Your home is your castle, and you’ve probably spent quite a bit of time and effort making it as comfortable for yourself and for your guests as possible. Unfortunately, some of our homemaking habits are inviting pests inside in addition to human guests. Pests are a little less picky than humans are, so some simple mistakes can be all it takes to turn your happy home into a palace for pests.
We’ve put together a list of 6 common mistakes you might be making that invite pests into your home. Are you making any of the mistakes on this list? If you are, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and it’s not the end of the world. Once you’re aware of your habits, it’s easy to break them one by one, to keep your home the pest-free palace you deserve.
1. An Open-Door Policy
If you can walk through it easily, so can pests as small as ants or as large as rats. When it gets hot out, swinging your front door wide open to the air can be incredibly appealing. Unfortunately, the comfort and safety of the inside of your house is as appealing to pests as a spring breeze is for you, and an open front door is an open invitation.
A screen door is an easy compromise that will let the breeze in while keeping pests out. But a screen door is only a barrier if it’s well maintained – screens with small holes and tears will let ants, beetles, mosquitoes and more inside nearly as easily as if there was no door at all. And a tear at the bottom of a screen door can be the worst kind, because all it takes is one clever or curious creature to dig its exploratory claws to the damage and a small tear suddenly becomes a door big enough for anything to crawl through.
2. Water, Water Everywhere!
Everything needs water to live, and pests are no different. Water issues in the home are one of the biggest culprits for attracting many kinds of pests, from cockroaches and water bugs to mosquitoes and silverfish. Leaking pipes under the sink in a bathroom or a kitchen can seem like a minor issue, especially if it’s only a few drops rather than a stream of water. But thirsty pests can make a home and a breeding ground out of much less water than you’d expect, turning your minor leak into a major pest control issue. Eliminate this issue before it ever occurs by fixing leaky pipes and clogged drains as soon as they happen.
Water attracts pests outside of the house, too. Water features like bird baths and peaceful fishponds can be wonderful additions to the backyard. Unfortunately, standing water draws mosquitoes as well as songbirds, which can be dangerous. The best way to avoid the risk of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry is to overturn any sources of standing water, from bird baths to empty flower pots, barrels, buckets, and trash bins.
3. Snacks for Santa are Entrees for Pests
We leave cookies out once a year to invite Santa down our chimneys, and pests love to snack just as much as Saint Nicholas does, but they come with far less pleasant gifts. Leaving food out is one of the biggest reasons we find pests camping out in our kitchens, and it’s also one of the easiest mistakes to fix.
Always make sure you clean up after you cook anything, wiping up any spills and splatters. When you finish eating, be sure to do the same, being mindful of any small bits of food that drop to the floor or might be hiding under a place-mat.
4. One Man’s Trash…
Anything that you’re not eating right away, whether leftovers, fresh fruits, or breads and pizza, needs to be stored in sealed containers like Tupperware boxes or sealed plastic bags, or at least put away in the refrigerator. It can be wonderful to keep a fruit bowl, but just one bruise or tear in a peel can attract ants, roaches and fruit flies that you might not notice until the problem is out of control. The best way to keep this under control is to be sure not to leave food out anywhere that’s accessible to pests.
This goes for your garbage, too! Inside and outside the home, be sure to keep your trash under control, taking it outside regularly and ensuring that it gets picked up and removed in a timely manner. When you do toss food in the trash, it’s best to take it outside right away, keeping it in secure metal or plastic bin with a lid on it. Loose trash bags sitting on the curb are a buffet for rats, raccoons, cats and other pests and rodents—even bears, if they live in your area! Worse, you’ll notice when you’ve been accidentally feeding your neighborhood pests because they’ll leave you a nasty mess all over the street where your once-contained garbage used to be.
5. Pet Food is Pest Food
You might not see it as edible, but pests like pet food just as much as they enjoy “people food.” Be mindful of leaving food out for cats and dogs that don’t scarf it all down right away. Once your pet wanders away from its leftovers, all kinds of pests can come by to chow down. Wet food is the worst for this, but even pet food that’s stored in the bags it came in is a big culprit. For long term storage, consider a big plastic bin with a sealed lid. The ones that are designed with pet food in mind make it easy to access from the top, and they’ll keep the food fresh for longer in addition to keeping pests away.
6. Cleanliness is Next To Pestlessness
Despite the stigma, pests can infests homes no matter how clean they are, but keeping things neat and tidy helps keep them away. A small pile of belongings left in a corner can be no more than a nuisance to you, but can look like a jackpot for insects looking to collect stray pieces of hair or scraps of trash to make a nest. Keeping things tidy will discourage any pests from moving into your house.
Whether it’s water issues, damaged screen doors, or a mess in the kitchen, catch these simple mistakes as soon as you make them is the best way to prevent rodents and insects from calling your house a home.