As the time to winterize your home draws near, you’ll likely find yourself getting up close and personal with spots that don’t normally see a lot of traffic–the attic and basement, for example. If your house has a crawl space instead of a traditional basement, you’re probably aware that you might not be alone during your winterizing activities, as these areas tend to attract household pests. But what kind of creatures should you be on the lookout for, and how are they best dealt with?
Though mice and rats are the likeliest offenders, crawl spaces are also prone to squirrel infestations, especially in wooded areas. To help deter the rodents from taking up residence, seal any holes or gaps in the perimeter wall–first with steel wool, then with caulking foam (the foam alone can be chewed through easily). Deal with any rodents who have already taken up residence by trapping, not with D-Con or other poison. The idea is to get rid of them for good, not to have them crawl inside the walls to die.
The key to warding off a roach infestation is maintaining a dry environment. Termites, too, are more likely to invade when conditions are damp. To keep the crawl space dry, consider putting down a vapor barrier (these work by preventing condensation), installing vents to increase airflow (make sure the holes are small enough to prevent rodents from getting in), or even investing in a dehumidifier.
Most people have dealt with ants in the house at some time or another, even in homes with basements. Keeping the crawl space dry is a good first step toward keeping ant problems at bay, but if the issue persists, there are effective traps and spray treatments available as well.
If you have an insect problem, then having a spider or two around can actually be a good thing, as arachnids feed on the blood of other creatures. If they become bothersome (or if you suffer from arachnophobia, in which case it’s best to have someone else do the job), apply an exterminating spray or call in a professional. To discourage future infestations, keep the crawl space free of rocks and other clutter.
Similarly, the likely presence of insects and small rodents make crawl spaces all the more attractive to snakes–although the reptiles would seek out enclosed, heat-retaining spaces such as these in any case. Keeping the area well sealed will help to keep your crawl space free of snakes, but if they’ve already taken up residence, contact a professional to assist in removal–the critters could be poisonous. Better safe than sorry.