This time of year often brings a winter wonderland to Richmond, but even when it doesn’t snow, the temperature dips enough that many common pests are driven indoors. It isn’t unusual to witness a January invasion of mice, rats, cockroaches, and brown recluse spiders. You can minimize the chance of an invasion by heeding our advice below.
House mice are the No. 1 encountered rodent in Richmond, and they are usually found in attics and basements, where they can nest undisturbed in dark, secluded areas. They may look cute, but house mice can chew through drywall and electrical lines – the latter of which can spark a fire – causing considerable damage. They can also spread diseases, such as tapeworms and Salmonella, and contaminate your food.
Here’s how to keep house mice from your home:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home with caulk and steel wool.
- Keep areas clear and store boxes off the floor.
- Regularly inspect your home for mouse droppings, gnaw marks, and damaged food.
The most common rat in Richmond is the Norway rat, which prefers to nest in basements, debris piles, and other undisturbed materials. They are known to gnaw through almost anything – including plastic or lead pipes – in search of food and water. Norway rats also transmit several diseases, including rat-bite fever, jaundice, and the cowpox virus.
Here’s how to keep rats from your home:
- Clean your home regularly and give special attention to the kitchen by cleaning underneath the refrigerator, stove, and toaster.
- Thoroughly inspect the exterior of your home and plug any holes that are larger than ¼ inch.
- Trim any tree limbs that give rats access to the upper areas of your home, including the roof.
- Cut back ivy or other climbing vines from the side of your house, as these plants serve as ladders that rats can climb on.
- Make sure the lids on your trashcans are secured tightly to help prevent rats from accessing your garbage – which make for a delicious rat family meal.
- Clear out the remains of your fall garden and pick up any decaying fruit or nuts that may have fallen in your yard. If you compost, you’ll want to invest in a rat-proof compost bin, rather than leaving compost out in the open.
- Maintain a clean yard that’s free of fallen limbs, leaf piles, and/or debris.
- Stack firewood far away from your home, and only keep as much as you need on your property.
- Store dry goods and pet food in containers made of metal or glass.
- Don’t leave out food, including bread.
- Feed your pets inside the house and keep their water bowls indoors. You should also keep litter boxes clean and pick up any pet feces from your yard.
- Fix leaky outdoor faucets to cut off water supplies.
Chances are that if you spot a cockroach in your home this winter, it is a German cockroach, which is the most common species of cockroach in Richmond. Cockroaches are often found in kitchens and bathrooms – where water is extremely accessible – and often enter homes hitchhiking on grocery bags, boxes, and secondhand appliances. Cockroaches can contaminate your food, spread bacteria, and trigger allergies and asthma symptoms, especially in children.
Here’s how to keep cockroaches from your home:
- Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs.
- Vacuum frequently and dispose of garbage regularly.
- Fix leaky plumbing, especially under appliances and sinks.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Like many other pests, brown recluse spiders set up camp in undisturbed places, spinning their webs not only in attics, basements, and crawl spaces, but also in closets. They particularly like to hang out inside cardboard boxes and seldom-used clothing and shoes, as well as along window moldings, which makes it easy for you or a family member to encounter them.
When they bite, brown recluse spiders inject venom, which can cause serious skin damage, nausea, and muscle pain. With proper care, mild bites resolve within days to weeks, while more severe cases can take months to heal. Although bites from these pests rarely result in death, it is still best to seek prompt medical attention.
Here’s how to keep brown recluse spiders from your home:
- Keep trees and shrubs trimmed from your home and cut back limbs overhanging the roof. This will help reduce the chance of spiders finding a way inside.
- Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers.
- Remove unused cardboard boxes from your home.
What to Do if You Have an Infestation
While the thought of being infested by rodents, cockroaches, or spiders this winter might make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, following the above advice will minimize the chance that any infestation will occur. If you do suspect you have a pest issue, then contact a company that provides professional pest control services, such as Eco Pest Control. A trained technician can inspect your home for these pests and help you set up a customized prevention plan.