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Fall Pest Prevention Tips

Want to prevent mice, spiders and other pests from getting into your home? Shore up your lines of defense with these effective pest-fighting strategies.

FH100111_001_PESPRE_01-2Family Handyman
If unwanted critters are waging war on your house, it’s time to fight back. Here are some effective pest-fighting strategies. We’ll give you tips about how to close the entryways that let critters in, and also how to evict them if they manage to get past your defenses.

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Video: How to Get Rid of Mice

Locate pest entrances

Inspect the area below your siding

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.

Seal off doors and windows

Seal entrances with weatherstripping

Seal doors, windows and basement sashes with adhesive- backed weatherstripping. Clean the surface first so the weatherstrip will adhere well.

Secure your dryer vent

Check the condition of the damper

Examine dryer vents to ensure the damper isn’t stuck open or broken off completely. Also check that the seal between the vent and the wall is tight.

Caulk gaps between trim and siding

Use acrylic latex caulk to fill gaps

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.

Clean and seal off soffit gaps

Fill soffit openings with expanding foam

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.

Stuff insect entrances with copper mesh

Use copper scrubbing pads to fill gaps

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.

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.

Snap-type mousetraps are effective

Set mousetraps correctly

Snap-type mousetraps, when well placed, can be an effective way to rid your house of mice. Common mistakes are poor placement of traps and using too few of them. Place snap traps along walls in areas where you’ve seen the telltale brown pellets. 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.

Deprive bugs of moisture

Keep mulch and soil away from foundations

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.

Spider solution

Dehumidify and clean up cobwebs

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 window sills brushed clean too. In a matter of weeks, the spider population will die down significantly.

Keep pet food out of reach

Use metal or plastic containers to store food

Store pet food in a lidded metal trashcan, as mice cannot climb the slick, vertical sides of the can. Sealed plastic containers are also a good option.

Keep items off the floor

Hunt for mouse droppings periodically

Store items off the floor on wire rack shelving to prevent moisture from collecting underneath. Look for mouse droppings and other evidence of infestation with a flashlight and mirror.

Eliminate sink cabinet clutter

Self-adhesive tiles clean up easily

Tidy up under the kitchen sink. Store items in a caddy so you can easily clear out the cabinet for cleaning and inspection. Self-adhesive tiles provide an easy-to-clean surface.