Many pests hibernate or “die off” during the winter, causing homeowners to feel like they can relax during the colder months. Overwintering pests, however, are here to rain on your parade. These pests seek refuge inside our homes looking for food, water, and a warm place to hide until the weather outside is more favorable. Here are 6 winter pests to watch out for along with tips to prevent them.
Ants will come in through the tiniest holes or cracks in the exterior of your home. They also like to sneak in on plants and flowers that are brought indoors. Ants are masters of overwintering, typically seeking out warm places deep in the soil or under rocks to hide out. Food can be scarce, though, and your home provides the perfect location for them to get everything they need to survive the winter – food, water, and warmth. The first step to ant control in your home is to get rid of their food source. Make sure food is well sealed and crumbs are cleaned up from floors and counters.
Beetles like to come indoors to get out of the cold. They are known to hide in the warmest areas of your home, such as near dryers or water heaters. Elm leaf beetles and click beetles are two of the most common overwintering beetles you may encounter. They are often brought inside on firewood. If you spot beetles inside, vacuum them up and immediately discard the bag or canister contents. Eliminate their food sources by keeping your kitchen and bathroom clean. Caulk windows or use weatherstripping around them. Keep wood piles and leaf litter away from your home. Inspect any wood before bringing it inside.
Silverfish prefer damp, cold places and will usually be found hanging out in your basement or bathroom. They are common in the winter months, often hitching a ride as you are hauling your holiday decorations in and out of your attic or garage. They feed on books, glue, wallpaper, and boxes. Keep silverfish under control by vacuuming often and decluttering your home. Get rid of any old newspapers, mail, and cardboard laying around. Inspect any boxes before bringing them inside. Store clothes in sealed bins, preferably made of plastic rather than cardboard.
Ladybugs will come inside through window cracks and openings to shelter from the cold. While they don’t bite, they will secrete a yellow fluid with an unpleasant odor that not only attracts other ladybugs, but can also leave an unsightly stain on your walls, floors, ceilings, and more. Control ladybugs by locating and sealing any entry points you can find. Vacuum them up or spray them with soapy water. The soapy water will not only get rid of the ladybugs, but it will also get rid of the smell, helping prevent other ladybugs from coming back.
Roaches come indoors during winter for heat and humidity as they cannot survive the cold temperatures outdoors. They are also attracted to plants, leaf litter and mulch. Cockroaches pose a serious health risk to humans as they are known to transmit diseases and trigger allergies and asthma. They will also hitch a ride inside on grocery bags, boxes, and used appliances. They prefer to hang out in kitchens and bathrooms. Keep roaches at bay by cleaning counters and floors and vacuuming frequently. Dispose of your garbage regularly. Keep kitchens and bathrooms clean, especially under appliances and cabinets.
Spiders seek out warm, dark places to hide during the winter, usually in your basement, attic, or rarely used corners of rooms. They will also hide out in boxes and rarely used clothes and shoes. Keep spiders under control this winter by decluttering your home. Dust, vacuum, and sweep out cobwebs frequently. Discard any old boxes and packages they can use to hide out in. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from your home and cut back overhanging limbs from the roof. Store clothes and shoes in plastic containers.
No one wants to deal with pests inside their home regardless of what season it is. If you have a problem with pests at any time during the year, contact your local pest control company who can help identify the type of pest you have, identify entry points, and set up a treatment and prevention plan going forward.
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Wildlife Control: How to Keep Animals Out of Your Home
When cold weather hits, winter wildlife go in search of three things: food for their bellies, water to quench their thirst, and warm shelter to keep them safe. When the going gets tough, these winter pests have to get creative in order to survive – often by making their way into your attic, chimney, basement, or crawlspace. While it’s beneficial for them, it can cause serious damage to both your home and your health to have them sharing space with you.
How do you know if you have a stowaway for the winter? Common signs of wildlife include:
- Scratching sounds coming from your walls or attic
- Chirping or squeaking sounds coming from the walls, vents, or attic
- Garbage cans and bags that have been broken into
- Chewing or gnawing marks in the basement or attic, or through wires or cardboard
- A foul smell that lingers even after cleaning (which could be urine or feces)
Now that you know what to look for, what kinds of animals can cause these signs? Some of the most common winter wildlife include:
- Raccoons: These nocturnal omnivores use their hands to dig for food, especially in your garbage cans. Raccoons are the largest carriers of rabies in Georgia (along with skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes). Raccoons can damage property, spread rabies, and spread ringworm. They are most likely to nest in chimneys and attics.
- Rats and mice: These rodents like to live in crawlspaces and between the side beams in your walls. They will venture out to make trips to your kitchen in search of food. Rats and mice carry and spread salmonella, along with fleas, ticks, and lice. Their droppings also contain pathogens that can be dangerous to humans. They are avid chewers and will often chew through electrical wiring, causing property damage and increasing the risk of fires.
- Squirrels: These are the most common rodents in Georgia with populations in the millions. These pests like to take up residence in attics and basements and will bring in tons of acorns to store for the winter. Squirrels, like their rodent cousins, also carry diseases and pathogens, both on themselves and in their droppings. They can also chew through wires.
- Birds: Although less common than other winter wildlife, birds can be just as dangerous. Birds like to infest chimneys and attics to nest and lay their eggs. Their droppings can cause quite a mess and also harbor diseases and parasites. They can also cause severe damage to roof lines and chimneys. Many birds are protected so bird control and bird nest removal are usually best left to the professionals.
- Bats: Bats like to roost in attics where they can hide during the day and venture out at night. They carry disease like rabies and can spread them to humans through their bite. Bats are a protected species in Georgia and killing them is prohibited.
Prevention is key to avoiding a winter wildlife invasion. Critter control starts at home with these winter wildlife prevention tips:
1. Inspect Chimneys
Chimneys provide a great hideout and also a gateway for wildlife to get into your home. Make sure the top of your chimney has a grated screen that is in good repair with no holes. Check above the flue panel for any leaves, debris, droppings, or animals before sealing it up. Make sure your chimney is secure.
2. Inspect Foundations
Small holes, cracks, open pipes, etc. in your foundation provide easy routes for wildlife to get into your home. A careful inspection of your foundations should be performed every season throughout the year. Seal any openings as you find them.
3. Inspect Roof and Siding
Any tiny cracks or openings in your roof or siding means easy access to your attic. Check the entire exterior of the roof, starting with the intersections and siding. Make sure to also check the flushing seams on the roof. Siding that connects to the roof should not be warped or pulled away. Be sure to check around exhaust openings and for loose vent screens, as well.
4. Inspect the Attic
Many wildlife critters love to hide out in the attic. Use a flashlight or headlamp and thoroughly inspect this space, checking for openings or chewed up or damaged areas of wood. Seal any holes you find but always make sure the animals are not still present before you do.
5. Secure Trash Containers
Your trashcans offer a buffet of food sources for pests. Use cans with tightly securing lids, avoid overfilling them, and wash the bins regularly to get rid of food waste.
6. Maintain Landscaping
Branches and limbs offer squirrels, raccoons, and other creatures a bridge directly into your home. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from the house. Prune shrubs to keep them at least 12″ from the sides of your home. Trim any branches that overhang or touch your roof, as well.
7. Clean Up Food
Leaving food sources outside your home will just attract wildlife in. Try to avoid leaving pet food outside and tossing scraps or pouring leftover grease in the yard. Pick up any fallen fruit. Protect your gardens with fences that are designed to keep animals out. Clean up any spilled birdseed from feeders and bring them in overnight.
Wildlife control is an ongoing process that needs special attention and consideration, especially in the cold winter months. If you have a problem with winter wildlife, contact your local pest control company for an inspection and appropriate treatment or wildlife exclusion plan.
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As we gear up for the holidays, we all start to see ourselves spending more time in the kitchen. The kitchen, often the central gathering spot for many families across the country, is a place where finding pests is certainly not ideal. While you continue cooking and gathering with your family this holiday season, keep in mind some of these tips to keep your kitchen pest-free!
Most pests, like cockroaches and rodents, are searching for both moisture and a food source; and during the colder months they also look for a warm place. If food is left out, it’s likely a pest will contaminate it. Roaches can be dangerous as they can spread bacteria and human pathogens when leaving their fecal matter and other debris in or around food.
After cooking and eating, wipe down any crumbs and spills from your countertops, tables, floors, and even shelves. Wash all dirty dishes and drain the dirty dishwater after each use.
Keeping your home well ventilated and dry can help tremendously with keeping pests out. As most pests are attracted to moisture, certain areas of the house can provide the ideal breeding ground for them such as basements, attics, and crawlspaces. They can then migrate to your kitchen in search of food. Try using a dehumidifier in these areas to help decrease the moisture throughout. You may also consider a crawlspace enclosure to help with eliminating moisture and increasing energy savings for your home.
While we can do all the cleaning in the world to keep pests out, sometimes they still find their way inside, even in a clean home! Pests like spiders, fruit flies, and ants can easily sneak inside through the tiniest of gaps and holes. To prevent them, inspect the outside of your home for any potential entry points and seal them up with caulk or steel wool. Don’t forget to repair any broken windows and screens too.
If you feel overwhelmed with the holidays and having to deal with pests in the kitchen, consider reaching out to your local pest control company where they can identify entry points and set up a customized treatment plan.
December is here, officially kicking off the holiday season! Celebrating the holidays with loved ones is important to many families across the country. While we gear up for family get togethers and putting up our favorite decorations, it’s important to remember that even those beloved decorations can allow pests to enter your home!
Many of us store our decorations in attics, basements, and garages. These places are cold and dark, and if there’s a leak, provide water sources, making them ideal habitats for pests! Your stored decorations also provide an undisturbed hiding place for mice, rodents, spiders, and more, who crawl into the storage boxes you put away last holiday season!
To make sure you don’t bring them into your living space, carefully inspect and unpack these items outside first. Keep decorations like foliage, potpourri, and Indian corn in air-tight containers during off-seasons to help prevent pests for next year.
If celebrating Christmas, many homeowners buy a real Christmas tree and wreath each year. Unfortunately, pests like spiders, mites, moths, and even squirrels will hitchhike on these decorations and into your home!
Before bringing any of these items in, ensure that you’re inspecting for overwintering pests outside by shaking them. You can also check for any droppings, gnaw marks, or other damage from these creatures before bringing them into your home.
With the holidays comes colder weather. Some of us are lucky enough to have a fireplace to keep warm and cozy throughout the winter season. It’s important to be cautious when bringing firewood indoors. Pests like spiders, termites, and ants will hide out on the firewood and hitch a ride indoors. Make sure you inspect the wood before bringing it inside and keep it stored at least 20 feet from your home on a raised platform.
If you suspect you have a holiday pest problem, consider reaching out to your local pest control company who can provide you with an evaluation and prevention plan.
Unlike many warm-blooded animals, snakes don’t actually hibernate in the winter. Instead, snakes go into a state known as brumation where snakes become less active and their metabolism slows down tremendously. Brumation is similar to hibernation in that snakes will sleep for long periods of time. They will, however, wake up to forage for food and water and if a sudden warm snap occurs and temperatures rise for a few days at a time. When the weather cools back down, they will go back into their brumation state once again. Brumation can begin anytime from September to December and last until March or April.
Because snakes are cold-blooded, they can’t regulate their body temperatures like warm-blooded animals can. When cold weather hits, snakes must find shelter from the temperatures by burrowing in holes or caves, under logs or rocks, in tree stumps, or by making their way into basements, crawlspaces, garages, barns, sheds, wood piles, and even car engines. Snakes are very quiet and experts at hiding so their presence often goes unnoticed until they are disturbed.
Now that you know where snakes might be hiding this winter, the next question is how to keep snakes away? Here are some tips on how to prevent snakes from hiding out on your property.
- Landscape Management: Rodents are attracted to tall grass and overgrown landscaping. By minimizing these unkempt areas on your property, rodent populations are reduced which, in turn, helps keep snakes who feed on these rodents away. Keep grass mowed and landscaping well maintained. Cut shrubbery regularly and trimmed away from your home and other buildings.
- Storage: Snakes will look for any area of cover that will protect them from the elements without being disturbed. They will often seek shelter in wood piles or other piles of debris on your property. Make sure that these stacks are kept at least 12″ off the ground and, if possible, stored in sealed containers.
- Wildlife Exclusion: Snakes can’t chew to create openings into your home so they take advantage of any openings that are already present, such as gaps near pipes, damaged window and door screens, open windows and doors, damaged soffits, crawlspaces that aren’t enclosed, and through cracks in the exterior of buildings. Carefully examine all of your property and seal any potential openings that snakes may utilize.
- Food Sources: Snakes are known to feed on rodents, lizards, and frogs. Eliminate these pests and you will help eliminate snakes. Get rid of any areas of standing water on your property. Keep landscaping well maintained to deter rodents. Inside your home, make sure to keep areas clean especially kitchens and pantries where spilled food and crumbs are readily available for rodents to feed on.
- Professional Service: Depending on the species, snake removal can be dangerous to undertake on your own. It is usually in your best interest to contact a professional wildlife control company when dealing with a snake issue. Establishing a regularly scheduled service plan can help identify pest risks before they become an issue. These professionals can also identify any areas where wildlife exclusion services may be beneficial and establish a comprehensive pest control program.
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