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Home for the Holidays: Common Winter Pests and How to Prevent Them
The terms “winter” and “holiday season” probably summon up a host of positive thoughts and feelings. Memories of family gatherings and big meals. Images of fluffy snow and hot cocoa by the roaring fire. They probably do not make you think of rodents and insects crawling through your home… right?
Unfortunately, just because it is getting colder outside does not mean you and your family are safe from unwelcome guests. In fact, many a rodent and insect will seek out your cozy home for its warmth and food. However, this doesn't have to ruin your holidays! Here are some unwanted pests to look out for this winter and what you can do to prevent them.
House mice are one creature you may encounter in your home this winter. They like to nest in dark, low traffic areas such as the attic, basement, or garage. This means you’re likely to encounter them (or evidence of them) when you go to dig out the Christmas tree, lights, or ornaments.
House mice are a serous problem as they can cause property damage by chewing through things like wires and may spread disease such as Salmonella.
If you see chewed through boxes or droppings you may be sharing your house with a mouse!
You can prevent mice by:
- Sealing up cracks and holes on the outside of your home.
- Keeping items (such as boxes) off of the floor.
- Keeping food canisters tightly sealed.
- Wiping your counters and sweeping the floor regularly to remove any crumbs.
Use the tips in this article to help keep your garage rodent free year round: Rodent Proofing Your Garage.
Notes: Rats are another rodent that may make your home their home during the winter months. Like mice, they can cause property damage and spread diseases. Trying to determine if you’re dealing with mice or rats can be difficult, especially if you never actually see the culprit. However, this article may be able to help: I Smell a Rat…Or Is That a Mouse? Mice Vs. Rats—Telling Them Apart.
You may be bringing this winter guest into your home without even realizing it. Certain types of cockroaches can “hitchhike” on unsuspecting people via grocery bags, secondhand items like appliances, etc.
Cockroaches are a problem that should be dealt with ASAP as they can contaminate food and spread bacteria as well as exacerbate allergies. Here’s a closer look at the problems roaches can cause How cockroaches spread disease and what you can do about it.
You can prevent cockroaches by:
- Keeping food securely stored.
- Keeping countertops wiped down and crumb free.
- Vacuuming and sweeping frequently to remove any crumbs.
- Disposing of garbage in a timely manner.
The cold weather may drive this eight legged pest into your home. Most spiders are harmless and therefore the only “problem” they cause is shrieking and full body shivers, but some spiders are poisonous. A poisonous spider you may encounter this season is the brown recluse.
These spiders like to make their home in low traffic areas such as attics and basements. They are often found in cardboard boxes, along windows, and in infrequently used items.
You can prevent brown recluse spiders by:
- Keeping trees and other plants cut back from your home.
- Storing items in plastic tubs.
- Vacuuming frequently.
Pests like stinkbugs, termites, and Boxelder bugs can take up residence in wood and be carried into your home. Most of these bugs are harmless; however, not all of them. Termites for example can cause structural damage to your house.
You can prevent “firewood bugs” by:
- Storing firewood off the ground (such as on a raised platform on a plastic tarp).
- Storing firewood away from your home.
- Storing firewood under a plastic sheet.
- Inspecting wood carefully before bringing it into your home.
You can prevent termites specifically by following the steps above as well as by:
- Cleaning out your gutters and directing moisture away from the home.
- Keeping mulch and soil away from the siding.
- Cleaning out the crawl space – especially wood, boxes, and other paper products.
While prevention is preferred, what if you already have termites? Here are some tips on spotting this pest in your home: Would You Recognize Termite Activity in Your Home?
Tip: In addition to bringing in bugs with the firewood, you may be bringing in bugs with your plants. When it comes time to bring your plants in for the season, check out this article to know what you may be bringing in with them: Bringing your plants indoors.. what comes with them?
The winter does not mean you’re safe from bed bugs. These pests are great hitchhikers and may enter your home via clothing, luggage, etc. When traveling during the winter, you may pick up bed bugs from a hotel or even the airplane and bring them back to your own home. Bed bugs are great at hiding and once they get in to your home they’re difficult to get out. To get a sense of where they may take up residence, refer to this article Hide and Seek: 5 Unexpected Places Bed Bugs May Be Hiding.
While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to humans, they can cause skin issues, stress, and cost families lots of money.
You can prevent “catching” bed bugs in hotels by:
- Checking hotel mattresses for signs of bed bugs before settling in.
- Avoiding unpacking your clothes at the hotel.
- Storing luggage away from the bed and off of the floor.
Here are some additional tips for avoiding bed bugs while traveling: How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home When Traveling.
Once the holidays are over, refer to this article to ensure you store decorations using “best practices” to prevent pest infestations Storing Holiday Decorations the Right Way to Prevent Pests.
Follow the tips in this article to help prevent unwelcome winter guests. Keep in mind that prevention is easier than removal so taking these steps now may save you time and money later on.
In addition to following the steps outlined in this article, consider having your home inspected by a trained professional (like those at Scherzinger). A knowledgable professional will be more likely to spot signs of an infestation and be able to act quickly.
If you do have an pest problem, contact a professional immediately so that the problem can be resolved efficiently and effectively and you can get back to enjoying your holidays!
The experts at Scherzinger Termite are a trusted pest control company with more than 80 years of experience serving Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus, Ohio, and Northern Kentucky. Call us at 1-877-748-9888 or via web inquiry, Facebook, or Twitter.Authored By: Eric Scherzinger