Any time of year, outside creatures will seek shelter. If a house has cracks, holes or other inviting entrances, they will definitely make that house their own. Once the homeowner or resident finds the occupancy of the house has been exceeded, steps must then be taken to remove the uninvited.
This article will not discuss removal, only prevention. Since ordinances and laws can differ from city to city, county to county, and so on, check with your local code compliance office to see what your options are. In some areas, local animal control will remove critters while in others the resident must call a professional. In my city, animal control will allow the resident to sign out a humane live trap with some pet food as bait. Once the offending critter is caught, they will relocate it at no charge. Yesterday my local animal control removed the second of two opossums- it took three weeks to catch them both.
Of course, any resident or homeowner can hire professional services for pest control, but the job can be done for far less money as a DIY project. Here are products that are effective in pest control.
Wire mesh over any hole larger than ¼” (yes, you read that right) will keep out bugs. The size of the mesh is important, though and so is the material used in its manufacture.
All mesh is rated at how many wires or strands make up an inch. An “8 mesh” means that there are 8 wires or strands per inch, a “4 mesh” means only 4 wires or strands per inch, and so on. The fewer wires per inch also means the holes between the wires is larger.
In the Southern United States, some states are requiring 4 mesh to be installed to prevent an incursion by Africanized bees. This will also keep out honeybees as well.
What will keep one critter out may still allow another to enter. For example, hardware cloth that may only have six or fewer heavy-duty wires per inch will still allow bugs to enter the house.
Plastic mesh or solar mesh works wonderfully to screen out the sun and prevent mosquitoes and flies from entering, but any critter with teeth or claws can easily get through it.
Chicken wire is great at deterring squirrels to an extent, say in keeping them from digging up standing planters, but if a squirrel can get its head through a hole, it can indeed squeeze its body through as well. Rats can squeeze their body through a hole as small as a dime, and bats need only a fourth of an inch to get through. Talk about flexible.
Steel Wool and Other Metal Wools
Conventional thinking in pest prevention is to stuff steel wool in outside holes and in the foundation perimeter of the house. The problem with steel in a humid environment however, is that it will rust and break down. This is a problem particularly in coastal and in the areas of the Southeast and Southwest United States.
Metal wool, made from copper is a viable alternative. It will not rust or break down as easily as steel will. In addition, rats, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, bats and other critters won’t chew or try to dig through it. It is generally more expensive, but once the cracks are stuffed and left alone, they tend to be forgotten until something unwanted moves in. In the long- run, the least expensive move is to choose the correct metal for the climate and the job.
Baits, Sprays and Other Means
A plethora of baits for bugs and other pests exists on the market today. Any DIY store or grocery store isle carries a wide assortment of sprays and gels to repel or kill anything it touches.
Some of these items are for indoor use while others are for outside use only. Be sure to read the labels carefully before you purchase or use them.
Heed all warnings, such as “wash your hands immediately after using this product,” “keep children and pets away for XX number of hours/days,” and so on. Only use the amount you need and no more. More is not better; it is harmful. Bugs are notorious for becoming immune to substances used to deter or eradicate them. Only use gels where the label says it is safe to do so.
By taking the time to research which product is right for your area and home any homeowner or resident can effectively and safely keep uninvited pests out.
Now, if only something could be invented to keep out unwanted relatives…..but that’s another story.