DIY Wintertime Pest Control for Tenants

Not talking about landlords this time, sorry.

An electric meter with dozens of boxelder bugs gathered around it.

 

Winter is coming soon, and it’s easy to assume that when it gets cold out, the usual brigade of bugs, rodents, and other pests just sleeps or hides or otherwise goes away until it warms up again. What isn’t obvious is that when it gets cold, those pests don’t just vanish — they mostly go hide in your home, where it’s warmer.  Here’s what you can do to keep your home or rental secure against the cold-weather stowaways without paying a professional.

 

 

 

Basic Pest-Proofing

The best way to control winter pests is to prevent them from getting access to your home in the first place. That means:

  • Searching for any cracks, crevices, or gaps in your home’s exterior, and filling them with caulk. Ditto any in the interior, particularly those more than 1/4″ wide. Think of anything that comes into your house from outside — gas, A/C, electricity, whatever — and look for the hole it comes in through. Chances are, it’ll need caulking. Pay extra attention to the south-facing wall, as the extra warmth it gets from getting all-day sun make it attractive to pests looking for a safe place to stay.
  • Trimming any trees or shrubs so that they do not grow within 4-6 inches of the side of your house,
  • Ensuring that your windows and screens are all intact and have no holes that can let pests in.
  • Keeping the exterior of your house free of litter, standing water, or debris.
  • Keeping any open food containers (i.e. open bags of cereal) sealed inside of larger sealable containers such as Tupperware.

 

Some Pests are Best Controlled by Keeping Everything Clean

Fruit flies, spiders, and ants will find their way inside no matter what you do. The only thing you can do is keep them from wanting to come inside — which means by keeping their food out of their reach (or smell!).

Some Pests are Best Controlled with Traps or Bait

Carpenter ants, mice, rats, drain flies (a.k.a. moth flies), cockroaches, and snakes are best off being trapped. Be prepared to set traps for 6-8 weeks persistently to get rid of the ants and cockroaches.

Some Pests are Best Controlled by Spraying

1/2 tsp. peppermint oil in 1 pint of water will drive away ladybugs, mice, and rats. Pyretherin sprays are good for boxelder bugs, beetles of almost every variety, and centi/millipedes. And for stink bugs, stick with the traditional soapy-water spray.

Some Bugs Require Professional Help

If you end up with termites, bedbugs, cockroaches that have survived the bait/trap routine for more than 3 months, raccoons, bats, or squirrels, you should bite the bullet and call a professional. These pests are either too dangerous or too difficult to eradicate completely with DIY measures — go straight to the experts.

With patience and by choosing the right tactic for the pest you’re dealing with, you can get through this winter pest-free and enter the spring starting from zero — and that makes a big difference in keeping it that way!

Posted in: 2. Tenant Blog Posts, Maintenance

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