ROSIE ON THE HOUSE

Here’s everything you need to know about ridding your home of critters

May 16, 2024, 3:00 PM | Updated: May 17, 2024, 7:13 am

Here's everything you need to know about getting rid of critters in your home. (Shuttershock Photo)...

Here's everything you need to know about getting rid of critters in your home. (Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

Spring is the season that awakens plants and pesky critters winter keeps at bay. Arizona has many climatic zones where plants and critters arrive at different times, such as Flagstaff and Phoenix.

The amount of rainfall coupled with warmer temperatures can typically facilitate a larger-than-normal bloom. The Arizona State Climate Office says we received 0.18” of rain above the mean rainfall. So, a typical year is ahead of us. You have likely heard about the cicada explosion expected

However, we still have a host of insects and pests, some unique to the southwest, making it timely to update a previously published article about what to look for and what to do, to mitigate the critter impact.

Research

If you are fighting off unwanted pests at home, find out what they like to eat and where they like to sleep, and get rid of it! Taking away their food supply includes protecting your gardens. Fencing or netting works well in most areas.

For Creepy Crawlies | Remove fallen leaves.

Crickets love leaf litter. Remove the fallen leaves, and the crickets will find someone else’s house to incessantly chirp.

If you have geckos scampering around, keep them. They will help eliminate crickets for you. Scorpions also love crickets. Therefore, having a cricket problem can lead to a scorpion problem.

Scorpions | Eliminate hiding spots.

The bark scorpion is the scorpion we see in the desert southwest. Just one poisonous sting can be fatal to someone allergic to the venom. But, for most people, the sting is just terribly painful.

Scorpions like to hide under things and are nocturnal. To find out if you are hosting them, use a blacklight at night to check your house and yard.

Black Widow Spiders | Alert! Get rid of clutter!

Nathan Woolf, Rosie on the House Certified Partner, Blue Sky Pest Control, says, “Arizona is a hot spot for black widow spiders. You will generally find them lurking in dark places no more than two feet above the ground. Some common places they like to hide are garages, outdoor storage units, and behind A/C and pool equipment.”

Watch for irregular spider webs, not the beautiful symmetric webs that resemble artwork. Clear the webs with a broom and check the area for spiders. Woolf says that when baby spiders hatch, they throw out a thread that allows them to travel like a kite. So, if your neighbor has them, you could, too! By the way, there are some spiders you may want to keep around. Learn more here.

Note: Rosie advises that one of the best ways to keep bugs and critters at bay is by caulking and sealing openings and cracks on the exterior of your home. Make sure to buy a clear caulk designed for exterior use so that it will expand and contract as the temperatures change. Check out our article about How To Seal Cracks and Gaps Around Your Home, or watch the video for help with this DIY project.

Pro Tip: Consider hiring a pest control company to inspect and treat your home regularly. Choose a company that checks in with you each month and offers a visual inspection while they are on the property. You can choose to have the inside or outside of the home sprayed, or both, depending on the critter issues you are having at the time.

For Nesting Creatures

Pack Rats | Keep an eye on your parked vehicles!

Pack rats’ nests are a jumbled mess of twigs and brush generally found under bushes and trees. Pack rats have a fondness for unused vehicles. They will move in and eat everything under the hood except the metal. Check your parked vehicle regularly. To win this battle, you must clear out the nests when they build them and before they get too comfy. They will keep trying to make a home there, so you must be tenacious! You can win.

Roof Rats | Get rid of ripe fruit!

Signs of roof rats include gnawed-out fruit from your trees and greasy spots on walls where they have traveled. Roof rats like to travel high off the ground. Sounds of scrambling or gnawing in the attic are indicators of their existence. Keep rats off the roof and out of the attic. Trees and bushes should be trimmed away from the house. Eliminate their food source by picking ripe fruit from trees and the ground. It is a good idea to pick up pet food bowls when Fido is done eating. Roof rats are smart critters. They learn to avoid dangerous situations, which makes them hard to catch.

Critters That Buzz

Bees | Wait a minute…..

You have some choices when a swarm of bees arrives in your yard. Occasionally, a beehive will come swarming into a yard late in the day and settle in a tree. Try leaving them for a day. Often, they will set off on their journey the very next morning. If a colony has moved in and is in a place where it will be easily disturbed, consider having a beekeeper remove and relocate it. If a beehive is well established and in a hard place to reach, such as in a wall, near a pool, or high in a tree, your best bet will be eradication. If the bees are Africanized, they need to be eradicated due to their tendency to be aggressive.

Wasps | No floating allowed!

To keep wasps from hanging out at your pool, don’t provide anything for them to float on. Paper wasps, the most common of our wasps, live in a large round hive. Hive removal is one way to get rid of them. Discouraging them is the other way. One deterrent that seems to work is algaecide applied to the pool water (per directions). Place anti-static cloths by the side of the pool or diesel fuel in a plastic water bottle hung from a tree to keep them away might be worth a try.

For Wildlife

Don’t invite them in the first place!

Wild animals are attracted by easy access to food and water. The worst thing humans can do to wildlife is provide food and water. This changes the behavior of the animals and allows them to depend on humans instead of their instincts for survival. Wild animals, including coyotes, javelina, bobcats, bears, and birds of prey, are of special concern if you have small pets or children.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGF), it is illegal to feed wildlife in Pinal, Maricopa, and Pima counties? If fined, this penalty carries a fee of $300. If wild animals try to settle in your area, AZGF suggests making them unwelcome by banging pots and yelling to let them know that they are not welcome at your place. For information on specific species, visit online.

Critter-Free Living

Keeping your yard trimmed and debris-free will go a long way in keeping unwanted critters at bay. Clutter inside and outside is your enemy when it comes to critters. Don’t provide places for them to hide! As mentioned earlier, don’t keep your pet’s food bowl out. Pick up and put them away as soon as your pet is done eating. This simple task will prevent everything from ants, roof rats, and anything else that is hungry and looking for an easy place to build from making tu casa, su casa.

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email info@rosieonthehouse.com. Follow us on X and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.

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Here’s everything you need to know about ridding your home of critters