Maybe you hear a rustling in your dog’s food dish. Or spot droppings in the cabinet under the sink. Or come face to face with a mouse itself.
Besides the yuck factor, mice in the home pose a health risk, said Stuart Nichol of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We strongly encourage people at this time (of year) to rodent-proof their houses and try to prevent the rodents from coming in in the first place,” said Nichol, chief of the CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens branch.
As the weather turns colder, mice are “looking for a little bit of warmth” and a way to get inside, said Missy Henriksen, spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association.
All they need is the smallest of holes, as small as a coin, to gain entry.
So a first step in pest management is inspecting your home for possible entry points.
Have the screens on the chimney, attic or dryer vents detached? Is the weather stripping around doors or windows worn? Has the putty come loose around air conditioning hoses, or where the electricity or cable wires go into the house? Is there shrubbery close to the house or ivy around the foundation and up the outside walls that mice can use to hide or climb?
“The most effective means of pest control is controlling the problem before it becomes a problem,” Henriksen said.
Pest control technician Shane Flanagan usually starts with a visual inspection of the property to try to see where mice are getting in and where they might be nesting. He’ll look in the kitchen and unfinished areas of the basement and attics. “All that insulation is perfect nesting for mice and (other) rodents,” said Flanagan, who works for PestNow, based in Sterling, Va.
Then he sets traps. Placement is key: Mice run along walls.