Many people claim that fall is their favorite season; the brilliant color of autumn leaves and the end of hot summer days can be quite enjoyable. However, as summer wanes, many pests begin searching for a warm, cozy, safe spot to spend the winter. Pests may invade your home or office to find a welcoming environment that also offers food and water. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to help keep fall pests from taking a winter vacation inside your structure.

What Are Common Fall Invaders?

Many pests have a season during which they are most active, but some pests seem to thrive all year round. Cockroaches are one example of an all-season pest; they are very adaptable and hardy. However, in Northern Virginia, you may find certain pests moving indoors more frequently during the autumn months than at any other time of the year. Stink bugs, ladybird beetles and box elder bugs are common fall pests found in the area. Occasional invaders, including silverfish, pill bugs, centipedes and earwigs, may show up unannounced virtually any time of the year. You may notice an increase in the number or variety of spiders found indoors. Furthermore, rats and mice find human habitations more enticing as cold weather nears.

How to Prepare Your Property for Fall Pests

To help pest-proof your property, you need to do three things: deny access, deny food and deny shelter.

  • Seal any cracks in your foundation.
  • Caulk gaps around doors and windows.
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors.
  • Repair or replace window and door screens.
  • Caulk gaps or repair holes where pipes and utility lines enter the structure.
  • Repair damaged mortar around windows and the foundation.
  • If needed, replace the weatherstripping around doors and windows.
  • If you have a chimney, make sure that the chimney cap is in place and undamaged.
  • Install or repair the screens on attic vents, pet doors and mail slots.
  • Make sure that crawl spaces, attics and basements remain dry and well-ventilated. If necessary, use a dehumidifier in a damp basement.
  • Outdoor trash receptacles should have secure lids that remain closed at all times.
  • Firewood should be stored a minimum of 20 feet from the home's exterior wall. Do not store firewood directly on the ground.
  • Trim shrubs and foundation plantings so that they are not in contact with the building. Your goal should be to create a perimeter that allows you to walk between the plants and the wall easily.
  • Remove piles of dead leaves, mulch or debris that might be near the foundation.
  • Repair any pipes or faucets that leak or drip.
  • Install or repair gutters and downspouts so that water will be directed away from your foundation.
  • Foods that are purchased in paper wrappers or cardboard boxes should be transferred to airtight containers. Plastic containers are usually sufficient to prevent cockroaches and similar pests from gaining entry, but metal containers offer greater protection from mice and rats.
  • Choose a trashcan for the kitchen with a tight-fitting lid and empty the trash regularly.
  • Do not allow dirty dishes to remain in the sink or dishwasher.
  • Keep kitchen floors and counters clean and free from crumbs, grease or spilled liquids.
  • Keep the cooktop, microwave, refrigerator and oven clean. Clean out the crumb tray on your toaster after every use.
  • Before you bring them in, carefully inspect all items that have been left outside. Whether you are bringing in a package that was left on your front porch, outdoor decorations or plants that you plan to overwinter, make sure that you are not bringing a pest in with the item.
  • Do not leave food in a pet's dish for an extended period. Clean the dish after use.
  • Many people leave large bags of pet food on the patio after opening. These bags of pet food should be stored in a secure container to avoid feeding pests instead of pets.
  • Before unpacking them, take boxes that have been stored in the garage, shed or attic outside and check them carefully.
  • Keep cosmetics sealed and the outer case clean.
  • In the bathroom, keep shower doors, sinks, mirrors, bathtubs, shower walls and plumbing fixtures clean. Many pests find toothpaste, soap scum, lotions and shampoo appetizing.
  • Clear out clutter. Eliminate stacks of old magazines, newspapers, junk mail and paperbacks.
  • If you have a recycling bin, keep it at least 15 feet from your home or office.
  • If you save plastic or paper bags, store them in an airtight container.
  • Pay careful attention when unpacking groceries. Many a pest has been carried into a home inside a sack of potatoes, a paper bag or cardboard box used to pack the groceries, a carton of sodas or other items purchased in a cardboard box.

Whether you need help to control an infestation or just deal with occasional invaders, contact the experts at My Pest Pros for courteous service and the right solution for your specific needs.