(NewsUSA) - 'Tis the season for list making. Of course, there's the naughty-and-nice list, the endless holiday shopping list and the "this-year-I-will-do-it-New Year's Resolution (really!) list." With so many lists to be made, there's one list that is particularly important -- the winter pest-proofing list.
Many people mistakenly believe pests should only be dealt with once inside a home. However, the best pest control is the preventative kind and can be accomplished by taking proactive steps to prevent pests from entering the home in the first place.
Rodents, the most common winter pests, invade nearly 21 million U.S. homes each winter, explained Missy Henriksen, spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). "Not only are rodents disarming to see inside our homes, but they also spread disease and cause property damage as they chew through wood, drywall and even electrical wires, which can increase the risk of house fires," Henriksen added.
NPMA encourages homeowners to prevent rodents from coming indoors this winter by taking the following steps:
1. Inspect the outside of your home for easy access points. Seal any cracks and crevices with silicone caulk, paying special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the structure. Remember, mice can enter homes through holes the size of a dime, and rats through holes the size of a quarter.
2. Fill larger gaps inside your home with pieces of steel wool, as pests are deterred by the roughness of the steel fibers, especially rodents who are unable to gnaw through the material.
3. Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, which could serve as potential entry ways.
4. Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement's foundation and windows.
5. Properly landscape around the home to avoid providing pest harborage sites. Keep shrubbery trimmed, and ensure mulch is kept at least 15 inches from the foundation.
Despite all the proper precautions, if rodents still find their way inside, they often leave clues of their presence. Droppings, one of the most visible signs, are most frequently found in kitchen cabinets, along walls, on top of wall studs or beams, near nests and in boxes, bags, old furniture and other objects. Gnaw marks and tracks are other visible evidence of a rodent problem. Rodents will also sometimes reveal themselves through scurrying sounds.