The fewer pests you have feeding, harboring or breeding outside your home, the fewer issues you will have inside.
1. Plants and Mulch. Cut grass routinely. Trim back any tree branches or shrubbery that touches your home to eliminate pest “bridges” to the house. Mulch, such as wood chips and pine straw, provides ideal harborage for pests. Instead of using these in areas that touch your foundation, place less pest-attractive ground cover, such as rock or stone.
2. Doors and Windows. Because pests can squeeze through tiny cracks and crevices, inspect and repair any poorly fitted, warped or broken doors and windows; check for and repair rips or tears in screens. A screen mesh size of at least 200 holes per square inch is generally available at home stores and is ideal for screening out pests.
3. Cracks and Gaps. Regularly inspect the entire exterior of your home for other cracks, crevices and gaps through which pests could enter. Check for cracks in the foundation, loose siding, missing roof shingles, and gaps around incoming utility lines, including pipes, electric and cable wiring. Seal any openings with copper mesh, coarse steel wool, sheet metal or mortar. Expanding foam is less effective since pests can chew through it.
4. Trash and Litter. Keep yards, patios, decks and garages free of litter, weeds and standing water. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids, and clean the cans and area regularly to remove debris and spills, on which pests can feed.
5. Lights. Replace standard bulbs with ones that have pink, yellow, or orange tints to reduce flying insects around doors and windows. Although it is common to place lights on exterior walls near doors, it is better to place the light farther away, using freestanding or ground lights when possible, with the light shining toward the door for safety.
Eliminating conditions in your home that appeal to pests will help reduce the attraction that brings them in.
6. Interior Gaps. Some cracks and gaps will be visible only from inside your home. Check in, under and behind kitchen cabinets, refrigerators and stoves, as well as between the floor and wall juncture and around pipes, floor and dryer vents. Seal any gaps found, especially those of 1/4 inch or greater.
7. Drains. Sink and floor drains often accumulate gunk and debris which can attract pests and provide an ideal breeding site, especially for drain flies. Regularly inspect all sink, tub, basement, and laundry room floor drains. Pour 2-3 cups of a cleaning product like bleach or ammonia in problematic areas to treat drain infestations, but be sure to thoroughly rinse drain covers to avoid damage to their chrome finish.
8. Garbage. Remove garbage (especially food products) in a timely fashion and in tied off secured bags. It is also preferable to store recyclables and garbage outside and away from your home. If this is not possible, ensure that all containers are thoroughly rinsed and that the recycling bin has a tight-fitting lid. All recycling and trash containers should also be rodent proof and cleaned frequently.
9. Stored Foods. If opened bags and boxes cannot be completely closed, the food should be put into a sealed bag or plastic container to keep from attracting stored product (“pantry”) pests. Using older foods first and cleaning out stale or uneaten food will also keep attractants down.
10. Cleanliness. The cleaner and more organized your home, the less attractive it will be for pests to live and breed. Habits of general cleanliness will also make pest problems more readily apparent and easier to solve.