How to keep pests and termites away

Pests are like roommates you didn’t ask for, living with you rent-free and destroying your home. They can eat away at the wooden structure of a property, tear up insulation, destroy air ducts, rip up carpets, or cause other damages. This is why pests are a top concern for many home-owners. The damages they cause to a property aren’t always dire, but sometimes they can be a serious problem if not treated properly and promptly.

Types of pests include rodents (mice, rats) and also Wood Destroying Insects (otherwise known as WDIs). There are a lot of natural preventions for termites and other pests. Let’s take a bite out of these tips, so these pests won’t take a bite out of your home. 

First, we’ll see about our rodent pals: 

Mice and rats

These guys are small– maybe even kind of cute– but mighty. Their sharp teeth can chew through many materials. Their personal favorite snacks are insulation, carpeting, air ducts, cardboard, and things like these. They also love eating food that’s left out in the open, building nests, and defecating in homes. Attics, crawl spaces, garages and basements tend to be their favorite spots to get down to business. Anywhere dARK with lots of nooks and crannies. Luckily, there are ways to keep these guys out of your precious home. Of course, mouse traps are a classic way to keep rodents away. Tom and Jerry cartoons taught us this tip, and it still holds true. You can buy traps at most hardware or general stores. Set them up around the areas mice and rats congregate and build their nests. Or keep a pet “Tom” around the house! Cats really do keep rodents away, although it shouldn’t be the only prevention you implement.

Photo credit: momokacma 

Did you know a mouse can fit through a dime-sized hole in your house? According to, dryer sheets are also known to keep these vermin away temporarily. Sealing small spaces and doing “exclusion work” helps keep rodents out too. These holes and spaces may be hard to find to the untrained eye, but if you do notice them, seal them up with mesh wire or a caulking gun. You can also call a professional to scout out holes and seal them for you. One last tip for rodents is to keep your foliage trimmed and clean. Maybe this is unusual, but it’s true: mice love traveling to and from houses via unkempt and overgrown hedges, shrubs, and bushes. They prefer these because it allows them to hide from owls’ and snakes’ eyelines. If your bushes are trimmed and clean, mice will have one less avenue to your home. 

Other types of pests are smaller than mice and rats, but can be just as destructive. As mentioned above, these include Wood Destroying Insects. Let’s see how these types of pests can be avoided… (Poor Noah didn’t have these tips to help him avoid wood damage to his ARK. But you can have them for your home!)


Little Buggers

Wood Destroying Insects include termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and wood-boring beetles. These little buggers can really cause some serious damage if you aren’t careful. Especially because they are hard to see. We recommend the following to prevent them from infiltrating. First, you can use some all-natural and eco-friendly products. Orange oil, cardboard traps, and boric acid can ward off wood-loving insects. Orange oil is a concentrated liquid that you mix with water and apply directly to areas where termites can congregate (or maybe already have). It contains d-Limonene, which coats the insects’ respiratory system and kills them on contact. Luckily, for us humans, it is non-toxic and smells great too! Boric acid is available in liquid or dust form, and can ward off WDIs near a home with no danger to you or your family. Cardboard traps are especially effective because they contain cellulose, which termites find very tasty. They’ll be lured in by it, and then when the trap does its thing, you’ll have dead termites you can easily dispose of. These things can be found at hardware stores or some general stores. You can also order them online, and they’re a great alternative to chemical products. 

Photo credit: Gnilenkov Aleksey

Keep vegetation trimmed and away from siding and roofs. This is a big one. Termites and other WDIs can infest your home via trees and shrubs that are in contact with the home. To keep these pests away, and according to this article about “Carpenter Ants Prevention and Control,” keep vegetation at least 5 feet away from your siding and roof. Another tip is to keep firewood away from your home and garage. Termites love to eat the fibers found in dry firewood. If the firewood is near your house, you are providing an easy avenue for the WDIs to travel directly into the wood of your home and start gnawing there too. We recommend keeping your firewood in your backyard far from the home, and out of your garage especially.

Carpenter ants, on the other hand, enjoy wet wood. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, roof and plumbing leaks are an easy way for these buggers to enter the home and feast on wet wood. It’s important to have regular inspections under sinks, in the basement, and in your attic for any water damage or leaks, and make repairs as needed.

If all else fails, or you think you may have an active WDI infestation, your ARK home inspector is a professional who can do a pest inspection for you. We can take a look at the foundation of your home, attics, basements, garages, and any other nooks and crannies in the property. We’ll tell you if there is any pest damage. Termite, WDI, and rodent damage are common, but that doesn’t mean you have to have these unexpected roommates living there rent-free. It’s important that your home is safe and clear and as damage-free as possible, so use these tips to prevent pests. If you want professional help, we are here or you! Just call or email us and ask what we can do for you!

Picture of Justin Jurovcik

Justin Jurovcik

Home Inspector & Fireman
Owner: ARK Home Inspection

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