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.
It’s the middle of December and you are cuddled up with your favorite book and a warm blanket. Unfortunately, this peaceful moment is interrupted by a buzzing sound followed by the sighting of a wasp! And while you might be thinking “This is odd! It’s winter!”, this occurrence is quite common.
As fall starts, paper wasps will start to die off. However, there are select females who will search for a safe place to overwinter. These safe places can be inside chimneys, behind the siding of your home, and around windows and door frames.
Since winter weather in the south is very unpredictable, bouncing from 20 degrees one week to 72 the next, that random warm weather can trigger the wasps to become active and search for exits to begin making nests; thus the cause of wasp sightings in the month of December. How can you prevent these wasps from overwintering?
Steps to Prevent Wasps Overwintering:
- Look to fill cracks and holes found around the foundation of your home.
- Invest in updating weather-stripping around windows and door frames.
- Inspect around the outside of your home: roof eaves, porch ceilings, and attic rafters
If you spot a wasp in your home, don’t hit the panic button. In the winter months, wasps tend to move slower than normal and your licensed pest control professional can remove the nests with ease.
No matter what season it is, pests will always be in search of 2 things: shelter and food. One place that provides both of these is your home! Pests are influenced by the seasons so their threats change as the weather changes. Different seasons bring different pests in varying stages of their life cycles. It is important to know seasonal pest patterns for your area to make the proper preparations for your home. What can you expect as each season changes throughout the year?
Winter is a time of hibernation and survival for pests. Colder weather triggers a need for most pests to find shelter; some seek shelter outdoors while others will seek shelter indoors. Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects will seek out places in logs or in the eaves of your home. Ants will seek shelter in their nesting sites. Overwintering pests like cockroaches, spiders, and rodents will seek shelter indoors, sometimes in our homes. The key to prevention of winter pests is to prepare your home in the fall.
Spring is a time of awakening and mating for most pests. As the weather warms, pests will emerge from their winter shelters and increase their activity. Pests that hibernate over winter will awaken from their dormant states. The spring rains will drive ants from their nesting sites in search of higher ground. Spring also marks the beginning of swarming season for termites. Most pests will move outdoors in the spring in search of mates.
Summer brings the height of backyard pests that put a damper on our outdoor fun. While we tend to see fewer pests inside our homes, we do tend to see larger numbers of pests in our yards and other outdoor areas. Mosquitoes are especially active in the summer months because of the moisture from spring and summer rains. Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects are also more active in the summer; their nests can often be found on our near our homes.
Fall is a time of preparation for most pests as they get ready for the harsh winter months. Common fall pests include ladybugs, box elders, and spiders. These pests will often invade your home at this time of the year in search of shelter for the coming months. Fall is a good time to prepare your home for those overwintering pests seeking shelter from the winter weather also, like cockroaches and rodents.
No matter the season, there are steps you can take to protect your home from pests year-round:
- Keep your grass mowed and shrubbery trimmed away from the sides of your home.
- Keep your yard clear of debris and standing water.
- Store firewood away from the home and elevated off the ground.
- Inspect the outside of your home for cracks and holes that pests can use as entry points and seal them.
- Use weatherstripping around doors and windows and make sure screens are in good repair.
- Cap your chimney.
- Make sure gutters are clear of debris or install gutter guards.
- Consider enclosing your crawlspace.
- Keep food and pet food stored in airtight containers.
- Don’t leave pet food and water bowls out overnight.
- Clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Vacuum often.
- Repair any leaky faucets.
If these steps aren’t enough or if you already have a pest problem, call a pest control professional who can come and give your home a thorough inspection and help you with a treatment and prevention plan.
As the warm weather winds down and winter settles in, most of us will breathe a sigh of relief that we survived another season of creepy crawlers. Don’t relax just yet! Just because the weather has turned colder doesn’t mean pests have hibernated for the winter. Many pests will make their way into your home in search of shelter, food, and warmth. Mice, cockroaches, and spiders can be found crawling underfoot in the wintertime. These overwintering pests aren’t just a nuisance to have in your home; they can cause significant damage to both your property and your health. Rodents are known to carry Salmonella and Hantavirus and can chew through cables and electrical wires, increasing the risk of fires. Some spiders like the brown recluse and the black widow have bites that can be a serious threat to humans. Cockroaches are known to trigger allergies and asthma. Winter brings ice, snow, and wind, causing enough stress on your home without the threat of pest infestations. So what can you do to reduce this stress and get rid of the last of these creepy crawlers? Check out these winter pest prevention tips to help you have a stress free winter.
- Inspect the exterior of your home for cracks and holes. Seal them to keep pests from easily accessing your home.
- Replace any loose mortar around foundations and weatherstripping around windows and doors. Repair or replace any damaged screens.
- Eliminate moisture by repairing leaky faucets and clearing clogged drains.
- Keep gutters clear of debris before the weather gets too cold. Consider installing gutter guards to eliminate the need to clean gutters.
- Keep attics, basements, and crawlspaces dry and well ventilated. Consider enclosing your crawlspace.
- Keep storage areas like basements, attics, and garages well organized. Use plastic storage containers rather than cardboard and store them off the floor.
- Screen your chimney vents.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from your home and elevate it off the ground.
- Keep food, including pet food, in airtight containers and clean up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Call a professional pest control company to provide you with a thorough home inspection and set you up with a comprehensive treatment and prevention 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.