Feeling peckish on a recent evening, I opened a kitchen cupboard door in search of a snack and bits of granola bar and foil wrapping rained down on me from a high shelf. That’s how we discovered there was a mouse in our house.
When the weather turns colder and sources of food become scarce, mice, ants, bats and other industrious critters begin looking for ways to share your space.
Perhaps the ickiest of home invaders – bedbugs – don’t care about the seasons and they are making a big comeback. Bedbugs are popping up in the nicest homes and the prettiest beds, treating the inhabitants like a buffet and causing misery and embarrassment. They’re also a worry for frequent travellers, who are concerned about bringing home unwanted hitch$hikers in their suitcases.
These flat, reddish, oval-shaped bloodsuckers like to hide in crevices and folds, and they can survive for as long as a year without a meal. They’ll take up residence in furniture and artwork, beneath loose wallpaper and in the pleats of bedding and window coverings.
Various methods of eradication are available, including insecticides, but they must be applied thoroughly. Bedding and other things that can’t be sprayed need to be laundered in very hot water or put out in the freezing cold for at least two weeks. One bedbug left behind can result in an infestation cycle starting all over again.
Bed Bugs Bite (www.bedbugsbite.ca) is a Canadian company that offers eco-friendly insect eradication. Instead of pesticides, they use heat to destroy bugs – bedbugs, fleas, ticks, lice and other undesirable houseguests. The work can be done in one visit.
Owner Christian Cadieux says Bed Bugs Bite grew out of his work cleaning up crime scenes and the homes of hoarders. “Eighty-five to 95% of homes where there has been hoarding have bedbugs, lice or parasites.”
He also says bedbugs are becoming superbugs.
“They’ve developed resilience to pesticides and insecticides over the years from using chemicals on them. We use extreme heat that gets into places where chemicals can’t go.”
That takes care of the pests that were invited in. How do the other critters gain entry?
Mice, says Orkin PCO (www.orkincanada.ca) pest control specialist Dan Dawson, are little shape-$shifters that can enter through incredibly small spaces.
“Mice can squeeze through holes that are as tiny as 1/4-inch wide,” he says. “They also feed 15 to 20 times per day and prefer cereal grains.”
If you don’t encounter any obvious signs, like raining granola, you will know they’ve been around because of the rice-grain-sized dark poop they leave as a calling card. It will be everywhere a mouse has been in its search for food, water and shelter.
The knee-jerk reaction to get revenge on the little invader with a piece of cheese and a mousetrap might seem like a good idea, but it will not solve the whole problem.
“Homeowners often try and treat only what they see by placing traps around the home where the pests were spotted,” Dawson says.
“The most effective way to treat a pest problem is to try and detect how they made their way into the home in the first place.”
To reduce the likelihood of a pest problem, examine your home’s exterior for any openings and plug them up. Dawson suggests checking windows and doors for tight, intact weather lining, too.
“Take care of leaky pipes around the house to eradicate the supply of water pests look for, and be sure to close up food containers, compost, recycling and garbage bins tightly to eliminate the food source,” he says.
“Things like grass seed attract rodents, so properly store any seeds you might have sitting in your shed or garage.”
Mickey’s little cousins will climb bricks and siding and do just about anything to get where it’s warm and the pantry is full. So get plugging those holes – and beware of falling granola bars.