Prevent pest problems now

During the cold, frosty days of winter, few people are thinking about warm-weather pests.

But there are many actions homeowners can take now to prevent warm-weather pest problems while also dealing with cold-weather pests.

Many homeowners with fireplaces keep the firewood stored next to their homes or, in some cases, even in their houses. But once moved inside, the logs begin to warm up to room temperatures, causing the insects living inside the logs to think spring has arrived.

The firewood is a Trojan horse for the insects. Within a few days or a couple of weeks, homeowners notice the appearance of beetles, spiders and ants crawling around their family rooms as well as flies buzzing about. The best way to prevent such problems is to keep wood piles some distance away from their homes.

If logs are to be brought in, use them as soon as possible in the fireplace. Remove any piles of debris, stones or bricks from around your home, as they can serve as a harbor for pests, especially rodents.

Also, consider installing chimney caps on fireplaces with uncovered chimney flues. This will prevent raccoons, squirrels, birds, bats and other animals from entering the fireplace.

Walk around the house and inspect gable vents, soffit vents, stove hood exhaust vents and dryer vents. Look for damage and evidence of pest problems. Check the fascia boards outside the house, below the roof overhangs, and along and behind the gutters for evidence of pest activity. If there are imperfections or gaps with evidence of insect or animal activity, take the necessary action to stop it.

Be sure all doors and windows are properly sealed with tight-fitting screens and weather stripping. Make sure the attic has good ventilation to prevent pest problems in addition to improving the heating and air conditioning to the house.

Clean out leaf accumulations in the gutters. This can be a breeding ground for several pests, including mosquitoes and a variety of crawling insects. Clean out the gutters twice a year, and repair or replace the areas of the gutters in poor condition. Consider installing a rain gutter covering.

Remove ivy, shrubs, tree limbs and other plant material that has come into contact with the foundation, exterior siding and the roof. Prevent mulch and soil from touching the siding of your home. This creates a vector for insects to enter the house year-round. Seal off holes in the bricks, missing mortar joints, under siding at sill plats and other structural areas.

Hire a professional pest control company to regularly inspect your home to detect pest activity and allow for prompt and proper treatment. To find reputable companies and more information on pest control, visit the Georgia Pest Control Association Web site at www.gpca.org.

Taking action now will greatly reduce future pest problems.

Timothy Daly is an agricultural and natural resource agent with the Gwinnett County Extension Service. He can be reached at 678-377-4010 or timothy.daly@gwinnettcounty.com.