trick snakes into eating them instead of real chicken eggs. The problem, however, is that when snakes eat these fake eggs they die a long, slow, painful death over the course of many weeks. Once they’re gone, another snake will often show up and take its place, defeating the purpose of eliminating the original snake. If you are using ceramic eggs to encourage your hens to lay, make sure to glue them down so snakes can’t eat them accidentally.

Releasing Other Snakes

Many people will catch and release predatory snakes like king snakes and racers onto their property to hunt and kill the problematic snakes they have. This practice is usually unsuccessful and in some places is even against the law. The same goes for capturing the problematic snakes on your property and releasing them elsewhere.

Sticky Traps

Some people will lay out sticky traps in hopes of catching the nuisance snake so they can kill it or relocate it. The problem with this method is that the sticky traps will often catch non-targeted animals instead of the snake, resulting in a slow, agonizing death for the animal.

Weapons

Many people employ guns or shovels to kill snakes that come onto their property. This puts people at great risk for injury either from the snake going on the defensive and biting its attacker or from the homeowner or innocent bystanders being injured by ricocheting bullets, etc. Once the snake is killed, it is often replaced by another snake that takes its place. A better deterrent for snakes is to spray them with a blast from the water hose. This encourages them to find a new location without harming them or anyone else.

Prevention

Instead of using ineffective snake repellent products and methods, consider going to the source of the problem to help get rid of it. Snakes will come into your yard because they are attracted to something there – whether it is a water source, food source, or a place to shelter. Eliminating what attracts them will help keep them out and encourage them to find a different location to live in. Here are some snake prevention tips you can utilize to help make your yard less inviting to them.

  1. Feed your pets inside. Rodents are attracted to pet food and snakes are attracted to rodents. By feeding and watering pets inside or bringing their food and water bowls inside when not in use is a good way to help prevent rodents which, in turn, helps prevent snakes.
  2. Clean up debris. Debris and leaf piles in your yard are a huge attractant to rodents which will then attract snakes. These piles also provide excellent sources of shelter for snakes to hide. Clean up any debris piles (sticks, brush, tree limbs, etc) and piles of leaves or mulch them to get rid of them.
  3. Cut the grass. Tall grass provides ideal cover for snakes to hide in. Keeping the grass cut shorter gives them less coverage and also makes them much easier to spot in your yard.
  4. Avoid birdhouses. Snakes will eat small birds, as well as rodents who feed on spilled birdseed. Some snakes are also excellent climbers and will use this to their advantage to feast on birds feeding on the feeders. If you do use a birdhouse, make sure it is placed on a metal pole or a wood post that is wrapped in metal sheeting. You can also try to avoid using the bird feeder until the colder months when snakes are less active and less likely to frequent the area.
  5. Use up firewood. Woodpiles make an excellent spot for snakes to hide in, especially over winter. Try to use up all of your firewood before the weather warms up and snakes become more active. If you don’t use it all up, try to keep it stored at least 1 foot off the ground.
  6. Clean up fallen fruit. Fallen fruit from trees and plants will attract a variety of pests including rodents. Snakes will then follow these rodents as a food source. Make sure to pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit on a regular basis.
  7. Get rid of mulch. Mulch and pine straw home to several invertebrates that are a prime food source for snakes. Snakes will also use this groundcover as shelter for themselves. Consider using an alternative to mulch or pine straw in your landscape design. The same goes for using large rocks in your landscaping. Snakes like to get under these large rocks to breed and overwinter during the colder months.
  8. Avoid garden ponds. Garden ponds are another landscaping feature that draw snakes in. It is a readily available source of water. It also attracts frogs and other animals that snakes will gravitate to as a food source.
  9. Trim trees and shrubs. Overgrown trees and shrubs provide cover and shelter for snakes. Keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed back so they are not touching the house or garage. Branches should also be trimmed so they are off the ground, ideally with a 24″ to 36″ space underneath. This not only helps eliminate places for snakes to take cover but also helps make them easier to spot if they do get under them.
  10. Install a perch pole. Natural predators to snakes, such as hawks and owls, will be attracted to a perch pole. This is a good way to utilize natural resources for snake prevention. Place the perch pole in an open area of your yard so the birds will have a good view of the entire area.
  11. Install fencing. If all else fails, consider installing fencing to keep snakes out. Fencing should be buried a few inches into the ground and should be made up of 1/4″ or smaller rigid mesh. The fencing should also have a bend at the top to keep snakes from being able to climb over it. Some companies even make wildlife specific fencing options.

The large majority of snakes you will encounter in your yard are harmless to humans. All snakes (even venomous snakes) are beneficial and play an important role in the ecosystem. Many snakes eat garden pests like slugs and snails, helping protect your plants and flowers. Some snakes eat rodents, helping control their populations and keeping them from spreading diseases to you, your family, your pets, and your livestock. There are even studies showing where rattlesnakes help keep Lyme disease in check. If you’ve tried the tips above and you still have an issue with snakes or any other pests, contact your local pest control company for a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan.

 

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Wildlife: Leaving a Mess Behind

Wildlife: Leaving a Mess Behind

It’s minutes before you have to run out the door and make your commute to work. You make your coffee and look out the window, only to see last night’s dinner scattered throughout your yard! Unfortunately, your garbage has been rummaged through all night by a couple of wildlife pests. Two popular animals that are known to forage through trashcans and dumpsters for food are raccoons and opossums.  

Raccoons, known for their distinctive black mask coloring on their faces, can range from just under 2 feet long to over 3 feet long. These animals are considered nocturnal and are rarely seen by humans. Be aware, though, spotting a raccoon during the day can be a possible sign they have rabies or other abnormal conditions. 

Raccoons are scavengers, looking for food wherever they can find it, often foraging in trashcans and dumpsters. These skillful creatures can easily use their paws to open doors and lids to look for food. While they are omnivores, they prefer fruits and nuts over meat. Because they are creatures of habit, once these animals find a food source at your home, they will keep coming back until the food source is gone. 

Another animal you’ll catch roaming around your trashcans is the opossum. Grey in color, opossums can range from 14” long to over 3 feet long, with their tails making up 50 percent of their total body length! These animals also tend to live near wet areas such as swamps and marshes. 

While opossums are omnivores, they prefer insects and carrion over fruits and vegetables. As highly skilled climbers, you’ll find these creatures in trees, staying up there for as long as they can. They are also slow movers so don’t expect them to make a quick getaway! Opossums are generally not aggressive, though they will play dead if they are threatened.

Here are some tips to help prevent wildlife from rummaging through your garbage.

  • Seal any garbage cans and compost bins at night.
  • Use locking lids on trashcans if possible or place a weight on top to keep the lids closed.
  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit at night as opossums and raccoons will shy away from the lights.
  • Spray a mixture of half ammonia and half water on your trashcans or soak rags in the mixture and scatter them around your property; this smell will repel these pests. 
  • If wildlife constantly returns, consider contacted a licensed pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and wildlife control plan.
Watch out for the Stinging Pests!

Watch out for the Stinging Pests!

Stinging pests are most active during the summer months, so while we enjoy the summer fun of lounging by the pool and backyard BBQs, we should all be on the lookout for these pests as they can pose a risk to you and your family. Check out these common stinging pests and the best way to avoid them!

Wasps

With a slim body shape, six long legs, and two wings, wasps are busy at work scavenging for food during the summer months. Wasps will typically build their nests in branches, porch ceilings, eaves, and attic rafters. These pests are highly attracted to picnics and backyard barbeques, increasing your chance of being stung. When threatened, wasps will sting multiple times and  eventually call on reinforcements from other wasps by emitting pheromones.

Hornets

Hornets’ nests are often built in hollow trees and the walls of houses and attics, although they typically prefer a forested environment. These pests are larger and can range from 3/4 to 1 3/8” long with brown and yellow abdominal stripes on their body. Hornets are attracted to light and will fly into your windows at night if they see a light on. They are relatively non-aggressive near the nest, but if threatened, there is a potential for a stinging hazard.

Yellowjackets

Yellowjackets are social insects and can be found anywhere humans are found. Yellowjackets feed on sweets and proteins; therefore, these pests commonly invade outdoor events. Yellowjackets measure 3/8″ to 5/8” long and have a non-fuzzy black and yellow striped body. Yellowjacket nests can either be built in very high places or built in the ground. Examples include in shrubs, garages, timber, logs, and more. If threatened, yellowjackets will sting multiple times, causing extreme pain and possible allergic reactions.

Bee Sting Prevention

  • Keep outside food covered and sealed tightly 
  • Avoid wearing strong fragrances and opt for an unscented hygienic product
  • Ensure all your doors and windows have screens so these pests don’t sneak into your house
  • Stick to wearing darker colors as floral and bright colored clothing tend to attract these pests
  • For uncontrollable stinging pest invasions, it’s best to call your local pest control company as they will provide a safe and legal plan to safely remove these insects
Pigeons, Sparrows, & Starlings: Nuisance Bird Control

Pigeons, Sparrows, & Starlings: Nuisance Bird Control

While some birds are beneficial to us through their production of down feathers, control of pests, control of weeds, and providing us with the opportunity for birdwatching, they can be detrimental to our homes and our health. Besides being a general nuisance, some birds can cause damage to buildings and monuments, contaminate food sources, and transmit diseases that can be serious to humans.

Three of the most common nuisance birds that can cause these issues to humans are pigeons, sparrows, and starlings. Here is a look at each of these nuisance birds, as well as some tips to prevent and exclude them.

Pigeons

Pigeon
Pigeons are the most common nuisance bird and are also responsible for the worst public health concerns caused by birds.

Adult pigeons are about a foot in length and weigh about 13 ounces. They are blue-grey in color with iridescent feathers on their heads and necks. Pigeons have short necks, small heads, and short legs.

Pigeons prefer to nest in small, flat areas that are off the ground (e.g. ledges, air conditioning units, pipes, and window sills). They eat a varied diet, consuming anything from grains and livestock feed to discarded food scraps and manure. They must have water daily to survive.

Pigeons can cause serious problems wherever they are. Large flocks of pigeons can be a nuisance in public places. Their feces can not only deface and deteriorate buildings and other structures but can also cause slipping hazards on stairs, sidewalks, and fire escapes. Their droppings and debris from their nests can clog downspouts and machinery. Pigeons carry numerous diseases including histoplasmosis.

Pigeons adapt easily to their environments, including those that are manmade. They will travel up to 5 miles between their nesting and roosting sites, making it very difficult to get an established flock to move. Their homing capabilities allow them to easily find their way back to their original nesting sites.

Sparrows

Sparrow
House sparrows are not actually true sparrows; they actually belong to a family called weaver finches. They are stocky, small birds about 5 to 6 inches in length and weighing about 1 ounce. They have conical bills with brown grey feathers. Males have a black throat and white crown while females have a white throat and a dull eye stripe.

Sparrows build extremely messy nests out of anything they can find (string, twigs, paper, grass). They prefer to make their nests in covered, elevated areas like warehouses, airport hangars, and stadiums.

Sparrows primarily eat grain but have also been known to eat fruit, seeds, insects, and food scraps. They have become extremely dependent on humans for both food and shelter. They nest, roost, and feed in large groups within 1 to 2 miles of each other.

Sparrows can be difficult to control because of their ability to rapidly reproduce. They are extremely aggressive and will often drive out other desirable bird species from the area. When they nest in electrical areas they can cause electrical shorts and fires. When they congregate in poultry and hog farms they cause potential contamination threats. Sparrows have been associated with over 25 diseases and ectoparasites.

Starlings

Starling
Starlings are an introduced species that cause problems in both urban and rural areas. Adult starlings are about 8 inches in length and weigh about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 ounces. They have short tails and long bills. In the winter, starlings have dark bills and iridescent coats speckled with white dots. In the summer, starlings have yellow bills with duller coats that are mostly purple and green in color and are less speckled.

Starlings travel in flocks that can number into the thousands. They nest and feed in a variety of areas. When they nest in urban areas they tend to frequent trees, exhaust vents, marquees, ledges, lighted signs, hollow lampposts, billboards, soffits, and dryer and stove vents. In rural areas they tend to nest in farm building ledges and tree cavities.

Starlings feed on a variety of things depending on what season it is and what food sources are available. They are known to eat seeds, fruit, food scraps, insects, fruit, and vegetables.

Starlings can be problematic because of their intense vocalization, especially when their flocks grow to such large numbers. Their fecal accumulation can also be problematic because of the sheer volume. Starlings are very aggressive and can drive out other bird species. Their feces can deface and deteriorate buildings and other structures; can cause slipping hazards; can contaminate livestock feed; and can kill trees. They leave nesting materials behind that can clog machinery, cause drainage problems, and clutter structures. These blocked vents can also lead to moisture buildup, odor issues, and potential fire risks. They are known to carry serious diseases like histoplasmosis.

Each of these nuisance birds can be hard to control or eliminate once their flock is established. Prevention and elimination is key to helping control these bird populations. Here are some bird prevention and exclusion tips you can use to help control these problematic pests.

  • Discourage people from feeding these birds in public areas.
  • Clean up any spilled grain or feed daily.
  • Make food and water sources as inaccessible as possible.
  • Block building openings such as lofts, vents, eaves, window sills, and steeples) with wood, metal, glass, masonry, wire mesh, plastic or nylon.
  • Change ledge angles to 45 degrees or more as this discourages roosting.
  • Place netting over ornamental architecture.
  • Screen the underside of rafters with netting or wire mesh screening.
  • Install a permanent mechanical bird repellent like bird spikes to help eliminate roosting.

If you have a nuisance bird problem, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a customized inspection and treatment plan for your situation.

 

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