Friday, November 18, 2011

The Frugal Pantry: Four Legged Pests

The first thing you will notice about this post is the lack of photos. I refuse to sneak around taking photos of pests or their signs. Yuchi!

But a foul reality of maintaing a stocked pantry is fighting off pests and this is the time of the year when our four legged friends are looking to find a nice, warm place to live with lots of available food.

Hopefully, you thought preventatively and have you food stored in tightly sealed metal containers. After the holidays is a good time to look for old Christmas tins at your thrift store. The big popcorn tins are great for storing large quantities.

But, despite your efforts you hear the pitter patter of little rodent feet over head or see signs of mouse droppings inside your house. Welcome to real life. It doesn't matter how clean you are, everyone deals with these creatures occasionally.

The first thing to do is find their entry points. Rodents can compress their bodies to enter the tiniest spaces, so look for small cracks, chewed holes in wood or screens. The big Norway rats can even chew through concrete. Then seal these places with metal. There is a brass or copper mesh that can be mixed with sealant to plug up small spaces. Sheet metal or welded hardware cloth can be used for larger holes. Look in areas where wires or pipes enter the home. Holes are often found behind appliances.

After you've sealed the house up it is time to trap. Good old fashioned snap traps are the best. They are much more effective and human than sticky traps and poison. With poison you can end up going on a frustrating hunt for a smelly dead critter. You can leave snap traps set all the time to catch the problem before you know you have them. If you have pets or small children, use the snap traps that are contained in a secure plastic box. Invest in a box of disposable rubber gloves from the drugstore to use for rodent removal and wash your hands very well.

Place the traps perpendicular to and touching the walls. Make sure the working end is closest to the wall. As for bait try cheese or peanut butter. You want the bait to be hard to remove without tripping the trap.

We sometimes have problems with roof rats when the citrus trees in the neighborhood are bearing ripe fruit. It is important to harvest immediately and not leave ripe fruit laying on the ground. Another problem is pet food that is not picked up after feeding. It can be frustrating because sloppy neighbors can undo all of your efforts.

The battle to protect food stuffs from pests is ages old, and one that we all fight. Paying attention to prevention and reacting at the first sign of a problem will help you avoid an infestation.

God bless,

1 comment:

  1. We're fortunate that we've only had to deal with a few mice in the laundry room (which is like a mud room; connected to the garage & then to the kitchen). The door to the kitchen is a metal exterior type door, so the only way they'll get through to the inside house is if somebody leaves the door open & they sneak in. We use snap traps, but usually I'll just toss one of the cats in the laundry room for a while and they take care of it pretty quickly.

    Pantry moths are a WHOLE 'nother story! No matter how well I seal stuff, I still end up with them about twice a year. Those little buggers will get into the smallest spaces!