Household pest types vary significantly across Canada, and include animals, such as birds, bats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, insects, termites, powderpost beetles, ants, stinging insects, and more. Pests can enter the house through common building openings, such as chimney flues, roof vents, dryer/bathroom/kitchen fan vents, openings in soffits/fascia, holes in window/door screens, the top of an overhead electrical mast, or utility penetrations in the foundation.

Most insects and some small animals (i.e. mice), can access the home through holes as small as ¼” in diameter. Wood-boring insects are unique because they don’t need a hole in a building for entry. For instance, termites and powderpost beetles typically enter the home through exposed wood on the lower perimeter of a home.

What is pest incursion?

A pest incursion is an invasion or attack of pests into your home, especially a sudden or brief one. It can happen with a variety of pests, from rodents to bugs, and can wreak havoc on your home and well-being.

What are some health and safety concerns associated with pest incursion?

Several health and safety concerns associated with pest incursion are summarized below:

Mice and other rodents can chew through electrical wire sheathing, and pests can sometimes build nests or hives in electrical panels, creating a potential electrical safety issue that may be a shock hazard or cause of a fire. This emphasizes the importance of responding quickly to control/remove pests at the first sign of pest incursion in a home. Licensed electricians should also be consulted if repairs to electrical systems are required.

Bird or rodent nests built in chimney exhaust flues can go unnoticed through the summer, but when colder fall nights arrive, the nests can prevent proper venting and cause combustion gases from appliances to back up into the home. This can cause harmful exhaust gases, such as carbon monoxide to enter the home. To enhance safety, proper spark arrestors should be installed at the peak of all chimney flues to prevent pest entry. Chimneys should be inspected annually by a qualified contractor to ensure there are no blockages in the flues.

Certain bird and bat feces can grow a fungus that is toxic, which can cause a disease called histoplasmosis, a potentially serious illness. If bird/bat feces are present in an attic, it should be left undisturbed or removed by a qualified contractor who will have protective clothing on, and who will be able to dispose of the waste safely and properly.

Holes that are created when an animal enters a building often create pathways for moisture to enter into a building’s attic, walls, and so on. The moisture may be concealed and unable to dry for long periods of time. This environment is ideal for mould growth, which could potentially be a health concern, especially if residents have mould allergies.

What types of common building damage can pest incursion cause?

Some of the most common types of building damage caused by animals include:

Shingle damage

Shingle deterioration can occur if animals continually walk across a roof, or if persistent bird excrement is present. Raccoons can actually tear shingles off a roof to gain attic access. Other animals access attics by damaging soffit/fascia or roof vents. In addition, resultant water entry into a home through very small openings caused by pest intrusion can cause many problems, ranging from cosmetic damage to interior finishes, to wood rot of structural framing, if moisture persists for extended periods of time.

Structural damage

Significant structural damage can be caused by wood-boring insects, such as termites, powderpost beetles, or carpenter ants. Unfortunately, this damage is often hidden behind walls and is not detected for a long period of time. This damage is usually discovered after the pest infestation has occurred.

Insulation damage

Damage to attic insultation can be caused by larger animals, such as raccoons. In some cases, they can compress insulation up to 25% of the original thickness when rummaging about in an attic. This greatly reduces the air spaces in the insulation materials and makes the insulation less effective. Following pest removal, compressed insulation should be carefully “fluffed,” or in some cases, retrofitted with additional insulation, in order to restore or improve energy efficiency in this area.

What are some control techniques that are available to handle pest incursion in my home?

Unique pest problems often require specialized or unique solutions that can be offered by qualified contractors. However, there are several common control techniques that homeowners can often use.

These common control techniques are summarized as follows:

Seal any openings

Seal any opening larger than ¼” on the exterior of the home. This may involve repairing sections of trim, installing vent screens or spark arrestors on chimney flues, and ensuring any other openings are properly sealed. Large tree branches should be cut away from the roof to reduce accessibility to the home. If animals, such as mice have already entered the home, setting traps or bait to control the mice, is often effective. If mice persist, of if other larger animals are already in the home, we recommend consulting a qualified pest abatement contractor for assistance.

Since insects can be much smaller than ¼”, sealing the exterior of the house to prevent insect entry is not always very effective. However, it is a logical first step in reducing the potential for entry to the home. Certain insecticides or pesticides are used by homeowners to control and kill insects. In some cases, certain flying insects such as bees or wasps, attempt to build hives in exterior cavities by entering through weep holes at the base of brick siding. The weep holes are one of the few locations on the exterior of homes that should not be sealed, as they allow building materials behind the brick siding material to dry properly. Steel wool can often be inserted in the weep holes to prevent insect entry, and to allow air to dry building materials.

Get rid of wood pathways

To reduce the potential for termite entry, all “wood pathways” between the soil and the home should be removed on the building exterior. This includes removing wood to earth contact associated with decks or fence posts, wood siding, and all vegetation that may be growing against the home. It is recommended that a qualified contractor be consulted when dealing with wood-boring insects, because of the specialized and sometimes regulated nature of treatment methods.

Don’t let pests take over your home

If pest incursion has become a problem for you, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Our team of inspectors can help you identify a pest problem, and there are many pest control companies out there that can help permanently remove pests from your home.