Summertime is the Perfect Time to Maintain and Declutter!

Most schools are relatively quiet over the summer months, which makes summertime the perfect time to declutter and get some building maintenance done.

Figure 1. Make sure window screens fit properly and are not damaged.

Exclusion to keep pests out. Locate and seal up any gaps on building exteriors. Caulk may be used in some cases, but may not be as long lasting, especially for rodents. Depending on the size of the opening, screen, sheet metal, steel wool, or copper scrub pads may be used to seal openings. Make sure all doors and windows have proper weatherstripping. Make sure window screens fit properly and are not damaged (see Figure 1). All exterior doors should have door sweeps installed.

Figure 2. Debris and other clutter around buildings can provide a hiding place for rodents and other pests (Image: Mike Waldvogel, NCSU).

Declutter. Reduce or eliminate unnecessary clutter, both indoors and outside. Keep potential shelters such as piles of wood, bricks or stones away from the foundation of buildings to discourage pests from setting up camp right outside (See Figure 2). Cluttered rooms or closets can become a home to mice, cockroaches, ants so keeping everything organized is good for all. A little organization goes a long way in eliminating those potential homes for pests.

Figure 3. Mouse damage to a bag of grass seed (Image: Mike Waldvogel, NCSU).

Don’t feed them. Store susceptible food items in sealed, pest proof containers. This includes the foods we eat – like cereal, grains, and rice – as well as pet food, birdseed, and even grass seed (see Figure 3).

Eliminate excess moisture. Remove all areas of standing water. Repair faulty foundation drains, so the water doesn’t stand. Remove debris from rain gutters. Excess water attracts rodents, ants, and cockroaches, and mosquitoes will breed in this moisture-rich debris. Remove all piles of dead leaf material from under trees and shrubs.

Figure 4. Vegetation touching buildings can provide a bridge for ants and other pests.

Do some landscaping. Rodents and ants can gain access to buildings by climbing across tree limbs and entering the attic or eaves. Trim back trees and shrubs so they are not in direct contact with the foundation so that you can easily spot and address new points of entry that develop (see Figure 4).

Take advantage of the relatively quiet time the summer provides to get a little extra decluttering and maintenance done. These steps will go a long way in preventing pests in and around schools.