During the fall and winter months, you won’t be paying as much attention to the outside of your home as you do during the spring and summer. The weather is cooling down, leaves have fallen off the trees, and plants and other landscaping needs are not as critical.
However, failing to properly maintain the outside of your home this time of year can create an open invitation for many different types of pests, especially as they seek to stay warm inside your home during the cold winter months.
Fall Bugs & Pests
Fall bugs are abundant – as the seasons change, you’ll see pests coming and going. Overwintering pests start making their way inside for shelter, while “summer” bugs, like flies and stinging insects, linger.
Fall bugs aren’t the only thing to watch out for: rodent control and exclusion should be your #1 fall priority, as mice and rats seek a warm place for winter. Walls, closets, pantries, and attics are inviting…and droppings and gnaw marks are signs of a problem. Rodents are typically found in the walls and anywhere there are open food containers. Rodents carry all kinds of diseases and illnesses, entering your home through holes as small as a coin. They can also harm your property, gnawing through wires, leaving behind droppings, and nesting in your insulation. Check the perimeter of your home for any holes or cracks where these four-legged creatures could possibly crawl through.
TIP: Conduct a thorough exterior inspection for gaps and holes where rodents may enter.
The south- and west-facing walls of your home may attract fall flies in search of heat – and if they are already overwintering, a warm day may bring them out of hiding.
TIP: Prevent flies from ever entering by surveying for any entry ways.
After working all summer to create the largest nest possible, it becomes a struggle to feed so many mouths with temperatures dropping and food sources dwindling. Under these circumstances, stinging insects can become hostile. If you think you have found a nest, take caution.
Common stinging insects:
- Yellow Jackets
- Bees – Bees are typically found in the attic. The summer is winding down and the queen bee has abandoned her workers to seek shelter for the winter. The workers may be out in droves in the fall, desperately looking for a place to stay when in reality, the cold will eventually kill them. Unfortunately, the queen bee will set up shop in your attic if preventative measures aren’t taken.
TIP: Wasps frequently nest in garages or sheds. If you think you’ve found a nest, take caution.
Cool autumn weather may bring ant trails indoors. Ants sometimes move their colonies into the walls of your home or beneath a slab foundation to escape the chill.
TIP: Pavement ant colonies can be difficult to locate. If problems persist, contact a professional.
Occasional Fall Bugs
This time of year can include a bevy of unique fall insects, including stink bugs, box elders, and lady beetles (aka ladybugs). Pests enter homes and businesses seeking an overwintering site where they can wait out the winter.
- Stink bugs – Stink bugs are typically found in the walls! Stink bugs will be making their way indoors as the fall gets underway in order to find cozy overwintering areas to hide within your house. Once they’re in, they’re impossible to get out so make sure you check for possible areas of entry before the weather gets cold and they’re stuck indoors for good.
- Lady Beetles
- Box Elders
TIP: Late summer and early fall are the optimal time to treat for stink bugs. Your Western service technician can point out ways in which occasional invaders can come into your home and make recommendations to exclude these critters.
Moisture below your home can draw cockroaches. Maintenance is your best roach control weapon, from general cleanliness to repair of cracks and gaps that can let roaches in.
TIP: If you have a roach problem, move food to sealed containers to eliminate an attraction.
We recently met up with our Wilmington, Delaware Branch Manager, Tony Franciscus, who revealed the top outdoor home maintenance tips for the fall season.
Luckily, there are some quick and simple things you can do to make sure that your home’s exterior and landscaping are well maintained, and that your home and yard remain pest-free for the months ahead.
Franciscus revealed, “Be sure to check the exterior of your home for holes or gaps, especially near utilities and pipes, and keep landscaping cut back from your home’s exterior at all times to detract pests and keep them outdoors.” Also, if plants in your garden or around your property are past their prime, pull them out, and be sure to remove any leaves or lawn debris from your garden or lawn area.
“If plants are overgrown, cut them back at least 1-2 feet so that they’re not touching your home’s exterior. You should give yourself enough room so you can physically walk around the perimeter of your home without trees and other shrubbery getting in the way,” Franciscus said.
These areas provide a preferred entry point for stink bugs and other pests to come inside your home to overwinter and stay warm. Remember: even a hole as small as a dime will provide entry for rodents and other pests.
Getting a firewood delivery? If you store firewood on your yard, keep wood piles at least 20 feet away from the exterior of your home and try to keep them elevated if possible. The further firewood piles are away from the home – the better means of protection your home has from termites, carpenter ants, and other potentially destructive pests.
For many homeowners, one of the best parts of fall is the decorations. From scarecrows to pumpkins and gourds, this is the time of year to get your home ready for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, some of your favorite decorations could possibly be giving pests easy access into your home.
Which decorations bring in the culprits?
When you’re bringing any decorations out of storage, it’s best to check them for pests that may have been hiding out inside boxes and crates. So before introducing any of your previous year’s decorations, take everything outside and dust it off while also inspecting for potential critters. Decorations pests may be hiding out on include:
- Straw piles
Popular fall plants, such as mums, may also bring some pests onto your property. Also keep in mind that pumpkins and gourds can attract flies, squirrels, and rodents who snack on them.