As you head up to the attic to store some things no one in your family uses anymore, you notice quite a few creepy things scurrying around for cover, and you begin to wonder if you have a problem with pests in the attic. You hate the thought of bugs and who knows what else is hiding out in your stored belongings.
Spaces in your home like attics and basements are appealing to bugs, spiders, and other pests, mainly because they are quiet and hardly anyone ever goes in there. Which makes these areas perfect for pests to build a nest and breed in.
The good news is there is plenty you can do to help prevent pests in the attic.
First, what are some kinds of pests you might expect to encounter?
Cluster flies in the attic can really get on homeowners' nerves, though they are quite harmless. They get their common name from the way they cluster together, typically in wall voids (especially those higher up in your home) and attics. Cluster flies can be found almost everywhere in the United States except for the Gulf Coast states. These attic insect pests can make a nuisance of themselves from fall, when they seek shelter, through the winter, and on through the spring when they will try to escape back outside. On sunny winter days, they'll often be found clustering and buzzing around windows, trying to get outside.
Yes, you may also find cockroaches in your attic (more than likely American roaches), especially if you have stacks of newspapers, magazines, and cardboard boxes.
Cockroaches like warm, dark places to hide and nest, which is why they might find your attic might be a perfect spot. They might also frequent your basement, especially if they can find sources of moisture. Note that roaches breed quickly, and that sprays are only effective on the roaches you can see. Their eggs are quite impermeable to several types of insecticides. When you notice roach activity in your attic or anywhere else in your home, the quicker you act, the better.
Most ants are little more than nuisance pests, though Carpenter ants can actually cause expensive structural damage to your home if left untreated. As with cockroaches, pest control sprays can be effective against ants that you can see, but they don't really treat the source of the problem (the colony/nest).
There are thousands of different centipede species but the one you'll most likely encounter in your attic or home is known as the House centipede. Like cockroaches, centipedes prefer dark, quiet, damp, out-of-the-way areas to hide out and nest, so your attic may be the best place for them to go. Especially if there are lots of other little creepies running around up there that they can hunt and eat.
Fleas definitely travel on host animals (and sometimes humans), but they are more frequently found in carpet, furniture, drapes, etc., and they can also make a home in your attic. If you find fleas in your attic, there is a good chance they got there because of a rodent problem. They move fast, they jump high, and they can go for several months without a blood meal. Also, they are not so easy to spot with the naked eye.
Silverfish are ancient insects who have mastered ways to slither around quietly in the dark, and you just might run across them in your attic or basement. They are harmless, unless you've got valuable papers, books, clothes, and photos stored in these areas! Silverfish will eat just about anything. As with roaches, if you see two or three, there are likely several more nearby.
The good thing about spiders is that they hunt and eat other pests that might be in your attic. The bad thing is some are venomous (e.g., Black Widows, Brown Recluse). Also, do you want your house crawling with spiders? Most homeowners don't. Attics are nice quiet places for some spider species to build webs, and for others to lurk around and breed. Spiders can also breed quickly, so the better job you do of preventing them from laying eggs in your attic or other parts of your house, the fewer you'll have to worry about through the winter and spring.
How to Prevent Pests in the Attic
If you can put more preventive measures in place to help keep pests out of your home, basement, and attic, all the better. You can make your home and attic less appealing to them, and they will go elsewhere. Here are some tips:
Keep your floors, surfaces, and carpets clean and decluttered. This is a good first step. Keeping your floors and other surfaces clean and free of crumbs, moisture, and other spills will help reduce pest populations in your home. It seems simple, but cleanliness is very effective. Regularly wipe down, sweep, and vacuum your home, and steam your carpets from time to time. This can help reduce eggs, larvae, and pupae that might be around indoors developing into adults, that might later try to nest in your basement or attic.
Seal off potential entry points. Seal off any ways that bugs can get into your home or attic. Gaps, cracks, crevices, etc. around your home's exterior, around windows and doors, and throughout are perfect passageways for pests to get in and start nesting. Seal these entry points off with caulk or spackle, and screen over vents and utility/pipe entry points into your home. Make sure all door and window screens are in good repair, along with weatherproofing and door sweeps.
Landscaping. Keep your lawn mowed regularly, foliage trimmed back from the side of your house, and leaves and other lawn clutter cleared up to give pests fewer harborage areas near your home. Keep firewood and mulch at least 20 feet away from the side of your home.
Reduce and eliminate sources of moisture. Getting rid of any sources of moisture in your attic or basement is one key way to keep these areas bug-free, especially moisture bugs like silverfish and cockroaches. Repair all plumbing leaks indoors and outdoors, and do what you can to eliminate standing water. Install a dehumidifier if needed.
Organize your storage space. Have some sort of plan for how you will stack and store your items, and do what you can to keep like items together. Believe it or not, this will help with managing your stored items, and with minimizing infestation damage. You can also help keep things spaced better, to improve ventilation and reduce moisture/humidity.
Keep your items safe and secure. Any items that you store in your basement or attic could end up becoming food for intrusive pests. Store your items in sealed plastic bins rather than cardboard boxes, and cover your furniture well.
Inspect and check on your items regularly. Check on your items regularly to see if they continue to be safe from pest activity and damage. The quicker you can address any kind of infestation, the better.
How to Get Rid of Pests in Your Attic
The attic can be a very difficult place to treat for a pest problem, given the size, shape and hiding places (think behind insulation). Using insecticide spray product would not be the preferred method as it would not likely be very effective. It is best to use insecticide baits or dust products.
Ant Bait Stations
If ants have been found in the attic, you should try using a good ant bait product. Maggie's Farm No Spill Ant Kill bait stations can be strategically placed and are the best way to eliminate the source of the problem: the ant colony/nest. Another good ant bait is Maggie's Farm Ant Killer Bait, which is a thick syrup bait that comes in a small application tube. If you have ants nesting in your home or attic, this is the best way to get rid of them long term.
Use a Good Pest Control Dust
Insecticide dusts can be an effective product to use in an attic to control a variety of crawling pests if it is applied correctly. The key to an effective dust treatment is applying it thoroughly around the outer edges of the attic and on top of insulation. Maggie’s Farm Bed Bug Killer is a highly effective insecticide dust that kills crawling pests that come in contact with it quickly, and remains effective for years after applying. The dust clings to the body and legs of the passing crawling insects, killing them by desiccation (dehydration). But you may need a special dust applicator to get the thorough coverage needed.
If you are dealing with cockroaches, ants and silverfish, try using Maggie's Farm Roach Killer Gel Bait Apply many small dabs of bait in areas where these pests have been seen. Roaches, ants and silverfish will find the bait and eat it. Roaches and ants will take the bait back to their nests and eliminate the colony. Silverfish will eat the bait and die.
Yard Bug Spray
Regular yard treatments with a good spray like plant oil-based Maggie's Farm Yard Bug Spray during the spring, summer, and fall months will do a lot to reduce outdoor pest populations around your home, and reduce the chances of pests getting into your attic.
Always follow label directions for pest control products that you might use.
Want to know more tips and tricks? Check out more of our articles:
- Facts About Cluster Flies
- Different Types of Cockroaches
- Ants: Control Strategies & Products
- How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
- How to Get Rid of Silverfish Naturally
- How to Get Rid of Spiders Naturally
- Two Types of Spiders to Avoid: Black Widow & Brown Recluse
- 6 Easy Steps to Keep Bugs Out
- How to Use a Yard Bug Spray
- Selecting the Best Pest Control Product: Spray, Bait, Dust, or Trap?
Questions? Tips? Tricks about getting rid of pests in your attic or basement? Leave us a comment below!
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