As the seasons change and the temperature outside drops, cooler weather prompts bugs and rodents to seek a place to hang their winter hats. So, why not in your home?
The National Pest Management Association lists mice, opossums, raccoons, rats and squirrels among the common rodents to creep into our homes between the months of October and February, while the common bugs to infiltrate include ants, cockroaches, fleas, flies, silverfish, spiders and ticks.
Pests can carry and spread a multitude of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, the Hantavirus, Lyme disease, rabies, salmonella, staph, strep and tuberculosis. They may enter our homes through any crack or crevice they can find.
Next time, don’t wait until winter
Most homeowners don’t even consider winter pests until there are signs of an infestation (scampering or gnawing sounds late at night in the attic or behind walls, droppings found in undisturbed areas of the house, aggregation of insects on the sunny side of your home, etc.), at which point extermination becomes more difficult.
Rodents alone can be very destructive as they chew through packaged goods, cardboard boxes, walls near pipes and vents, and electrical wiring. According to the NPMA, nearly 21 million United States households fight rodent infestations each year during the winter.
Keep pests out
The best way to keep pests out of your homes in the cooler months is to take preventative action before you have a problem. Your goal is to keep as many pests out as possible while making your home as inhospitable to the few that find their way in. Try these tips for winter pest-proofing:
• Repair rotten fascia and roof shingles, as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood;
• Where there’s food and water, pests will come, so keep a tidy kitchen;
• Seal up cracks and holes outside the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home;
• Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home and 5 inches off the ground. Inspect the wood before bringing it into your home;
• Trim branches, plants and bushes near the home as they serve as natural indoor pathways for pests;
• Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly;
• Replace weather stripping and repair loose mortar around foundations and windows;
• Inspect bags, boxes, grocery bags and other packaging for hitchhiking insects;
• Screen openings and vents to chimneys;
• Get rid of clutter, as it provides a place for pests to hide; and
• Clean up after the family pet, leaving no extra food accessible.
In some cases, you may be able to eradicate pests yourself, but at times, despite your best efforts to keep them out of your home, pests are relentless. Know when to leave it to a pro. Call a licensed pest management professional to determine the most effective treatment and control methods.
For more help or to ask questions, visit www.aces.edu or call 256-232-5510.