Gross! Where did these pests come from?

We agree that bugs, lizards, snakes, and rats are bothersome as uninvited house guests.  But even sweet, furry woodland creatures are a catastrophe in your home.  There are a host of creatures that seem to be creeping into residences all over the US right now.  What's going on?

Bugs and other animals are influenced by many of the same weather disasters we have been facing here in the US.  Over the past few months, flooding and wildfires have forced many bugs and animals out of their natural habitat, often into residential and suburban areas that are build above flood plains.  Drought in other areas pushes wildlife to travel great distances seeking water that is often found in parks, fountains, pools, well watered lawns and possibly your bathtub.  Severe heat creates desperate situations for insects and animals that must seek any shelter, and some smaller creatures may find your home a comfortable fit.

Most of these unsanitary pests are easily dissuaded from taking up residence in your home.  You can help your home seem much less desirable to these wayward animals. Try these tips before (and certainly after) you find any unwanted house guests.
  • Store all food in sealed containers. 
  • Do not leave dirty dishes to set out, even for a short time.  Don't leave dirty dishes int he sink of dishwasher.
  • Keep fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator if possible, or only buy enough for each day.  Wash produce as soon as you bring it home.  Fruit flies are a formidable opponent once established in your home.
  • Keep food storage areas uncluttered.  Keep cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator wiped clean.
  • Remove garbage from your home and keep refuse outdoors in tightly sealed cans.
  • Do not leave pet food and water out over night.  (We were once feeding a neighborhood cat, only to discover we were also feeding the neighborhood possums.)
  • Do not allow any water to accumulate in or around your home.  Pools and fountains can attract bugs and animals, leaky faucets and drains create a water supply for insects and vermin.  Standing water outdoors also breeds mosquitoes.
  • Dry shower walls with a squeegee or towel after use.
  • Clutter provides nesting and breeding areas for mice and roaches.  Recycle magazines and newspapers.  Donate boxes of unused clothes.  Keep storage items in sealed plastic bins. (But know that determined mice and rats can chew into plastic bins as well.)
  • Use wire mesh, patches, and caulking to seal off even the tiniest of holes and cracks into your home.  Caulk around baseboards and windows to prevent ants and other insects entering these spaces.  Check attic and basement areas and around windows and doors for gaps.  If you find ants trailing in your house, try to quickly find their access point outdoors before doing them in.
  • Keep floors swept and vacuumed.
  • Although less appealing inside your home, spiders, snakes, bats and birds all feast on insects.  Leaving them alone (or even helping them) outside your home might be a good move.
If you find that your home has already been occupied by the enemy, take immediate action.  There are many products and companies dedicated to ridding your space of these invaders.  If you plan to "do it yourself" seek experienced advice and read labels and warnings carefully. (I know a guy who sprayed his siding with a lawn pesticide and had to move to a hotel for a week because of the fumes.) Keep your family and pets safe from toxins and contraptions.  Or call a professional, which may cost more but should come with expertise, a license, and a guarantee.

P.S. Everyday Providence is concerned that use of pesticides and herbicides can have unexpected, long term consequences.  In addition to concern for the safety in your home, we also share a great concern for the plight of bees worldwide suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder.  Although the exact cause(s) of this problem is not known, there is evidence that use of pesticides and herbicides may be contributing to the astounding loss of bee numbers worldwide.  Bees are critical to the food cycle. Most of the food supplies in the world rely on the bee for pollination.  Help protect these little workers by using the least amount of chemical possible, and only after taking other prudent steps to reduce pests without harmful toxins.

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