Growing up in rural Northeast Wisconsin in a house surrounded by cornfields on three sides (that’s not an exaggeration), I knew that when the corn came down in the fall, the mice came inside — That is, until my brothers and I trapped them all! Dealing with rodents in the fall and winter is a nuisance that most Midwesterners know all too well. Fortunately, by taking the right preventative steps, you can have peace of mind knowing the only ones sleeping in your home are you and your family.
What is the first reaction most people have when they discover signs of rodents at home? It’s likely for you to instantly bust out the snap traps and coat them with peanut butter. While reactive steps such as using a mousetrap or buying a cat are good ideas (according to WikiHow), the best remedy is to take care of the problem before it starts.
The ideal way to control rodents is simply to keep them out of your house. Sounds easy enough, right? Exclusion is much easier said than done. Mice are serious break-in artists. They can and will find unnoticed entrances into your home with their extraordinary agility, climbing prowess and ability to squeeze through an opening only ¼ inch wide. You might not think so, but if you can see light coming in from underneath your doors, a mouse can fit through. I think that explains why we would occasionally get mice in the 100-year-old house I lived in during college. Whether your house is five years old or 100, rodents will find any way in they can.
For a solid line of defense against mice entering your home, follow these tips:
- Use weather strips on doorways and windows
- Replace broken windows
- Caulk around utility/service pipes
- Repair openings in the building’s foundation
- Screen all vents
- Seal additional small cracks with copper mesh (steel wool will rust and deteriorate over time).
- Around the house exterior, rake away any weeds or shrubbery as they provide safe passage to pests
- Mulch, in particular, should not be used near the foundation, and any overhanging tree branches need to be cut down
- Do not store firewood within the immediate vicinity of the house.
If you do happen to encounter some unwanted guests this fall or winter, be sure to clean up the area where the rodents lived. While seemingly harmless, these little critters are known to spread diseases such as hantavirus, rat-bite fever, leptospirosis and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Not to mention that rodents can and will gnaw through building materials and electronic equipment, adding fire danger to the list of problems they can create.
If you’re worried about properly rodent-proofing your home for the wintertime, call a pest professional to ensure the job is done right.