As the temperature drops, we all begin to spend more time indoors. All those winged insects that plagued our summer barbecues are long gone. No more bees. No more mosquitoes. No pesky moths flapping at our porch lights. So it’s understandable that some homeowners think winter is a well-deserved break from their pest control concerns. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, many outdoor insects hunker down for winter and don’t bother us as much. But just like us, many pests are looking for somewhere warm and dry to spend the cold winter months. And your house might be just the perfect spot. So if you haven’t considered winter pest control, it’s time to wake up and smell the cockroaches. We’ve got some great winter pest control tips to ensure that you’re not cozying up with some unwanted guests this winter.
Winter Pests to Watch For
It’s true that many of the pesky outdoor insects you deal with during the summer disappear over the winter. But there are still a whole host of pests looking to get cozy in the warmth of your home. Most pests are just looking for the same things you are: food, water, and warmth. And while we wish them well (well, maybe not the cockroaches), we’d prefer they find somewhere else to stay. Here’s a list of some of the pests to look out for this winter.
The German Cockroach is the most common cockroach in the world, and they are found pretty much everywhere people are. They like to live in moist, dark areas like basements, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and under kitchen sinks. German Cockroaches carry diseases and can contaminate food. They can also trigger allergies. Some people who think they are allergic to dust are actually allergic to things in the dust, including cockroach shells and droppings.
The house mouse is the most common rodent in North America. Contrary to popular depictions, they aren’t partial to cheese, and they don’t need big mouse holes to get into your walls. (Sorry, Tom and Jerry.) In fact, house mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime and will eat almost anything humans will and lots of stuff we won’t. Mice like to live in dark, undisturbed areas like under boxes or inside walls and attics. They carry lots of diseases, and urine-soaked particles from their nests can be toxic just to breathe.
Norway and Roof Rats
The two most common rats in American homes are Norway rats and roof rats. Neither are native. They were brought to the New World on European ships in the 17th and 18th centuries. (Thanks, Pilgrims!) They carry many diseases and will gnaw through almost anything to find food and water, destroying your home and belongings.
Brown Recluse Spiders
The Brown Recluse spider is the most poisonous spiders in the U.S. Like us, Brown Recluse spiders need to keep warm in the winter, so they go inside. They prefer to spin webs where they won’t be disturbed. Often that means basements and rooms you don’t go into much. But they will also spin webs under a sink, beneath a windowsill, or even in a pair of shoes you haven’t worn in a while.
Winged Carpenter Ants
If you see a few flying ants in the summer, it’s possible they came from outside. But if you see them in the winter, they’re probably residents. Carpenter ants have no problem making themselves at home inside your walls and under your floors. Carpenter ants build their nests in soft and rotting wood, usually caused by moisture. Their preference for moist wood means you can often find them behind bathroom tiles or around showers, sinks, tubs, and dishwashers. Outdoors, a carpenter ant colony will remain dormant over winter until temperatures rise in the spring. But a nest in a heated home may skip the dormant period altogether and remain active all winter.
You may have gotten the idea by now that winter is far from a pest-free season. But that doesn’t mean that your home can’t be pest-free. The keys to keeping unwanted bugs and pests out of your home this winter are preparing ahead of time and maintaining an environment in your home that is not conducive to pests.
Here are some of our top tips for winterizing your home. A little preparation and good housekeeping can make it a lot harder for pests to get into your home and a lot less likely they’ll stay if they find a way in.
Seal Your House
Sealing up your house is a great way to avoid drafts and save on heating costs. It’s also a great way to keep out pests. Rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, and mice can get in through a hole as small as a dime. Stuff small holes with steel wool and then seal them with caulk. The steel wool prevents them from gnawing their way in. Keep going with the caulk and seal off even small cracks. Check the weather stripping on windows and doors. Ants and cockroaches can get in that way, too.
Keep it Dry
Water is vital to all forms of life, including unwanted pests. Besides warmth, one of the main things almost all pests are after is a source of moisture. Look for any leaks around plumbing and appliances. Check for moisture in basements and attics, especially. Take an extra close look at kitchens and bathrooms, where leaky pipes and clogged drains can collect moisture.
Keep it Clean
Many pests like to hide in your trash. Rats and mice, as well as cockroaches, make their homes in undisturbed areas. A basement full of boxes is an ideal home for pests. Keep boxes raised off the ground and avoid piles of junk. Keeping your storage spaces neat will make them less inviting to pests.
Pests are also in your home looking for a bite to eat. Many pests, like rats, mice, cockroaches, and ants, are omnivores and will eat anything we eat. Make sure that your floors and counters are free of crumbs and even grease. Many pests will also eat some non-food items, like starchy glues or book bindings.
Don’t Invite Them In
OK, so nobody actually invites pests in. But there are plenty of ways that we let pests in that can be avoided. Cockroaches often come in with cardboard boxes or used appliances. Carpenter ants and other bugs can hitch a ride on or in firewood. A pile of firewood outside your home is a perfect place for outdoor pest to find shelter. Don’t keep firewood up against the wall of your home. Keep it 20 feet from your home, ideally. If you don’t have 20 feet, just keep it as far away as possible. The same does for piles of leaves or other yard waste.
Winter Pest Control to Prepare for Spring
Even though you don’t have to worry about warm-weather insects during the winter, you can use the winter to prepare. Some insect populations may actually be living in your home, especially your basement or your attic, even during winter. You just don’t notice them because they are hibernating or dormant. Dusting or spraying your attic and basement during the winter is a great way to head off a population boom in the spring.
If you have problems with winter pests or you just want to get a head start on your spring pest control, check out these TrustDALE certified pest control companies. You’ll get great service at a great price, backed by Dale’s trademark Make-it-Right Guarantee™.