It’s that time of year – the leaves are almost done falling, and your gutters are in serious need of a good cleaning. But beware, leaves might not be the only thing that currently call them home.
At the start of fall and heading into winter some pests die, some invade, some hibernate and some live. They may be looking for a warm place to ride out the winter, and your gutters are a great start. If they can find an opening into your attic (through a rotting fascia board, for instance), that’s an even better place to winter over.
Here at Leaf Filter, we aim to prevent critter infestations by thoroughly cleaning, sealing, and repairing your existing gutters (or replacing your system altogether if needed), and installing our top-notch micro-mesh gutter protection system to prevent future issues.
During this process, our installers encounter all sorts of critters lurking in the gutters of unsuspecting homeowners. Here are our top six most common finds:
1.) Stinging Insects
Stinging insects like bees, hornets and wasps are arguably the most common gutter invaders, and perhaps the most annoying. One sting from a bee or wasp can ruin the most perfect fall day. And getting chased by a whole swarm is that much worse.
They shouldn’t be hard to detect, as their bright colors make them easy to spot from afar.
They love to nest in the corners or around brackets along the inside. Bees, hornets and wasps love the moist environment, as they can hunt for other water-dwelling insects as food. But surprisingly, they seem to prefer an unclogged system to make their hive, so the only way to keep them out is to protect your gutters with a completely closed system like LeafFilter.
If you suspect bees, hornets or wasps have found their way into your gutter system, it’s important to find the nest and eliminate it as soon as possible, as the heavy weight of the nest can cause significant structural damage.
Prevention is another important step. Scan the entire exterior of your home to scope out any places that may be inadvertently attracting bees, hornets and wasps. If you love your flower gardens, try planting flowers that have less of a fragrance to keep the stinging insects at bay. If you find any holes along the siding of your house, make sure you seal up any gaps or tears you spot to prevent them from invading the inside of your home.
Opossums are large, nocturnal creatures – meaning they’re active when you should be sleeping. If you lay awake in bed wondering what that scratching noise is, you might want to check your gutters for this animal.
If left long enough (as little as 13 days), a female opossum may birth her litter in your gutters. When threatened, they may hiss or bite, so it is best not to approach an opossum if you find one in your home.
Attempting to trap opossums on your own is not only dangerous, but also could be illegal in certain states. Once wildlife becomes a nuisance or threat to your home, it’s best to call a professional nuisance wildlife specialist like Rose’s Specialty Services Division to control the problem.
Your gutters are prime real estate for birds looking to make a safe home for their family. The height allows them to stay far away from predators, and the tight, confined space helps them feel safe. You’ll certainly be able to tell if they’ve nested in your gutters, as you will hear chirps and other movement as they come and go from the nest.
Depending on the size of the bird, nests can be relatively heavy, which puts stress on your gutters. Not to mention, some birds may carry disease, have an unpleasant smell, and clog them even further, putting your foundation at risk.
If you suspect birds have nested in your gutters, you could try putting up a birdhouse nearby to try to attract them to a different area. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to call the professionals. You never want to handle nest removal yourself, as birds can be quite territorial and you can be injured in the process.
Clogged gutters might as well have a neon sign reading, “Mosquitoes welcome!” Did you know that water as little as a week old can attract mosquitos? With plenty of stagnant water, they are the perfect breeding ground for these pesky insects.
A mosquito bite can be itchy and annoying, sure, but you may not realize your gutters can be home to something far more sinister – West Nile Virus.
It’s fortunately fairly easy to eliminate mosquitoes from gutters. They should be thoroughly cleaned by a professional (don’t attempt to clean them yourself, as you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to ladder injuries). Regularly spray them out with a hose to make sure water is properly moving through them. You could consider placing citronella candles and torches around your yard as a natural repellent, but this may not be enough to solve the problem.
Heavily wooded property or yards with lush vegetation may consider consulting a Pest Management Professional to learn how to reduce mosquito attraction to your yard and control existing populations.
Mice, rats, and other rodents can be easily detected in your gutters. You might hear them scampering over your head, or see a trail of food they’ve dropped nearby.
Their favorite time of the year to invade homes begins around Halloween, when the weather starts to get chilly, and goes until February.
These little animals might give you a jump if you find one darting through your home, but aside from being quite scary and quick, rodents can be dangerous as well. Some carry disease, so be careful not to handle them in a way that would put you at risk of getting bitten.
Rodents multiply quickly, can jump several feet into the air and can live up to two years in protected environments. They are hard to catch because they can slip into small holes (mice can fit into a hole the size of a dime!) or bite their way through objects in their path.
You may want to think about pruning back trees and shrubs so that rodents don’t have a pathway straight to your gutters. Make sure your fascia board (the wood behind your gutters) is in good shape as well. If you suspect a rodent has already created a home inside your home, get out the mousetraps! For more than one or two? Call the professionals!
6.) Wood-Destroying Insects
Wood-destroying insects like termites, carpenter ants, and absolutely love the wet, rotting environment of decaying leaves and mold that build up in a dirty gutter. If your fascia board has begun rotting or decaying, you’re at extra risk for these insects.
These insects may be tricky to detect. With their natural coloring, you might not see them unless you’re really looking for them. If you begin to notice holes in the wood around your home or if the wood gets spongy, you have a potential bug infestation.
Termites, carpenter ants, and wood boring carpenter bees are nothing to mess with – they can ruin your foundation and necessitate costly repairs. Don’t wait for these insects to drain your wallet. Your first step should be to call a professional exterminator to get rid of the infestation once and for all.
Don’t leave you or your home unprotected
The only surefire way to prevent animal and insect infestations in your gutters is to install a completely enclosed system on your house. Call Leaf Filter for a free estimate today. And if you’ve already got critter problems, make sure to call Rose Pest Control for professional help!