Pest Prevention Notes
The simplest way to reduce insects in your home is to reduce moisture next to your foundation. This has other benefits as well (such as, less moisture inside the basement or crawl space). Grade the first 3 to 6 feet next to your foundation; there should be a drop of at least 1 inch per foot. This allows water to run away from your house. Cover the soil with a heavy plastic, and then cover the plastic with stone. You can use mulch beyond this area, if you wish. Extend downspouts beyond this area. Do not plant bushes or flowers in this dry zone.
When installing bushes, shrubs, trees and other plants ... make sure that they will not touch the house or roof when they are fully grown. Move shrubs which are planted too close. Trim plants and trees which cannot be moved. There should be a minimum of 8-12" between any plant and the siding. This will prevent moisture next to foundation and reduce insect movement into the house.
Basements and crawl spaces should be dry. A properly dehumidified space under the house can reduce up to half the spider population and cut down on other "creepy crawlies." Of course, proper dehumidification has many other benefits as well (reduced mold, mildew and rust). Crawl spaces and basements used only for storage should have 50% humidity or less. Basement living spaces and bedrooms should have about 40% humidity. Dehumidifiers and basement fresh air systems work well for these purposes. Crawl spaces with exposed soil should have a vapor barrier installed.
Many homes have small holes in the foundation, under door frames, and around utility entrances. Insects and mice can enter these areas. It may only take one summer Saturday morning to seal these entrances. You will need a pair of latex gloves, a tube of caulk and some steel wool. Larger openings can be filled with steel wool then caulked. Smaller openings can be sealed with caulk alone. Extra large openings will require more skill. With the gloves on, feel for gaps in hidden areas. There are other benefits to sealing these openings (reduced cost to heat and cool your house, for one).
You can reduce wasp nests by sealing holes in tubes and pipes. Seal the holes in the porch railing, gas-grill frame, basketball stand, and clothes-line poles with putty. It may save a trip to the emergency room.
Ants, mice, rats and squirrels love bird seed. Never place feeders near the house or deck unless you want to encourage vermin to enter your house. If you must have a bird feeder, place it as far from the house as possible.
Never store firewood in your house or garage year 'round. Mice consider firewood piles to be wonderful locations for nests. Also, most non-kiln-dried firewood has wood-destroying beetle larvae inside. You do not want your floors or other wood in the structure damaged by beetle infestation, so keep firewood outside and far from your structures, except in the winter. (Note: Mice love clutter. Reduce bushes and other clutter from fence-rows and next to house/buildings. Get rid of brush-piles.)