Rolling out the unwelcome mat for pests

Although Oklahoma is finally getting some rain, it does not mean the drought is over. But it does mean pests are still seeking places to lodge, feed and drink. You can discourage those uninvited guests from making themselves at home in your house by making your space downright inhospitable.“Doing some basic maintenance inside and outside the house will help keep out unwanted pests,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “You also could save some money in the long run by making your house more energy efficient and using fewer pest management services.”Start with basics such as using airtight containers for storing both human and pet foods, as well as keeping the house clean, said Danette Russell, LeFlore County Extension Educator.“The airtight containers will block small ants that could otherwise get into regular jars by following the thread around the top,” Russell said. “Vacuum and sweep regularly to clean up food crumbs, avoid leaving dirty dishes sitting overnight and clean under kitchen appliances and pet food dishes.”You also should inspect your window and door screens to ensure they are in good repair, as well as check the seals on doors, including the tops and sides.“No light should be apparent under doors that allow entry from outside the house,” she said. “If you do find a seam under your garage door, for instance, fit a brush or rubber seal under the bottom edge. Line the bottom track of sliding glass doors with foam weather stripping.”Check around doors and windows for cracks as well. Small ones should be sealed with a quality silicone sealant. In cases where a larger crack has formed, try using wood, cement, sheet rock or mortar – whatever matches the material to the structure.Pests often enter homes by crawling in along a pipe. Look inside and outside of your home for utility openings such as entry points for pipes and wires, and areas around indoor and outdoor faucets, gas meters and laundry vents. Inspect these areas for gaps and cracks. Clean out any openings and close with an appropriate sealant or metal mesh. You also can stuff gaps with steel wool if the area is dry.“You’ll also want to check your plumbing on a regular basis,” Russell said. “Repairing any leaky piping will reduce the amount of water available to pests, and walls weakened by water damage could provide entry points for pests.”There are things you can do away from your house, as well, to make it less appealing to pests. Among the simplest is general yard upkeep.In other words, get rid of clutter such as leaves and grass around the foundation, and clear window wells and gutters, too. Prune shrubs and tree limbs away from the house to decrease pests’ potential access points.Another easy strategy is to invest in a trashcan with a self-closing lid that seals tightly. Dumpsters should be cleaned on a regular basis.