The holiday season is upon us with decorations, food, and traveling to see family and friends. While most of us are focused on our holiday preparations, we often lose focus on another important aspect of this time of year – pest prevention. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean pests aren’t a problem. The holidays provide many opportunities for spiders, ticks, ants, mice, bed bugs, and other pests to make their way indoors and take over your home.
One of the most common ways pests can get into your home during the holidays is on live Christmas trees, wreaths, and firewood. Ants, spiders, ticks, and other pests can hide deep in the branches of trees and in the crevices of wood. They can even lay their eggs in trees or garland which can hatch once you put them out in your home, potentially causing a major infestation.
Pests can also access your home in those boxes of decorations you drag out from the attic, basement, garage, or crawlspace. Mice and other pests love to get into those cardboard boxes during the off season. You may be in for a surprise when you open your decorations by finding a live pest, droppings, or even damage to your lights and ornaments. It is especially important to check the wiring of your lights to make sure pests haven’t chewed through them.
The holidays are also one of the busiest travel times of the year. Most of us will either travel to visit loved ones or have loved ones travel to visit us. While we’re usually excited to see everyone, we’re not so excited to deal with bed bugs which often hitch rides on the luggage of these travelers. We often see a spike in bed bug cases during the holiday season.
So what can you do to pest proof your home and make sure you don’t get any unwanted guests for the holidays?
- Carefully inspect all items before bringing them into your home including trees wreaths, garland, and other decorations. Make sure to check for insects, eggs, and nests and shake them to rouse any pests that might be hidden deep within.
- Unpack your decorations outside instead of in your living room. Inspect them thoroughly for any signs of pests, droppings, gnaw marks, or any other damage before bringing them inside.
- Store your holiday decorations in plastic containers with lids that seal tightly instead of cardboard containers or bags.
- Don’t put discarded trees or cut firewood near your home. Firewood should be stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevate it if possible.
- Thoroughly check your luggage before you enter the place you are staying and ask your guests to do the same before they enter your home.
- Put your clothing in the dryer, if possible, for at least 20 minutes.
- Keep your bags closed when not in use and store them off the floor.
- If you suspect you have a pest problem this holiday season, contact a pest control professional who can provide you with an evaluation and treatment plan.
As the weather continues to bounce between a crisp 32° and a breezy 65°, you may have noticed a major decrease in pest activity. “Well, that’s it! No more bugs. Let’s cancel the pest service!” This, however, could prove to be a costly mistake. Winter pest control is an essential component in protection and prevention of pest infestations.
- Inspections during the fall and winter are crucial. Issues identified during inspections can be handled before the problem becomes worse. Early detection is key to preventing infestations.
- Winter weather in the South tends to be unpredictable. Daily temperature changes can cause pests that hibernate in our homes to become more active during this time.
- Pests aren’t really gone; they are seeking shelter from the cold. Ants, wasps, spiders, cockroaches, and other overwintering pests look to your attic, walls, and crawlspace for warmth.
- The steps your pest professional takes during winter can greatly reduce your chances of infestation once spring rolls around. While web brushing around your home helps eliminate spider webs and egg casings that could hatch come spring, spraying around the perimeter of your home creates a residual barrier that not only protects your home during the winter months, but also when spring weather returns.
While your home is filled with holiday joy and warmth during the winter, pests will take this time to seek refuge indoors. Take the time to set up an inspection with your pest control professional to make a personalized plan for prevention and protection of your home. This could be the difference between total home protection year-round or fighting against pests once warmer weather returns.
The time for holiday travel is quickly approaching. The panic, the shopping, and the cooking are all becoming a reality once again and you don’t have time for much else. The last thing you need to add to your ever growing holiday to-do list is a bed bug infestation. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge to be ahead of the game and use the proven tricks below when returning from your travels!
Things to Know:
- Bed bugs are tricky. They are elusive and great at hiding during the day.
- They have a method to their madness. Their bites leave behind patterns and clusters. While disturbing, this helps identify an infestation.
- Bed bugs are commonly misidentified pests. They are often mistaken for fleas or cockroaches.
- They can live for several months without a meal; on top of that, they can survive freezing temperatures of up to -122 degrees.
- Bed bugs can be found in hotels, homes, schools, offices, retail stores, and even public transportation. Their favorite hiding places are baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and the crevices of furniture.
When travelling back home from your holiday visits, leave suitcases in a garage or driveway and take clothing straight to the laundry room to be washed in warm water. This is especially important for college students coming home for winter break.
Bed bug infestations are very serious and require a thorough inspection and intense treatment. If you suspect that you have an issue with bed bugs, call a licensed bed bug specialist immediately.