The cool chill of fall is here. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner, but so are bugs—and they just can’t wait to get into your home. While summer pest control is more about weekly maintenance and daily prevention, fall pest control centers on safeguarding your home from the hundreds of pests now hoping to move indoors. Fortunately, there’s several natural steps you can take to batten down the hatches, so to speak. Don’t want a bunch of nasty new insect roommates? Follow these 8 tips to keep your home bug-free this fall.
Clean and De-Clutter Inside
Ants, fleas, flies, termites, roaches, mosquitoes—all seek shelter indoors as temperatures drop. These and other common pests can be deterred by taking the proper precautions. Follow these simple preventative measures to help keep bugs out of your home this fall:
- Keep your home clean and free of clutter—particularly the garage, attic, basement, kitchen, closets, all flooring, window sills and counter tops.
- Any items you don’t plan on using for the season should be organized and sealed in airtight plastic storage containers (cardboard boxes attract many pests).
- Seal or get rid of stacks of magazines and other paper: bugs such as silverfish and cockroaches are attracted to the smell of paper.
- Seal all food in tightly closed containers. Keep all food storage areas free of crumbs and food residues (Tip: wipe off all jam, sauce and honey containers, too).
- Never leave food remains or dirty dishes in the sink.
- Take out the trash regularly, and keep all trash cans clean and sealed.
- Most bugs are prone to moisture loss, and enter our homes to seek water and cool down. It’s important to remove any standing water and other sources of moisture, such as leaky plumbing, basements, crawl spaces and A/C units (do this outside, too!).
- To prevent bed bugs, be cautious about bringing used furniture, luggage, linens and clothing into your home. Treat all such items with a non-toxic repellent to kill possible stowaways.
- Do not store lumber or firewood inside or right outside your home. Doing so attracts various types of bugs, including termites. Keep all woodpiles at least 20 ft. away from your home, and elevated if possible.
Clean and De-Clutter Outside
Keeping a well-maintained and organized yard goes a long way toward keeping bugs out of your home as autumn approaches. Here’s what you need to do:
- Remove all clutter from your yard: woodpiles, yard equipment, brush, leaves, lawn clippings, tree stumps, unused dog houses, furniture, tires, and anything else that could collect water (moisture attracts nearly all pests).
- Engage in landscaping practices that expose your lawn to as much sunlight as possible (by trimming branches, tall grass, shrubbery, etc). Direct sunlight is lethal to many pests.
- Many bugs need vegetation to hide, so it’s advisable to regularly mow, edge, weedeat, rake, and trim the hedges until greenery begins to die for the season.
- When mowing, bag the clippings and dispose of them. Do not disperse them throughout your yard—doing so helps create a bug-friendly environment, especially for ticks.
- Change and clean bird bath water regularly, or empty entirely during mosquito season.
- Fix leaky hoses, faucets, sprinklers, A/C units, and clogged drainage areas to prevent pooling water
- Keep pools well-maintained
- Regularly check and clean pool covers and other tarps—these often hold water, attracting bugs.
- Seal all trash cans, dumpsters and compost areas.
- Clean out your gutters. As leaves begin to drop in fall, gutters can easily become clogged, leading to moisture buildup—which attracts pests.
Seal Your Home (Both Indoors and Outdoors)
With cold weather approaching, fall is often your final chance to ensure your home’s exterior is sealed and free of openings. Because most insects—and bug-carrying pests like mice—require only the smallest openings to enter our homes, this step is absolutely crucial to keeping your home pest-free this autumn. Checking both inside and outside, use caulk, cement or another suitable material to fill all cracks and holes.
Check the following: Baseboards, window sills, doorways, light switches, outlets, fixtures, vents, basements, roofing, utility lines, piping, attics, faucets, walls, and foundations. Screens or seals should be used to ensure windows and doorways remain firmly closed as well; be sure to repair or replace any damaged screens. For additional protection, consider installing a rubber seal at the base of your garage door, and weather stripping on any sliding doors in the home. Open drains can also be sealed using fine metal mesh.
Install a Chimney Cap
In addition to shutting out bugs, installing a chimney cap will help keep rodents, birds, bats and other insect-carrying hosts out of your home. This is important, because as the weather cools wild animals will look to enter your home in search of warm shelter.
Choose Decorations Wisely
Decorations come into play as we move through fall to the holiday season. Unfortunately, organic decorations like carved pumpkins, straw bales, wreaths, and garlands provide a food source and home for many pests. Going artifical with your Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations is one way to avoid this. Otherwise, it’s important to be extremely diligent with upkeep as far as natural decorations go: you’ll need to check them every other day or so for signs of infestation (Tip: Check decorations before bringing them home, too, as insects can ride these items directly into your home).
Use Non-Toxic Indoor Pesticides
As fall approaches, it’s important to make your home unappetizing to any insects interested in moving indoors. Plant-based indoor pesticides are your best option, as they are both effective and non-toxic. These naturally sourced pesticides can be used as both a spot killer and a preventative repellent. Regularly spraying window sills, doorways, baseboards, countertops, attics, garages, basements and other possible entry points will create a repellent barrier against insects and other bugs (we recommend doing this at least once a month during fall, or more as needed).
Treat Yourself and Your Pets
Pets and people are a common vehicle for bugs to enter our homes—even in fall. Before and after going outdoors for walks, hikes, dog park visits, etc, it’s important to guard yourself and your pets against biting bugs like fleas and ticks (always check your pets for ticks, too!). Carrying a small bottle of non-toxic bug repellent in your purse or pocket makes this process easier.
Having holiday guests over? Remember bed bugs often enter our homes through visitors’ luggage or clothing. Treating the outside of luggage with a travel size bed bug spray is a smart way to ensure pests don’t hitch a ride into your guestroom. If you're traveling, it’s a good idea to treat your luggage before returning home to prevent accidentally introducing a bug population into your house.
Use Non-Toxic Outdoor Pesticides
Making your yard inhospitable to pests will greatly reduce the number of bugs you find indoors during the fall months. We recommend treating your yard with a non-toxic outdoor pesticide. Here’s how to do it:
- Thoroughly spray the entire yard. Be sure to spray all hedges, shrubbery, flower gardens, bases of trees, and anywhere else bugs might hide.
- When spraying, pay special attention to the perimeter of your yard and home, including all fencing, foundations and brick barriers. This will prevent bugs from entering your yard or home after treatment.
- Spray front, back and side yards all in one session. It’s important that all areas are treated within a short window to prevent bugs from migrating to other sections of your yard.
- During the fall months, we advise spraying your yard at least once every 4-6 weeks, or more as needed
Tip: Cedarwood chips can also be used to create a repellent perimeter around your lawn and home. Simply sprinkle the chips along your home’s foundation and fence line, as well as any other insect trouble areas.