Take steps to pest-proof your home and prevent infestations

As temperatures begin to cool, it’s time to turn up the dial on protecting your home from pests that seek out warm places as refuge from the winter weather. By taking proactive pest management steps, homeowners can prevent infestation, structural and aesthetic damages and disease from negatively affecting their home and families.

In a recent survey conducted by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), nearly 70 percent of homeowners said zero was the acceptable number of pests they would allow into their home before taking action to get rid of them.

To help homeowners take a proactive approach to pest-proofing their homes, DebugtheMyths.com offers the following easy-to-follow tips to safely inspect and protect their homes from pests. This acronym, INSPECT, is an easy way to remember the steps to quality pest control.

IN: Investigate your home to identify any current problems or areas that could cause problems in the future. Do a thorough walk through and identify places with cracks in interior walls, open food containers, vents to the outside, holes in screens, or dark, cool places in attics and basements where pests like to hide. But don’t stop there; take a look outside, too. Keep an eye out for cracks in exterior walls, holes around the house where rodents or other pests can enter, unsealed garbage cans and wood piles too close to the home.

S: Study up. Once you have identified your pest problems, take a deeper look into what is causing those problems or if there are potential residual issues. If you cannot identify specific pests, look online or ask a pest professional. Diagnosing your problem is an important step so you can ensure that the product you use is the correct one to solve the problem.

P: Prepare your next steps by conducting research on how to most effectively solve the problem. Your plan may include more than one solution, such as bringing in a pest control specialist, conducting more consistent maintenance or making adjustments such as moving a wood pile away from your home.

E: Eliminate your pest problem. This means eliminating a pest’s entry way into your home and any problems that already exist. Visit your local home and garden store to find the most effective pest control solutions for your needs. Always read the label of pesticide or fertilizer products before using them. If you are uncomfortable about doing this yourself, call in a local pest control professional to help.

CT: Clean and treat your home for any problem areas you may have discovered after conducting research on pest problems in your neighborhood. After eliminating those invitations to pests, proactive activities will help you prevent problems in the future. For instance, cockroaches, which according to the survey are the most frustrating pest, need food to survive and if they can’t find their midnight snack in your kitchen or crumbs in the living room, they are not going to hang around.

Keep in mind that outdoor maintenance can also help prevent indoor problems and make your home’s curbside appeal soar. An easy first step is to make sure plants and shrubs are planted at least 12 inches from the house to discourage pesky critters from thinking of your home as their winter hotel. Here are some other easy-to-implement tips for keeping a healthy lawn:

* Poison ivy, sumac and oak are considered three of the most annoying pests for a homeowner’s outdoor space. To deter harmful weeds from encroaching on your lawn, set-up a regular schedule to check your lawn and conduct routine grooming. Keep falling leaves and debris from accumulating on your home by cleaning gutters regularly.

* Choose plants that will do well in your local conditions to help to control weeds and ensure the plants will grow.

* Move all wood piles away from the home and keep an eye on potted plants which can provide shelter for pests during the winter months.

Visit www.debugthemyths.com for more information about common pests, how to choose and use the pest control products safely, and applicable tips for your own lawn and community.

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