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How to Keep Pests Out of Your Garage

By Chris Williams on June 30, 2016.

We just moved into a new house. Our old home always had all kinds of pests in the garage. We found mice, spiders, camel crickets, and even food moths, among other things. How can we keep the same thing from happening in this new place. I don’t know what it is about garages. N. L., Lawrence, MA

For pests, a garage is sort of a transition zone or a gateway to your home. It’s an easy place to access if you’re a pest and often has plenty of hiding places, and yes, even food available. A garage can also provide pests with access to the attic or convenient electrical lines, cables, or pipes that can be followed directly into the house.

Pests? These Are the Critical Garage Areas to Address

Doorways – The garage door might be the number one entry point and the most important site for pest-proofing in a home. A typical garage door has gaps at the side that are large enough to allow pest entry. In older garages, the rubber threshold at the bottom of the door is almost always worn and doesn’t seal tightly anymore. But beyond that, garage doors are often left open, granting unlimited access to pests. This is a particular problem when lights are left on as well. See Maintain Your Garage Door to Keep Mice Out.

Stored Items – No matter how hard we try to be neat in our garages, we end up with boxed and stacked items. Cardboard boxes and stacks of newspapers provide plenty of hiding places for pests like silverfish, and even provide nest material for mice. Clear plastic containers with tight-fitting lids are less attractive to pests.

Garbage Storage – Some people store garbage cans and recycling bins in the garage, providing plenty of food for pests. The odor from even empty garbage cans can attract rodents and flies. Fruit flies need only a little bit of liquid food spillage in the bottom of a container in order to reproduce. If you must keep these containers in the garage, keep the lids on, and wash them out regularly.

Other Available Food – Garages are often the place where bulk food items are stored such as large bags of dry pet food or bird seed. By the time you reach the bottom of these bags, you might find them infested with Indian meal moths or other food pests. Even bags of grass seed provide food for seed-eating pests like ants and mice. Keep these items in a container with a tight-fitting lid, not in the original bag or box.

Boxes or bins of harvested produce such as potatoes or apples attract fruit flies and other pests. If you feed pets in the garage, remove the bowls after feeding time, don’t leave pet food out overnight. Finally, I have to point out that even kitty litter boxes provide food for undiscriminating pests in the form of….well, you know what. The reason spiders end up in a garage is that it provides them with their food as well — insects.

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