Jamie Nack, UW-Extension senior wildlife outreach specialist
Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Total time – 3:06
0:14 – Potential unwanted guests that can cause damage
0:55 – What entry points to seal off
1:34 – Chimneys and overhanging tree branches
2:13 – Garden clean-up to reduce cover
2:57 – Lead out
Lorre Kolb: Keeping unwanted guests out of your home. We’re visiting today with Jamie Nack, Extension Senior Wildlife Outreach Specialist, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb. Jamie, fall is upon us and we might have some unexpected and unwanted guests?
Jamie Nack: We’re really talking about mice and squirrels and other warm-blooded rodents which don’t make good houseguests and can cause a lot of structural damage by gnawing on wood or even wires within our homes so this is a nuisance and also a potential danger to your family with disease concerns and electrical fires. So one of the first things to do is we want to seal off any entry point, so whether we’re talking about squirrels in the attic or mice in the house, it really doesn’t matter how many times you trap and remove that squirrel, if you don’t take the time to seal off those entry points it is just going to be a continuing, revolving problem.
Lorre Kolb: How can you seal off those points and what should you be looking for?
Jamie Nack: You want to walk around the exterior of your home and look for holes or cracks, paying particular attention to the eaves, fascia boards and flashing; and any rotten wood that you have should be replaced. If you have small holes or cracks, you can fill that with caulk or an expandable foam, but if they’re large, you may have to repair the area. Also if you think about areas where you have pipes or utility outlets that access your home those are good places to screen off, you can use hardware cloth or even buy covers that go over the top of some of those outlets and you’ll want to make sure that your doors and windows are properly sealed; mice can fit into some shockingly small places.
Lorre Kolb: What about gazing higher up?
Jamie Nack: Up high there’s a couple things. So the chimney is a perfect place for critters to enter for shelter in the winter, so check to make sure that your chimney is empty and if you don’t already have a chimney cap you really ought to go and buy one. The cost of a chimney cap will be much less than the cost of hiring somebody to remove a family of raccoons. And then also you want to eliminate any jumping off points; tree limbs that overhang towards your gutters or your rooflines, you’re going to want to trim those back; squirrels are able to use these limbs to access the roof so you want to remove or trim back any branches within eight feet of your home as a good start.
Lorre Kolb: Sounds like you’re also talking about some garden clean up and yardwork?
Jamie Nack: Keeping your house clean – the inside of your house – is probably the number one proven thing a homeowner can do to prevent pests in the winter, so you want to make sure you have food within your house put away and in sealed containers. Outside the home you want to reduce cover just around the immediate footprint or foundation of your home. And then just to note, we do encourage folks who are gardening or have perennial gardens where it’s not right up against the home to leave that vegetation for the winter because it is very important for birds and other invertebrates to overwinter in that habitat, so we certainly encourage messy gardening over the wintertime just not around the immediate home’s foundation.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Jamie Nack, Extension Senior Wildlife Outreach Specialist, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Lorre Kolb.