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Pests

Barn Swallows in Chimney

What is the best way to rid a fireplace chimney of a barn swallow nest?

Barn swallows rarely nest in chimneys. They build mud nests that usually hang under an eave or beam. They are a protected species, which means you should wait until any eggs have hatched before removing the nest. Once you remove it, you should consider installing a chimney cap that will discourage future invaders.

Carpenter Ants

What is the best way to rid a home of carpenter ants?

Carpenter ants are large blacks ants about one half inch in length. A few carpenter ants may just be scouts looking for a new home. They are probably coming from a nearby tree or wood pile. If they don’t find wet wood in your home, they won’t stay. If you continue to see them, you probably have wet wood somewhere in your home. The best way to get rid of them is to locate the wet wood. In a way, carpenter ants are helpful because they alert you to water problems in your home that you should fix to protect your house.The best approach, according to an Extension entomologist, is to start with a little detective work. Treatment is most effective if you find the nest. Follow the ants to where they go after gathering food. More ants forage at night, so this is the best time to look for them.

Once you know where the nest is, you may want to consult several exterminators. A good company that locates the nest should be able to get rid of the ants with a single application. Monthly visits probably are unnecessary. Several new powdered pesticides for ants, such as boric acid, are less toxic to humans and pets. For more details, contact your county UW-Extension office for the bulletin, “Controlling Ants,” (A1970).

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Earwigs

How do we rid a house of earwigs?

According to Phil Pellitteri, a University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension entomologist, the earwig is a relative newcomer to Wisconsin from Europe. It is nocturnal and only comes inside to find darkness and possibly moisture. It probably gets in through small cracks around plumbing pipes or other openings into the house. While it has a varied diet, it probably won’t find much around the house to eat except vegetable waste. Therefore, it probably will not multiply indoors. Typically, only one generation is produced each year in Wisconsin, so numbers tend to decline in August.

To keep them out of the house look for openings in the shell of your home that allow earwigs in and caulk them. Pelliteri does not recommend inside treatment. If they are a real pest, spray your flower beds with a garden spray or set out a can with a small amount of beer buried to ground level. The bugs will be drawn to the beer, then drown in the fluid. Earwigs are beneficial to gardeners because they prey on aphids.

Keeping Bats Out of the House

How can bats be kept out of a house?

Bats are huge consumers of flying insects, so trapping or excluding them from a home is preferable to killing them. The trick is to seal the openings the bats use to enter the home. A fine mesh can temporarily seal openings. Bats can move through a space with a width of three-eighths of an inch. You can locate entrance areas by watching where bats exit the building at dark. You can confirm locations if you see a brown staining around these exits.Once bats leave at night, seal the cracks with caulking, steel wool, flashing, wood or cement. Once a hole is sealed, bats won’t chew or pry it open again. If you are concerned that you might be trapping bats inside by sealing the opening, use fine wire mesh as a one-way exclusion system. Fasten the mesh to the structure around the bat entrance at the top and on the sides, leaving the bottom open. Bats can crawl out, but won’t find their way back in.

Pavement Ants

How do you rid a house of pavement ants?

Pavement ants are small black ants that feed mostly on proteins. They are new in Wisconsin but are rapidly increasing in numbers. Pavement Ants get their name because they often nest under pavement. They come indoors in search of food only. Fortunately they are easily bated. This means that the best approach to controlling them is to set out ant bait in areas where they have been seen. Bait will be carried back to the nest and eventually affect the colony.

Woodpecker Damage

How do we stop woodpeckers from damaging our wood siding?

Woodpeckers attack wood siding for several reasons either to drum, to look for insects or to excavate homes. According to the folks at the Animal Damage Control Hotline, the first thing to try is to scare the birds away with items like colorful flags, pinwheels, or simulated birds of prey. If threat doesn’t work, drape black plastic bird mesh over the affected areas, keeping it well away from the siding and sealing ends so that birds can’t easily fly around it. While some chemical repellents are available the folks at the hotline believe they are not very effective. Destroying the birds is against the law unless you have a permit. If you have tried various approaches to repelling the birds the Hotline staff may be able to provide you with a permit to remove the birds.