When the leaves fall from trees and cold wind begins to blow, common pests like mice, spiders, and crickets often try to make their way indoors. Nancy Pihl, Kansas State Research and Extension specialist in Marion has all the information readily available on how to control pests, but a little mouse still found a way into her house recently.
“I have four cats so I couldn’t believe what I was finding,” Pihl said.
Her unwanted houseguest left behind telltale droppings, but her cats did not seem to appreciate her concern.
“I’ve trained them not to get on the table and counters, so I guess they thought the mouse was off limits,” Pihl said.
When people request information about how to prevent or get rid of unwanted household pests, Pihl said she shares information like keep the trash can clean, remove clutter, caulk windows and doorframes, and check basement or crawlspaces for access.
“I do all of those things myself,” she said. “But that little mouse still came in and made himself at home.”
Pihl said she tracked the mouse by his droppings and found him hiding behind her microwave.
“I put a glue board back there and got him the very next day,” she said. “But I’m still mad at the cats. They are fired.”
Glue boards, mousetraps, and mouse poison are acceptable ways to remove the pests once they have made their way into a home.
Preventing entrance of spiders and crickets requires the same train of thought as mouse-in-the-house prevention, Pihl said.
“Spiders and crickets like clutter,” she said. “Keeping things clean goes a long ways toward keeping those pests from getting to be a problem.”
Pihl also said she sets off a bug-bomb every fall in the crawl space under her house to deter creepy- crawly things from entering.
She also advised it was acceptable to spray approved chemicals in places like crawl spaces, porches, garages, and attics to prevent spiders and bugs from coming in.
“Any local hardware store carries indoor treatment sprays that are relatively safe,” Pihl said. “Pyrethrins plus piperonyl butoxide works for a quick knockdown. Sprays containing a variety of other chemicals can provide residual control when you spray cracks and crevices, or along baseboards, door trim, and under furniture and shelves.”
Though she had not tried them herself, Pihl said she knew others used and preferred natural remedies for keeping out household pests.
“You can find research on the Internet on the effectiveness of using peppermint oil, coconut oil, or even hedge apples to keep unwanted pests away,” she said. “There are some natural sprays that do work and have some effectiveness, but I haven’t tried them myself.”
Pihl referenced a K-State study that showed mosquito spray with peppermint oil provided 20 minutes of protection. She was not sure how effective it was against fall pests such as spiders, crickets, and mice.
Pihl also noted that using hedge apples to keep out pests was not an unheard of practice in Marion County.
“It may just be folklore, but hedge apples are said to be good deterrents for crickets, spiders, and mice,” Pihl said. “I know some people that put them around their homes just for that purpose.”
Hedge apples are the round, rough-surfaced, green fruit that falls from Osage orange trees in the fall. They are prevalent as boundary-line markers along many Marion County roads.