Many people are moving out of the city and into more suburban or rural areas. For most, it’s their first experience with homeownership. But anyone who owns a home can tell you, once you buy a home, you are never quite done with it. However, it’s also very satisfying to have your own space, a yard, and maybe a driveway for your car instead of parking in a garage two blocks away.
Your new neighborhood may also have unfamiliar pests. While pests are inevitable, that doesn’t mean you want them in your house. Here are some tips for new homeowners when it comes to pests and controlling them.
- Don’t do DIY
We can’t say this enough. Little ant traps in the kitchen are fine, but when you’re talking about rodents, cockroaches, or bed bugs, you need to bring in a professional pest control company. Oftentimes, over-the-counter products can force pests into more creative – and therefore more difficult to find – hiding spots. That can lead to a larger infestation than you originally had so that once you finally break down and call in a professional exterminator, the cost is more than it would have been in the first place.
- Not more; just different
The city has its fair share of pests. The suburbs have theirs, too, but they may not be the same ones you are used to dealing with. Cockroaches and rats are common just about everywhere. Those two pests don’t care where you live as long as there’s food, shelter, and water. In more rural areas, you are looking at also dealing with spiders, squirrels, and bats – to name a few. Some of these critters may seem scary, but they are very important to the area’s ecosystem – often helping to control the population of other pests! That doesn’t mean you want them in your home. A professional pest control company can install items called “exclusions” to help keep the squirrels and bats out of the attic. Exclusions include copper mesh that will repel some rodents and screens over holes or gaps to discourage bats and squirrels from coming in at all. Routine pest service can be a proactive way to deal with spiders, centipedes, cave crickets, and silverfish.
- Wood Destroying Insect Report (WDIR)
A Wood Destroying Insect Report (WDIR) is an inspection that covers specific pests like carpenter ants, carpenter bees, termites, and wood-boring beetles. It’s different from a home inspection that covers the structural elements of the building, but it’s no less important. Property damage from termites in the U.S. exceeds $5 billion per year so it is integral to know if the home you are purchasing has had termite issues. Certain states and counties, some mortgage companies, and many realtors require this report. Be a savvy buyer and require one yourself!
- Attics, basements, and crawlspaces
These spots are very attractive to pests. They are relatively quiet and far from people and often contain moisture that most pests can live on. You may not realize they are even there until you have a full-on infestation. Between mold, mildew, rot, and decay, moisture in crawlspaces and basements can cause structural damage – not to mention the pests and bacteria that love the environment. When it comes to the attic, thin or missing insulation can negatively affect your energy bill. The EPA estimates the average homeowner can save 15% on heating and cooling costs (11% of total energy costs) by adding insulation to their attics, crawl spaces, and basement rim joists. New insulation can be costly, but it can also save you money in the long run. And by choosing insulation that repels pests, it can save you from a potential infestation.
- More trees and shrubs
An upside to moving into the ‘burbs is the foliage. The beauty that trees and natural flowers can bring is unmatched and gardening is one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S. While upkeep can be tiresome, being in your backyard has many health benefits, too. Keep in mind pests also enjoy trees and shrubs. Plant bushes and shrubs about two feet away from your home. A branch from a tree can act as a bridge right to your home for a squirrel. Also, be sure to trim vegetation and clean up after fruit trees. Pests like ants love to eat the natural sugars in rotting fruit, so don’t let the fallen fruit sit there and attract them.
Your home is not only your sanctuary – it’s probably the most important investment you’ll ever make. Keep it and even more importantly, your family (the furry ones, too!) safe from pests in your new home.