The end of the year is here, and with it comes the end of pests, right? Not exactly. While it’s true that cold weather brings with it relief from the burning of bee stings and itching of mosquito bites, household pests can be as persistent as they are bothersome.
You knew this, of course, which is why you took pains to spot and seal any cracks and crevices around your foundations, windows, and doors, keeping both your house – whether brick-and-mortar or gingerbread – safe from hungry rodents like mice and rats.
But while the holidays are traditionally a time for big parties, big decorations, and big spending, effective wintertime pest control requires thinking small. That’s because your childhood friends and college-age kids aren’t the only ones coming home for the holidays. When pests reemerge each spring, do you wonder where they were all winter? In the case of spiders, boxelder bugs, and other crunchy critters, the answer is often that they overwinter in our houses.
Here’s a list of winter’s hidden household pests, as well as some tips to ensure that all through the house, not a creature will be stirring, not even a stinkbug.
Let’s start with the most obvious. Mice can gain access through a hole the size of a dime, and they are amazing climbers. Soiled marks on walls, floors and around pipes (rub marks) can be a sign of active mice. When cleaning mice fecal material CDC recommends a 1 to 10 ratio of 1 part cleaning solution like bleach to 10 parts water. Spray the area to be cleaned, wait about a minute, and wipe it up. Wear protective gloves when doing this and be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
These beneficial arachnids hunt other household pests and are present in homes year-round. However, many species breed in fall and overwinter indoors, making them abundant in houses throughout the season.
Although they release an objectionable odor, stinkbugs are harmless and come indoors each winter seeking warmth and shelter from the elements. This doesn’t sound unreasonable until you consider that, once settled in, they release a pheromone that attracts more stinkbugs to keep them company. What’s more, the very warmth they came for can make their bodies think it’s spring, causing them to mate and multiply.
These pests feed on trees and aren’t interested in anything in your home other than dark places to hibernate for the winter. However, like stinkbugs, they become confused by the warmth they find and become active, staining upholstery and fabrics with their feces.
Some helpful tips you might not have considered
Obvious wintertime pest control advice, like sealing cracks, keeping food in airtight containers, and storing firewood away from the home are typically rodent-centric. Here are some measures you can take to keep out smaller intruders.
- Place screens over chimneys and vents
- Install door sweeps or draft guards to prevent pests from squeezing underneath doors
- Replace weather stripping that has worn out
- Inspect Christmas trees, wreaths, and other greenery for spider egg sacks
- Be observant while unpacking and placing holiday decorations
As always, when all else fails, call the Masters at (877) 546-9575, to help keep your home full of holiday cheer, not pests!