Prevention Facts: A Pest Prevention Tips List
Part seven in our pest prevention series
The facts about pest prevention
This is a list of the salient points of pest prevention from the edges of your property all the way to the inner sanctum of your home. It can be used as a check list, to see how you are doing in your efforts, or as a reference for use in making sure all the bases are covered. It is lengthy, but it is divided into sections for convenience.
Brush control, rubble control: The facts
- Rotting wood is the natural food of the roach, and serves as food and cover for many other insects and rodents. Getting rid of it will send the little critters running and aid you in your quest to prevent pests.
- Brush serves as cover for insects and vermin. Removing it will help to remove them.
- Brush also serves as a seedbed area for weed production. These weed seed are then transported by insects, rodents, wind, and water into your lawn and landscape.
- Brush encourages pests population growth, lowers property values, sucks up precious water resources, and is a home, property, and forest fire risk! There are no advantages to having it, so just get rid of it.
Lawn care and pest prevention: The facts
- Scalping your lawn, weakens the scalped areas turf, and allows weed invaders to take the place of the weakened grass.
- Not mowing the grass at a low enough level leaves cover for insects and allows some low growing weeds to reproduce seed under the mowing height
- Thatch hides insects, and should be removed or cultivated, and not allowed to build up. Good mowing practices will stop it from building.
- Waiting too long between mowing’s, can allow weeds time to reach seed head maturity, and plant themselves in your nice green lawn. Too much growth also provides cover for insects.
- When you have waited too long to mow, change your mowing height, so that you take off less leaf blade, and then mow again in a few days at a lower cutting height. Do this in increments until you reach your desired cutting height.
- You should never remove more than one third of the top at a time. Taking too much off at once will leave your lawn in a weakened condition, inviting more bugs and weeds to take over.
- Avoid mowing weedy outside areas before you mow your lawn. If you have to do this for some reason, stop and thoroughly clean your mower between the two areas.
- Mow away from your landscape beds and garden to avoid throwing grass, weed clippings, and seed into them.
- Don’t “over water” your lawn and landscape beds. Many weed pests, and bug pests enjoy excess water, and may decide to take up residence in the new sea side resort in your landscape. Over watering fuels fungus, and bacteria as well.
- Over fertilization leads to most of the same problems as over watering.
- Don’t fertilize your lawn too late in the year. If you do, you may be fertilizing winter weeds instead of grass.
- Avoid aerifying late in the fall. Aerifying at that time, will plant the weed seeds that would have otherwise rotted on top of the ground.
- Avoid lawn compaction. Areas with heavy foot traffic, are likely to have poor quality turf, and are subject to invasion by weeds that like compacted areas. If you have compaction, loosen it by aerifying. If the area is getting so much traffic because it is convenient, you could make a paved foot path through the area, or you could plant or build a traffic barrier to make it less convenient.
Landscape and pest prevention: The Facts
- Use plants native to your area when you are landscaping. Native plants are already resistant to native pests, are comfortable with your climate and average rainfall, and they won’t break out into the environment and eat the forest. The single most important thing you can do to “pest proof” your landscape, is to build it with plants that are native to your area. Native plants will decrease your pest problems, lower your water and nutrient needs, and do a big favor for the environment!
- Keeping vines and shrubs a foot or more from the home will improve your chances of keeping pests away. The same is true of the mulch.
- Don’t plant climbing vines around your windows providing a freeway for a pest convoy into your home. Climbing vines can slowly invade your tiny window openings, spreading them wider, and inviting insects to travel through the openings.
- Don’t leave jagged or ragged cuts, or part of a limb sticking out beyond the callous of the joint when you prune a tree. If you do, you are doing the equivalent of hanging a sign on the tree that reads: “Insects and Disease Eat Free Here!”
- Avoid using manure that has not been composted as a fertilizer. Many weed Seed survive the animals digestive tract, and they have the manure to help them grow strong.
- Bird seed, usually contain some weed seeds. Don’t throw them where you don’t want weeds.
- Avoid anything that would weaken your plants, because weak plants invite disease and pests. Such practices as spraying water on the leaves of a plant in direct sunlight should be avoided.
- Don’t create low areas or places where water backs up and becomes a breeding place for mosquitoes, and a watering stop for other pests. If you have already done this, find a way to drain and fill the area, or find a better way of making a permanent drain. When building something, or adding on to your landscape take into account the effect of what you are about to do. Here are a couple of examples:
- In some parts of the country, any concrete in full sun is a fire ant magnet.
- Some types of lighting, directly on, or immediately adjacent to a lawn, may cause a June bug invasion. This invasion may be followed by a grub invasion, which may then be followed by an armadillo and mole invasion.
General home pest prevention: The facts
- Feeding outdoor pets properly, and leaving no extra food behind will eliminate pests who come to eat the dog or cats leftovers.
- If you have hornets and ants around your area, removing sugars and carbohydrates can help keep them away.
- Fixing any leaky plumbing, or dripping outdoor faucets will help to keep all pests away, including rodents, carpenter ants, and fungus.
- Keeping lids tightly closed on trash cans and keeping the cans as far away from your homes entrances, and from where people congregate as possible will help prevent fly troubles.
- Don’t buy or build your home next to a swamp!
- Make sure that your rain gutters are cleaned regularly, and are in good working condition. Clogged gutters are a prime place for insects, and some will like your place so much that they will want to visit you inside.
- Be certain that no tree limbs are on, or near the roof. Insects and animals might use this as a highway onto your roof and go to work on creating a way to get inside.
- Check all of your homes upper vents, especially attic and soffit vents and add screens if not already in place.
- Check and screen dryer vents if needed. I have seen a number of cases where rodents gained entry in this way.
- Make sure that weep holes are not blocked by soil or mulching materials. Your walls, like the rest of your home need to breathe.
- Check for soil contact with untreated lumber. Termites need a way into your homes wood work to eat it. Don’t give them a super highway with it’s own snacks along the way!
- Often, the best chemical for use in the prevention of pests is a tube of caulk! Caulking around doors and windows, inside and out should be checked, and resealed if needed.
- Door sweeps should be checked and replaced if they do not reach the floor, or do not go all the way to the edges of the door.
- All weather-stripping around doors and windows should be checked.
- All screen doors should be in good order with no holes.
- The same is true of window screens. Look for a good fit.
- Check the window surface to surface seals where they open and close, make sure the seal is tight enough that bugs can’t crawl between.
- Check houseplants before you bring them inside when first purchased or brought in from your greenhouse, or after watering outdoors.
- Check all shopping bags, fruits and vegetables carefully for insects.
- It goes without saying, that your home should be clean, with no food sources for pests.
- When you do see a trail of ants or bugs coming into the house, try to trace it back to it’s source, and plug that hole. A simple mixture of water, dish soap and vinegar will take care of the ones already inside.
- If you have indoor pets, check them when they return from trips outdoors, for hitch hikers.
- Most importantly, there are always the things your mother told you. Things like: “Close the door when you go in or out.” You should have paid more attention, you probably wouldn’t have to be reading this list!
Feel free to add your pest prevention tips below in our comment section!