Got some unwelcome guests on your grounds? Tired of worrying about bug bites, stings, and creatures grazing in your garden? Want to reclaim your yard from rodent and insect infiltrators? Act now to protect your property and your family from the direct and indirect hazards that unwanted critters pose right outside your front and back doors.
“Keeping undesirable animals and insects out of your yard is important. They can cause significant damage to your garden, lawn, and other plantings. For example, insects like aphids or beetles can decimate your flowers and vegetables, while larger animals can dig up lawns and create unsightly holes,” says A.H. David, a blogger with Pestcontrolweekly.com. “Secondly, some animals and insects carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets. For instance, ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus. Not taking action to control these pests can lead to a loss of enjoyment of your outdoor space, financial costs for remediation, and potential health risks.”
Rodents are among the most troublesome creatures to keep off your property.
“Rodents, like rats and mice, are notorious for their voracious appetites and destructive behaviors. Once they infiltrate your garden, they can wreak havoc by munching on fruits, vegetables and plants as well as seeds and seedlings – hindering the growth of plants and damaging gardening efforts,” cautions Nicole Carpenter, CEO of Black Past Prevention in Charlotte, North Carolina. “These vermin are also burrowing animals, creating tunnels under the soil that can destabilize your garden bed and uproot plants. Furthermore, they are carriers of diseases, posing health risks, and the contamination they leave behind in the form of droppings and urine can endanger food safety.”
Several stinging insects like yellow jackets, wasps and hornets can wreak havoc on any outdoor activity. Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist and senior vice president of Public Affairs for the National Pest Management Association, notes these pests build nests in a variety of places around the house, including overhangs, the undersides of porches and decks, in trees, along fence lines, and in ground nests around the yard.
“Residents in the arid Southwest should be on the lookout for scorpions, which are known to sting as a defense mechanism, causing localized swelling and a burning sensation,” Fredericks adds. “And fleas, attracted to warm-blooded hosts like rodents, can transmit a number of diseases to people and pets through their itchy bites and cause allergic reactions.”
Among the larger pests that perturb homeowners are rabbits, raccoons, skunks and opossums, which can dig up your yard, damage gardens and, in some cases, overturn trash cans.
To prevent these and other Mother Nature ne’er-do-wells from invading your outdoor territory, follow best practices.
“First, when spending time outdoors, apply an insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET. Consider wearing long clothing and tucking pants into socks, too,” suggests Fredericks. “Next, seal and cover any trash or garbage containers with tight lids, making sure to place cans far from primary entertaining spots. If you are cooking outside, keep stinging insects away by covering all foods when outside. Keep an eye out for flying insect nests, as they can develop fast in the warmer months, and call in a professional for help if you detect a nest.”
To shield against ticks, remove leaf litter, clear any overgrown vegetation or brush from your property, and eliminate potential rodent food sources by securing birdfeeders and using outdoor garbage cans with a lid. Neatly store any firewood on an elevated surface off the ground, as well.
“If you suspect rats are present, set up rodent traps and bait stations in areas of activity to reduce their population. Opt for humane traps if you prefer to release captured rats elsewhere,” advises Carpenter. “To thwart mosquitoes, remove any sources of stagnant water where they breed, like flowerpots, buckets, old tires and birdbaths. Uses citronella candles and essential oil diffusers and outdoor seating areas to repel mosquitoes naturally.”
For safeguarding your garden from rabbits and other enemies, “install a fence that’s at least 2 feet high and buried 6 to 12 inches underground. You can also use pest repellents and plant rabbit-resistant varieties of vegetables,” says David.
Additionally, keep raccoons and skunks from creating dens by sealing off any openings or crevices beneath decks and sheds.
Poison should only be used as a last resort when other methods have failed, and the past poses a serious threat to your property or health.
“The type of poison you should use will depend on the pest; for instance, use rodenticides for rats and mice, and insecticides for aphids and beetles. Always choose products approved by environmental and health authorities, and follow the instructions exactly,” continues David.