Keeping Pantry Pests Away

Keeping Pantry Pests Away

In recent times, we are finding ourselves spending more time at home and stocking up on supplies such as food, toiletries, and more. But as you stock up on these essentials, you could be providing stored product pests or “pantry pests” with a supply of their own. Here are a few tips to keep your kitchen free of these unwelcome guests:

  • Before you start adding any new grocery items, be sure to check existing open items in your pantry for signs of pantry pests to avoid spreading infestation.
  • Throw out any dry goods that have been left open and have gone bad. If they’re still in good condition, try and use the oldest items first before opening up the new ones.
  • Pantry pests, like Indian Meal Moths are attracted to items such as flour, oats, spices, and dry cereal. If you recently bought these items, be sure to inspect packages and confirm that they are all sealed properly. Once you open these items, look to store them in a plastic or glass container with secure lids, cutting off any access for pantry pests.
  • Rodentscan cause major health issues for you and your family. They are known to spread bacteria and viruses and, if their droppings build up within your cabinets, it can cause the air you breathe to become contaminated. To avoid a rodent infestation, try and keep your cabinets, pantries, and counters clean and free of crumbs and dispose of all expired foods.

If you take these precautions, you can easily avoid pests from raiding your pantry for all your stored groceries!

Cockroaches: A Possible Allergy Trigger

Cockroaches: A Possible Allergy Trigger

As Springtime approaches, allergies are bound to follow. Many tend to blame the plant pollens for their sneezing and watery eyes. Although pollen can trigger your allergy symptoms, there could be another reason why your allergies are flaring up this Spring: Cockroach allergies.

Signs and Symptoms of a Roach Allergy

Cockroaches might not be the first reason you think of when you start to get allergies, surprisingly though, they can be the cause of your allergies and asthma. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology the saliva, feces, and shedding parts of cockroaches can trigger both asthma and allergies, acting like dust mites. The common symptoms of cockroach allergies can be coughing, sneezing, asthma attacks, nasal congestion, sinus and/or ear infection, itchy red or watery eyes, and skin rashes.

Preventing Roaches from Inside the Home:

In a survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the allergists surveyed believed that a pest-free home is the most important factor in preventing asthma and allergy systems.

Knowing what attracts roaches can help you prevent a roach infestations. Here are some preventative tips to keep roaches out of your home:

  • Cover all trash cans
  • Store foods in airtight containers
  • Sweep up or vacuum all food crumbs
  • Seal cracks in walls and floors
  • Keep your yard neat and tidy
  • Call a pest control professional

Cockroaches can be one of the most difficult pests to eliminate. If you find yourself using the tips above but are still seeing roaches in your house, contact a pest control company. An exterminator will be able to identify where and how the roaches are entering your home and eliminate them to protect you and your family’s health.

Where Are These Stinkbugs Coming From?

Where Are These Stinkbugs Coming From?

As the weather warms up overwintering pests will begin to wake up and make their way outdoors. One of these is the brown marmorated stinkbug. While these household pests don’t sting, bite, or carry any diseases, they can become a nuisance when they get inside your home. In fact, once you see stinkbugs inside, it’s usually too late to do anything to keep them out.

The brown marmorated stinkbug is native to Asia but was later introduced in the United States. They prefer moist, temperate climates like those of the Eastern US and the Pacific Northwest. Stinkbugs feed on soybeans, corn, fruit, vegetables, and ornamental plants that grow close to homes. Stinkbugs spend the spring and summer seasons outdoors then will seek shelter from the winter elements indoors – often entering your home through cracks, crevices, gaps or holes in your foundation, through chimneys, air conditioning vents, or underneath siding. The prefer homes with lots of trees around and will gravitate to the upper floors of a home.

During the winter months, stinkbugs go into a phase known as diapause, which is similar to hibernation, where the bugs go inactive during the cold weather. When the stinkbugs find a spot to overwinter, they release a pheromone that attracts other stinkbugs to their location. While they typically stay dormant until spring, unusually warm spells during the winter can bring them out full force.

If you encounter stinkbugs in your home, the best way to get rid of them is to vacuum them up and immediately dispose of the bag. When stinkbugs are threatened, disturbed, or squashed, they emit a smell that has been described as anything from cilantro to rotting almonds to spoiled fruit.

The best way to control stinkbugs is to prevent them from getting into your home in the first place. Here are 9 prevention tips for keeping stinkbugs out.

  1. Seal Them Out. Carefully inspect the exterior of your home to identify potential entry points for stinkbugs. Check around siding and utility pipes, behind chimneys, and under fascia. Seal any problem spots with silicone or silicone-latex caulk. Close chimney flues when not in use.
  2. Repair. Check doors and windows for any damage. Repair or replace damaged screens. Check weatherstripping and replace if necessary. Check for loose mortar. Install door sweeps if possible.
  3. Turn Off Lights. Stinkbugs are attracted to light. Try to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum. After dark, turn porch lights off and pull down blinds in your home to reduce the amount of light spilling out from indoors.
  4. Keep It Dry. Stinkbugs, like other seasonal pests, need water to survive. Check carefully for leaking pipes and faucets and repair them immediately.
  5. Get Rid of Food. Keep food stored in airtight containers. Dispose of your garbage regularly. Wipe down countertops daily and sweep and mop often.
  6. Air It Out. Keep areas that stinkbugs can use as a harborage point (garages, crawlspaces, attics, and basements) well ventilated. Consider using a dehumidifier in these areas. Install screens over chimney and attic vents.
  7. Check It Out. Stinkbugs can hitch a ride into your home in boxes and bags. Carefully inspect any boxes you are bringing in from storage and any grocery bags before you bring them into your home.
  8. Landscaping. Keep branches and shrubbery well trimmed so they are not in contact with the house. Keep grass mowed and leaves raked. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the house and at least 5 inches off the ground.
  9. Call A Pro. If you suspect you have a problem with stinkbugs, contact a professional pest control company who can help identify any entry points the bugs may be using and help to eliminate them. They can also use a preventative spray in the late summer/early fall to help keep them out before overwintering season sets in.

 

You May Also Be Interested In:

10 Common Myths About Pest Control

Is Orange Oil Effective As A Treatment For Termites?

How Do You Get Your Lawn Ready For Spring?

What Pests Are Active In Your Area?

Keeping Wildlife Out This Spring

Flying Pests And How To Prevent Them

Flying Pests And How To Prevent Them

We’ve all been there before… you’re sitting in your house and you hear an incessant buzzing. All of a sudden something flies past your face! If you’re like most of us, your first thought it aghh! A bug in my house! Once you get over the initial shock of being dive bombed by this home invader, your next thoughts might be: What kind of bug is this? Is there more than one? How did it get in my house? How do I get rid of it? While we can’t answer all of your questions, we can help with a few. We’ve listed some of the most common flying pests below, as well as some tips to prevent them from getting into your home.

BEES:

Bees
While there are several different species of bees in North America, we are going to look at bumblebees, honeybees, and carpenter bees.

APPEARANCE:

Bumblebees are large, clumsy looking insects with oval shaped bodies. They are extremely fuzzy. They are yellow and black striped in color. They typically grow between 1/4″ and 1″ in length.

Honeybees are predominantly golden yellow with brown bands, but they can also be orange-brown in color. They have a very hairy appearance. They can grow to be about 1/2″ in length. They also have flat hindmost legs which are used to carry pollen.

Carpenter bees have a fuzzy body that is very robust in shape. Their bodies are yellow except for their abdomen which is shiny black. Males also have a white patch on their faces. Carpenter bees grow from 1/2″ to 1″ in length.

HABITAT:

Bumblebees typically make their nests underground so their nests may not be visible. They will often make their nests in old mouse burrows or in dense clumps of grass. They have also been known to make their nests under woodpiles or behind the siding of homes. Bumblebees are found throughout the United States.

Honeybees typically make their nests in beehives, trees, hollow logs, and piles of logs. It is very common for them to get inside your home and nest in attics, wall voids, chimneys, and crawlspaces. Honeybees are found throughout the United States.

Carpenter bees create their nests in pieces of wood – preferably soft wood that has not been painted or sealed. They will often make their nests in decks, porches, roof eaves, wooden shingles, wooden playgrounds, in wooden outdoor furniture, and in sheds. The entry holes for carpenter bees are perfectly round.

DIET:

All three species of bees feed on nectar and pollen from flowering plants. Contrary to popular belief, carpenter bees don’t actually eat the wood they burrow in to make their nests.

BEHAVIOR:

Female bumblebees have stingers but males do not. Bumblebees are not significantly aggressive but they will sting if they feel threatened. Their sting can be dangerous to humans with an allergy.

Honeybees are the only bee colonies that can survive for many years. They are very social insects. Female honeybees have stingers but males don’t. The female stinger is barbed which means it is only able to sting once. Honeybees aren’t known for being aggressive but they will sting if they are directly attacked.

Carpenter bees are very solitary insects and don’t create very large nest. Female carpenter bees have stingers but males don’t. Their sting is strong enough to cause a reaction in humans. Female carpenter bees are docile and rarely sting unless they are directly attacked. Male carpenter bees are very aggressive but don’t have stingers to do harm with.

PREVENTION:

All bees are protected as pollinators so treatment is only provided when they are deemed to be a nuisance or a threat. Removal is always the first treatment option because of this protected status.

  • Avoid planting flowering plants and vegetation near the exterior of your home.
  • Keep woodpiles and compost piles a safe distance from your home.
  • Remove any fallen trees and other piles of debris from your property.
  • Make sure your outdoor trashcans have tight lids.
  • Paint or stain any wooden structures including porches on your property.
  • If you find a nest or suspect you have a bee problem, contact a professional pest control company.

YELLOW JACKETS

Yellowjacket

APPEARANCE:

Yellow jackets have a sleek appearance. They are not fuzzy. They are black and yellow striped in color. They can grow to be 3/8″ to 5/8″ long.

HABITAT:

Yellow jackets build their nests either high up or in the ground. Their elevated nests can be found in the walls of buildings or in attics and chimneys. Their ground nests are usually in areas that lack vegetation or in spaces next to the entrance of buildings.

DIET:

Yellow jackets feed on other insects. They also eat any sweets and proteins that they come across. You can often find yellow jackets at outdoor events because they like to feed on sugary food scraps and drinks that are left out.

BEHAVIOR:

Yellow jackets have a smooth stinger which allows them to sting multiple times. They are usually docile unless their nests are approached. Then they become very aggressive and will sting repeatedly. Their sting can be life threatening if you are allergic. Yellow jackets are beneficial both as pollinators and because they help control the population of nuisance insects.

PREVENTION:

  • Trim back shrubbery and trees from the exterior of your home.
  • Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight fitting lids.
  • Seal cracks in foundations.
  • Caulk any gaps around windows and doors.
  • Cap chimneys.
  • Make sure vent covers are secure.
  • If you are outdoors, make sure food is kept covered and dispose of cans, cups, and bottles quickly.
  • If you suspect you have a yellow jacket problem, contact a professional pest control company.

PAPER WASPS:

Paper Wasp

APPEARANCE:

Paper wasps have a sleek appearance with a pinched waste and long, thin legs. They have gray wings and their bodies are black or brown with yellow or orange markings. Paper wasps can grow to be 5/8″ to 3/4″ in length.

HABITAT:

Paper wasps are found throughout the United States. They will build their nests of the ground on any horizontal surface they can find. Their nests are commonly found hanging from trees, shrubs, porches, decks, roofs, outdoor grills, and door frames. Their nests resemble an umbrella attached by a stem. Their name comes from the paper-like nests that they build.

DIET:

Paper wasps are predatory insects and feed on a wide variety of insects and spiders. They also eat nectar and pollen.

BEHAVIOR:

Paper wasps have smooth stingers that allow them to sting multiple times. They are not typically aggressive but will sting to defend their nests. Paper wasps have facial recognition capabilities like humans and chimpanzees do. They can actually recognize the faces of their colony members.

PREVENTION:

  • Nests have to be knocked down in order to prevent rebuilding and overwintering.
  • Adult wasps must also be killed to prevent the nest from being rebuild. This should be done in the early morning or late at night.
  • Trim back shrubs and trees from the exterior of your home.
  • Make sure outdoor trashcans have tight fitting lids.
  • Cap chimneys.
  • Fix any loose roof shingles.
  • Repair any holes in your roof line.
  • Make sure windows and doors have screens that are in good repair.
  • Caulk any gaps around windows and doors.
  • If you have a wasp nest or suspect you have a wasp problem, contact a professional pest control company.

BALD FACED HORNETS:

Hornet

APPEARANCE:

Hornets are much bigger than wasps. They are almost completely black except for an off white pattern on their face. They are long and thin with wasp-like bodies. They can grow from 3/4″ to 1-3/8″ in length.

HABITAT:

Hornets are found throughout the United States.  Hornet colonies only survive for 1 year. They build aerial nests that can be found in trees, on utility poles, on the side of homes, and under eaves. Hornet nests can be more than 14″ around and more than 24″ long.

DIET:

Hornets are pollinators. Adults have a liquid diet that mostly consists of nectar and plant juices. They are also predatory and will prey on insects that they bring back to their nests to feed their larvae.

BEHAVIOR:

Hornets have a more painful sting than wasps do. A single hornet sting can be fatal if the victim is allergic. When hornets sting or feel threatened, they give off a pheromone that signals the rest of the colony to attack as well.

PREVENTION:

  • It is difficult to prevent hornets from building nests. If the nest is up high, it is best to just leave it alone.
  • Trim back shrubs and trees from the exterior of your home.
  • Make sure outdoor trashcans have tight fitting lids.
  • Cap chimneys.
  • Fix any loose roof shingles.
  • Repair any holes in your roof line.
  • Make sure windows and doors have screens that are in good repair.
  • Caulk any gaps around windows and doors.
  • If you have a hornet nest or suspect you have a hornet problem, contact a professional pest control company.

LADYBUGS

Ladybug

APPEARANCE:

Ladybugs have a distinctive appearance. They are bright red, orange, or yellow with black spots. Their bodies are oval and dome shaped.

HABITAT:

Ladybugs are found worldwide. There are over 5000 species total and 450 species in North America. Ladybugs live outside in gardens and landscaped areas. They aren’t able to tolerate cold weather so in the fall they will invade homes in search of a place to overwinter. They will typically gather on windowsills or you will see them crawling along walls. They tend to end up in attics, under flooring, and in wall voids.

DIET:

Despite their appearance, ladybugs are predatory insects. They feed on a variety of other insects, helping to keep nuisance populations down.

BEHAVIOR:

Ladybugs secrete a substance wen they are threatened that makes them taste bad to their predators. They can also play dead if they feel threatened.

PREVENTION:

  • Install chimney caps.
  • Caulk any gaps around doors and windows.
  • Makes sure doors and windows have screens that are in good repair.
  • Install door sweeps on any doors that go outside.
  • Seal any cracks in your foundation.
  • Secure all vent covers.
  • Fill in any spaces around utility entrances.
  • Try to limit garden areas near the exterior of your home.
  • Trim back shrubs and trees from the sides of your home.
  • You can use an insect light trap to catch any ladybugs that make their way into your home.
  • If you have a ladybug problem, contact a professional pest control company.

MOSQUITOES:

Mosquito

APPEARANCE:

Mosquitoes have narrow bodies with long thin legs and transparent wings. They have gray bodies with white stripes on their abdomen. They also have long beaks that allow them to penetrate the skin. Mosquitoes can grow to be 1/4″ to 3/8″ long.

HABITAT:

Mosquitoes can be found in almost every landscape environment on earth with the exception of deserts and the arctic. Mosquitoes are most often found near stagnant water as this is where they lay their eggs. They are often found on the edges of streams, lakes, and ponds; near wading pools; old tires; bird baths; tarps; piles of trash; clogged gutters; and wheelbarrows.

DIET:

Mosquitoes feed on nectar and plant juices. Female mosquitoes bite to feed on blood.

BEHAVIOR:

The species of mosquito determines when they are most active. Some species are more active in the daytime while others become active at dark. Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting several diseases and pathogens to both humans and animals. Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya fever, malaria, and canine heartworm among others.

PREVENTION:

  • Eliminate any standing water on or near your property.
  • Check gutters and downspouts to make sure they are not clogged.
  • Consider installing Leafproof gutter guards on your home to prevent clogs and stagnant water.
  • Store buckets, wading pools, wheelbarrows, and empty pet food bowls upside down so they can’t collect water.
  • Shake off any water that collects on tarps.
  • Dispose of your trash on a regular basis and store it in cans with tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep your grass cut short.
  • Keep doors and windows shut as much as possible.
  • Make sure doors and windows have screens that are in good repair.
  • Caulk gaps around windows and doors.
  • If you suspect you have a mosquito problem, contact a professional pest control company.

HOUSEFLIES:

Housefly

APPEARANCE:

Houseflies have a very distinctive appearance. They have dull gray bodies with vertical lines on the top, a single gold stripe, and a silver stripe on their face. They can grow to be 1/8″ to 1/4″ in size.

HABITAT:

Flies can be found in most homes. They enter through tears in screens, gaps around windows and doors, doors and windows that have been left open, and cracks in the foundation. They are attracted to homes by garbage, animal feces, compost piles, and leaky pipes. They will often rest on your floors, walls, and ceilings.

DIET:

Houseflies are scavengers that eat a variety of different foods. They will feed on food found in pantries and kitchens, pet food, carcasses, garbage, or excrement. Houseflies are only able to eat liquids but they are able to turn many solid foods into liquid form so that they can eat it.

BEHAVIOR:

Houseflies can spread diseases when they land on your food or your food prep areas. They are the most common fly found in homes and only live from 15 to 25 days.

PREVENTION:

  • Clean up pet waste daily.
  • Use garbage cans with tight fitting lids.
  • Keep garbage and compost piles away from your home.
  • Use screens on windows and doors and make sure they are in good repair.
  • Seal any cracks in your foundation.
  • Caulk gaps around windows and doors.
  • Keep food in sealed containers or in the fridge, including pet food.
  • Wash dirty dishes regularly.
  • Take out the trash regularly.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs immediately.
  • If you have a problem with flies, contact a professional pest control company.

FRUIT FLIES:

Fruit Fly

APPEARANCE:

Fruit flies are extremely small in size, only getting about 1/8″ in length. They are usually brown, tan or black with distinctive red eyes. They are too small, however, for you to determine their color with the naked eye.

HABITAT:

Fruit flies are found throughout the United States. They are usually seen in the kitchen, especially around fruits and vegetables. They live outside in spring and summer. They enter homes as hitchhikers on fruits and vegetables that we buy from stores that are already infested. They can also enter through small spaces in widows, doors, and walls. They are attracted by large gardens, compost piles, and fruit trees.

DIET:

Fruit flies feed on very ripe fruits and vegetables like bananas, strawberries, melons, cucumbers, potatoes, and more. They also feed on fermented liquids like vinegar, cider, and beer.

BEHAVIOR:

Fruit flies are a nuisance. They enter your home in large numbers and are very difficult to eliminate. They can carry dangerous that can be transmitted to humans.

PREVENTION:

  • Inspect your fruits and vegetables before you buy them and before you bring them into your home.
  • Store produce in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.
  • Get rid of overripe fruits and vegetables quickly.
  • Pick up any fallen fruit and vegetables from your garden.
  • Make sure your compost bins have lids on them.
  • Empty your trash frequently.
  • Store trash in outdoor cans with tightly fitting lids.
  • Wash your dishes daily.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
  • If you suspect you have a fruit fly problem, contact a professional pest control company.

 

Common Winter Pests and How to Prevent Them

Common Winter Pests and How to Prevent Them

During the colder months of winter, most of us like to stay bundled up and warm – with warmer clothes and inside our cozy homes. Unfortunately, many animals also seek this same shelter and warmth in the winter – oftentimes in our homes! Do you know which animals can cause problems for you during these colder months? What can you do to prevent them from seeking shelter in your home? Check out these common winter wildlife pests and 6 ways you can prevent them.

SQUIRRELS

Squirrel
Squirrels can be a problem year round. They don’t hibernate in the winter and stay very active. They like to seek shelter and warmth in attic spaces. They may also seek out your attic as a storage space for their winter stash of nuts, grains, and seeds so they don’t have to search for food in the cold winter months. Squirrel nests are easy to spot in the winter in bare trees. Squirrels are notorious chewers – so if you have them in your attic you can expect your wood, insulation, and electrical wiring to suffer damage.

SKUNKS

Skunk
Skunks live in the same areas during the winter as they do in the summer. They like to burrow under our decks, patios, and stoops. Skunks don’t technically hibernate, but they do lower their body temperature and heart rate in the winter to conserve energy and therefore become less active. They can go up to a week without food and water but will venture out on a semi-regular basis in search of sustenance. They live in larger communities in the wintertime for warmth.

RATS/MICE

Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are also year round pests but they can become more of a problem in the winter. These rodents seek out warmth, food, shelter, and water inside our homes during the harsh winter months. They can squeeze into your home through extremely small openings. Like squirrels, they are also notorious for chewing through insulation, wiring, and wood.

BATS

Bats
There are at least 40 different species of bats in the United States. Bats are mostly active in the summer months and will hibernate in the winter. They will, however, hibernate in your attic! Bats like to roost in attics, belfries, behind shutters, and loose boards. They are carriers of rabies and can spread disease.

RACCOONS

Raccoon
Raccoons are nocturnal and rarely seen during the day. Raccoons can cause significant damage to roofs and chimneys in their search for den sites. They will also get into crawlspaces in search of den sites. They are a major carrier of rabies.

CHIPMUNKS

Chipmunk
Chipmunks are like squirrels in that they gather and store their food in the fall. They are less active in the colder weather, lowering their body temperatures and heart rates to conserve energy. They usually make their nests in underground burrows that can be up to 10 feet long. They will venture out every few days to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom. Oftentimes they will use attics as a storage space for their winter stash.

OPOSSUMS

Opossum
Opossums are the only marsupial found in North America. They will occasionally make their dens in attics and garages. They are known to make very messy nests. Opossums have very sharp teeth and will show them, as well as hiss, when they feel threatened. They are known to bite in very rare cases.

PREVENTION:

Winter wildlife can be a problem especially if they build a nest or store food in or near your home in the wintertime. The cold weather also doesn’t eliminate the diseases that they carry and spread. If these pests get into your home they can cause significant damage to your roof, insulation, foundation, wiring, and more. What can you do to prevent winter wildlife from making your home theirs? Check out these 6 tips to prevent winter wildlife.

  1. Eliminate Entry Points. Winter wildlife can’t get into your home if they don’t have a way in. Carefully inspect your home for any openings that animals can use to get in. Check and proof any weep vents in your bricks. Seal around HVAC and utility lines, in gaps in the foundation and siding, in gaps between your roof and soffits, and gaps between the soffits and fascia. Check your roof vents, as well. Seal gaps around windows and doors, including your garage door. Many rodents can chew through rubber or thin plastic seals so consider using heavy duty metal seals or caulk. Check screens on doors and windows to make sure they are in good repair. Use chimney caps. Consider enclosing your crawlspace to prevent unwanted critters, as well.
  2. Clean Your Gutters. Clogged gutters can block the drainage of rain and melting snow and ice. This can not only cause damage to your home, but also invites birds and other wildlife to build their nests here. Make sure drains are clean and that your spouts are far enough away from your foundation. Consider installing Leafproof XP Gutter Guards to make gutter cleaning and maintenance easier for you.
  3. Clear Out The Clutter. Now is the time to reorganize your belongings. This not only lets you get your garage or attic cleaned out, but also allows you to inspect areas of these spaces that you might not normally have access to. If possible, get rid of cardboard storage boxes and use plastic containers with lids instead. Get rid of old newspapers or other paper products as these invite rodents and other pests to make nests.
  4. Get Rid Of Their Food. Winter wildlife will eat anything they can get their hands on. If you have birdfeeders, take them down in the evenings and put them back out in the mornings. Clean up any spilled birdseed from the ground underneath them. If you do keep your birdfeeders out all the time, consider squirrel proofing them. Use trash and compost bins with locks and store them in the garage if possible. Make sure outdoor composts are well sealed. Store food in airtight containers and refrigerate them if possible. Don’t leave pet food out overnight, especially outdoors. Clean up any spilled food and crumbs daily and sweep and vacuum often.
  5. Clean Up Your Yard. Clutter and debris in  your yard can invite all sorts of pests to invade. Keep your yard clean and free of debris. Trim shrubs and branches away from your home as pests can use these to access your house. Stack firewood at least 2 feet off the ground to keep animals from nesting underneath. Dead trees, brush piles, and tall grasses should be put in yard waste bags and kept in the garage until garbage day.
  6. Call The Pros. If you suspect you have a wildlife problem, call a professional wildlife control company. They can come out and inspect your home, remove any unwanted critters, and provide you with a prevention and treatment plan to keep them from coming back.
8 Common Winter Pests & DIY Tips to Keep Them Out

8 Common Winter Pests & DIY Tips to Keep Them Out

1. Mice and Rats

A rat standing on gray concrete floor
Mice and rats will seek shelter and warmth during the cold winter months. They can fit through very small openings so eliminating entry points is an effective way at preventing them from coming into your home. Eliminating food and water sources is also effective. Replace damaged roof tiles and fill any cracks in the roofing cement. Keep your attics and garages tidy and clutter free. Store your items in plastic containers versus cardboard. Install chimney caps to keep them from nesting inside your chimney. Cover your air vents with wire mesh. Store food in airtight containers and don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink. Empty your trash regularly and make sure trash can lids are secure. Don’t leave trash bags out in the open. Clean countertops, stoves, and behind the fridge regularly and sweep and vacuum often. Seal holes around pipes using caulk or expanding foam. Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the house and store firewood at least 20 feet from the home. Don’t leave pet food out overnight and seal unused pet food in airtight containers. Replace weatherstripping on windows and doors.

2. Squirrels

A squirrel eating a nut
Squirrels like to frequent attics and chimneys to make their nests. Cover chimneys with chimney caps. Keep shrubbery trimmed away from the house and cut down overhanging limbs. Replace rotting wood and seal any entry points including where pipes and utilities come into the home and overhanging eaves.

3. Birds and Bats

A bat with outstretched wings on a white background
Birds and bats can and will come into your home through any opening in the exterior of the house. Chimneys should be sealed with chimney caps. Inspect the outside of your home for any openings and seal them with steel wool or foam rubber. Keep doors and windows shut as much as possible. Use screens if you must have your windows open and inspect the screens regularly for damage.

4. Cockroaches

A Cockroach on a white background
Cockroaches are attracted to moisture and excess water. They will also enter your home in search of food. Check your pipes regularly for leaks and repair quickly. Remove obstructions in pipes to prevent bursting and leaks. Seal around pipe entry points into the home. Clean your gutters. Store items in plastic containers rather than cardboard and keep them off the floor. Store food (including pet food) in airtight containers. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Wipe down countertops and sweep and vacuum regularly. Clean under sinks, in stoves, and behind appliances regularly. Empty the trash regularly.

5. Fleas

A close-up of a flea on someone's skin
Fleas will hitch a ride into your home on your pets. The first step in preventing fleas is to treat your animals with a flea preventative, whether through medicine or shampoos or both. Check your rugs, carpets, furniture, and pet bedding for signs of fleas. Wash your pet’s bedding and other items in hot water frequently. Vacuum regularly and be sure to empty the vacuum each time you use it. Keep your grass mowed and your shrubs trimmed as this gives fleas less room to hide. Fleas can come into your yard on wild animals so don’t leave pet food out overnight to tempt them to enter your yard. Seal entry points into the house or under porches to prevent them from hiding there, as well.

6. Bed Bugs

Close-up of a bed bug on a white surface
Bed bugs can come into your home in luggage (be vigilant about preventing bed bugs when traveling!) on furniture, bedding, boxes, and even clothing. Check luggage, furniture, bedding, etc. carefully before bringing it into your home. Use a mattress cover that encases the mattress and the box springs. Vacuum frequently. Wash and dry bedding on high heat regularly. Do the same with clothing after traveling.

7. Moths

A moth on a white surface
Moths are attracted to wool, fur, and upholstered furniture. Be sure to check your clothes regularly for signs of damage. Wash clothes and store them in sealed bags. Use moth balls. Vacuum and clean the insides of storage areas including wardrobes, closets, and drawers regularly.

8. Spiders

A hairy brown spider in the middle of a web
Spiders like to hide in areas of the home that are seldom used. Store seldom used items in sealed plastic containers. Seal cracks and holes in the exterior of your home to keep them from coming inside. Keep your outdoor lights off and use blinds or curtains to block the inside light. Spiders aren’t attracted to the lights but other insects are which the spiders feed on. This eliminates a food source for spiders. Keep shrubbery trimmed away from your home. Keep the grass mowed and remove debris from around your home. Sweep and vacuum regularly. Clear out as much clutter as possible. Vacuum spiders and spider webs.

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