When is the last time you’ve cleaned your gutters? If you’re like me it’s not something you look forward to and you make the usual excuses until the time comes that you can no longer put it off. This may mean that leaves and debris mixed with water have sat up there for weeks on end or even months. This organic material breaks down over time and actually becomes dirt which can not only house insects but I have found small trees growing in gutters as well as gobs of earthworms crawling in the rich nutrient mix.(I have no idea how a worm gets in a gutter but it’s true) This combination makes for an irresistible soup for all kinds of insects and if unchecked large infestations may begin making their way into your home.
Over the years I have seen all kinds of insects living inside gutters; earwigs, roaches, carpenter ants and even termites. Subterranean termites have to have constant moisture so it is somewhat rare to find the colonies nest above ground unless there is a alternate moisture source. In this case we didn’t realize the termites were in the gutter so we did a standard soil treatment and scraped away the mud tunnel that went from the garage floor to the ceiling. A few days later we got the call that the tunnel was being rebuilt but when we investigated we found it wasn’t coming from the ground up. The termites were reconstructing their pathway from the garage roof down to the floor. With a little more inspection we followed the tunnels in the attic out to the fascia behind the gutter. The down spouts were packed with wet decaying leaves and debris as well as 10 or 15 feet of the gutter. As we began cleaning it out still unaware of the origin of the termites we began finding handfuls of worker termites. We eventually scooped out the entire colony and the termite problem was solved.
As a pest control professional I often tell my clients about sanitation but I’ll admit that cleaning your gutter is not something that is on my top 10 list. It is more than just making sure a lid is tight on the trash can or picking up pets food, it can be difficult and somewhat risky at times. While I don’t think you need to make this a weekly or even monthly chore it is something you’ll want to check often enough to head off any problems. If you live under a lot of trees then it would make sense to check it once or twice per year, perhaps more. A wide open area is less likely to develop clogged gutters but an inspection isn’t a bad idea especially if you suddenly develop a carpenter ant or other problem and have no obvious visible moisture source.
The gutter system around your home allows easy travel for insects as well as providing many entry points into your home and attic. Spraying a gutter is basically useless since any residual that didn’t run down the spout would be washed away soon enough with the next rain. While you could use some baits or even granulate the fermenting goo that is percolating in the gutter it is hardly worth it because it is so thick. The best pest control I’ve found for ridding bugs in your gutter is a good old fashioned cleaning and of course spraying the bugs that you do find.
There are many gutter guard products and cleaning tools out there but I personally don’t have any experience with them so I can’t say what is good and what is not. I do know it can be dangerous work so you may want to consider hiring somebody for this task. Some pest companies offer these services as add ons and that would be a good choice if there are bugs involved.
I wrote this just last night and today I ran into a job that had acrobatic ants just teaming up and down the gutters and downspouts. In my above writing I mentioned that it virtually does no good to spray but that’s not entirely true. You may need to do a ‘quick knock down’ service while the bugs are in sight and that would involve spraying either an aerosol or liquid spray. For my purposes today I used Termidor in a sprits bottle because I wanted the ants to infect the 1000′s of others in places I might not ever be able to get to. Killing them now would be great for awhile but they would be back later, however with the transfer effect of this product it might take a little time but soon ALL the ant colony will crash (die) and solve the entire problem.
I also received a comment from an former exterminator turned entrepreneur. Just so happens he has invented a product for our gutter cleaning dilemma. I have never tried his product but I could identify with the man in his video so I thought I’d pass his link along to you. The “Gutter Clutter Buster” may be a good tool choice in our war against bugs and it may just keep our feet on the ground.