The 3 Most Common Home Pests
Termite season is occurring earlier and lasting longer due to milder temperatures across the country. A longer season allows termites more time to feed and reproduce.
Property risks: Having the ability to go undetected for years, termites can silently eat away at structures, causing costly property damage. Even brick and stone homes are at risk, because structural supports as well as other building components are constructed of wood and other materials containing cellulose.
How to reduce termite risk: 1. Eliminate wood in contact with the ground. Termite problems often occur when wood components of the building are in direct contact with soil. Earth-to-wood contact affords termites’ easy access to food, moisture and shelter, and direct, hidden entry into the building. Wood siding, door and window frames, etc. should be at least six inches above ground level. Eliminating wood-to-soil contact may require regrading or pulling soil or mulch back from the foundation, cutting the bottom off wood latticework, or supporting steps or posts on a concrete base. Posts or stairs embedded in concrete are also vulnerable to termite attack since they usually extend all the way through the concrete to the soil. Contrary to popular belief, pressure-treated wood is still vulnerable to termite attack; termites often enter the wood through cracks and cut ends, or build tunnels over the surface. 2. Do not let moisture accumulate near the foundation. Termites are attracted to moisture and are more likely to infest if the soil next to the foundation is consistently moist. Water should be diverted away with properly functioning gutters, downspouts and splash blocks. Leaking faucets, pipes and air conditioning units should be repaired, and the ground next to the foundation should be graded (sloped) so that surface water drains away from the building. Homes with poor drainage may need to have tiles or drains installed. Lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems should be oriented to minimize water puddling near the foundation. 3. Reduce moisture and humidity in crawl spaces. Most building codes call for one square foot of vent opening per 150 square feet of crawlspace area. For crawlspaces equipped with a vapor barrier (see below), the total vent area often can be reduced to one square foot per 300 to 500 square feet of crawlspace area. One vent should be within three feet of each exterior corner of the building. Vents should be kept free of leaves, dirt, and debris, and should not be obstructed by vegetation. Moisture and humidity in crawl spaces can further be reduced by installing 4-6 ml polyethylene sheeting over about 75 percent of the soil surface. The soil cover will act as a vapor barrier to reduce evaporation from the soil and condensation of moisture on joists and subflooring. Vents and vapor barriers are installed by most pest control companies. 4. Never store firewood or wood debris against foundations or inside crawlspaces. Firewood, lumber, cardboard boxes, newspapers, and similar materials attract termites and provide a source of food. Stacked against foundations they also offer hidden entry into the structure and may allow termites to bypass surrounding soil treated with a termiticide. Vines, ivy, and other dense plantings touching the house should be avoided as well. Where practical, remove stumps and dead roots around and beneath buildings, and any form boards left in place after the building was constructed.
Health risks: hantavirus, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), tularemia, and salmonella.
Property risks: Underground burrowing may weaken sidewalks, walkways, and foundation. Gnawing can damage drywall, stucco, sheet rock, insulation, etc. and increase fire risks if wiring is damaged.
How to Reduce Mice Invasion risks: Seal all entry points, reduce clutter and debris around your home and garage, get professional help for reducing populations in your area.
Milder temperatures and increased rainfall across many parts of the country have contributed to a longer mosquito season. Mosquitoes aren’t just a public nuisance; they’ve been known to transmit infectious diseases like the Zika virus, West Nile virus, Encephalitis and Malaria. Only a few of the 59 species of mosquitoes in Ohio can transmit disease, so the probability of getting sick from a mosquito bite is low in Ohio. However, the diseases that these mosquitoes do carry are very serious and reducing the risk to your health is never a bad idea.
Health risks: West Nile virus, Encephalitis, heartworm (pets), chikungunya, Zika virus, dengue.
How to Reduce Mosquito risks: Use mosquito repellent. Over the counter bug sprays may be easy on your budget, but they’re not the most effective products for keeping mosquitoes away. Plus, you have to keep re-applying them throughout the day. Bug sprays aren’t safe for pets’ health, either. Similarly, lighting a fire using pinion wood or burning a citronella candle are only somewhat effective. You can always stay inside during peak mosquito times (dawn and dusk). Most home owners will implement a mosquito control program to reduce populations in and around their yard, and protect their
pet(s) with a heartworm preventative.