Autumn in Washington, DC is a special time of year–the leaves start to turn golden and pumpkins start to pepper the doorsteps. Autumn also happens to be the season that we are most vulnerable to rats and mice because they start to search for cozy places to settle in for winter. In addition to potential lasting property damage, rodents can spread numerous diseases.
In the last decade of running an eco pest control company I’ve learned these important tips to deter rats and mice from entering your home.
1. Eliminate Food & Water Sources
Like all living things, rodents need to eat. If they sniff food on your property they are going to come looking for it. Food sources for rodents include: trash, compost, pet food, pet feces, bird feed, and tree fruit. So, do not let trash accumulate, keep all garbage cans covered and secured, make sure your compost bins have secure lids, and feed your pets indoors. If your pet ever relieves itself in your yard, be sure to clean it up daily. Do not let bird feed accumulate on the ground and be sure to harvest fruit-bearing trees quickly, picking up any fruit that may have fallen to the ground. Finally, repair leaky hoses or faucets, and dump standing water, as these are water sources for rodents.
Important note: if you have bait stations, if rodents have an alternate food source, these traps will not be effective, as rodents will have their choice of things to eat.
2. Eliminate Hiding Places to Burrow
Rodents like dark, secret corners to dig their burrows and ultimately procreate, so it’s important to eliminate these spots on your property. Inspect the corners of your shed and garage and all along the perimeter of your house. Remove ivy or dense vegetation that could hide burrows and stack firewood at least six inches off the ground.
3. Seal All Home Entry Points, Even the Smallest Ones
As temperatures start to cool, rodents attempt to get inside for the warmth and easier access to food. Mice can sneak through holes as small as your pinky and rats can get in through holes the size of your thumb. Check to make sure there are tight seals under your doors, around air conditioning units, and under the garage door. Seal any openings around internet cables or pipes where they enter your home.
4. Trapping and Deterring
In addition to taking the preventative steps above, you may also wish to take more proactive measures. Outside the home, bait stations can be useful to monitor rodent activity and kill them. As bait stations contain very poisonous substances it is critical to ensure traps are installed in a way that no children or other animals could ever access them. Snap traps can be used inside the home, be careful not to pinch your finger!
There are also non-toxic deterrent sprays that can be applied that are not harmful to children or animals. These products are used at zoos to deter rodents without potentially poisoning animals.
I hope these tips can be useful to you and your neighbors in taking on the rodents this fall! If you wish for professional help with any of these steps, give us a call!
We are an Integrated Pest Management company which means we address the root causes of pest issues and apply chemicals only when needed, always opting for the least toxic solutions, in consultation with the homeowner.
Services we offer in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA and beyond include:
- Inspections for rodent activity and hot spots
- Exclusion services
- Outdoor bait stations and regular monitoring
- Indoor and outdoor trap laying
- Burrow elimination
Read more about our Rodent Services or call us at 703.739.2847