Keep Your Fall Decor Pest Free

For many North Carolina residents, Fall is our favorite season. As soon as the temperatures start to cool, we are ready to decorate our homes with our favorite Fall décor including pumpkins, corn stalks, hay bales, mums and gourds. However, even if you love Halloween, you don’t want a real scare by attracting real spiders and bugs to your festive decorations. Follow these top tips to keep pests away this Fall season.

Prepare the Display Area

Before buying live fall props such as pumpkins and gourds, you should address any issues that could be attracting bugs. Remove fallen leaves and debris from your yard and porch. Bag up leaves since pests tend to use leaf piles as temporary shelters. Trim back plants and trees, especially if any limbs appear damaged or diseased. Clear out your gutters as well before you decorate for the fall season.

Remove Pest Attractants

Any type of residual food items should be removed from your yard area. Never leave out food containers or feeders around the area you plan to decorate. As an example, any birdseed knocked onto the ground could attract pumpkin eating rodents to your front porch. There should never be any standing water sources around your home, either.

Inspect and Inspect Again

As you browse through local farms and retailers to choose your fall décor items, inspect each item thoroughly. All flowers, corn stalks, hay bales, scarecrows and pumpkins should be checked for signs of pests. Signs may include leaf damage, bite marks, visible bugs on the items and mold growth. If everything looks good, go ahead and make the purchase. Keep in mind that throughout the season, you should inspect every item to ensure bugs haven’t made their way inside.

Delay Carving

Carving your pumpkin as soon as October 1st rolls around is a bad idea if you want to preserve your décor. Carving a pumpkin too soon only helps ravenous pests and rodents make a meal out of it. Try to wait until the week of Halloween to carve pumpkins, or make a new family tradition by carving the night before Halloween. As part of the carving process, remove as much of the inside as possible to get rid of the “guts.” After carving, use a diluted bleach solution to deter pests. Make a solution by mixing one teaspoon of bleach with one gallon of room temperature water. Place the solution in a spray bottle and moisten the inside of the pumpkin with the mixture every couple of days.

Protect the Pumpkin

In addition to using a bleach solution, there are other strategies to reduce the chance of your carved pumpkin becoming home to pests. When lighting the pumpkin, choose a citronella candle since the scent is known to deter pests. An artificial light may be an option too, since the heat from a candle can reduce the lifespan of a carved pumpkin. Pumpkins will decompose quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. To avoid this, move the pumpkin into a shady spot on your porch. To avoid nocturnal feedings on their pumpkins, some homeowners choose to store their pumpkins in the fridge overnight. Just keep in mind, it’s vital that you check for bugs before doing so.

Use Plastic Sheeting

Clear plastic wrap could help tremendously to prevent pest infestations. Place the plastic wrap around hale bales, straw bales or corn stalks. The plastic not only acts as a barrier, but also stops any of the scents from attracting pests to your porch.

Toss Décor Items Promptly

One of the biggest mistakes people make regarding their fall decorations is holding onto them for too long. If you leave pumpkins out until they have gone completely soft, you are putting out an open invitation to pests. As soon as you see any signs of decay on your pumpkins or gourds, get rid of them. Any live, organic items need to be discarded. Never try to save any of these items for reuse later. Remember to seal them in a trash bag to avoid rodents rummaging through your garbage cans.

Change Porch Lighting

Attract fewer bugs to your porch and protect fall décor items by choosing different lighting effects. For instance, yellow lighting does not act as an attractant to insects.

Use Straw Not Hay

Instead of using hay bales to decorate your yard, choose straw bales. Hay is more likely to attract pests such as rats and mice. If you use scarecrows as part of your fall décor, they should be stuffed with straw instead of hay.

Keep Everything Dry

If your straw bales or scarecrows get wet during rainy weather, they are more likely to attract rodents. Move these items onto a covered porch or store them indoors until the bad weather passes.

Move the Decorations

To keep pests away, you can always decorate the inside of your home’s windows. For instance, set your carved pumpkins on windowsills to face outside. You could enhance the effect with fall-themed window clings and string lights.

Embrace the Artificial

If you have tried all the above Fall pest control tricks and still can’t stop attracting pests, then consider using artificial décor items instead. Modern artificial decorations look very realistic and offer the benefit of being used again and again each fall.

If your fall décor happens to attract pests to your porch, these critters may find their way inside your home. Pests can be a headache that no homeowner wants. If you need help getting rid of pests this Fall season, contact Carolina Pest Management. Our team of pest experts has served customers in the Carolinas for more than 75 years. Contact us today and let us discuss how we can help address your pest problem.

By Kristin Dodd

Kristin Dodd, the President of Carolina Pest Management, has been with the company full-time for over 20 years, but has been a part of the family-owned business for much longer. She is currently an active board member of the North Carolina Pest Management Association, and was the President from 2010-2011. She is a licensed operator in...

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