Keep pests out of your home

WITH winter still lingering, it is not just the cold weather that may invade our homes — pests also enter seeking warmth and food sources, and unfortunately our warm homes may become their new nests.

“You have invested, as your finances would permit, a very large amount of your life’s savings in protecting your dream home and do not want it destroyed by little critters. At some point, virtually every home experiences some type of pest problem, even the cleanest, most well-kept properties can face invasion,” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

“Pest control is important throughout the year, not just in winter. Armed with good advice and information, you are in a much better position to ensure that your chosen pest control company gives you the most value for your money, satisfactorily ridding you of your problem and preventing it from occurring again.”

According to Hutchison, these are the signs that you need a pest professional

Property damage

Pests pose a big risk to your home, and most will leave their mark in the form of gnawed furniture, fabrics and wiring. You are most likely to see this at a low level, so inspect skirting and floor boards for chewed materials.

Droppings and urine

One of the most obvious signs of pest invasion is waste, particularly in the case of rodents. You will notice small, raisin shaped droppings close to food stores. The darker the colour, the fresher the dropping, so black waste indicates an active mouse or rat problem.

Nocturnal noises

It is common to hear rodents moving about inside the roof, mostly at night. These unusual sounds are most likely to be mice or rats.

Sticky doors and windows

Stiff doorframes are often thought to be a sign of subsidence or other structural problems, but they may be a consequence of termite activity.

The moisture termites produce when tunnelling through wood can cause frames to warp. If you notice this, check around the house to see if there are any more warning signs.
According to Stuart Steele, Business Development Manager of Flick Pest Control, there are four simple ways to pest proof your home.

Ways to pest-proof your home before an invasion

1. Proofing

Seal off entry points such as under doors, holes in walls and gaps between your roof and wall to prevent rodents from squeezing in.

2. Secure food sources to eliminate pest attraction

Pests are not fussy eaters. Once they find a source of food and water, they are notorious for overstaying their welcome and inviting their friends and family. While pests can thrive in even the cleanest of houses, homeowners should remove any temptations by sweeping up spills and crumbs immediately to prevent vermin, roaches or ants from being attracted to the area.

3. Good housekeeping practices — clear up clutter in your yard

Ensure you do not have any clutter such as building rubble, stacks of firewood, old tyres or other debris leaning against your exterior walls around your home or in your garden against perimeter walls.

“We do not recommend the use of a compost heap as they provide ideal breeding grounds for rodents and flies. Keep your gutters clean and remove any dead leaves to prevent them being blocked as this will retain stagnant water and can cause fly and mosquito problems,” said Steele.

4. Know when to call in the professionals

The tips given above are great do-it-yourself methods available to prevent pest control issues in your home. “Waiting until it is too late to call in a certified professional can be dangerous and can lead to major damage, costing you time and money,” he said.

What to expect when pest control specialists come to your home

1. Pre-service

If applicable, prior to the day of service, you should be informed of any preparation you may have to do to enable service to be performed. This could include clearing specified areas, removing pets, storing or covering foods and planning to keep children out of the area during service.

2. Pre-service communication

Before beginning service, the technician should discuss the situation with you. It can be beneficial to walk around the home or property with the technician to show them what was seen, and where. The technician should then communicate the treatment to be made and products to be used.

3. Inspection and identification

The service professional should then conduct an inspection for the pests and signs of pest presence. He or she should inspect the sites you discussed and other areas where pests are likely to be, and look for any potential contributing or conducive conditions. The inspection should also include positive identification of the pest in order for correct treatment to be made.

4. Treatment

Once treatment has been made, the technician should again communicate with you, telling you what has been done; where, why, and how.

The technician should note any precautions you may need to take, answer any further questions you may have, and make recommendations for any action you need to take and follow up they will make.

5. Service report

The service technician should provide you with a written service report, noting what was done where, when, how and why. It should also include contact information and any recommendations.

6. Follow up, if needed

For some pests, such as bed bugs, elimination cannot be achieved in a single visit, therefore you should be informed of any further service that will be needed and any other follow-up that is required or recommended.

— Property 24.