How to control pests in your attic

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Have you heard noises coming from your attic just after dusk? Possibly something scurrying around while you’re trying to fall asleep? You may be harboring pests in your attic.

Not only can pests keep you up at night, but they can also be responsible for property damage and they can cause health problems.

Common attic pests

Squirrels. Although squirrels typically live in tree cavities, they have been known to seek out attic space when the temperature drops. They can damage you home, building nests and creating openings. They also leave behind, body dust, feces and urine, which can cause damage or transmit disease.

Bats. Bats are able to squeeze through openings as small as 1/2 inch. Bats live in colonies and once they take up residence usually stick to the familiar space year round. A buildup of bat feces can cause illness. They have also been known to carry diseases.

Mice. Mice can fit through even smaller openings, needing only 1/4-inch gap to enter a structure. Mice can damage structures by making nests defecating and urinating. They are also disease carriers.

Rats. Rats can squeeze through openings as small as a quarter. They may also gain energy to your attic by chewing through wood, siding and drywall. Rat infestations can cause damage to your home and gardens. They also transmit diseases through the pests they carry and the feces, urine and body dust they leave behind.

Raccoons. Raccoons typically sneak through poorly screened vents and eave gaps to gain access to attic spaces. However, they have also been known to rip right through roofing materials in order to gain entry. Like all other rodents, raccoons leave behind waste, carry disease and may cause damage to your home.

Insects and arachnids. Ants, flies, cockroaches, spiders, stink bugs and more may have snuck into your attic looking for a warm place to overwinter at the end of fall. Like, rodents they leave behind body dust and droppings everywhere they crawl. They can also transmit pathogens via food contamination.

Identifying attic pests

The first step to controlling pests that have taken up residence in your attic is identifying which type of pest you’re sharing your space with.

During the day when most attic pests are inactive, take a look around your attic to determine what’s living up there. If you don’t notice any critters, look for other signs of their presence — damage to your attic, entrance gaps, scat, nests. By evaluating what your particular pest left behind, you can come closer to identifying what’s living in your attic.

Using scat to determine what type of pest you have is a great way to narrow things down.

  • Mouse Scat: 1/8-inch pellets
  • Rat Scat: 1/4 inch long, shaped like sausages
  • Squirrel Scat: 1/2-1 inch long and sausage-shaped
  • Raccoon Scat: Up to 3/4 inch wide, 2-3 inches long and sausage-shaped
  • Bat Scat: 1.2 inch lone and pellet-shaped, found in piles

Controlling attic pests

Once you’ve identified which pest you’re dealing with you can determine how to get rid of it. Click the links below for specific control methods.

  • Mouse
  • Rat
  • Squirrel
  • Raccoon
  • Bat – Many species of bast are protected and may need to be excluded from your home with the help of a local wildlife agency.

No matter what type of pest you’re dealing with taking away access to food, water and shelter can help manage pest populations in your attic. These tips are universal:

  1. Keep your home clean and uncluttered. Rodents scavenge for food and bedding materials to survive. If these are easy to come by in your home, it will be more attractive to them.
  2. Maintain your yard. The same goes for outside, if your yard offers a lot of cover or is overgrown, it will be more desirable to rodents.
  3. Keep lids on your trash cans. Your trash cans could be your pests’ main source of food if you’re not keeping the lids tightly secured. Likewise, if you let trash build up outside of the cans, you’re creating a smorgasboard for nearby rodents.
  4. Make repairs. repairing holes and cracks in walls, windows and screens keeps rodents from finding an access point.
  5. Identify and seal potential entrances. Seal potential entry routs with caulking, copper mesh, or other pest-proof materials for gaps in walls, pipes, pavement and other surfaces.
  6. Talk to your neighbors. Pests typically don’t stay in one place. If you’re having a pest problem, it’s likely your neighbor is too.

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s online content producer. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and outdoor recreation.

2 COMMENTS

  1. That’s pretty crazy that mice can fit through a hole that is only a quarter-inch big. That seems like it would mean that they could get into a lot of places where you wouldn’t notice them. I should keep an eye out for signs of mice so I could have someone take care of them right away since my wife does not like mice.

  2. Sara, it’s good that you mentioned that mice only need a 1/4 inch gap to enter our homes and damage our structure through defecating and urinating. My son has discovered that we have tiny mice-made holes in the wooden walls of our attic when he went to get some decorative materials this weekend. Perhaps I should call a mice control service this afternoon and schedule an appointment to get rid of the pests quickly before they do any more damage. Thanks!

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