With summer gone and the weather growing colder, you can say goodbye to most flying pests. Mosquitoes, bees, and wasps have mercifully disappeared. But don’t think for a moment that you can stop worrying about pests over the winter. As you cuddle up in your cozy home, there are plenty of pests who would love to do the same. During winter, many pests are on the prowl for food, water, and warmth. And a human house may be just the place to find those things. So as winter rolls in, now is a good time to check your home and make sure that you aren’t welcoming in a slew of winter pests. Follow these helpful tips to protect your home this winter.
House mice are the most common rodent found in US homes. They enter homes looking for food, water, and a warm, protected place to build their nests. They often build their nests in dark, undisturbed areas like the corner of an attic or basement. They may also settle down inside your walls in the space between the drywall of one room and the next.
Why House Mice Are Dangerous
House mice are known to carry many diseases, including salmonella and tapeworm. Their feces and urine-soaked nesting materials can become airborne, causing disease if they are inhaled.
They can also contaminate your food or stored belongings. Since they like to hide in dark, undisturbed places, they often settle among a pile of boxes stored in your basement or attic. They will happily chew up your cardboard boxes and anything inside to get material to build their nests. That leaves you with damaged, contaminated belongings. In many cases, the damage from house mice can mean throwing away many of your prized belongings.
In addition to checking through your belongings, they can chew through pipes seeking water, causing leaks and plumbing issues. Perhaps most dangerous is their tendency to chew through the insulation of your house’s wiring, leading to dangerous and destructive house fires.
Keeping Out House Mice
House mice can be hard to keep out. They can squeeze through a hole no larger than a dime, so you have to be vigilant about keeping your home sealed. Search the perimeter of your house to look for any small gaps or openings. Be especially careful searching around your foundation, window sills, and openings where pipes and other utilities enter your home. If you find any openings, seal them with steel wool and caulk. Sealing with caulk alone is ineffective because the mice can easily chew through it. Stuffing the hole with steel wool first makes it much harder for the mice to penetrate.
House mice like to build nests in dark, undisturbed areas, so minimizing potential nesting grounds can keep them from settling in your home. Try to keep your basement and attic as clean as possible, avoiding piles of boxes where mice could hide. Store boxes off the floor when possible, and replace cardboard boxes with plastic bins.
If you believe you have a mouse infestation, don’t try to solve it yourself. DIY mouse elimination has many disadvantages. Setting traps can catch a few mice, but it will never catch them all. A mother mouse can have a litter of six to eight babies every couple of months, year-round. Professional extermination is the only effective solution. If you catch mice yourself, you still have to dispose of them. Poison is even worse since poisoned mice can die in places you can’t reach, including inside your walls, where the carcass will spread disease and foul odors as it slowly decays. Also, disturbing a mouse nest can send feces and urine-soaked materials into the air where they are hazardous to inhale. If you think you have a mouse infestation, contact a TrustDALE certified pest control expert.
Norway rats, sometimes call Norweigan roof rats, are larger than house mice but cause many of the same problems. They can chew through almost anything, including plastic, in their search for food and water, and they are vectors for diseases such as jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox, trichinosis, and salmonellosis. The diseases are spread by materials they chew through, as well as their urine and feces. Rat bites can also spread disease, though most rats will never get close enough to a human to bite.
Keeping Out Norway Rats
Norway rats enter a home looking for food, water, warmth, and shelter. The more you can deny those things, the less likely Norway rats are to build a nest in your home. Like mice, they look for dark, undisturbed areas to build their nests. Inspect your basement and attic for signs of moisture. Dripping pipes or condensation provide critical hydration for invading rats. Also, keep your home clear of crumbs and food morsels, including trash.
Norway rats are larger than mice, but they can still squeeze through tiny holes no larger than one-half inch, or about the size of a quarter. Inspect your home for small holes and cracks, especially where pipes and utilities penetrate the outer wall of your home. Seal any gaps with steel wool and silicone caulk. Keep an eye out for signs of rats in your home, such as droppings or grease marks on boxes and stored items caused by the rats’ oily fur. You may also hear rats moving, running, squeaking, and scratching in your walls or attic. If you believe you have a rat infestation, don’t try to eliminate them yourself. Call a TrustDALE certified pest control expert to handle the infestation safely and thoroughly.
There is an old joke that if civilization collapsed, all that would remain are cockroaches. The joke is based on the fact that cockroaches seem incredibly hardy and difficult to kill. But in fact, the opposite is true. If humans went away, cockroaches would go extinct in many parts of the world. Cockroaches have adapted to live in human dwellings, and their very lives depend on it. By far, the most common cockroach to infest human homes is the German cockroach. They are present around the globe, wherever there are humans. They can be hard to eliminate, but that doesn’t mean you should give up hope.
The Danger of German Cockroaches
German cockroaches pose several potential health risks. First, they can contaminate your food and belongings. Cockroaches feed on trash and even sewage, which they can carry with them and spread to your food and other belongings. Also, cockroach droppings and bits of dry shell can cause or exacerbate allergies and asthma, especially in children.
Keeping Out German Cockroaches
Cockroaches rely on humans for food, water, and warmth, especially in the colder winter months. The best way to avoid cockroaches is to deprive them of those vital needs. Cockroaches like damp, dark areas, so keeping things dry will go a long way toward eliminating them. Pay close attention to the area under kitchen sinks and bathrooms in general. Make sure nothing is leaking, and any moisture dries quickly. Store food in plastic containers with tops that seal. Clean spills and crumbs quickly. Use trash cans with lids that close, and don’t leave dirty dishes out on the counter or in the sink.
Brown Recluse Spiders
Spiders, like humans, need somewhere warm to go in the winter. And your home may be the perfect place for a brown recluse spider to stay out of the cold. Brown recluse spiders like to spin webs in out-of-the-way places where they won’t be disturbed. They are commonly found in attics and basements or around window sills. They also hide out in shoes, baseball mitts, or other items that are left unattended for long periods during the winter.
The Danger of Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders don’t typically carry diseases, but they do bite. They are venomous, and the bite can be painful or even dangerous. The pain usually occurs within a few hours of the bite, and can be severe. As long as a week after the bite, you may develop and open sore and the tissue around the bite can die (necrosis). This will usually heal within a month or so, but it can be very unpleasant. IN some cases, a brown recluse spider bite can cause a full-body response, including fever, chills, a rash on the entire body, and vomiting. If you believe you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek medical attention.
Keeping out Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders live outdoors and can enter your home through tiny cracks or hitch a ride on something you carry in, like groceries or a cardboard box. To keep out brown recluse spiders, you need to seal your home. Check window sills and weather stripping around doors. Sealing your home this way can keep out spiders and insects and will also help with your heating bill. Store seldom-used clothing in plastic boxes with tight lids. Keep bushes and trees trimmed back several feet from your home, to avoid giving the spiders an easy bridge into your house. If you have a firewood pile, keep it 20 feet from your home. The pile of wood can play host to many pests, including spiders, and you don’t want them to hop from there into your home.
Keeping Out Winter Pests
The best way to prevent winter pests is to seal your home and make food and water unavailable. However, it can be hard to find every crack in your home’s perimeter. One of the best ways to avoid infestation is to form a relationship with a reputable pest control company. They can inspect your home as the season begins and help prevent infestation. If pests get in, they can treat your home and eliminate the intruders. Try any of these TrustDALE certified pest control experts.