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6 Ways to Prevent Common House Pests This Fall

Sep 30, 2019

Tree in the middle of a yard that is covered with red and orange leaves in the Fall.

The fall months are fast approaching in the Washington, DC metro area, which means we’ll be spending more time indoors, away from the cold, wet weather outside. Unfortunately, that means many pests will also be trying to get indoors to stay warm and dry. Don't panic! Here are six ways you can prevent pests from crashing on (or in) your couch this fall.

Common House Pests


Did you know that both rats and mice can fit through an opening as small as a dime? Homeowners often underestimate how dexterous these pests can be and, unfortunately, infestations go unnoticed until more obvious signs of occupancy arise, such as mice droppings and gnaw marks on furniture.

Mice can get in the walls of your home through nearly any crack or hole found in the structure’s walls, ceilings, floors, or foundations. This includes broken or damaged window screens and vent covers.

Rodents are also excellent climbers, which means they can scale drain pipes and make their way into your home through loose shingles on your roof.

Rodents in the DMV region includes:

  • Deer Mouse
  • House Mouse
  • Norway Rat

Other wildlife homeowners may come in contact with:

  • Grey Squirrel
  • Opossum
  • Chipmunk
  • Raccoon
  • Bat


Termites are often called “silent destroyers” because they can cause devastation to your home without you knowing until it’s too late. These pests consume cellulose-based materials, so they’re attracted to many of the materials used to build homes, like wood and even drywall.

Termites can invade your home through the soil by building tunnel systems leading from their colonies to new food sources (your home). Common ways termites get into your house are:

  • Wooden structures, particularly those in direct contact with the ground like porches and decks
  • Mud or damp soil near the foundation of your house, especially near cracks, gutters, spouts, or other points of entry
  • Firewood stacks placed near or against the house


Even the cleanest of homes can suffer from a cockroach infestation, simply because cockroaches are attracted to food. That means if you have food present somewhere in your home, even if it’s properly stored, there are a chance cockroaches will make their way in.

Cockroaches also need water to survive, which explains why they are usually found in wet places like sinks and damp basements.

Types of cockroaches spotted in Northern Virginia homes include:

  • American cockroach
  • German cockroach (the most common and, unfortunately, the most invasive species)
  • Oriental cockroach


While most homeowners associate ants with summer, there are many species of ants that can be found in and around the home during the fall months. One of the most common is the odorous house ant. This pest gets its name from the smell produced when squished. Most people say the odor is like burnt coconut or rancid suntan lotion, while others say they smell like blue cheese — either way, it’s not pleasant.

Odorous house ants are attracted to sugary, greasy foods and moisture. Common locations for odorous house ant colonies include spaces near heaters, dishwashers or inside insulated walls.

How to Prevent Pests

1. Trim trees and shrubs

Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from your house. A tree or shrub near your house will allow pests to easily land on your roof or a window sill, giving them more of a chance to find cracks and get inside. You should give yourself enough room to physically walk around your home without trees or shrubbery getting in the way.

2. Remove debris from home exterior

Clear any wood, rock or debris piles away from the exterior of your home. Pests and rodents love to build nests in these areas, and if the nests are near a door or window, pests are more likely to get inside and stay inside.

Read more: How do mice get in the walls?

Clearing out this last bit of garden debris can help keep pests from hiding in the tangled mess. Pests enjoy hiding in overgrown vegetation. Keeping your garden free of weeds over the winter can help eliminate unwanted nests and potential infestation.

3. Seal cracks and holes

Inspect the outside of your home, especially around windows and doors, for any small cracks or holes. House mice can fit through holes as small as 1/4 inch. If you find any cracks or holes, be sure to seal them off with caulking or screens. Use weather-stripping, silicone or acrylic latex caulking and be sure to clean the area well before starting. This will ensure the new caulk seals properly.

4. Clean, organize and declutter

Make sure to clear out all cupboards, closets and storage units. Moisture and dirt can build up in these places and can draw in unwanted and destructive pests. Cleaning up these areas will give pests less of an area to hide and will give you a more open space to search for clues of rodent inhabitants.

5. Take out the trash

Rodents may love your leftovers more than you do. Keeping a tight lid on stored food, and throwing out garbage as soon as possible will help detract any possible intruders. If you see any gnaw marks or droppings in or around your house, take extra care with how to handle your garbage.

6. Fix leaky faucets and pipes

Rodents and insects alike need water to survive and are drawn to moisture, which is why basements, crawlspaces, attics, and other dark, damp places are common hiding spots for pests. Fixing leaky pipes and faucets can help stop an infestation in its tracks — if pests can’t access water, they’ll move on to another location.

Read more: What Attracts Cockroaches?

Prevent pests this fall with CroppMetcalfe

Keep in mind that not all pests problems can be handled with a simple solution. Sometimes it is best to call in the experts. If you are dealing with pests like rodents, termites, cockroaches and more, it's a good idea to get an experienced 5-Star Technician on the job.

For more information about CroppMetcalfe’s pest control services, call 703-372-9359 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today.


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