Moving into a newly built home means you can breathe easy knowing maintenance will be minimal. However, regardless if your home is new or a resale, you must stay vigilant to ensure that pests are not welcome in your house.
Because spring has sprung — and so have pests— April is the ideal time to concentrate on keeping pests out of your new home. The Professional Pest Management Alliance, the consumer arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), celebrates National Pest Management Month in April to remind homeowners to stay vigilant in their battle against bugs, rodents, and other pests. “It’s a good time to focus that, because April is a peak month when you’ll start seeing more pests,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of Public Affairs for the NPMA.
Because pests can cause damage to your new home and carry diseases, you should stay vigilant about keeping them at bay. When you move into a new home, you get a fresh start, so it’s important to properly maintain your home from the beginning. “Setting up good basic practices and making sure there are good sanitation practices from the moment you move in will go a long way in preventing pests,” Henriksen says. “You want to make sure you’re taking precautionary steps. You want to roll out the welcome mat to your family and friends, but not to pests.”
Here’s how to keep your new home pest-free:
Pest-Proof Your Landscaping
When trying to prevent what’s outside from getting into your home, it’s important to first take a look outside: Is your yard flashing an invitation to pests that there’s food, water and shelter for them?
One place to start is your landscaping. Mulch protects and nourishes plants, and the right type of mulch deters some bugs that can damage your new home. Make sure you, or your landscaper, uses cedar, cypress, or tea tree mulch in your flowerbeds to prevent pest infestations.
Mulch creates a moist environment for plants, so use it sparingly if ticks are a problem in your area, as they are attracted to moisture. Speak with someone at your local nursery to determine which mulch works best for your area.
If you store firewood on your property, place it at least 18 feet from your home to help prevent rodents and termites from coming close to your home.
Guard Your Roof
Once you’ve checked your landscaping, look to your roof. Regularly check under eaves for any bee, hornet or wasp nests. If you find a nest, leave it to a professional and call an exterminator. If you want to take care of the hive yourself, be careful and stay safe:
- Don’t destroy honey bee hives! Professional beekeepers often safely remove beehives for free.
- Remove wasp and hornet nests at night, when they are inactive
- Wear protective clothing like rubber boots, thick jeans, and long sleeved shirts
- Spray the nest with pesticide
- Completely cover the hive with a garbage bag
- Detach the nest, seal the bag
- Put the bag with the nest in a sealed trash can, far away from the house
Protect Your Pets (and Your Home)
We all love our furry family members, but they track in more than dirt. Ticks, fleas, and other bugs hitch rides on our animals, and gain entry into the home. Make sure your animals take flea and tick medication help keep them healthy and your home clean. Routinely check pets for bugs, especially if they’ve just come home from a wilderness hike.
Larger animals- think raccoons, lizards, strays, rats, mice, and other unwanted visitors- just love leftover cat and dog food. Store pet food inside, in a stored container, and change any outdoor water frequently, so animals that could hurt your pets and damage your new home don’t have a reason to visit your property.
Take Care of Your Trash
One man’s trash is another critter’s dinner. Smart waste management can help keep pests away from your home by not providing them with an all-you-can-eat buffet. When determining where to store your trash, try to find a spot that’s as far away from your home as possible, Henriksen says.
Make sure that all trash is in sealed bags, and stored in a heavy-duty outdoor trashcan. If you live in an area with bears, be sure to invest in a heavy-duty, bear proof trashcan, because raccoons and other rodents aren’t the only animals that like to dine with Oscar the Grouch.
If you do have pests in your home or yard, contact a pest management professional who can help you take the right approach. If you take a DIY approach, be sure to follow the provided directions carefully.
Ensuring that your home is free of pests requires a common-sense approach. Developing a pest management plan from the beginning is good way to ensure that your new home and yard will be pest-free for many years to come.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.