Keeping pests, wildlife at bay Published Sept. 5, 2023 By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Living at Laughlin Air Force Base and in the town of Del Rio, 9.5 miles away from base, comes with sharing the diverse ecosystem of the local area with wildlife. Sharing space with wildlife can lead to pest infestations and dangerous animals encountering humans. Proactively taking care of one’s home is important for maintaining a clean and attractive environment and plays a significant role in minimizing the presence of pests and wildlife around living spaces. “Wildlife is searching for safe areas to nest in,” said Darren Johnson, 47th Civil Engineering Squadron environmental program manager. “During the summer most animals are seeking cool shelter from the heat, causing them to try coming indoors for cool air. In the winter animals seek warmth, again possibly causing them to try coming inside.” Understanding pests’ habitat preferences is crucial for effective community health and home upkeep. “One of the biggest problems with insects and pests is that they get dirty and can have or transmit diseases,” explained Johnson. Homeowners can take a few proactive steps to prevent emerging critters: Trim vegetation Residents should maintain shrubs, bushes and lawns around the house. Long grass allows rodents and snakes to nest and traverse populated areas undetected. Pests typically avoid short grass or move through quickly to avoid being seen. “Keeping the yard, garden, bushes and trees trimmed also helps remove food resources,” said Johnson. “Some animals are more attracted to types of vegetation, so you can do your homework to choose plants that attract the least amount of wildlife.” Do not feed the local wildlife or stray animals Johnson elaborates that protecting against disease is not limited to local wildlife. “Feral cats are also a problem on base and in most towns,” said Johnson. “People will keep [family cats] outside, let them wander outside, or just release them to be on their own. People will then feed feral cats. These cats are a detriment to the wildlife and bird populations. They can carry diseases such as rabies.” Remove standing water Regularly inspect the area around your living space for any standing water, as it can attract mosquitoes and encourage areas for breeding. Empty any containers that might collect water and attract various insect species. “Insects search for shelter, food and water, and nesting areas,” said Johnson. “Ants follow pheromone trails, guiding each other to resources that they may find. Cockroaches tend to find resources and stay near that resource.” Proper waste disposal Dispose of lawn clippings and organic waste appropriately to avoid attracting pests. “Raccoons are problem-solving, smart, and strong animals,” stated Johnson. “That can make them a nuisance when they find something that they really want to get to. They are omnivorous; they will eat meat, fruit, vegetables, seeds, and processed food. This explains why they like to go through the garbage. They are nocturnal and prefer to be left alone. But raccoons will defend themselves, especially against pets like cats and dogs.” Seek assistance If residents encounter persistent pest or wildlife issues despite applying mitigating measures, problems should be reported to the appropriate agencies for intervention. “Keeping lawns mowed is a safety issue as well as visually appealing; our region is filled with critters and rattlesnakes that can be dangerous to residents, technicians, and pets,” said Claudia De Leon, Hunt Housing management. By proactively taking steps, residents can create a safe living environment for themselves and their neighbors. “It is important to remember that we live in this world with wildlife and depend on each other,” said Johnson. “Human-altered areas, such as housing, may attract specific wildlife, especially those animals that thrive alongside humans. Staying proactive, organized, and clean are the best ways to avoid infestations or large problems.” To report critters near base housing, contact (830) 291-8550. For critters around the workspace, contact (830) 298-4357. For all matters concerning Del Rio Animal Control, contact (830) 774-8628.