Gardening in Gwinnett: Simple steps can be taken to control indoor house pests

Often, homeowners do not think of indoor pests as a problem during the winter months. However, now is a good time to prepare for warm weather house pests, as well as the ones coming in from the cold. The Extension office receives numerous calls this time of the year from people whose homes have been invaded by ants, roaches, spiders and other undesirable guests.

Many homeowners with fireplaces keep their wood stored next to their homes or, in some cases, even inside their houses. But the logs inside begin to warm up to room temperature, causing the insects living inside to think spring has arrived. Thus, the firewood acts as a Trojan horse for the bugs, and within a few days or weeks, homeowners will notice the appearance of beetles, spiders and ants crawling around their family rooms.

Keep piles of wood away from the house, and use any brought indoors as soon as possible. Remove any piles of debris, stone or brick from around your home as they can serve to harbor pests, especially rodents.

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

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 of the house. Clean out the debris in the gutters, which can harbor several varieties of crawling insects and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes, twice a year.

Finally, repair or replace the areas of the gutters in poor condition. Gutters full of debris can be a breeding ground for pests. 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 or the roof. Prevent mulch and soil from touching the siding of your home. This creates a vector for insects to enter the house all 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 in order to detect pest activity and allow for prompt and proper treatment. To find reputable companies and additional information on pest control, go to the Georgia Pest Control Association website at www.gpca.org.

Taking action now will greatly reduce future pest problems.

Timothy Daly, MS, is and Agricultural and Natural resource Extension Agent with Gwinnett County Extension. He can be contacted at 678-377-4010 or timothy.daly@gwinnettcounty.com.