The best way to handle an infestation is to prevent it. Being proactive about your home and what gets in or stays out is going to do more for you than anything else. It’s going to require daily efforts – as many pests are drawn to food – but it’s better to do the dishes and take out the trash every night than it is to have to smash ten cockroaches before making your morning cup of coffee. So let’s look at two of the most common infesting creatures and how to keep them off your lawn.

Cockroaches

We’ll start with the grossest of the gross. Cockroaches. These pesky pests are actually quite the difficult problem to diagnose since there are over 69 different types of cockroaches on the planet and, like humans, they each have their own thing. But let’s focus on the German and American roach since they’re the most common to the area. There are three basic things these guys look for in a home: Food, Water, and Shelter. And guess what, you’ve got all three!

Food: It’s important to wipe down counters, sweep floors, and rinse dishes of all leftover food particles, however big or small, everyday. Trash should be removed on a daily basis (or at the very least have a lid). Storing your food – including pet food – properly also comes in handy. Airtight containers (such as locking glass mason jars) work best to eliminate cardboard (another treat for the roach) and keep these critters out of your non-perishables.

Water: Always stay on top of leaks and don’t let water stand and settle. Not only is it tepid, but it’s also a huge attraction to cockroaches. Hang any towels up to dry and keep wet sponges wrung out and off the counters.

Shelter: Be consistent in monitoring the cracks in your house, including weather stripping, caulking, and any shifting from the foundation that creates spaces where they can enter. Keeping your house free of clutter (especially cardboard and wood that soak in scents, such as the pheromones they use to communicate to their relatives) to minimize the likelihood of them setting up camp inside your house.

Mice

Sure, when they help with chores around the house and throw together a cute couture gown for your next fancy party mice are the best. But since you’re neither Cinderella nor a cartoon, these furry friends are actually quite hazardous to your health as they are perfect carriers for diseases, like the plague. They abide by the same rules as cockroaches in that they are seeking food, water, and shelter. Follow the same steps in cleanliness as you would for roaches. But let’s take it a step further.

Food: They actually really love the same things we humans do: peanut butter, chocolate, and bacon. If you’re going to lure them into a trap grab that Nutella covered bacon and go fishing.

Shelter: Clutter, again, is the friend of the fuzzball. But they also enjoy anything soft, like insulation, feathers, old newspapers. They also find their way in through holes in electric conduits and pipes. Even the smallest hole presents a problem. The biggest part of the mouse is its skull which, for scale, is no bigger than the end of a pencil. Plug those holes with any substance they can’t chew through (and they can chew through a lot) like caulk or steel wool. While you’re plugging holes, maintain the weeds and grasses around your home’s foundation as they offer great places for the infiltrating army to hide. Mice also enjoy a good crawl space stuffed with fluffy insulation. Choose an option that’s less appealing to mice to keep them out of the way.

Side note: the gestation period for mice is only 20 days, and their litters usually pump out about 10 of these suckers. If you find one mouse in your house, you’re likely to have several. Certain pets can help keep them at bay, but you’ll need to call an exterminator once they’ve found their way in.

Overall, keeping your home safe from critter infestation comes down to a matter of diligent maintenance both inside and out of your home. Make the environment as inhospitable as possible and you can live out your days free of these undesirables.