Keeping your home pest-free while you’re away

Whether homeowners are traveling for the winter holidays, taking advantage of a three-day weekend to get out of town or heading out on a summer vacation, nobody wants to come home to a pest infestation.

Here are three pest prevention tips residents should add to their to-do list before leaving their homes for an extended period of time.

1. Seal up cracks and crevices
It's a good idea to inspect all corners of a home, including in the basement and attic, for any openings in external walls, foundations, door frames, windows and roofing. Insects and rodents can sneak into homes through tiny holes for food, water and shelter. Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a nickel, according to the National Pest Management Association. It's therefore a good idea to double-check for potential entryways before leaving home for several days.

2. Clean up
Creepy crawlers and furry intruders are attracted to rotting food, spills in the kitchen and garbage. Even a few dirty dishes can lure in an ant colony. It's a good idea to thoroughly wipe off surfaces, mop up messes and clean furniture every week. Vacuuming is also a good way to prevent any small critters that may have already intruded a home from reproducing. Homeowners should empty all garbage cans into trash bags, which should be sealed tightly and placed in bins with lids.

In addition, the odor of food left out or in packaging that isn't completely sealed can bring in pantry pests and other unwelcome guests. It's a good idea to conduct a walk-through of eating areas and food storage locations before leaving to ensure dry products and cooking supplies are stored correctly.

Meanwhile, clutter of any kind, including clothing, papers or wood piles outside provide some bugs with dark, sheltered places to nest and should be cleaned up.

Outdoors, brush and untrimmed trees can harbor nesting places for rodents that damage yards and look for structures to invade. It's a good idea to maintain a well-kept lawn and avoid placing pet food outside to keep away raccoons and rats.

3. Eliminate moisture
It's never a good idea to wait until after a trip to fix a leaky faucet or dripping pipes. Moisture, especially standing water, can lure in thirsty pests. Residents can check around water heaters, in attics and basements for water damage caused by rainfall.

The last thing homeowners want to see upon returning from a vacation is a pest infestation. If residents suspect a problem, they should notify an exterminator promptly.


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