August is here and as much as we don’t want to think about it, fall is right around the corner. As the days begin to get shorter and temperatures drop, wildlife creatures begin to prepare for the fall and winter seasons. Fall is the time when wildlife search for warm shelter and begin to stock up on food, sometimes leading them right to your home!
Here are some of the most common wildlife critters that can find refuge in your home for winter, along with some ways to prevent them from taking up residence in your home.
Squirrels like to “fatten” up in the fall as they get ready for the colder months. They often seek shelter in attics where they will make their nests and store their food. They are especially hazardous in homes because they have a tendency to chew through wires and wood, creating significant damage to your home.
Some ways to prevent squirrels:
- Install chimney caps or screens
- Don’t leave pet food and water out overnight
- Take down bird feeders in the fall as squirrels love to scavenge these for seed
- Trim back any limbs or branches that extend within 10 feet of your home
Like squirrels, raccoons also like to “fatten” up for the winter. Raccoons are nocturnal, which means they are more active at night. When the weather gets cooler, this causes raccoons to become more active and creative in their search for food. They will often find food in your trash cans and home and can often enter your house through the roof. They are known to seek shelter in either your attic or crawl space.
You can prevent raccoons by:
- Keep trash in bins with secure, locking lids
- Seal any entry points on the exterior of your home
- Rinse out trash cans once a month to help eliminate odors
- Install bright exterior lights to deter them from your yard at night
Rodents, like mice and rats, will begin to be more active in the fall and you can usually hear them in your walls or attic. They seek shelter in your home because it supplies them with an available food supply throughout the winter.
Prevent rodents this fall by:
- Storing food in plastic or metal containers with tight lids
- Sealing up holes inside and outside the home
- Cleaning up spilled food immediately and washing dishes soon after use
- Keep compost bins as far away from the house as possible
Once the temperature dips below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, bats will begin their hibernation. While some species of bats do migrate south once the weather cools off, some will be in search of warm, dark spaces to roost that are hidden from predators. Unfortunately, they will often roost in the attic or chimney of your home.
You can prevent bats by:
- Installing chimney screens
- Using window screens and draft guards on doors and windows that go into the attic
- Sealing any openings in shingles and weatherstripping
- Making sure insulation isn’t worn down
Wildlife removal can be a difficult task to handle on your own, as there are some regulations for certain species. It is often best left to the professionals. If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, contact your local professional wildlife control company. These professionals will inspect your home to identify the animal problem. They will also provide you with the best plan of action to remove nuisance wildlife and prevent it in the future.
While some may have an idyllic picture of wildlife on their property (deer roaming across their yards, cute bunnies hopping through the garden), these nuisance wildlife can decimate your lawn or garden overnight. Squirrels digging holes, deer eating shrubs, and rabbits chowing down on your vegetables can leave you with a mess to deal with. If you don’t want to have to share your outdoor living space with these pests, consider these simple wildlife exclusion tips to prevent wildlife from taking over your yard.
Identify Your Wildlife
The first step in wildlife control is identifying which critter you have.
- Deer love plants, flowers, and edibles. Common signs include missing buds, half eaten fruits and veggies, and torn or ripped leaves. Deer droppings are pellet-shaped and their tracks look like upside down hearts.
- Groundhogs eat plants, leaves, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. They love to tunnel and their burrows have round openings with piles of dirt (and oftentimes flies) near them. Groundhogs will leave wide teeth marks on plants, fruit, and bark. Their tracks have 4-clawed toes on their front paws and 5-clawed toes on their back paws.
- Rabbits can destroy your flower or vegetable garden overnight. Signs of rabbits include piles of pea-sized droppings; neat, razor-trimmed leaves and stems; and missing plants. If they are bedding down in your mulch, you might see tufts of fur or slight depressions in the mulch.
- Raccoons are nocturnal pests that will often dig through your trash cans in search of food. They will also dig up your lawn or mulch looking for insects to eat. Signs of raccoons include torn trash bags, tipped over trashcans, missing fish from fountains or ponds. empty bird feeders, and holes in your mulch or yard.
- Squirrels will leave small holes in your planting containers or beds. You will often find half eaten or missing seedheads, fruits, and vegetables. Squirrels also love birdfeeders and can often be found raiding them.
Clean Up Your Yard
Wildlife are less likely to hang out in your yard if they don’t have a place to hide. Getting rid of wood piles, brush, and overgrown shrubbery will eliminate the majority of their hiding spots. Open spaces and neatly trimmed flower beds help to discourage them, especially rabbits and groundhogs.
Get Rid of Their Food
Another thing wildlife look for in your yard is a food source. Getting rid of their food or discouraging them from it will go a long way in keeping them out. Fill your garden with plants that deer and rabbits dislike. Pick any edible fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ripe. Collect fallen fruit and nuts before the squirrels can get to them. Don’t leave pet food sitting out overnight. Strap or bungee trash can lids onto your cans.
There are several plants you can include in your landscaping that help deter wildlife. Most animals will be repelled by the smell of garlic plants. Daffodils are a pretty addition to your garden but most animals dislike the bitter taste of their leaves. Lavender is great for repelling deer and rabbits. Marigolds work well at repelling moles. You can also use distasteful substances to spray or sprinkle around your garden or individual plants to help repel wildlife. Some substances that are effective include hot pepper extract, predator urine, castor oil, garlic clippings, cayenne pepper, putrid egg whites, and coffee grounds.
Scare Them Off
Putting deterrents in your yard can help scare these pests away. Dogs who have free run in your yard are great at keeping these wildlife away. You can also use noisemakers, motion-activated sprinklers and lights, automated sprinklers, garden spinners, decoy animals, and pinwheels to help scare them away.
You can also keep wildlife at bay by making it physically impossible (or at least much more difficult) for them to get into your yard or garden. You can put up a barrier to protect your yard or even individual plants you want to protect. Netting or chicken wire around plants or a wire cloche over plants can protect them from rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, and deer. Putting electric fencing around your vegetable gardens can exclude most wildlife as long as they can’t go over or under it. To keep deer out, fences should either be extremely high (8 feet or taller) or short, doubled, and wide (such as 2 shorter fences spaced 5 feet apart). Use sturdy wire or hardware cloth to close any openings under your shed and deck to help keep out rabbits and groundhogs, Make sure to bend the wire into an L-shape and bury it several inches under the ground to keep them from digging underneath it.
If you have a problem with wildlife, contact your local wildlife control company who can help you identify which type of pest you are dealing with and provide you with the best wildlife exclusion methods for your situation.
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