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Mice are curious creatures. If they explore the walls of your Maryland, Virginia, or Washington D.C. home and find a gap, crack, or hole, it is likely they will explore it. If they are sniffing along your foundation walls on a cold autumn day and they sense heat radiating from a window or door frame, they're likely to investigate. When holes aren't large enough to allow them entry, they're equipped with strong, sharp teeth that are capable of chewing through many building materials, and they will make short work of weatherstripping.
Once inside, they have many reasons to stay. Your home provides lots of confined spaces to explore, which makes skittish mice feel safe. Your home has stored foods and food particles on the floor and in the gaps of your kitchen, which can give mice a full belly. Your home probably has air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, so it is like springtime all year long. What mouse in its right mind wouldn't want to live in your home? But when mice get in, they can present many problems. They spread harmful bacteria, cause contamination with their feces and urine, spread ticks and other parasites, and damage property. Worse than all these, a tiny mouse can chew on a wire and cause a flame to spark. This can lead to a complete loss of property and potentially a loss of life. No home should ever be allowed to have mice in it.
If you're suffering from a rodent infestation and you are in our service area, contact American Pest immediately for a consultation. We provide industry-leading pest control in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C. and portions of the surrounding states. We are equipped to give you real solutions for your rodent control needs.
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What You Can Do to Prevent Mice Right Now
Spring Rodent Control
When it starts to warm up outside, rodents within your home will begin to go in and out. This can increase your exposure to ticks, fleas, lice, mites and other parasites they can pick up outside. So spring is an important time to rid your home of rodents and keep them out.
Spring is also a time when rodents can get into a home. When construction sites near your home cause vibrations that drive mice out, they can look for a new place to live within the walls of your home. When spring rains drive mice out of their holes, they can look for holes in your home.
When you seal your exterior, you can create a barrier that will prevent mice from getting in. This is an important first step in arresting a mouse infestation and a vital part of preventing one.
- Seal foundation cracks.
- Seal around window and door frames.
- Replace damaged weatherstripping and door sweeps.
- Seal gaps around pipes and wire conduit.
- Repair holes in your exterior created by rodents and other pests or use a caulking gun to fill in holes until you have the finances to repair them.
As you work to keep rodents out, remember that rodents are persistent. Sealing entry points is not a one-and-done solution. Inspect your home throughout the year to catch holes that have been created.
Summer Rodent Control
There are many things you may do in your yard that will attract rodents during the summer. This can increase the number of rodents around your home and lead to an accidental infestation. Try these tips to reduce rodent attractants through the summer months.
- Address moisture conditions around your foundation perimeter and in your landscaping. Puddles are watering holes for rodents. You can do this by putting space between your plants to increase airflow and dry topsoil, trim tree branches to allow sunlight to get into shaded area, and make sure your gutters are clear of debris.
- Reduce the clutter in your yard. Mice are drawn to yards that have places to hide. They'll use toys, lawn and garden equipment, items stored in the backyard, and more. When it comes to reducing mice, being a minimalist goes a long way.
- Weeds, overgrowth, and dense vegetation can provide hiding places for rodents. Keep your landscaping trimmed and neat.
- Mice are always looking for food. One food attractant homeowners often miss is scattered birdseed left on the ground under feeders. Keep bird feeders away from your home to reduce mice.
Fall Rodent Control
Fall is a particularly important time to think about mouse control. When it starts to get cold outside, mice are more motivated to get inside and they are equipped to chew their way in. They'll target door sweeps, weatherstripping, door frames, and the seals around doors. Make sure you take the time to learn fall pest prevention to keep mice and other pests out. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
- Leaves can create hiding places for mice and also provide conditions for water collection, which mice will use to get a drink. Make sure you keep your leaves raked away from your home.
- Do a detailed inspection of your home and patch or repair gaps and holes. If you have foundation cracks, a foundation repair kit can help you keep rodents out. If you have gaps around pipes or door and window frames, silicone caulk will do the trick. If you have torn screens, there are many helpful videos online for patching up screen holes.
- Monitor for rodent activity. Lay some glue board down in secluded locations, such as under your deck or porch. This could keep a rodent from getting in but, more importantly, it will alert you to the rodent pressures around your home.
Winter Rodent Control
You may think that you can take a break from your mouse control efforts during the winter months, but mice don't hibernate. Under the right conditions, a mouse can get into your home in the dead of winter. If you have bird seed littered on the top of a pile of snow underneath your bird feeder, don't be surprised if, when you shine a flashlight on that spot in the middle of the night, you find mice feeding on those little morsels. Keep bird feeders away from your exterior walls to prevent winter mice from getting too close to your home because they might realize there is heat inside. But most of your winter pest control efforts are going to be on the inside of your home.
- Put stored food in sealed plastic containers. If a mouse has gotten into your home, this will help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Leave pet food down only during mealtimes.
- Clean spills up quickly.
- Don't leave food out on the table, such as fruit in a basket. Mice can jump and climb.
- Keep your trash in a covered container.
- Do an inspection of your attic spaces. If you find nests or tiny black droppings littered about, reach out to a licensed pest professional.
Problems Mice Bring to Homes They Infest
We often talk about rodent threats for DC-area homes in our ongoing blog because the number of ways rodents can impact a family are startling. While the following is certainly not a comprehensive list, it should give you some insight into how bad it can be to allow cute little furry mice to live in your home with you.
- Mice chew to get in. When they do, they can create holes that allow other pests in. If you're seeing centipedes creeping up your walls in the fall and spring, you can probably thank mice for that. Those holes allow heat to escape from your home in the winter and water to get into your home all year long. This can lead to higher energy costs and ongoing health problems due to mold.
- Mice chew to get to food. When a mouse finds food, it will often chew a hole in a low, secluded location to create quick access from a wall void to the food-storage location. While this isn't a lot of damage, it increases the ability for mice to contaminate your foods.
- Mice spread harmful bacteria. A mouse finds itself in some pretty dirty places as it searches for morsels to eat. If a mouse has been rummaging in a dumpster or a trash can and then gets into your stored food, it can spread a wide range of bacteria from its fur to your foods. It is also important to consider that mice leave their feces and urine in the locations they sleep. It is definitely not good when mice come into contact with your food.
- Mice prefer secluded locations. In these locations they often find stored boxes and stored furniture. If they get into a stored box, they can damage clothing, paper items, and other objects that may be keepsakes. If they find stored upholstered furniture, they can chew a hole and create a nest inside all of that fluffy stuffing material or pull the material out to create a nest.
- Mice grab many materials for their nests. They can damage insulation, wallpaper, clothing, and more to get what they need.
- Mice don't usually come into a home by themselves. A single mouse can have as many as 100 seed ticks on it. This can lead to a tick infestation and the chance of exposure to Lyme Disease and other serious tick-borne diseases. Mice also spread fleas, mites, lice and other parasites.
- Mice reproduce quickly. A single mouse can have as many as 14 offspring in one litter and 5 to 10 litters in a year. When you consider how quickly mice mature to an age where they can mate and have their own litters, it is jaw-dropping.
- Mice chew on wires. If a mouse cuts the wrong wire, it could lead to a house fire and lead to a catastrophic loss of property and/or the death of a family member or pet.
- Mice can make noises in your walls. While this is definitely annoying, it is by far the least of the problems mice will cause when they get into your home. In fact, you might want to thank the mice for making noise. Most of the time, people suffer from all of the many problems mice cause without realizing they have a mouse infestation.
Signs of Mice Infestation
Are you wondering if you have hidden guests inside your home? There are many warning signs mice leave around. Some warning signs they literally "leave" around. While this won't be everything you probably need to know about mice, it will give you a good start.
- If you have a dog or a cat, it is likely that they will detect mice before you do. Some cats will crouch in areas where they hear sounds you can't hear or they smell something you can't smell. Some dogs tend to act nervous when they smell or hear mouse activity. If your dog is making noises or pacing in the kitchen for no reason, you may have a mouse problem.
- As mice explore your home, they're going to leave their tiny black droppings in many locations. You may find them in the back of the cabinet under your sink. You may find them behind items stored on the floor of your pantry. You may find them in the back of your silverware drawer. Look in secluded locations and along baseboards for mice droppings. Mice are very cautious critters.
- Mice chew holes on the outside of your home. Do an inspection of your exterior and look closely around window and door frames, especially toward the bottoms and on sills. Mice are good climbers and they can jump a foot in the air. They'll also use branches to get to higher points on your outer walls. Inspect around pipes and wire conduit. Look for holes chewed in vent or weep hole protectors. Examine door sweeps and weatherstripping. It only takes a hole the size of a dime for a mouse to get in.
- Mice chew holes on the inside of your home. Look in low places, especially under cabinet overhangs and baseboard exposures in the gap between appliances. Mice are going to target secluded spots. They're also most likely to chew a hole to gain access to food. Look closely in your pantry and other food-storage areas.
- Mice may leave grease marks on baseboards in areas they frequent. This is because mice run along walls and baseboards as a self-defense behavior.
- If you have rodents hiding in your home, you may be able to find out by checking your basement. Basements are easy access for pests. Look for nests in rafters, above drop ceilings, and in other hiding places. These nests will be made of insulation, cloth, wallpaper, carpet fibers, and other materials gathered from around your home.
- Attics are another great place to look for signs of a rodent infestation. Inspect your attic for matted insulation and the presence of droppings or the smell of urine. Look between stored boxes and inside those boxes. If you have upholstered furniture stored in your attic, inspect them for holes. Mice can chew their way into your stored upholstered furniture and create a nest inside or use the soft, fluffy materials for a nest somewhere else in your attic.
- If you have rodents in your walls, you may hear them bumping and scraping around. You may also detect gnawing sounds coming out of your vents. When mice get into ventilation ducts, they can chew holes to gain access to wall voids. When you find droppings, or some other sign of rodent infestation, there are a few ways you can tell if you have mice or rats. It is important to know the difference between mice and rats and the threats they can present inside your home. Take the time to follow the hyperlinks on this page to learn more.
How Did I Get Mice?
There are two reasons a mouse will enter your home. First, they find a reason to come into your yard. Second, they discover a way into your home. Let's take a look at this a little closer.
There are many things that can make your yard attractive to mice. In spring, wet ground and lots of puddles make your yard appealing. Through the summer, the shade and moisture provided by your landscaping is inviting. In fall, rodents may explore your yard because they see lots of potential hiding places for the winter. Once the snow is on the ground, mice will be strongly attracted to any yard that offers food, such as bird seed sprinkled on the snow.
When mice come into your yard, they will choose to stay if your yard offers nooks, crannies, or holes for them to hide in. The presence of food sources will also play a key role. When considering food that might attract mice, be sure to think about insects and caterpillars. A yard teaming with insects is a paradise for rodents. Often, a good residential pest control program can significantly control rodents simply by eliminating this food source.
Okay. You have rodents in your yard but how do they get in? You would be surprised at all of the many ways a rodent can get into your home. Here are a few common entry points.
Perhaps the most common entry point for mice is doors and windows. On doors, they target weatherstripping, door sweeps, frames, and the seal around the outside of frames. On windows, they chew through screens, chew on frames, and get into frame voids.
When plumbing work or renovations are done, sometimes things don't get sealed up as well as they should be. Rodents take quick advantage of this. Gaps around pipes that pass through your foundation walls are a good example of this.
Some brick homes have weep holes near the bottom of exterior walls. These holes let moisture out. But they can let rodents in. Once inside, rodents will feel safe to chew their way in through wood timbers.
Exhaust vents are important for letting gases out of your home but they can let mice in. Mice are great climbers and able to leap a foot in the air. If they can get to a vent, they can crawl in and chew a hole through the side of ventilation conduit to gain access to your wall voids.
At the end of fall and in the beginning of winter, mice infestations rise. This is likely due to dropping temperatures and heat leaking out of our homes. So it is important to watch for signs of rodent infestation this fall and winter.
Mice Prevention Steps for Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. Homeowners
In our blog, we offer many rat and mouse prevention tips and some of them can help you keep mice out of your home in 5 minutes or less. Here are a few helpful mouse tips and the reasons why they're so helpful.
- Vegetation is high on the list of factors that can invite mice near your home. Mice hide in vegetation, eat insects that are found in your plants, and drink from puddles that form after plant watering. If you create a space between your landscaping and your home, mice will feel more exposed when they try to explore your walls for an entry point. If you invest in residential pest control, you'll have fewer insects around your home and less food for mice to eat. If you put space between the plants in your landscaping, airflow will be able to dry the topsoil after watering and prevent puddles.
- When mice explore your yard, make sure they can't find food sources. Mice are most fond of fruits, seeds, and grain but they can eat much more than this. If you have bird feeders in your yard, put them away from your exterior walls. Mice love bird seed.
- Sealing gaps, cracks, and holes can go a long way toward preventing a mouse infestation. You can patch most entry points with silicone caulk and wire mesh. Inspect your foundation wall, especially around pipes and wire conduit. Examine the frames around your doors and windows. Take a look at the corners of your garage door. Seal any openings you find.
- Weatherstripping can get damaged by rodents and missing weatherstripping can give mice quick access. Check the seal around your doors and make sure there are no gaps. Keep in mind that it only takes a hole the size of a dime to allow a mouse into your home.
Do you know that mice don't just get into your home; they can get into your car as well? When they do, they can cause frustrating damage by chewing on your wires. This might shock you, but mice have a preference for new, eco-friendly cars that use soy-based material for wire coating. Here are a few quick tips to protect your car from rodent damage:
- Wrap the wires of your car with a special tape that mice don't prefer.
- Seal gaps that allow mice to get inside your car. If mice can find a home in your trunk or glove box, they will be more prone to chew on things that shouldn't be chewed on.
- Keep your car free of food debris.
- Be aware that parking in wooded areas and tall grass can lead to a mouse problem.
What to Do If You See a Mouse Inside Your Home
If you see a mouse in your home, this is a very bad sign. Mice are usually quite good at avoiding detection. When they are seen, it is usually an indication that there is a large population in the structure and individual mice must take more risks to find food. But, whether you see a mouse or you find evidence of mice, there are a few things you should do immediately.
- Foods that are in paper or cardboard containers lure mice in with their smells and are easy for mice to chew their way into. If you know you have mice, it is a good precaution to put these food items in sealed, hard plastic containers. This will keep the smells in and the rodents out.
- Clean up any clutter in your home, especially in secluded locations. Mice thrive in homes that have lots of hiding places.
- If you have a pet, lay food down only during meal times.
- Traps can be very helpful. Learn how to choose the best mouse trap so that your mouse trapping will be successful. But keep in mind that trapping mice is not a solution on its own. It is wise to contact a licensed pest professional and make sure your problem has been resolved. The worst situation to be in is having continued illness in your home because you think you got rid of your mouse infestation.
- Seal things up. Inspect your exterior foundation and walls for gaps and holes and patch them. Inspect your interior for holes in low places and repair or cover them.
Mice are a danger to personal property. They can create structural damage and cause fires and water damage in homes and other buildings by chewing through electrical wires, plumbing pipes, flooring, insulation, and drywall.
Having a professional pest control technician inspect your property for signs of mice will help to identify the problem areas. After that, a control plan can be created specifically for your property.
Mice prefer areas not frequently visited by people, such as cupboards, pantries, attics, basements, crawlspaces, boxes, closets, and behind appliances. They also like cluttered areas. Keeping these areas clean will help prevent mice infestations.
Mice are adaptable creatures and are relentless in their search for food. They find their way into pantries and ruin stored food products. Then they make it worse by contaminating the food (and the area) with their urine and feces.
Traps can be helpful. Snap traps for mice have been used by Virginia pest control companies
for hundreds of years. As effective as traps are, however, they won't eliminate the root
of the problem. That's where American Pest can help.
Why You Should Call a Professional If You Have Mice
Mice can bring many problems into your home. They can spread harmful bacteria and diseases such as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) and more. They can carry seed ticks into your home and bring them into your common areas. They bring in fleas, lice, mites, and other parasites. In attic spaces, they can damage your insulation, stored boxes, stored furniture, and leave their urine and feces everywhere. They can chew holes in clothing, shoes, and other apparel. Throughout your home they can damage building materials such as sheetrock and baseboards. A mouse in your home may also chew through wiring. If a spark results, it can lead to a house fire. For these reasons, you shouldn't try to treat rodent infestations alone. This is definitely a pest problem that should be handled by an educated and experienced professional. Not only will a pest professional apply appropriate rodent control strategies to capture the mice in your home, you'll get professional rodent monitoring as well. Mice can be really sneaky. The last thing you need is an ongoing rodent infestation that you don't know about. Professionals apply strategies and products used throughout the pest control industry. They are proven to work. That means, when your pest professional says, your rodent problem has been solved, you can rest easy.
Professional Treatment Options for Mice-Infested Homes
When it comes to treating a home for mice, there are really only two things to consider. First, you have to remove the mice from your home. Second, you have to keep new mice from getting into your home. Both of these can be complicated to accomplish for an untrained and inexperienced individual.
The most effective way to remove mice from your home is to use traps but there are many ways traps can be applied ineffectively. You can use the wrong bait. You can put the traps in the wrong locations. You can fail to put down enough traps.
When it comes to making sure new mice don't get into your home to replace the mice you've gotten rid of, it can be nearly impossible in some situations. For some homes and in some situations, mice can be a serious problem no matter how hard you work to seal entry points.
Professional pest control is the answer to rodent problems and, when it comes to keeping mice out of homes, American Pest is a leader in the industry.
Why You Should Call American Pest for Complete Mice Exclusion
At American Pest, we believe in eco-friendly solutions first. This has driven us to choose rodent control solutions that are highly effective at catching mice and monitoring rodent pressures while not using baits. This means, you're not going to have dead mice in the walls of your home or mice crawling around in your pantry with chemicals in their fur. We use state-of-the-art, mechanical traps to capture and remove mice, and these traps are deployed by highly trained and experienced professionals who know what strategies work. Reach out to us. We would love to talk to you about the programs we offer and work with you to develop a home pest control plan that meets your needs and your budget.
Our hard-working team has earned the QualityPro seal of excellence from the National Pest Management Association. This seal is your assurance that our team has been tested and has surpassed guidelines for business operations, training, environmental stewardship, and consumer relations.
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