One of the best things about a long winter is the lack of outdoor pests. Bees, spiders and other creepy-crawlies are nowhere to be seen, and you can spend as much time outside as you like without being bitten by mosquitoes.
However, the cold doesn’t eliminate encounters with outdoor life. Some pests will migrate inside because your house is warm, hiding in your walls and crawl spaces over the winter.
Here are four pests that might bother you this season and steps to keep them out of your house.
Over the winter, most ants find shelter under logs or in the ground and then hibernate with their colonies. Their activity slows down with the cold weather and less food, but they are warm enough as a group to survive until spring.
Seeing large numbers of ants in your home is always concerning. In the winter, however, it may mean there’s a colony inside your home. If ants are living in your house, they’ll likely be warm enough to continue their usual activities.
The best way to prevent this is to keep your house well-sealed and its surroundings clear. Leaving decomposing wood propped against an external wall makes it easy for ants to transition inside.
During the fall, you may notice many ladybugs and Asian beetles coming into your home. These insects secrete a pheromone that attracts other ladybugs to join them. This happens during mating season in the spring and again during hibernation over the winter.
Ladybugs like to hibernate in warm, moist spaces and usually winter in groups. They often live in gardens over the summer and can be attracted to nearby homes because of light or heat. If your house is warm enough, some ladybugs may wake up from hibernation and visit you over the winter months.
Unfortunately, there’s no effective method of dealing with ladybug infestation once winter has already begun. To prevent them from joining you for the winter, make sure your home is well-sealed from the outdoors.
Check areas around windows and doors, your foundation, external walls and your roof. Because insects and pests are so small, they can slip in through tiny cracks. In addition to keeping out bugs, sealing your house will bring you the added benefit of saving on your heating bill this winter.
As the weather cools down, you may notice increased spider activity in your home. Unlike other insects, spiders don’t come inside seeking heat. However, fall is mating season for many species.
During this time, spiders move around more than usual, looking for a mate. If you see a spider in your house, it’s likely a male seeking a female. After mating, female spiders spin egg sacs to protect their young until they’re ready to hatch.
Egg sacks may show up externally around windows and door frames, where spiders have found nooks and crannies to place them. To keep your home web and spider-free, consider contacting a pest control service to remove these sacs.
4. MICE AND RATS
Rodents are another pest you may face in the winter. As the weather cools down, mice and rats may take refuge indoors, living in your walls, kitchen cabinets or basement. Rodents are more likely to move in if you have a readily available food supply for them to plunder.
Rats and mice have a short gestation period, meaning that they have many babies a year. For instance, many species of mice can have a litter about every three weeks. In the wild, mice only live about one to two years, so reproducing quickly is important. However, multiplying mice can wreak havoc inside your home.
Keeping your house well-sealed against the elements is the best way to prevent mice and rats from taking up residence. It’s also a good idea to make sure food isn’t easy for mice to chew into in your basement, cabinets or pantry. If you notice evidence of mice, set out traps or call an exterminator.
KEEP A CLEAN HOUSE
The most effective way to keep bugs and rodents out of your home is to take preventive measures. Keep your home well-maintained and sealed tight to prevent most pest problems. Cleanliness is another way to discourage pests from entering your home.
However, if you notice signs of insects or rodents during the winter months, you can take steps to treat and eliminate the problem. Follow these tips to keep your home clean and comfortable over the winter.
Guest Contributor: Rose Morrison