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Fall Pest Prevention Tips You Need to Know

Keep pests out of your house as the season turns to fall with these prevention tips.

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How pests get into a house diagramFamily Handyman

How Common Household Pests Get In

Although your walls may appear solid, many walls are full of tiny pest passageways. Small insects can sneak through the tiniest cracks, so you may not be able to make your home absolutely bug-proof. But you can seal most gaps, especially the larger ones that let in mice and larger insects. Put on some old clothes, as youll have to get on the ground, slink behind bushes and even crawl under your deck to examine your homes exterior. Take a flashlight and a mirror along. If mice are your main concern, also bring a pencil. If you can slide the pencil into a crack, its large enough for a young mouse to squeeze through. Take your time and examine every square foot of your home. The key areas to inspect include wall penetrations, doors and windows, the foundation, dryer vents, exhaust fans and roof vents. See more tips on how to keep pests from getting in your home.

This surprising hack can keep mice away for good.

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Woman-checks-for-openings-in-the-siding-of-a-houseFamily Handyman

Check the Foundation/Siding Joint

Inspect the underside of your siding using a mirror. If you find a gap, mark the location with masking tape so you can seal it later. See what you can do to get rid of other pests like snakes and crickets.

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Woman adds weatherstripping to an egress windowFamily Handyman

Seal Gaps at Doors and Windows

Seal doors, windows and basement sashes with adhesive-backed weatherstripping. Clean the surface first so the weatherstrip will adhere well. These more unconventional pest control ideas work pretty well, too!

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woman checks dryer vent damperFamily Handyman

Look for Gaps at the Dryer Vent

Examine dryer vents to ensure the damper isnt stuck open or broken off completely. Also check that the seal between the vent and the wall is tight. It’s important to clean your dryer vent at regular intervals because it can become a fire hazard. Here’s how to clean your dryer vent.

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Woman caulks gap between trim and siding on a houseFamily Handyman

Caulk Gaps Between Trim and Siding

Fill gaps between trim and siding with acrylic latex caulk. Keep a wet cloth handy to clean up any stray caulk. Smooth the bead with a wet finger. Check out all our caulking tips to make the job go smoothly.

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woman uses spray foam to seal gaps on a roofFamily Handyman

Foam Large Soffit Gaps

Pull nests from the soffit gaps and then fill these openings with expanding foam. After the foam hardens, cut off the excess with a utility knife. Spray foam is a pretty great tool that has many uses that will blow your mind.

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copper mesh for pest control

Plug Gaps With Mesh

Stuff in a generous amount of copper mesh with a screwdriver, leaving about half an inch of space for expanding foam sealant. Seal gaps with foam. Do you know what’s considered the most annoying pest in your state?

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Fill remaining gaps with foam and trim flushFamily Handyman

Fill Remaining Gaps With Foam and Trim Flush

Trim the foam flush using a utility knife after allowing the foam to harden overnight. To trim off a thicker section of foam, use an old steak knife. Have you considered ultrasonic pest control devices? Find out if ultrasonic pest control devices really work.

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Woman rakes mulch away from egress windowFamily Handyman

Protect Wood From Moisture

Insects and other small pests need to draw life-sustaining moisture from their surroundings, so they avoid dry places and are attracted to moist ones. If the soil around your house, the foundation and the walls is dry, itll be less attractive to insects, spiders and centipedes. Rake moisture-wicking soil and mulch away from the window frames and low wood. Turn your mulch periodically to help keep dampness down, and keep bushes trimmed back as well. This is everything you ever needed to know about mulch.

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Keep 'em Out!Family Handyman

Keep 'em Out!

When the temperature starts dropping, mice are looking for a warm, dry place with food and good nesting conditions. In other words, they want to live inside your house. They enter through the smallest imaginable holes and cracks. Young ones can worm their way through a 1/4-in. opening. Take a very close look around the outside of your house, and then caulk, plug or do whatever it takes to close every entry point you can find.Worn weather stripping under doors can be a perfect, easy entry point for mice looking for a warm place to winter. Replacing it is usually as simple as taking the door off the hinges and slipping a new weather strip into the slots. Take the old weather stripping to the home center to find a match.

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Mousetrap Technique

Mousetrap Technique

Snap-type mousetraps, when well placed, can be an effective way to rid your house of mice. Snap traps may seem cruel, but compared with a slow death from a glue trap or poisoned bait, they're a more humane way to exterminate mice. And because you toss the remains in the garbage, there are no dead mouse surprises to encounter later.Common mistakes with do it yourself pest control are poor placement of traps and using too few of them. Mice have poor vision and prefer to feel their way along walls. Place snap traps along walls in areas where you've seen the telltale brown pellets. For an average-size house, two dozen mousetraps would not be too many.The best technique is to set two traps, parallel to the wall, with the triggers facing out. While mice can jump over one trap, they can't jump two. Favorite baits of professional exterminators are chocolate syrup and peanut butter.Live traps are best used in pairs in the same manner as conventional mousetraps. Place them back-to-back with the open doors on each end.TIP: Before you sweep up mouse droppings, always spray them with a disinfectant spray such as Lysol. Mice can pass disease to humans through their waste.

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spider control

Simple Spider Solution

You can virtually eliminate spiders in your basement by using a dehumidifier to maintain a 40 percent humidity level and vigilantly sweeping down cobwebs whenever they appear. Keep the basement windowsills brushed clean too. In a matter of weeks, the spider population will die down significantly. Here’s how to get spiders out of other places in the house.

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Eliminate CockroachesFamily Handyman

Eliminate Cockroaches

Tucking paper bags under the kitchen sink is tempting, but unfortunately it creates a cockroach condo. Even worse, once the cockroaches move in, they deposit their pheromone laced fecal pellets. If you have cockroaches, it's usually best to hire a professional exterminator. You can buy high-quality bait products, but they're expensive and are only effective if you place them properly. If only 5 percent of the roaches survive your attack, they will completely repopulate in just a few months. For a little more, you can hire a pro who understands the habits of cockroaches and will place the bait in hard-to-reach crevices. Furthermore, a reputable exterminator will guarantee the job.

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Box Elder Bug SwarmFamily Handyman

Box Elder Bug Swarm

When box elder bugs swarm in the fall, you may think they're taking over your house—maybe even the world! Even though they're harmless, here's a solution. Look for major congregations of bugs outdoors and spray them with a strong solution of soapy water. Keep the spray bottle handy, and spray wherever they recongregate.

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trim shrubsFamily Handyman

Trim Plants Against Your House

Once you kill the ants in your house and yard, take steps to ensure they don’t come back. Trim back bushes, shrubs and trees that brush against your siding or roof and provide a bridge for ants to reach your house. Keep a 3-in. to 6-in. clearance space between the soil around the foundation and the bottom row of siding to prevent ants from nesting in the siding (and make sure the soil slopes away from the house). Avoid stacking firewood next to the house. Firewood makes a perfect retreat for ants. Ants like bare spots in the yard and they like to build nests under layers of thatch. Maintaining a healthy lawn is one way to discourage ants. If anthills pop up in bare areas, spray the mound with insecticide and plant grass in the bare spots. Rake the lawn or bag the grass when you mow to eliminate thatch. These are 100 crucial things you need to do to get your house ready for fall.

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FH08NOV_493_05_011 insulation in crawl spaces air duct inspection fall pestsFamily Handyman

Check Your Crawl Spaces

Take a flashlight and protective clothing into your crawlspaces and/or basement and have a look around. Look for large, obvious nests of shredded material, which indicate rodents. Watch for smaller signs too, like lines of ants or scrambling cockroaches looking for a home. Andremove these pests and find out how they gained entry to stop future incursions.

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firewood Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

Store Firewood Away from the House

While firewood may be an important summer staple for your backyard fire pit, it’s also a magnet for pests that will happily make the jump into the house. So store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.