Creepy Crawlies

by : Joshua Keen

October is here, and with it our minds turn to spookier subject matters. One scary topic is that of uninvited house guests. While in-laws and old college buddies can be scary house guests, there are creatures that lurk in the darkness, waiting to infiltrate your home. Spiders, bats, and rats are the stuff of nightmares, but they've also been known to come out of the shadows and into our homes.

Spiders creep into your home through tiny cracks in the walls, crawl though open windows and doors, and hide in dark corners. All eight eyes watch and wait until you're cozy in your bed. They wait...and they wait, and just as you begin to nod off, they scurry across your face.

Aside from squishing them or vacuuming them up, there are other ways to get rid of spiders. One way is to wipe kerosene on your windows, including the frame. This method is effective in repelling not only spiders, but also flies and mosquitoes too. If kerosene isn't readily available, you could use furniture polish on window frames instead. Since spider have taste buds on the legs, you can turn them off by spraying an area that they are likely to hang out in. They will quickly get sick of furniture polish, and head for tastier ground.

To prevent spiders from inhabiting your home, keep the area clean. Piles of laundry and having papers strewn about offer numerous hiding places for arachnids.

Spiders also love to eat, so keep food waste properly covered and disposed of. You can also target the bugs that spiders feed upon. If you stop their gravy train, the spiders will stop coming around.

Lights are a surprising attractant to spiders. Porch lights act like magnets to moths and other bugs, which then brings out the arachnid cavalry. Keep outdoor lights that are near your doors and windows turned off unless necessary, or switch to lower watt bulbs.

Rats and mice strike a nerve with humans. Perhaps it is because they are disease-carriers, or maybe it's the noise they make as they scurry around. Is it that they scoot along at a rapid pace, and can squeeze into exceptionally tight corners? Or maybe it's the tail. Fat or thin, long or short, rodent tails are creepy.

While most mice and rats are harmless, people generally do not want them in their homes. You can tell you have these unseemly houseguests by their smell, their sounds, and their droppings.

Rodents urinate, defecate, and shed hair everywhere they go, creating an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. They can pass on deadly diseases, and they can also do major damage to your home.

Rats and mice love to gnaw on things, whether it be wood, plastic, or electric cables. This puts everyone in the home at risk for electrocution or fire. Your home's value can be significantly affected by the presence of a rodent population due not only to the stigma attached to having rodents in your home, but also due to the major structural damage that these animals can cause.

As with spiders, the key to both preventing infestation, as well as evicting them, is to keep your home clean. Properly store anything that could be seen as a food source by rats and mice. Be sure to clean out cupboards and behind the fridge; anywhere that crumbs and debris can build up. You don't want mice and rats to see your home as a 24-hour buffet. Take away the food, and you take away their motivation to stay.

Block up any holes in your exterior walls, and repair cracks to prevent any creatures from slipping through.

If traps or exterminators offer too much finality, consider purchasing a sensor that emits a high pitched noise that is too faint for humans to hear, but is quite unpleasant to rodents. The irritating sound will provide ample motivation for the rats to move on. You can also buy live traps that do not harm the animals. Take the trap far away from your home and release your captive.

Bats are a more rare household pest, but they still occasionally make their way inside family homes. Sometimes they come in by accident, other times they find your home to be a nice warm place to roost.

If a bat flies in by accident, open all exterior doors and windows. Leave it alone, as it will panic with you being there. Nightfall is when bats are most active, so if you leave the bat alone until then, he will likely find his way out of the house.

Roosting bats inside attics and such are not only creepy, but they also urinate and defecate in your home, which can lead to illness. Rabies is of much less concern with bats than popular thought suggests, but do be careful to not threaten the bat in any way. Bats only bite as a means of self defense, so if you leave it alone, it will do the same for you.

If you have a bat problem, observe the bats' comings and goings in the evening to find their access point to your home. Install bird netting in that area to allow bats that are still inside to get out, while preventing outdoor bats from getting in.