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5 Common Pests That Live In Messy Gutters

pest in gutter

Pests In Gutters: Why they just love messy gutters.

Over the years, we’ve seen some strange things that end up in your gutters. You wouldn’t believe some of the things we have seen up there. We’ll tell you all about that stuff some other day. Today we’re going to tell you about the 5 most common pests that live in messy gutters.

In addition to that, we’ll tell you signs that you have pests living in your gutters, how to get rid of them, and what steps you can take to prevent them.

SQUIRRELS, MICE, CHIPMUNKS, AND OTHER RODENTS

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. We’ve all seen squirrels running around on the roofs of homes. Especially if you have trees that hang over your house. The big question is, “What attracts squirrels (and other rodents) to your gutters.”

A Safe and Cozy Home

Squirrels and all other rodents are always on the hunt for a better and safer place to live. Gutters provide a safe haven for them to escape to. Especially if your gutter has lots of debris in it, like leaves and twigs. Rodents use this material to build nest. Being up in the air is an added bonus. They don’t have to worry about some of their normal predators like cats or foxes.

Issues Rodents Cause

First and foremost, any rodent nest in your gutters will disrupt the flow and in some cases, clog the gutter completely. Causing the water to overflow wherever it wants, and a slew of other issues. Most rodents climb the downspouts to get up to the gutter system. They’ll often build their nest in the downspout because it is more secluded. Obstructions in the downspout always leads to gutters backing up and overflowing. Sometimes, they’ll even get stuck in the downspout and die. Once this happens, they attract bugs and other things that will feast on the carcass. In addition to all of that, presence of rodents will attract other pests that eat them, like snakes.

Although attracting other pests is a big reason we don’t want squirrels and mice in our gutters. The main reason is that they don’t just stop there. Squirrels, mice, and rats will use your gutters as a nice nesting spot. But if they are left up there to do what they want, then they are eventually going to chew their way into your home. Every single rodent there is, wants nothing more than to live in your house. Especially the attic. They will chew up shingles, bend vents, tear open siding, whatever it takes to get inside the nice cozy safety of your home.

“What can we do about it?”

There is a few small preventive steps you can take to ensure that rodents don’t nest in your gutters. First, is to keep the gutters clean. Regular gutter maintenance will prevent leaves and other debris from piling up. If there’s no nest building material, it won’t look like a nice place to set up camp for the rodents.

Another big step that people will take, is putting some type of mesh screen over the downspout hole so nothing can crawl up there. You can do this yourself pretty easily with any screen or mesh.

Gutter covers are probably the best form of defense for rodents. But, not just any gutter covers. Gutter covers that have a gap between the gutter and the hood will not be effective against rodents. In fact, that style of gutter cover will make it easier for them to get in and stay there. Also, gutter covers that come loose or start to fall apart are not going to help much. If the squirrels find an access point to get under your gutter covers, they are most definitely going to use it. So always be aware of the condition of your gutter covers. One loose gutter cover could allow the squirrels to infiltrate your whole system.

There is one other trick you could use. Rodent repellent. There’s a few over the counter products you can buy with different smells. The important thing to remember is that you will need to put it around the downspout opening, or even in the gutter itself. You can even soak cotton balls with these repellents and place them all around the property if your having issues.

One last thing to remember

Always remember that rodents will become hostile if backed into a corner. If you have rodent issues, it may be best to call pest control to remove them. Anytime you’re dealing with ladders, you have to be extremely cautious when up in the air. A sudden attack from a squirrel or any other animal could scare you enough to fall off the ladder. Safety first is the key.

BIRDS

bird-in-gutter

Birds are a very common pest that will live in your messy gutters. It’s a perfect habitat for them to build a nest. Especially if you have debris in there. Then they don’t even have to travel for nesting material, it’s all right there.

This family of birds has made a nice nest for themselves in this gutter.

Do birds nests cause damage?

The answer, is yes. Birds nests will help clog your gutters and cause other damages. If the nest is allowed to get big enough, it can even split your gutter open at the seam. Letting any obstructions in the gutters or downspouts is a recipe for disaster. Once the water can no longer flow properly, it pools up. Next it will get heavier and heavier. The excess weight pulls the gutters loose from the home. Loose gutters causes many issues that we’ve already discussed.

How do we properly remove birds nests?

The first step is to determine if you have an active nest or not. Basically you’ll look for signs that the birds are still living there. An obvious sign is if there are eggs or baby birds present. Another thing to look for, is the condition of the nest. If it is falling apart or in bad condition, the birds may have moved on. Birds coming and going to that area frequently, is a good sign that the nest is still active.

If there are signs that the nest is still active, you’ll want to take a few extra steps. Especially if there are babies or eggs. If you tamper with the eggs, the mother bird could decide to move on and abandon them. Those eggs and babies won’t be able to survive in a new nest. You’ll have to transfer the whole nest to a safer location.

This birds nest doesn’t appear active so it will be safe to throw away.

Be sure to wear protective gear. Birds carry all types of nasty parasites, germs, and bugs. Gloves are a must if your going to be handling a birds nest. If your birds nest looks like it’s been abandoned for a long time, you can throw the nest away in the trash.

Clean up the area immediately. Simply using a hose to flush and wash the area is a good idea. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible, before another bird tries to start building a nest in the same location.

Steps to prevent birds from nesting in your gutters.

There is a few products you can buy to put on your gutters. We’ve already told you about gutter covers, which are probably the best from of protection you have from all pests. But there are a few other things.

Decoys are very popular for scaring away birds. There are many types of decoys effective against birds, such as rubber snakes, owl statues, and there’s even a fake attack spider you can buy. Ultrasonic bird repellers are even available. They make high pitched noises that scare birds away.

One of the last things available is bird spikes. You see these on signs or roofs of some fancy buildings. They basically block the birds from being able to land.

Bird spikes mounted to a gutter.

BEES, HORNETS, AND WASPS

Bees and hornets love to start their nest in areas that are damp and moist, like your gutters. These guys might not cause as much damage to your home as some of the other pests, but they are one of the most dangerous and difficult to remove. Use extreme caution if you think you have bees, hornets, or wasps building a nest around your home.

Signs

The signs for knowing if these pests are around are pretty self explanatory. If you have increased activity in your yard, that is always the first sign. Watch closely to see if they swarm around the roof of your home, or even go inside the gutters. If you ever see them crawl into any cracks around your roof or gutters, it’s more than likely a colony has started. Use extreme caution if you suspect there is a hive established around your home.

Dangers

I think it goes without saying how dangerous anything that stings can be. These days people are becoming more and more allergic to this stuff. You may have an allergy that you don’t even know about until it’s too late. And to top it off, people go through changes and become allergic to things later in life. The only way to be 100% safe, is to not get stung. The last place you want to be during a bee, wasp, or hornet attack, is up in the air clinging to a ladder. That’s why we always suggest calling pest removal to get rid of any type of nest.

Any type of nest gone unchecked for an extended period of time, can lead to them getting into your walls and home. Chewing their way in through the walls eventually. They love to build their hives between the walls.

Is there any preventive steps for bees nests?

Firstly, as with all pests in the gutters, the first thing you can do is keep your gutters clean with regular gutter maintenance. All pests are more likely to invade your gutters if they are filled with debris. Gutter covers can help, but most of them are going to have holes big enough for the bugs to get through. The perforated gutter cap style is going to be the most effective.

Secondly, there are a plenty over the counter products you can purchase. Bees, wasps, and hornets are all attracted to different smells, and also they each have different scented repellents. Different essential oils, moth balls, smoke, there’s even different plants that you can place around your property that will deter these pests. Some notable ones are Marigolds, Peppermint, and even Cucumbers.

How to get rid of them

We’re gonna keep this step simple. Call pest removal, or even a bee keeper. Do not attempt to remove a bees, wasp, or hornet nest if you don’t know what you are doing. If they are in your gutters, they may also have found a way into your roof edge and possibly into your walls. Only an expert is going to be able to assess the situation and determine the extent of the damage.

If you are fully confident that you can safely remove the nest, you’ll want to make sure they are all dead. Be sure to thoroughly spray with Bee/Wasp killer a few times before attempting to remove on your own. Remember, safety first.

MOSQUITOES, ANTS, AND TERMITES

We like to call these guys, the silent killers. They slowly sneak in and infiltrate your gutter system and home. Usually they’ll cause a lot of damage before you even know they were there.

Signs of insect infestation

It sometimes will be hard to spot signs of these bugs from the ground if they are living in your gutters. Mosquitoes are the easiest to spot. They love stagnant water. If your gutters have tilt or drainage issues, it lets the water pool up and stand still. Stagnant water attracts all kinds of unwanted stuff, but most importantly, it is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

This clogged gutter is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The downspout is probably clogged, preventing the water from draining.

Termites and carpenter ants however, eat wood. Like the fascia board to be precise. The biggest issue with these two is, that you won’t know they are up there until it’s too late. The best way to combat that, is to get your gutters cleaned at least once a year so somebody can inspect the roof edge. Also keeping your gutters cleaned ensures there is nothing up there attracting the bugs, like a rotting carcass.

Signs termites have been eating your Fascia Board.

Damages

Termite damage to Rake Board.

Termites and carpenter ants are going to cause more damage than mosquitoes. They eat wood. Either one of these critters are bad news. Often you won’t even know they are there. Especially if it’s all the way up on the roof edge. Structural damage to your home can be some of the most expensive repairs you could face.

Termite damage to wood.

What now?

As with all pest infestations, we would advise you to call an expert. When you are dealing with wood damage or structural damage to your home, you definitely are going to need an outside opinion. Keeping your gutters as clean as possible is always rule #1. There are some over the counter products you can use. Having your wood treated and/or painted with borate or copperlife will prevent carpenter ants and termites.

SNAKES

snake in gutter
This big ole snake looks like he was eating real good in that gutter. Who knows how long he was living in there.

We like to call snakes “Public Enemy #1” around here. They might not cause the most damage to your home, but they are the most dangerous of all the gutter pests. Use extreme caution if you think you have a snake problem. You’ll probably want to call an expert to remove them, unless you are comfortable handling snakes.

Why is there a snake in my gutter???

pests in gutter

Snakes in gutters are after one thing…. Food. To be more specific: rodents, birds, and birds eggs. It’s no secret that snakes like to eat rodents like mice and chipmunks, both of which like to live in messy gutters. Birds will build nests and lay eggs, which is a nice and easy snack for Mr. Snake. If you neglect your gutters and allow them to fill with debris, those rodents now have a nice habitat to thrive in. Which will attract any snakes in the area.

pests in gutter
This large snake has caught a crow for lunch.

How did it get there?

Snakes can pretty much climb almost anything. The two main ways for snakes to get up there are from trees and downspouts. If you have tree branches that hang over your home, that’s an easy climb for a snake. They like to hang out in trees, so it’s no wonder they’ll use a branch to get onto your roof.

The second easiest path for the snake to climb up, is your gutter downspout. This is the pipe that runs vertical from the gutter to the ground. Snakes will slither right in that pipe and climb right up. Especially if there is any debris in there, as debris makes it easier to climb.

snake in gutter
This snake tried to climb the downspout, but luckily for the home owner, this black widow spider got him.

Signs

pests in gutter

The problem with snakes in the gutter, is they don’t leave much evidence of being up there. It will come as a surprise to whoever is cleaning your gutter. They like to bury themselves in the leaves and muck, so you might not even see them until it’s too late. Snake skins are pretty much the only sign that you have a snake problem. In addition to that, if you see a snake skin on your roof or gutter, I’d get away from that roof and call an expert. Imagine being up 30 feet in the air on a ladder, and you reach into a pile of leaves, then a snake jumps out or tries to bite you. I don’t know about you, but the first thing that I think of in that situation, is me falling off that ladder.

pests in gutter
Imagine opening your gutter cover and out pops this guy! I’m pretty sure I’d jump right off that ladder.

What to do if you have signs of snakes

If you see snake skins in your yard, or especially on your roof or gutters, we highly suggest calling pest removal. Unless you are very comfortable with snakes. But, we still would suggest you call an expert. You might be cool with snakes, but being 20 feet up in the air changes things. The risk of falling is just too dangerous.

Get your gutters cleaned at least once a year. That way if you have rodents or birds nesting up there, they can eradicate them. The longer they are living up there, the more problems that can occur.

There is a few products on the market that you can attach to the bottom of your downspout. Basically just a grate or screen that blocks the entry, but still allows the water to flow. This will block the snakes, or rodents, from being able to climb into your downspout and up to the roof.

Example of a downspout screen to block the entry of pests.

Gutter covers can prevent snakes and most other pests from getting into your gutters. But, not all styles are effective. The best style of gutter cover on the market for pests, is going to be your perforated gutter cap. These secure flush to the gutter, leaving no gaps or openings for pests to get in.

perforated gutter cover
Example of perforated gutter cap style of gutter cover. The most effective against most pests.
gutter cover
Example of helmet style gutter cover. Notice the gap between the gutter and cover. That is how pests get in.

CONCLUSION

Neglecting your gutters for an extended period of time, creates a nice habitat for wildlife. These pests cause damage to your home in many different ways. Also, they can gain entry to the home by chewing their way in. Getting your gutters cleaned at least once a year is very highly recommended. It’s an all-around good idea to have somebody check out your roof and gutters for damages and ANY signs of pests.

Related Articles:

Clean Your Gutters Before They Freeze To Prevent Damage

Why Do Gutters Come Loose

3 Reasons To Keep Up With Routine Gutter Cleaning Throughout The Winter

Tips To Keep Your Gutters Clean This Winter

Are You Using These Cooler Months To Make Repairs?

Keep Up With Gutter Cleaning So Your Home Won’t Be Damaged By Rain That Doesn’t Drain Properly

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