Winter Pest Control Tips

Winter had a warm start this year, but colder weather is finally here! While mosquitoes and ants may have stopped buggin’ you for the time being, other household pests become more active as temperatures start dropping. Checking around your house and pest-proofing isn’t just for those warmer parts of the year, pest control is a year-round duty. Being proactive and checking your home for any signs of winter pests can save you the headache of having to deal with a bad infestation that has gone unnoticed.

Here are a few tips for common winter pests that you might find trying to settle in your home:

House Mice
House mice are the most common pests in the United States. These mice usually set up their nests in dark, secluded areas like attics and basements. These rodents can cause very serious property damage. House mice are known to chew through drywall and electrical wires which can potentially cause an electrical fire in your home. These mice can also contaminate food and spread disease and bacteria, like salmonella and tapeworms.

Tips:
House mice can fit through openings as small as a dime. To prevent them from entering, seal all the cracks and holes on the outside of your home with caulk and steel wool.
Routinely check your home for signs of mice, like droppings, gnaw marks, and any damaged food or packaging
Store boxes and other items off the floor, mice like to hide in clutter.

Outside and happen to find a birds nest? Make sure to read our tips on what to do if you find a baby bird.

Rats
Rats are often found nesting in basements, piles of debris, and other cluttered materials. These pests are known to chew through almost anything – including plastic or lead pipes to get to food and water. Rats carry many diseases like jaundice, rat-bite fever and cowpox virus.

Tips:
Rats can fit through an opening as small as ½ in (about the size of a quarter). Check for any cracks or gaps outside your home and fill them will silicone caulk.
Check your home floors and walls for any signs of infestation, be looking for greasy rub marks caused by the rat’s oily fur.
Get rid of any sources of moisture or still water in crawl spaces and basements

Cockroaches
Cockroaches can be found throughout the world…even in the mouth of a venus flytrapv. They prefer to live in small areas that are close to food and moisture, which is why human homes make a cozy habitat for them. Cockroaches can make their way into your home in a variety of ways like boxes, grocery bags, and secondhand appliances. They are usually found in kitchens and bathrooms (where moisture builds up the most in houses). Cockroaches can contaminate food sources and spread bacteria and pathogens. Cockroach allergens can trigger allergies that will flare up asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Tips:
Vacuum and dispose of garbage regularly.
Keep an eye on kitchens and bathrooms, especially under appliances and sinks where moisture can possibly build up over time
Make sure counters and floors are clean and free of any food crumbs

Brown Recluse Spiders
Recluse spiders set up their webs in isolated and undisturbed places, like closets, attics, crawl spaces, and basements. Like other spiders, the brown recluse can usually be found near window moldings, boxes, ceiling corners, and in seldom-used clothing and shoes. If disturbed, these spiders can bite and inject venom making them dangerous to humans.

Tips:
Keep clothing and shoes inside plastic containers. Be careful when putting on clothing and shoes that have not been used recently, as spiders like to hide in these items.
Trim trees limbs and shrubs so they are not making any direct contact with your home. This helps reduce the chance that they can find an entrance inside.
If you believe you are the victim of a spider bite, seek medical attention immediately as waiting too long can cause symptoms to become more severe or even fatal.

Raccoons
These furry pests are usually found in the woodland eastern parts of the country. They can enter homes through attics or chimneys in search of an area where they can set up a den. Raccoons are known as one of the most common hosts of rabies in the US.

Tips:
Keep trashcans and recycling bins in enclosed areas like a locked shed or outhouse. If you keep your trash cans outside use animal-proof lids to seal them to prevent attracting any raccoons.
Check the outside of your home for any entry points, such as broken vent covers or any other large openings. Make sure to repair any loose siding or shingles.
Put a mesh cover or cap on chimneys and other exposed areas to prevent any entry. Make sure to keep tree branches near the house trimmed.