Many homeowners think that colder temperatures keep pests away. After all, when winter arrives, bears go into hibernation, birds go south, and humans cuddle up on the couch with a cup of hot tea. But while some pests do, in fact, die off in cold weather, many pests stay active during the fall and winter months. And because most homeowners aren’t looking for evidence of pest infestations in colder temperatures, they often fail to catch problems before they become difficult to eliminate.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are the five most common pests that are active in cold weather, along with tips for preventing them from taking up residence in your home.
Termites don’t die when the temperatures start to drop. Their patterns do change a bit, however. Termites will either burrow further into the ground, or they’ll seek heated buildings or soil adjacent to heated buildings.
For those termites that choose to camp in or close to heated buildings, their activity doesn’t change during the winter. In most regions, excluding the particularly cold northern locations, queens will continue to lay eggs and activity will proceed normally. Both subterranean and drywood termites will seek shelter and food in a home’s foundation and walls.
Though you may not see signs of termites as easily in the winter, there is always the possibility that you have an infestation if your home isn’t treated. To survive, a termite needs three things: water, food, and warmth. In a heated home, they have everything they need. You’ll want to make sure your home is treated for termites — if it hasn’t been, don’t wait for spring.
Mice and rats will also be on the hunt for warmth, shelter, and food during the winter months. It’s very easy for rodents to slip through tiny openings, since they can squeeze their bodies into smaller spaces than you might expect.
The best way to prevent mice and rats from making your home theirs is to eliminate any potential entry points. Caulk around pipes or use expanding foam. Use chimney caps and cover vents with mesh. Damaged roofs are one of the main culprits of mice infestations, so be sure that cracks are sealed and the roofing cement is in good condition. Also, replace damaged weatherstripping.
Removing food and water sources is also a good idea. Make sure trash is in a sealed container so food scraps don’t attract rodents. If you have pets, pay special attention to pet food, which can be tempting to mice and rats. Seal food bags, and don’t leave bowls of pet food out overnight.
Spiders seek out warm, dark environments. Garages with clutter as well as indoor nooks and crannies are perfect homes for spiders. Their food sources, however, are attracted to the light, so it’s smart to turn outdoor lights off when you’re not using them.
The precautions you take with rodents will prevent spiders from entering your home as well. Be sure to winterize windows and doors, caulk around faucets, and seal cracks under your baseboards and around your dryer vent, as well as around plumbing.
Spiders hang out in shrubbery and other plant material during the warmer months and into the fall, so clear away any lawn and plant debris from your home.
And it may seem like common sense, but many people forget to vacuum regularly. Vacuuming will prevent eggs sacs from hatching.
Surprisingly, bed bugs can withstand nearly freezing temperatures. If the temperatures dip below freezing for several days straight, they’ll die, but they can even survive brief periods of freezing temperatures. Bed bugs will also seek warmer environs, and your home is an ideal location for them.
Bed bugs can enter your home in luggage or handbags after you’ve been traveling. From there, the bugs burrow into furniture, bedding, clothing, and boxes. The best way to prevent bed bugs from infesting your home is to prevent them from tagging along during your travel. You may be surprised to learn that even high-end hotels have had problems with bed bug infestations. Due to bed bugs becoming resistant to common treatments, they’re becoming more prolific.
When you arrive at a hotel, before unpacking, check the mattress and headboard for any evidence of bed bug activity. Look under the mattress cover for dark stains or spots. If you see any indications of a bed bug infestation, alert the management and request a room that’s not adjacent to the infested room (or go to a different hotel!).
If you do experience bed bug activity in your home, it’s best to call a professional. Because bed bugs only feed once every few days and hide easily, they are extremely difficult to get rid of.
Cockroaches are some of the most adaptable creatures in the world. Because they don’t like cold weather, they’ll look for warmer locations with access to food and water.
Again, sealing off your home is the best way to prevent cockroaches from entering. Keep kitchens clean and leaky faucets repaired, so cockroaches won’t find attractive places to hang out.
Cockroaches breed quickly, so if you do experience an infestation, you’ll want to address it immediately. There are several all-natural solutions to eliminating cockroaches, including use of diatomaceous earth.
Although the number of active pests drops during the colder months, you can’t forget about pests entirely. But by following these tips, you can stay cozy this winter while keeping the pests away!
Need help creating a plan to prevent pests from invading your home this winter? Give us a call at (864) 292-1919.