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What's Lurking In Your Attic?

insulated attic in a rhode island home

No. It's not the boogy man--well, not JUST the boogy man. The older your house is and the less money you have spent sealing and securing it, the higher the odds are that at least one pest has made its way into your attic.

Wild animals have many places to hide from the winter cold. They will dig a hole in the ground, under a root system or between some rocks. They'll hide or nest in trees or dead logs that have not been decomposed by termites. Some even find a cave--any place to get out of the frigid winds of a Massachusetts snowstorm. But your attic is far more appealing than a cold hole. And if a wild creature has experienced the joys of spending a winter inside a human dwelling, they will be much more motivated to get in again.

What creatures like to lurk in your attic?

In Massachusetts there are all kinds of creepy things that would love to make your attic their home. Here are a few of them, and some things you can do to keep them out.

  • Raccoons. They look cute and cuddly but they can be fierce, especially if they have rabies. Also, raccoons carry bacteria and parasites on their fur. If you have a raccoon in your attic, it is probably a mother raccoon. Mothers tend to look for a dark pocket with a high vantage point to protect their young from predators. This makes a raccoon infestation especially difficult. Mama raccoons are very protective of their young and it is difficult to keep a raccoon out because they are very clever, and their fingers are quite agile. When securing a home from raccoons, do so as if you were protecting from a burglar. Lock the windows and put boards over holes.
  • Bats. It is possible that you have bats in your belfry. Bats squeeze in through holes or broken windows and nest in attic ceilings. These creatures spread illnesses and parasites too. The last thing you want is an attic space full of bat guano. Filling in holes and repairing windows w ill usually keep bats out.
  • Rodents. Most often, rodents will get under a porch, patio, or deck and chew their way in through a rotted piece of wood, but their second favorite place to enter a home is by way of the roofline. You would be surprised how easy it is for a mouse to chew its way into an attic. That is why it is important to keep rodents from getting onto your roof. Cut back trees. Fill your downspouts with wire mesh. Put something prickly on the wires that connect to your house. And cut back tree branches that hang over your roof.
  • Wasps. In winter, wasps will try to get in your attic. This is a good time of year to get a professional to do an attic treatment. Wasps, especially yellow jackets, can become a pain--quite literally--when spring comes. There is no way to keep yellow jackets out without an exterior wall spray. They can squeeze through the tiniest gaps in eaves, soffits, and siding.

If you find someth ing living in your attic, call a pest control company. It is tempting to try and remove these creatures yourself because of the money you might save. But I assure you, you'll regret the saving if you get viciously bitten or stung, and often, especially in the case of rodents, a family will continue to fight illness or parasites because they think the infestation has been taken care of when it hasn't. Be safe. Get a trained technician to take care of your infestation.