No one knows how great a place your house is to live like insects, and if they can find a way into your crawl space, they'll make it their home. Animals such as snakes, cats, moles, spiders, and others may not pose a serious problem. However, others pests, such as mice, rats, termites, carpenter ants, beetles, hornets, wasps, crickets, and others, can pose a threat to your home. Taking measures to block of their entrance routes is one way to help keep them out.
As humidity levels in your basement or crawl space rises, termites and carpenter ants will become attracted to the moldy, rotting wood.
Because of global warming, termites are beginning to change their breeding habits: instead of sending out large swarms, the drier climate has caused many of them to instead branch off their colonies, sending termite infestations to new areas tunnels 10-20 feet underground. Because of their mode of infestation, termite colonies can sometimes live for years in a home undetected, dealing severe damage before being discovered.
Ants in a home can also deal very serious damage as well. Some species of carpenter ant queens can live for as long as 25 years, with the infestation leading to a damaged home, ruined food, and an uncomfortable home setting. Each species of ant comes with its own set of behaviors and survival techniques. For example, spraying pesticide on the small brown pharaoh ant can actually increase their numbers! The reason is that the spray will tend to confuse them and separate them from their colony. Once alone, they instinctively morph into a new queen and start a new colony in your home.
With mice and rodents, there's no such thing as just one. The Family Handyman has reported that one mouse is able to produce as many as 10 litters of six or seven young annually. As mice and rats walk, they leave a trail of scent, which tells other mice and rats that this space is safe, attracting them to move in as well. Mice carry many harmful ciruses and bacteria, such as hantavirus and salmonella, as well as mites, ticks, ringworms and tapeworms.
Other pests such as beetles and crickets are not as likely to pose a threat to your health, but their continued presence ensures that they're eating away at the wood under your home, which will pose a major problem in the long run. And pests such as spiders and hornets will bite and sting- adding disturbing and unwelcome guests in your home. And as these pests begin to live, create waste, and die in the space, odors, mold spores, dander, and other unpleasant and allergenic substances will begin to travel upwards into the home.
If you have an existing infestation in your crawl space, sprays, baits, and traps are very often not effective enough to solve the problem. However, be careful when choosing a contractor- as there's a wide range of quality among the professionals. A good pest inspector should be able to identify the type of pest infesting your home and explain to you their behaviors in great deal. They should go over all available options and give advice for preventing new infestations in the future. Be sure they're a fully trained and licensed specialist- preferably one that has been in business for at least five years. Make sure they have a clear emergency service in place should you need it, and that they have a good reputation with the Better Business Bureau.
One good way to help prevent pest infestations in the first place (while saving money in your home) is to install a vapor barrier and dehumidifier in your crawl space. In the industry, this is known as crawl space encapsulation. Sealing off the vents, drying the space, and having a tough vapor barrier on the walls and floors will deter pests, keep humidity out in the summer, protect the space from winter cold, and help to preserve the wood and organic material in the space. Additionally, a strong and well-installed system should upgrade the space, making it usable for storage. Click to learn more about crawl space encapsulation!