Internachi certified professional inspector
If there is one thing that I dislike about being a homeowner is dealing with the seasonal nuisance of ants and wasps. Both these critters have attempted to take over our property but we have been fortunate enough to keep them at bay.
Ants are No Termites (but Annoying Nonetheless)
Fortunately, we do not have building destroying termites in Nova Scotia (yet), but ants, particularly Carpenter Ants can cause building damage, not to mention they are ugly and annoying. Like any pest, the best way to get rid of them is to prevent entry in the first place but as any home resident knows that is easier said than done! The biggest thing to remember is that ants are searching for food and water, particularly sugar. Remove empty pop cans and garbage frequently and be sure to keep the home’s humidity down in the summer as ants are attracted to moist environments.
If they do make a large-scale appearance, it is my experience that the best way to get rid of them is to use a liquid ant bait. Yes, this will attract a significantly larger number of ants for a day or so, but they will quickly take the poison back to the nest. What’s even better is that the ants will literally take away all of the corpses!
Wasps Can Buzz Off!
Wasps are aggressive, highly territorial and can deliver painful and, for someone with allergies, fatal stings. There are several ways to get rid of them and the following two methods I have found to keep them away from our home seem to be the most effective.
The first success I had was using a pop bottle with a special top (which can be purchased anywhere that sells pest control products) that allowed easy entry but challenging escape. I tried a few liquids and found orange juice to be the best solution. It typically takes a few days, but the number of wasps trapped will exponentially grow over time until the problem is eliminated. Still, the best way to stop wasps is to keep them away in the first place. In my experience, the best method for keeping wasps away is using a fake nest in the spring. While this is commonly thought of as a total myth, it was effective for our family and permanently kept the annual nest building away from the house.
Generally, an established nest can be destroyed after dark using an insecticide spray but if it is in a hard-to-reach area, such as a soffit or hidden under a woodpile it is best to call the professionals. Getting swarmed on a ladder or amongst a woodpile is a deeply unpleasant scenario.
If you have ever seen me in action, you may notice that I tend to spend a relatively long period of time in the attic. There are several things I am looking for including:
While it is not part of a standard home inspection, I also carefully look for any evidence of the presence of pests. There are four major pests I look for that are common in Nova Scotia.
Mice & Rats
October is a time of leaves falling, Halloween approaching and colder weather coming. This also means that rodents are looking for a nice warm shelter. Unfortunately, mice can squeeze through holes as small as a dime and can produce up to 150 babies a year. Not only do mice carry a significant amount of disease, but they also love to chew electrical wires.
This is probably the second most common pest I have heard homeowners complain about. Squirrels are acrobatic and will chew through wires to enter an attic space. While disease isn’t as big of a concern, they can quickly wreck electrical systems.
These pests can tear through vents and mesh and are very intelligent. The biggest danger is that raccoons are very aggressive and will attack humans with their sharp claws. Fortunately, because of their large size it is more challenging for them to enter attics.
While I was out for a walk in my neighbourhood, I observed several birds flying in and out of an attic through a hole in the soffit. Birds not only carry diseases but tend to get very comfortable if not removed immediately. While they won’t chew like squirrels, they have the advantage of being able to fly to any hole to enter the attic space.
What can you do to keep these residents from squatting in your home? There are a few common steps to take to be proactive. Remember, the best way to remove pests is to prevent them from entering in the first place.
While it can be very difficult to detect many of these pests, I am always on the lookout for evidence such as droppings, unusual insulation patterns and potential entry points. I hope to never have to encounter a pest in the attic and hope you never have to deal with the headache of removing them.