Though your lawn may look manicured and your pool sparkles, there’s a wild ecosystem living in your backyard. It may look tame from where you’re standing, but if you check in unfamiliar spots — under the deck, along the sides of your home and even on your outdoor furniture and rugs — you’ll likely encounter unexpected visitors, though you may not be able to see them or know that they’re there.
Unseen pests like bacteria, mold and mildew don’t announce themselves until it’s too late. You won’t know bacteria are in your home until someone gets sick. You might not notice mold growing until someone has an allergic reaction.
At Natran’s Green Pest Control, we believe in educating consumers on what lives beyond their backdoors and how to protect themselves from what might find its way in. Here’s our handy guide to common outdoor pests and what to do when they move inside.
How often do you or your family members wear their shoes in the house? You might ask them to leave them in the garage, but when your child needs to run back inside in the morning to grab a forgotten lunch, the shoes often stay on. But do you know how much bacteria is living on your shoes?
Think about it: Your shoes traverse across some pretty unsanitary places everyday, and they pick up bacteria wherever they go. Your kids probably like to play outside and in the grass where their shoes pick up dirt. All things considered, your shoes pick up a lot of bacteria everywhere you go, and if those shoes come inside, then you’re welcoming that bacteria into your home.
A study from the University of Arizona found that the average pair of shoes has about 421,000 bacteria living on the outside. Let that sink in for a moment and think about all the times you used a public restroom.
Researchers found strains of E.coli bacteria on shoes, which can cause intestinal infections and in worse cases meningitis. They also tested how easy it was to transfer bacteria to other surfaces. Simply walking on tile was enough to transfer bacteria from the shoe to the floor.
Other harmful pests
Bacteria may be a pest you can’t see, but there are others that you might not notice until it’s too late. Here are just a few.
You know that mold is a problem when it is in your home. It can cause lasting damage to the structure of your home, and it can make some of your family members sick, especially if they’re allergic to it. But mold grows naturally outdoors, and there’s no way to stop it from growing on your siding. Moisture is everywhere outdoors, and unless you want to put a massive tent over your house, you’re not going to keep moisture away.
But mold on the exterior of your home can still cause problems and it can still make you sick. Mold can find its way indoors, so if you don’t take care of it, you may find that your attic is now covered in mold. Mold will eat through wood, so if it’s growing on your back deck, then it may become unsafe to be on if the steps or floorboards collapse. That can be an expensive repair. In any form, mold can bring down the value of your property, and if you’re trying to sell, your buyers are not going to overlook a mold problem.
Indoors, mold is dangerous because in small, contained spaces, people breathe it in, but outdoors with all that open space, people breathe in a lot less of it when it’s just on a house or building up on a deck. That doesn’t mean that mold isn’t a risk outside. If it builds up near a patio where you send a lot of time, you can still breathe it in. As small children are more susceptible to harmful molds, any mold growing around areas where kids like to play, such as treehouses or sandboxes, can become a problem.
As said, you can’t prevent moisture on your home, but there are some little things you can do. For example, clean out your gutters and keep your roof free of debris. Mold loves to build up in places where water collects, such as clogged gutters. You can also buy mold-resistant paints for your exterior. If you’re planning some landscaping work, try to use brick or stone. Mold won’t eat away at those materials.
Mildew is often the harbinger of mold. It commonly grows in areas of high humidity — like Houston — and you can usually see it streaking down the sides of houses. It’s a white surface fungus, and if left to its own devices, it can turn into a full-on mold infestation.
Like mold, however, you can help prevent mildew from forming on the side of your home. Again, clogged gutters are the biggest problem. When water can’t flow from a gutter and through the downspout, it often overflows and starts dripping down the side of the home. That’s why you can see the white streaks.
You can take care of mildew in the same way you do mold — with regular cleanings — but it’s best to do it sooner when you first see the problem rather than later, especially on wooden structures such as decks and treehouses. Rotten wood attracts another major pest that starts from the outside and works its way in.
Termites are considered to be one of the most destructive pests, causing more than $5 billion per year in property damage. Houston is a big city for termites, and if your home isn’t secure, it’s not hard to let these little pests in.
In Texas, termites usually become active in the warm, wet spring months, and their destruction can be devastating to your home. Many termites find a weak point outside of your home first, such as a deck or even a roof if a long-hanging tree brushes the top of it. Once they’ve found the food, they’ll start building a colony and digging underground. This, the most common type of termite that our green pest control experts see, is called the subterranean termite.
You can usually spot these pests by the mud tunnels they begin constructing. These tunnels are used to connect the termite nest buried underground with the food sources above ground. They look similar to plastic straws and are flat and muddy. If you have termites, then you can find them all over your home, beneath the floors, on pipes and in the cracks of walls and along the baseboard.
Other homeowners notice termites around their homes when they find that their wooden floorboards and walls sound hollow when they knock on it. Termites love to eat the wood source and leave just a thin veneer behind. If you notice your wood seems like it’s hollow, then it’s a good indication that the termites have moved in.
In cases where the colony is on the move, you might also see swarms of what look like flying ants in your yard or even home. These are actually flying termites, and when they’re flying, it means they’re looking to start a brand new colony. When termites mate, a male and female will break off from the original colony, and others will follow them. After mating, the termites will then start building a new nest to protect the egg-laying female. If they know there are other food sources around, you can bet that the new colony won’t be too far from the original one.
But termites can be sneaky, and some homeowners don’t notice a problem until their walls begin to show damage. Termite damage in walls usually looks like water damage. You may see discolored drywall or peeling paint. The walls may be bulging. These are classic signs that termites have moved into your walls, and if you haven’t called a green pest control expert by now, it’s definitely time to do so.
How concerned should you be?
When it comes to bacteria, the answer is pretty simple: take your shoes off before coming into the house, and you probably won’t have much of a problem. Not all bacteria makes us sick; some even helps aid in digestion and other bodily functions. Exposure to bacteria can also help build and strengthen an immune system. If you have young children, their bodies need bacteria exposure so they can learn to fight it and build immunity. Sometimes they may get sick, but more often than not, their bodies will fight the harmful bacteria without any side effects.
To minimize the spread of harmful bacteria, keep your shoes outside and continue with your normal cleaning routine. Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant, and wash your hands after using the bathroom and after coming in from working outside.
Mold and mildew are also cause for concern. One leads to the other, and mold will always look for a way to come inside, so if there’s a weak spot in your attic where water from a clogged gutter likes to collect, then there may be an opening for mold to start growing on the side of your attic and work its way inside.
As mentioned, mold and mildew will almost always naturally grow on a wooden deck or treehouse, so the best thing to do is to carefully monitor your property and look for any mold that may be growing. Treat it when you see it
Termites are another matter altogether. If not detected quickly, they can cause massive amounts of damage that will need to be fixed as soon as possible. If you’re trying to sell your home, a termite infestation will drive away just about any home buyer.
Getting rid of termites isn’t easy either. Because they burrow underground and use mud tunnels to get around, it’s sometimes hard to spot them working around your home. The mud tunnels are usually a good indication of an infestation, but you may also see swarms of flying termites, which often look like flying ants, or discarded wings. These are signs that the termites have started a new colony. If you see a few or even a pile of discarded wings, then it’s time to call a green pest control expert right away.
So to summarize:
What should you do to protect your home?
As we said, just keeping your shoes outside can protect you from most bacteria. For mold and mildew, it’s important to monitor spaces where water can collect and stay still. Not only can mold and mildew grow there, but damp spaces also attract a lot of pests, which is where Natran Green Pest Control comes in.
Our company has been fighting pests since 2006, and we believe in using green pest control techniques to fight them while keeping homes safe and our planet healthy. Our Natran experts on trained to spot places where pests might like to live outside of your home and warn you when they may be making their way indoors.
If you are worried about the outside coming in, then consider our Natranized green pest control solution. Our top tier protection plan, Natranized protects your home against the worst pests from cockroaches and termites to mice and spiders without hurting you, your family members, your pets or your planet. Our form of green pest control combines advanced preventative measures with highly effective green treatments for full protection.
When used monthly, our Natranized green pest control will stop pests from coming in and give you peace of mind.
Tell us: Which of these outdoor substances and pests have you most concerned? Share with us in the comments and let us know how green pest control could benefit your home.