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.
The first reaction most people have when they discover signs of rodents in their home is 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. With the proper materials and diligence, homeowners can successfully implement some exclusionary solutions on their own.
Exclusion is the ideal way to control rodents by using techniques to keep them from entering your house in the first place. Although it can be a tricky, time-consuming task, all openings must be found and sealed up. Mice can and will find unnoticed entrances into your home with their extraordinary agility, climbing skills 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. Whether your house is five years old or 100, rodents will find any way in they can. It is often beneficial to consider using a trained pest control professional because they know where and what to look for.
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 should not be used near the foundation
- Overhanging tree branches need to be cut down so they are not touching the house
- Do not store firewood within the immediate vicinity of the house
- Shut doors and windows tightly and minimize the amount of time they are left open
DIY Exclusion Materials:
- Hardware cloth (1/4” wire mesh)
- Caulk, foam, spackle
- Sheet metal
- Copper mesh or stainless steel wool – do not use regular steel wool; it rusts and breaks down over time
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, contact a pest professional to ensure the job is done right.