Reclaim Your House and Yard by Saying “No” to Nuisance Pests
By Susie Tommaney
In his poem, Mending Wall, Robert Frost debates the concept of whether “good fences make good neighbours.” As the spaces between homes get ever more narrow, a good fence often does help, but what about those intruders who climb under, over or through those fences? From mosquitoes and flies to wildlife and feral cats, sometimes we need a little help protecting our homes and gardens from invasive species.
RACCOONS, POSSUMS, SNAKES AND RODENTS
Raccoons are attracted to the food in our garbage cans, as well as pet food, bird seed, goldfish ponds and even chicken coops for those in more rural areas. For those of us lucky enough to have fruit trees, dropped or ripened fruit can also be a draw. Opossums are also in search of some of these same foods and though they’re primarily nocturnal, will sometimes come out during the day if food is scarce or it’s cold. Both of these animals have been known to come in through pet doors or make their way into attics, bringing along fleas and possibly diseases in the process.
Even ickier is when rats, mice and snakes find their way into our yards and homes. Venomous snakes such as copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and coral snakes are a danger to family and pets. Rats and mice have been known to spread more than 35 diseases, transmitted through live or dead rodents, or by contact with feces, urine, saliva or their bite.
The good news is that there are folks who not only aren’t afraid of these creatures, they’ve also developed humane ways to remove and relocate them, far away from your home. In fact, companies like Animal Control Wildlife Inc. have even been called on to remove coyotes, alligators, wild hogs, gophers, skunks, bats, bees and squirrels. And we thought we had problems!
FLIES AND MOSQUITOES
Along with the warmer weather come the mosquitoes, and Harris County Public Health offers great tips for protecting us from mosquito-borne diseases. When outdoors, use an EPA-registered insect repellent to help prevent bites: Look for products that have either DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus/PMD, or 2-undecanone. Other tips include wearing socks and long sleeves and pants, or placing mosquito netting over infant cribs and strollers. Keep storm drains clear of lawn clippings and limbs, overturn any standing water from flowerpots or bird baths, and install or repair screens on windows and doors.
We found several useful items at C&D Hardware & Gifts. They carry the Skeeter Screen line of products: Mix and match between the DEET-free spreadable insect deterrent or the refillable Patio Egg mosquito deterrent diffuser. C&D also sells the Spartan Mosquito Eradicator that provides a long-lasting, continuous mosquito control system; it doesn’t require batteries or electricity, just water, and will control the area for up to 90 days. Also, brand new on the market is the CoolZone CZ500 Ultrasonic Dry Misting Fan with Bluetooth technology. When used outdoors, use the refillable mosquito repellent function to keep disease carrying pests away.
Companies like Houston Mosquito Control Systems know that unwanted insects can make the outdoors an unbearable environment. Their Mosquito Mist Away System will kill or repel mosquitoes, spiders, flies, ticks, fleas, roaches, wasps and gnats. Utilizing a reservoir, pump, motor and timer, they can design a system that works to create a protective barrier in your yard.
Similarly, Mosquito Squad Houston can schedule regular barrier protection sprays for repelling mosquitos and other outdoor pests. Even a single treatment can protect your family for as long as 21 days, though they have seasonal spray packages to fit any need. For more permanent solutions, consider their MistAway system programmed to spray two to four times a day.
MosquitoNix® has a variety of solutions for protecting outdoor lifestyles. A custom misting system can create a barrier around home or office, and their three-step mosquito fogging treatments are perfect for special backyard events. They even have a portable system for small patios and gazebos that also works for camping trips. It’s a national brand but they do have a location in Houston.
House flies are just as much of a nuisance, and can spread as many as 200 known pathogens and parasites to humans. They touch down on trash cans, dead animals and manure, then transport disease agents into our home. These are more difficult to combat, which is where a good screen system can become your best friend.
Mosquito Free Outdoor Curtains can install mosquito repelling curtains that also eliminate many other flying insects. It’s an affordable option to more permanent screened-in enclosures, and the black curtain is almost invisible when looking out. Choosing the track mount system allows curtains to be pulled open during cooler months, while trackless curtains are simply pulled back when not needed.
For a more permanent solution, consider installing a screened porch or patio enclosure. It’s a chemical free alternative to those annoying insects, while still allowing you to enjoy those refreshing breezes. Texas Patio Covers can design a custom solution — either built from scratch or installed over an existing patio or deck — letting you enjoy the outdoors all year long.
Everybody knows that colonies of stray cats can grow exponentially if left unchecked, giving birth to as many as three litters of kittens each year. Homeless animals are a national problem and one solution is through TNR, the trap-neuter-return protocol that halts the breeding cycle of feral cat colonies. If you don’t really mind having a cat or two around — they’re great for eliminating rodents from the area — but you really don’t want their numbers to grow, consider TNR. Friends of BARC will help by loaning traps and supplies, issuing a voucher for surgery at area clinics, and offering advice about trapping and surgery aftercare.
Animal Control Wildlife Inc.
C&D Hardware & Gifts
314 East 11th
Friends of BARC
Feral CAT TNR
Harris County Public Health
Houston Mosquito Control Systems
2017 South Mission Circle, Friendswood
Mosquito Free Outdoor Curtains
9050 Long Point
Mosquito Squad Houston
Texas Patio Covers
198 Timber Mill,