Cooler weather ushers in fall pests - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Cooler weather ushers in fall pests

The cooler weather of fall brings in some new pests looking for a warm place to stay. (Source: MGN Online) The cooler weather of fall brings in some new pests looking for a warm place to stay. (Source: MGN Online)

(RNN) – Fall is here and summer pests are retreating, but that doesn't mean you can slack off on pest control. When the weather cools down, some insects and rodents start looking for a warm place to stay. If you're not careful, these pests could choose your cozy home as their winter habitat.

There are ways of staving off their encroachment, however. Charlie Jones is a 14-year veteran in the pest control industry and is currently the Senior Vice President of Operations at Arrow Exterminators. He says that in the fall rodents in particular are looking for a warm place to stay, and they can shimmy into some very tight spaces, even a nickel-sized hole.

"If the head will go, the body will follow," Jones said.

Rats, mice, and squirrels often end up in attics during the fall and winter months. That's because attics provide lots of room to roam around, soft insulation to sleep on and plenty of things they can chew. Rodents must chew on things in order to keep their ever-growing teeth from getting too long.

And that's the problem. All that chewing can cause house fires. Jones explains that one way rodents cause house fires is by chewing through a wire, which causes electricity to arc between the two pieces of wire and sparks a fire.

Rodents also bring other problems into your home. They can make you and your family sick. Pests like fleas, ticks, and lice often piggy back on rodents and, as indirect vectors, help spread diseases from rodents to humans.

Mice and rats also carry several diseases that can be spread to humans directly through their feces, urine, and saliva. You don't necessarily have to come into contact with the animals to get sick.

If you have a central air and heating unit in the attic, Jones says that can spread particulates like rodent dander and feces throughout your house via the air ducts. Those particulates can make you and your family sick.

While they are not rodents, raccoons and opossums sometimes make themselves at home in your attic, basement or even in your walls, and are most certainly pests.

Raccoons are worrisome because they are known to carry rabies along with other diseases. Once a raccoon gets into your home, she won't leave because she has a litter of cubs with her. Raccoons are creatures of habit, so a mother raccoon will return time and again to the same attic to raise her babies as long as she is able to gain entry.

Rabies is almost unknown in opossums, but they often carry fleas, ticks and other parasites. Opossums are nomadic animals and will leave your home within a few days of its arrival.

If you have a raccoon or opossum in your home, the best course of action is hire a professional to remove the animal. And, as with all pests, seal any entry points into your home and keep tree limbs trimmed away from your home.

The fall pest parade continues with insects.

Ants are a year-round nuisance but some species get worse in the fall. The odorous house ant is a common pest across the U.S. While they prefer to feed on aphid honeydew, they will invade your home to forage for food when the honeydew supply diminishes in the fall. Unfortunately, they can contaminate food. And if you squish them, you will find out how they earned their name.

Kudzu bugs and brown marmorated stinkbugs are invasive species from the same family of insects. These stinky interlopers make their presence known in the fall. They aren't dangerous, but they can be annoying. They give off a strong odor when they are squeezed or frightened and their droppings can damage fabrics. Kudzu bugs eat legumes, including kudzu and are attracted to the color white.

Cockroaches are a problem year-round, and they are bad news.

"Cockroaches are definitely one of the most dangerous pests on our list," Jones said. "They have the potential to spread 33 different kinds of bacteria."

Cockroach allergens can trigger asthma and allergic reactions. Additionally, there is evidence to show that exposure to those allergens can cause asthma to develop in preschool children.

"Sanitation and cleanliness is the first step to combating roaches," Jones said.

Pest management is a year-round process.

Jones says the worst mistakes homeowners make is “not paying attention to the structure.” He advises homeowners to pay special attention to any cracks around their home and its foundation, check window and door thresholds and check for any standing water inside or outside the home.

"Pay attention to the health of the house," Jones said.

Homeowners should also be aware of trees. If the touch the house, they serve as a “superhighway” into the house for rats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and even ants.

Arrow Exterminators has provided some tips to help you keep unwanted pests out of your home:

  • Always store food in sealed, airtight containers.
  • Seal all cracks in and around the foundation of the home.
  • Make sure that all screens on doors and windows are in good repair
  • Keep kitchens and bathrooms sanitized and vacuum frequently.
  • Eliminate sources of standing water and keep tree branches and shrubs trimmed back and away from the home.
  • Store firewood away from the home on an elevated surface and don't keep unused firewood in the home overnight.

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