As the temperatures begin to fall in Northern VA, you and your family will begin to close up the home to prepare for the ever colder temperatures. What you may not realize is that pests are also coming into your home to prepare for the long, cold months. The good news is there are some things you can do to protect your home environment from rodents and insects from invading.

1. Block entrance points

Rodents are particularly good at finding access points to your home. Even the smallest cracks in the exterior walls can become an open door to them. So the first thing you need to do is exclude any viable entrance points to your home.

Seal cracks at the foundation, at windows, and in the eaves under the roof. The best way to do this is to inspect with a flash light so that crevices show better. Climb up into the attic and shine the light on the outer walls, near the areas where the roof joins the walls. Anywhere you see light you should block with mesh and plaster. The mesh is harder to chew through than plaster alone.

2. Make your home unwelcoming to pests

If rodents sense they can get easy access to water and food they will invite themselves into your home. If your home won’t provide what they need to survive the long winter months they will move on. Check faucets outside for moisture and leaks. And while you are at it you should make sure it is not another access point into your home. Check the areas under the sinks for leaks and additional points of invasion. If you have pets, consider investing in a bowl that only fills as the dog or cat is drinking.

3. Store food in strong containers

Store food in stronger containers than the flimsy cardboard they come in from the store.  Rice, cereals, and baking supplies should be store in plastic or ceramic containers to prevent rodents from not only eating the food, but from contaminating it. Again, if you have pets, consider getting a self-feeding bowl that stores the food until your pet eats or only set out the food at meal times and then putting it away afterward.

4. Check your plants for covered access points to your home

While lovely foliage is lovely to behold, it can also provide covert entrance points to your home. Rodents use the root lines to create hovels to live in near the home. And the plants also provide easy hiding places. Talk with a Gardner about plants you can place around your home that provide an attractive appearance without giving pests a hiding place.

5. Prepare for the war on pests

The best and smartest thing you can do to protect your home against and stop pests  is to remain vigilant. Even after you have sealed your home, checked for and stopped leaks around the home, stored food in stronger containers, you will have to check the perimeter at least monthly for these smart and determined critters.