10 Annoying Pests That Thrive in Your Clogged Gutters
Clogged gutters create all sorts of problems. If excess water is not moved away from your home, you could experience a leaky roof, mold, mildew, or even damage to the foundation of your home – and those are the most obvious gutter problems. There’s another issue that many people don’t think about: pests. If you’ve put off gutter cleaning, you could be creating a haven for unwanted critters and creepy crawlies who will eventually find their way into your home. Some of these gutter bugs are merely gross, but some could cause damage to your home or pose health risks. Whether you decide to get a professional gutter cleaning or opt for DIY, here are ten reasons to keep your gutters clear.
If you’ve left your gutters untouched for a great deal of time, don’t be surprised if a bird family has made their home up there. Gutters are high enough that birds won’t have to worry about predators. Unfortunately, this creates headaches for homeowners. Bird nests put added weight on gutters, which could cause them to warp or even fall off the house. Plus, all that bird poo has to go somewhere. This could spread diseases, create odors, or clog the gutters further. And don’t forget that birds molt so on top of the nesting material, the feathers shed could clog gutters even more.
We don’t need to tell you how annoying mosquitoes are. We’ve all experienced the annoying itches that come with spending time outdoors in the warmer months. But you know what else is so annoying about mosquitoes? They are incredibly resourceful when it comes to laying eggs. Female mosquitoes look for sources of standing water, and your clogged gutter is prime real estate. Believe it or not, mama mosquitoes can make do with the amount of water that an upturned bottle cap holds.
Mice and rats make for cute fantasy stories, but in reality, having them in or near your home could pose health risks. There are dozens of rodent-borne diseases from their bites, scratches, or exposure to fecal matter. Rodents notoriously multiply quickly, so if you don’t address the problem quickly, it could quickly become a full-blown infestation. Like bird nests, the weight of all those critters could bend, warp, or pull your gutters away from the side of your home.
And if you weren’t already aware, rodents need to chew things to keep their incisors at a reasonable length. The fascia – the board that holds your gutters to the edge of the roof – is just the thing rats and mice love to nibble.
And as if having birds and/or rodents in your gutters wasn’t enough of a hassle, they could lead to even more pest infestations – more on this later!
What’s so insidious about termites is they often go undetected until it’s too late. Clogged gutters provide a source of moisture, which termites need to survive. If your clogged gutters are causing water to drain into the home, this could create wood rot, which is very attractive for termites. Once inside your home, termites will colonize any wood fibers they can get their mouths on – furniture, support beams, doors, and even books.
5. Carpenter Ants
All of the factors that make your home attractive to termites will also entice carpenter ants. Poor gutter cleaning practices will bring these wood-loving bugs. Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites, as they are very close in appearance. But unlike termites – who eat wood – carpenter ants can’t digest cellulose. Instead, they spit it back out. In any case, you don’t want wood-boring insects in your gutters. The temptation to venture inside your home is too great, and carpenter ants don’t care about your feelings.
6. Stinging Insects
Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects love taking advantage of the water source that clogged gutters provide. Additionally, clogged gutters provide shade and a source of building material. Certain species of wasps use wood fibers to build their nests. And speaking of nests, they’ll protect them at all costs, which makes DIY gutter cleaning difficult if not impossible. You could be saddled with the price of a professional pest removal application in addition to a gutter cleaning. Oh, and did we mention bees and wasps could get into your walls? It’s not uncommon for wasps to create hives in the walls of homes. Many homeowners don’t even realize until the drywall has been compromised enough that it gives way to the slightest pressure and suddenly there’s a giant hole with wasps pouring out!
Aside from damaging your home, bee and wasp stings can cause severe allergic reactions including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the throat and tongue
- A weak, rapid pulse
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
You’ve probably heard how cockroaches are difficult to eradicate. There’s a great deal of truth to that. Cockroaches can survive for 10 days without their heads! They seek out areas where they can scuttle around undisturbed and clogged gutters are the perfect hiding place. After all, how often is anyone checking their gutters? It’s highly unlikely you’re going up there every week.
In addition to moisture, cockroaches are attracted to decaying plant material, which they’ll find in abundance if gutter cleaning is not something you do seasonally.
Finding a cockroach in your home is not only disturbing, it’s dangerous. According to the American Lung Association, roaches can exacerbate asthma, cause allergic reactions, and contaminate indoor air quality. The allergens are found in roach body parts, fecal matter, and saliva. To make matters worse, even if these particles do not remain in the air, they can easily be stirred up again by vacuuming. Cockroach allergens can also settle in bed linens, pillows, and other cloth materials.
Of all the bugs that live in clogged gutters, centipedes are probably the least of all evils. They don’t cause health problems like cockroaches or rodents, and they won’t attack you like bees, wasps, and hornets. That being said, they aren’t completely harmless.
Centipedes can bite and they’re reported to sting as much as a bee sting. If you happen to be sensitive to venom, you might experience an adverse reaction. Fortunately, house centipedes are not aggressive and are more afraid of you than you are of them. If you swat a wasp, be ready for a fight. If you swipe at a centipede, it will run away. Generally, centipede bites only happen if you try to handle them. If you have pets or small children in your home, they may try to pick up or play with centipedes, which increases the likelihood of a bite.
But for the most part, centipedes just add to the “creep factor” and won’t cause structural harm or major health issues.
While many states don’t have to worry about snakes invading their gutters, those of you in the South should keep an eye out. It may surprise you to learn that snakes are quite the climbers. Utilizing your gutter’s downspout, they’ll mosey up to the gutter where they can enjoy peace away from predators and the perfect place to soak up the sun.
Remember the rodents and birds we discussed earlier? They could attract snakes to your gutters. After all, they’re prime snake food and snakes just happen to have the perfect body shape to sneak along gutters undetected.
Like rodents, roaches, and stinging insects, snakes are not a pest you should attempt to tackle on your own. It’s simply not worth the risk of a venomous bite.
Before we discuss anything else, let’s set the record straight: earwigs DO NOT want to crawl into your ears. This is an old wives’ tale that perpetuates the creepy mythology surrounding earwigs. There is a very small chance they could get into your ear – just like any other bug – but they’re not going to seek out your ear to lay their eggs. This simply isn’t true.
Like centipedes, earwigs are not going to bother you, cause health issues, or damage your home. They will eat your flowers or crops in your garden, and if they manage to find their way inside, they will happily nibble on any food in the pantry that isn’t properly stored.
As you’ve probably guessed, they are attracted to areas of the property that are cool and damp. Aside from clogged gutters, you’re likely to find them in rotting tree bark or hidden under rocks.
How To Prevent Pests Out of Gutters
As discussed previously, having even one pest infestation in your gutters could bring more. Bugs are attracted to the gutters. Birds and mice will feast on the bugs and set up nests. Snakes will come to eat the rodents and birds. Clogged gutters are a compounding problem and the longer they go unaddressed, the more money and headaches you’ll experience.
So what can you do about pests in your gutters? As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best way to avoid calling an exterminator is to keep your gutters inhospitable for pests. You can accomplish this in several ways. Firstly, make sure to do gutter cleaning ideally twice a year in spring and fall. The spring cleaning will clear out anything that has hunkered down in the gutters over winter. Fall cleanings will discourage pests from moving in before the cold arrives. Another great option for pest control is installing gutter guards. They come in a variety of styles and materials and will save you a lot of time and trouble.
Summary of Pests Living In Clogged Gutters