Pest Prevention Notes
1. GRADING/DRY ZONE
The simplest way to reduce insects in your home is to reduce moisture next to your foundation. This has other benefits as well (such as, less moisture inside the basement or crawl space). Grade the first 3 to 6 feet next to your foundation; there should be a drop of at least 1 inch per foot. This allows water to run away from your house. Cover the soil with a heavy plastic, and then cover the plastic with stone. You can use mulch beyond this area, if you wish. Extend downspouts beyond this area. Do not plant bushes or flowers in this dry zone.
2. BUSHES AND TREES
When installing bushes, shrubs, trees and other plants … make sure that they will not touch the house or roof when they are fully grown. Move shrubs which are planted too close. Trim plants and trees which cannot be moved. There should be a minimum of 8-12” between any plant and the siding. This will prevent moisture next to foundation and reduce insect movement into the house.
Basements and crawl spaces should be dry. A properly dehumidified space under the house can reduce up to half the spider population and cut down on other “creepy crawlies.” Of course, proper dehumidification has many other benefits as well (reduced mold, mildew and rust). Crawl spaces and basements used only for storage should have 50% humidity or less. Basement living spaces and bedrooms should have about 40% humidity. Dehumidifiers and basement fresh air systems work well for these purposes. Crawl spaces with exposed soil should have a vapor barrier installed.
4. SEAL HOLES IN FOUNDATION
Many homes have small holes in the foundation, under door frames, and around utility entrances. Insects and mice can enter these areas. It may only take one summer Saturday morning to seal these entrances. You will need a pair of latex gloves, a tube of caulk and some steel wool. Larger openings can be filled with steel wool then caulked. Smaller openings can be sealed with caulk alone. Extra large openings will require more skill. With the gloves on, feel for gaps in hidden areas. There are other benefits to sealing these openings (reduced cost to heat and cool your house, for one).
You can reduce wasp nests by sealing holes in tubes and pipes. Seal the holes in the porch railing, gas-grill frame, basketball stand, and clothes-line poles with putty. It may save a trip to the emergency room.
5. BIRD FEEDERS
Ants, mice, rats and squirrels love bird seed. Never place feeders near the house or deck unless you want to encourage vermin to enter your house. If you must have a bird feeder, place it as far from the house as possible.
6. WOOD PILES
Never store firewood in your house or garage year ‘round. Mice consider firewood piles to be wonderful locations for nests. Also, most non-kiln-dried firewood has wood-destroying beetle larvae inside. You do not want your floors or other wood in the structure damaged by beetle infestation, so keep firewood outside and far from your structures, except in the winter. (Note: Mice love clutter. Reduce bushes and other clutter from fence-rows and next to house/buildings. Get rid of brush-piles.)
(using pesticides and rodenticides)
7. PREVENTING CARPENTER ANTS
Use a granular insecticide or Carpenter ant bait outside to reduce Carpenter ant activity near your house in the spring and summer. Spring is the best time to prevent Carpenter ant activity. (ALWAYS BE CAREFUL AROUND CHILDREN AND PETS. READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS.)
8. PREVENTING MICE
(See #4, above). Always use mouse bait in tamper-resistant stations. Place these stations in sheds, garages, and basement sill. (DO NOT STORE OR USE IN PLACES ACCESSIBLE TO CHILDREN OR PETS. READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS.)
Mouse droppings and urine are a serious health risk. Clean up in a manner which will protect you and your family. Wear protective equipment such as latex gloves, goggles and mask. Do not brush or sweep mouse material; this will cause it to become airborne. We recommend you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove visible droppings then wet-clean the area with soapy water to remove urine.
WOOD-DESTROYING PEST INFORMATION
9. POWDER-POST BEETLES
These are tiny beetles which damage wood in their larval stage. The adult beetles leave “pin holes” in the wood when they eat their way out; and sometimes you can see fine wood-dust (or “frass”) on or below the wood. They are native to Michigan. When they get into the structure of a house they will slowly reduce the integrity of the wood. The best long-term way to prevent or reduce infestations is to dehumidify basements and crawl spaces.
If activity is found during an inspection for the sale of the home it is too late to solve this through dehumidification. The infested wood will need to be treated by a professional pest control company. Items stored in the areas to be treated should either be removed or covered with disposable plastic sheeting prior to treatment.
10. CARPENTER BEES
Carpenter bees (or “borer bees”) chew holes into wood, usually on the outside of homes in Michigan. Carpenter bees are large-bodied bees which prefer soft woods like cedar or pine. If the bees are not eliminated, and the holes filled, woodpeckers may come and cause even more damage.
Carpenter bees are less likely to attack surfaces covered with an oil-based paint. They will attack stained, bare and latex painted surfaces. Some paint/stain additives can be used to discourage these bees from attacking the wood.
In Michigan, almost all termite infestations are the result of Eastern Subterranean Termite activity. This type of termite typically has its colony in the soil. The workers tube through the soil to find food (wood). The termite workers eat the wood and then share it with others in the colony. They enter the house usually below the soil surface or create mud tubes to shelter their entrances into a structure. Here are two recommended methods to eradicate this wood-destroying insect:
· Bait System – This method uses bait stations in the soil. They are placed around the structure at several locations. The benefits: Low toxicity, no unsightly drill-holes in cement pads or cement-block foundations. The risks: Long contracts, more cost over time, and when the contract ends so does your protection.
· Chemical Barrier System – This method uses termiticides to create a chemical barrier which termites cannot safely cross. The benefits: Long-lasting (up to 25 years), no required annual contracts, lower cost over time. The risks: Pesticide will be applied to the soil next to your foundation, some drilling and patching of porches, garage floors and/or cement-block walls.
If a termite infestation is found DO NOT PANIC. You have time. Termites eat very slowly. (Do not attempt to treat termites yourself.) First, choose the method you prefer (above). Then, get quotes from companies which will use that method.
12. CARPENTER ANTS
Carpenter ants are large ants (¼ inch and larger). They are usually black. They can damage wood. Often they infest areas which have already been damaged by moisture. They may create a SATELLITE COLONY (no egg-laying queen) in a structure; if this is the case they can be eradicated by a professional pest control company (sometimes in a single treatment). However, if the MAIN COLONY (has an egg-laying queen) has set up shop, it may take several treatments.