Mice, rats, squirrels and other industrious creatures will stop at nothing to find new food sources, even in the summer months. In their quest for nourishment, rodents and other creatures can damage trees, consume vegetables straight from your garden and even find ways into your house. Fortunately, The Home Depot's Scott Krueger and Joe Autry say there are a number of steps you can take to both deter and capture persistent pests. First, you'll need to identify the type of animal you're dealing with in order to formulate the best plan for capturing it or persuading it to seek food elsewhere.
Traps, Deterrents and Prevention Tips
There are a wide range of critters that can cause problems in both your garden and your home. Mice, rats and squirrels can take up residence in your garage, basement or attic. Possums, skunks, raccoons and deer can do substantial damage to plants and landscaping in and around your yard. While following certain preventative measures can decrease potential problems, occasionally it is necessary to employ trapping methods to eliminate rodents and other pests.
Live Traps: Animal intruders may be troublesome, but some types can be easily handled with a live trap. Live traps are designed to help you eliminate pests without harming or killing them. Closed boxes provide extra protection from animals that like to bite, such as raccoons, but they do not allow you to identify what you've captured as easily as a wire cage.
Some things to keep in mind:
-Use gloves when handling live traps to avoid being bitten and mask your scent
-Set traps with bait particularly attractive to the animal you're trying to capture
-Choose a trap that's large enough to capture your intended target
-Check traps daily to prevent animals from dying of starvation or dehydration
-Anchor the trap to prevent it from tipping over during use
Elimination Traps: In certain instances, elimination traps are the most effective way to deal with infestations of mice, rats and other disease-spreading rodents. Snap traps are among the most common types of kill traps and are ideal for getting rid of mice and rats. Stake traps to the ground to improve effectiveness, particularly when trapping larger animals. Poison is another elimination option that kills pests, with the only drawback being that they may die in hard-to-reach areas where you may not notice them until they begin to decompose.
-As with live traps, bait traps a few times without setting to lull animals into complacency
-Do not place in areas where pets or children may accidentally discharge
-Use gloves to dispose of animals to protect yourself from disease
-Check traps daily and remove dead animals as quickly as possible
Deterrents: To avoid the hassle of trapping and disposing of pesky critters, there are a number of ways you can discourage animals from entering your yard or finding ways into your house. Most deterrents focus on one of an animal's senses. After a period of time, animals may grow accustomed to a given deterrent, requiring you to switch tactics. Use the chart below to review a few effective deterrents.
Prevention: Trapping critters can be difficult, and deterrents aren't always 100% effective; so preventing animals from gaining access to your plants and house in the first place is a good way to stop problems before they begin. Installing a fence around your yard or garden can keep deer, rabbits, raccoons and more from gaining access to your young trees and tender vegetables. Place hot peppers and other strong-smelling objects around plants to deter pests. Seal up any holes or entry points around the base of your house where rodents can gain access. Remember, mice can wiggle their way in through a hole as small as 1/4" in size.
Airtight Containers: Storing food in airtight containers will help prevent rodents from getting into your food supply. When they can't find food readily available, they'll disappear on their own.
Bait: Having the right bait is key to catching your quarry. Use peanut butter, dried corn or suet to lure squirrels and fruit, nuts, cat food or dog food to bring in raccoons. Rabbits can be enticed with apples, carrot tops and loose lettuce while skunks are more disposed toward cat food, fish and chicken.
Signs: Knowing what signs to look for can help you identify the offending pest even if you don't catch them in the act. Mule and white-tailed deer don't have upper incisors, so they tend to leave jagged edges on twigs and stems. Rabbits will often take small nibbles from several different plants rather than large chunks of a single plant. Being able to identify these signs will give you an edge in planning your entrapment strategy.
To read more advice from Home Depot about Pest Control, click here.