Winter Pest Control For Your Home
Most of us love getting all warm and cozy in our homes after the day’s activities in winter. Unfortunately, the warmth of our homes is also attractive to various pests that are more than happy to be uninvited guests and wait for the warmer days of spring. Use this guide to learn about the most common winter home-invading pests and how to prevent them from choosing your house as their winter hideaway.
Common Home Pests In Winter
The most common winter home pests range from insects and arachnids to small mammals. Find out more about them below.
Mice, rats, and squirrels are the most common rodents that move into homes for the winter – and if they find a warm welcoming environment, the mice and rats might even take up permanent residence in your house for the rest of the year.
Regardless of the types of rodents that might invade your home in winter, they prefer making their nests in areas that are dark, protected, and secluded, such as attics, basements, cabinets, chimneys, upholstered furniture, storage areas, and between wall layers. Rodents chew and gnaw through all sorts of things in search of nesting areas, nesting materials, and food, which can lead to contaminated food, damaged fittings and furniture, and ruined insulation. They can even create fire hazards by chewing through electrical wires.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, rodents are prominent disease vectors. Some of the diseases they can spread to humans include Hantavirus, jaundice, leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, salmonella, and tularemia.
Store your food and your pet’s food in airtight plastic containers, empty trash cans frequently, clean up food residue right away, avoid leaving storage boxes on the floor, and minimize clutter in your home and storage areas. Use caulk and steel wool to seal any cracks or holes that lead into your home. These preventative measures should make your home less attractive to rodents. Check your home regularly for signs of rodent activity, such as chew marks, grease marks, and droppings.
- Squirrels and Racoons
Like rodents, squirrels and raccoons often try to make their home in yours during the cold winter months. These furry creatures seek warmth and food, and will look for any opening or way in. Once in, they may nest in your roof, basement, attic, or between your walls, and this is where they pose a major problem. Both of these animals are avid chewers and they can very quickly chew through electrical wires or cables. This can lead to a power outage, or in the worst case scenario, a fire. They can also chew through pipes, causing plumbing issues and water damage.
However, it’s not just the chewing that is a problem, these animals can carry potential life threatening parasites that put your health at risk.
Squirrels can carry fleas, ticks, and mites that can lead to nasty bites, but if they bite you they can transmit diseases such as ringworm, typhus and tularemia. If untreated or incorrectly diagnosed, typhus and tularemia can be deadly.
In addition to mites, fleas and ticks, racoons can shed Leptospirosis, E. Coli and Salmonella in their secretions. If a human is exposed to these secretions and ingests them or gets them in an open wound they can become gravely ill.
You can follow the same advice that you would to prevent rodents entering your home for squirrels and raccoons, and always ensure that any entry point to your home is kept sealed.
- Bed Bugs
While bed bugs can be a pest control problem at any time of year, they are most likely to be an issue in seasons when it’s common for people to travel, such as winter. Your home may be bed bug-free until you travel to a hotel, motel, lodge, or cabin, spend a few nights there, and unknowingly bring some home with you.
Whenever you travel away from home, check the room you stay in for signs of a bed bug infestation. Some of the most common signs include brown spots and specks of blood. You should also check your room at home for the same signs. Before returning home, check your clothing and your luggage for signs of bed bugs. Wash and dry your clothing on high heat, if possible.
When you’re at home in winter, take the following precautions to prevent bed bugs from turning your home into their playground: use a mattress cover that covers the whole mattress and box spring, wash and dry your bedding on a high head regularly, and vacuum your room frequently.
Roaches might be one of the hardiest insects on the planet, but they cannot survive in temperatures lower than 15 degrees Fahrenheit. They need to find a warm winter residence if they want to get through the coldest months of the year. Your home is ideal for the purpose.
Roaches prefer basements, bathrooms, crawl spaces, kitchens, and other places that are dark and close to moisture and food. They seem to have a preference for living under appliances and sinks. Some people think that roaches are among the cleanest of all insects, but this is not entirely true.
While looking for food, roaches crawl through decaying matter and pick up bacteria on the spines of their legs as they go along. If they contaminate your food, those germs can spread to you. Roaches are known to spread approximately 33 different types of bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, several different types of parasitic worms, and other human pathogens. The allergens in their droppings, saliva, and shed skin can trigger asthma symptoms and other allergies, especially in children.
Keep your food and your pet’s food in airtight containers, clean up food residue as soon as possible, clean under and behind sinks and appliances regularly, repair clogged or leaking pipes, and clean your gutters regularly to prevent roaches from moving in your home in winter.
Most of the spiders we see in our homes live indoors all year round, and the only reason we’re seeing them is because they’re looking for mates. However, in winter, some outdoor spiders might invade your home to escape the harsh, cold weather outdoors.
Some outdoors spiders, such as black widow and brown recluse spiders, are dangerous to humans. Keep in mind that those outdoor spiders usually only bite humans if they feel threatened or trapped, or if they’re pressed against the skin. Outdoor spiders that venture indoors in winter usually hide in low-traffic, secluded areas such as cardboard boxes, basements, clothes and shoes, and window moldings.
Take the following precautions to make your home less attractive to spiders. Store clothes and shoes in plastic containers rather than cardboard boxes. If you haven’t worn any clothes or shoes in a while, inspect them or shake them out before putting them on. Minimize the clutter in your home, and vacuum regularly. Sweep up or vacuum spider webs when you find them.
Spiders aren’t attracted to light, but many of the insects they eat are. Keep outdoor lights off to avoid attracting those insects and the spiders that follow them to your home. If you or someone in your home is bitten by a black widow or a brown recluse spider, seek immediate medical attention, as the symptoms could worsen to the point of being fatal.
Termites do not stop being active in winter, even though they prefer the warmer months. They can continue to reproduce through the winter, until February. To make matters worse, subterranean termites are known to feed extra-aggressively in cold weather. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your home is safe from termites in winter.
Pretreat your home against termites as a preventative measure and stay on the lookout for signs of termite activity. Some common signs of termites include doors and windows that start sticking, damage under wallpaper or paint, termite droppings, mud tubes, termite swarmers (flying termites), and discarded wings.
General Pest Prevention Tips
Use these general tips to help prevent pests from invading your home in winter:
Keep shrubs and tree branches trimmed away from your home’s exterior and keep debris piles and firewood away from the outer walls of your house. Replace damaged weather stripping and shingles.
Seal cracks in the walls and foundation, and around doors and windows, using a silicone-based caulk. Seal gaps around the holes where utility lines and pipes enter your house, cover air vents with wire mesh, and install chimney caps.
If your best efforts aren’t enough to prevent bugs and rodents from invading your home in winter, or you already have a pest situation, call in the professionals to deal with it. Contact Twin Boro Termite and Pest Control for a free inspection and recommendations on the best treatments to get rid of the problem.