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.
Whether you’re trying to decrease your carbon footprint or just put some extra cash in your pocket each year, cutting energy costs in the winter months is one way to get there. Heating and cooling costs make up a significant percentage of your annual utility bills. By making adjustments in your home, you can reduce the amount of money you spend on energy. Check out these 9 energy saving tips for winter:
1. Adjust The Thermostat
According to the US Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% each year on your heating bills by lowering your thermostat by 10-15 degrees for 8 hours a day. For those who work outside the home, the best way to do this is to lower your thermostat when you leave for work in the morning and then bump it back up when you return home in the evening. For those who are home during the day, lower the thermostat when you go to sleep and use flannel sheets and a warm comforter to help combat the chill. If this is too much to remember, consider investing in a programmable thermostat so it will automatically adjust the temperature when you set it to.
2. Heat What You Use
If you have rooms that you rarely use such as guest bedrooms or rooms you use for storage, close off and seal the vents that go to these areas. This will help make your home more energy efficient and will direct airflow to the rooms you use the most. You can use space heaters to warm these areas when you need to use them.
3. Use A Humidifier
The air in your home can become very dry, especially in the winter when the heat is run more frequently. Moist air feels warmer than dry air and also holds heat better. By using a humidifier, you can make your home feel warmer and more comfortable, especially during the times you set your thermostat lower. The humidifier can also help prevent nosebleeds and dry eyes that are common when we run the heat during the winter. You can also increase the humidity in your home by bringing in house plants.
4. Use The Sun
One of the cheapest ways to heat your home in the winter is to use the sun for free heat. Open curtains and blinds on your south facing windows during the winter months to bring heat into your home. Close the curtains and blinds when the sun goes down to help keep the heat inside after dark.
5. Use Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a great resource to use to get better airflow in your home. By running your fans clockwise in the winter, heat is trapped in your rooms keeping them warmer. Keep fans on a low setting to gently push warm air down into the room.
We lose a significant amount of money each year by heat and air escaping from our homes due to insufficient insulation. Consider installing TAP (thermal acoustical pest control) insulation to keep this from happening to you. TAP is an energy star rated insulation made from 87% recycled newsprint and treated with a natural pesticide. This not only protects your home from pests but also keeps your HVAC unit running efficiently and can save you 20-38% on your energy bills.
7. Seal Leaks
Seal around your utility pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and the unfinished spaces behind your cabinets and closets. Caulk and add weatherstripping around doors and windows. This will help keep air from escaping out of the house and help reduce your energy bills.
8. Bundle Up
Instead of cranking up the heat, put on warm clothes like sweaters and fuzzy socks. Keep throw blankets on your couches and use area rugs to keep your floors warmer.
9. Use LEDs
Whether it’s in your home or outside when you decorate for the holidays, using LED lights consumes up to 75% less energy and they can last up to 25% longer than traditional incandescent lights. They also emit less heat than traditional lightbulbs, making them a much safer alternative.
Just like the weather changes with each season, so do the pests that we see. Some pests prefer warmer weather and peak in spring and summer while other pests will surge in the winter as they come inside to get out of the cold. The ways that you prepare your home will depend on what time of year it is and what pests you are preparing for. We have provided you with a few of the most common pests for each season so you can be better prepared all year long.
Springtime brings about an increase in temperatures, the melting of ice, and the blooming of flowers. These warmer temperatures bring many pests out from their winter hiding places. As these animals emerge they will have one thing on their minds – food and water! Spring is also mating season for many species. Here are some common spring pests to look out for:
- Ants: Ants forage for food in warmer weather. As the temperatures increase, ants will venture farther and farther from their colonies in search of food. This will eventually drive them into our homes. The heavy rains in spring also drive ants out of their colonies in search of higher ground.
- Termites: Spring is the start of termite season as they leave their nests to mate and start new colonies. This is also known as “swarming.”
- Mosquitoes: Heavy spring rains provide the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will increase their activity in spring in preparation for their peak season which is summer.
- Flies: Flies reach maturity at the beginning of spring. Once they mature, they will flock to areas that humans inhabit as they look for food. They prefer liquids and other sweet foods.
- Spiders: Spiders become active in the spring as they search for food. The increase in insect activity as they wake from their winter slumber provides ample opportunities for spiders to feed.
- Stinging Insects: Stinging insects include bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. These insects wake up from their dormant stage in the spring and they become more active. Spring is the start of their mating season as they seek to establish their nests and breed.
- Bed Bugs: Although bed bugs are a year round problem, their populations can spike in springtime because of the increased travel for Easter and spring break from schools.
While we get somewhat of a break from pests in the summer months, there are a few species who peak during this hot season. Summer is typically the time in many pests’ life cycles where they are maturing and are less of a threat to humans. Here are some common summer pests:
- Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are the most common summer pest. The warmer temperatures allow mosquitoes to move through their life cycle faster which means they lay more eggs in the summer months. The summer rains also provide the ideal setting for mosquitoes to breed.
- Stinging Insects: Stinging insects reach their highest populations in the summer. They will often build their nests in any openings in your house, under overhangs or in the ground near your foundation.
- Ants: Ants continue to be a nuisance in the summer. As the rains continue through the season, ants will continue to seek shelter in higher ground. They will also continue to forage into our homes in search of food.
- Flies: Flies are most active in the summer months. This is also their peak breeding season. Flies will spawn in animal waste, garbage, and rotting foods.
- Termites: Termites are most productive in the summer. This is the season when they continue to consume wood while the queen continues to lay eggs and build their colonies.
- Bed Bugs: Once again, bed bugs are year round pests. Many populations thrive in the summer months because of an increase in travel during summer break from school.
Fall brings about cooler temperatures. This is the time of year when pests start to prepare for the upcoming winter. Many pests will start to seek warmth and shelter inside our homes. Here are some common fall pests:
- Cockroaches: Cockroaches are some of the most common fall pests. Cockroaches cannot survive in colder temperatures so fall is when we see them start to migrate indoors in search of shelter and warmth. Cockroaches are known to hide near pipes and drains. They can spread disease and exacerbate asthma.
- Spiders: Spiders are also common in the fall for the same reasons as cockroaches. They will move indoors to avoid the harsh colder temperatures, as well as in search of food as many of the flying insect populations decline as the weather cools. Spiders also breed in the fall so activity will increase as males go in search of mates.
- Rodents: Rodents are another common fall pest. Rodents will migrate indoors as the weather cools in search of warmth, shelter, food, and water. Rodents not only spread disease but will also chew through wood supports and electrical wires in your home.
- Fleas: With rodents come fleas. Fleas flourish in warmer weather so as the weather cools, we see their populations indoors thrive. Fleas will hitchhike into your home on both your pets and any other wildlife that come into your home in the fall.
- Stinkbugs: Stinkbugs become a nuisance in the fall. Stinkbugs are known for emitting an extremely foul odor when they feel threatened. Stinkbugs are also considered a serious threat to agriculture as they can cause significant damage to crops.
While many pests hibernate or become dormant over the winter, don’t relax just yet! There are still many pests that we see in larger numbers in the winter months as they make their way into our home to avoid the harsh cold weather. Here are some common winter pests:
- Rodents: Rodents are the most common pests we see in the winter. Rats, mice, and squirrels will invade our homes in search of a warm place to stay and an ample supply of food and water.
- Roaches: While most cockroach species die off in the winter, Oriental roaches and German roaches are still active during this time of year. They seek dark, damp areas which are prevalent in the wintertime.
- Bed Bugs: Once again, bed bug populations are active year round but they often flourish during the winter months as these are some of the busiest travel times of the year.
As you can see, no two pests are alike and no two seasons are alike. In the same manner, one universal pest control method won’t work for different pests or for different seasons. It is important to know which pests thrive during which seasons so that you can better prepare your home year round to prevent an invasion. If you suspect that you have a pest problem in your home, contact a professional pest control company who can provide you with a thorough evaluation and set you up with a comprehensive treatment plan.
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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Even though we’re well into the winter season, it’s never too late to weatherproof your home. These easy fixes will not only seal up your home and keep it nice and warm, they will also help save you some money on your energy bills this year. Check out these simple winter weatherproofing tips so you’ll be prepared just in case the groundhog DOES see his shadow this year!
Windows And Doors
Check your doors and windows to make sure they are in good repair. Insulate your doors and windows with weatherstripping. Use transparent weather sealant tape for any areas where the weatherstripping will be applied directly to the door or window. This tape can also be used to temporarily seal any cracked windows until you can permanently replace them. Use door sweeps on the bottoms of exterior doors to keep cold air from coming in. You can install them with nails or with adhesive.
Attics And Crawlspaces
Attics and crawlspaces are notoriously cold areas of your home. Thermal accoustical pest control (TAP) insulation is an energy star rated attic insulation that provides several benefits to your home. TAP eases the burden on your heating and cooling systems, making them more efficient and keeping the temperature in your home more consistent throughout the year. TAP also leads to a 20-38% savings on your energy bills AND protects your home against pests including roaches and ants. Finally, TAP is treated with a fire retardant that limits the spread of fire in your home.
Complete CrawlSpace enclosure is another way to weatherproof your home. Enclosing your crawlspace with Complete CrawlSpace increases energy efficiency, prevents mold growth, and completely closes off your crawlspace to pests. This can also save you up to 18% on your energy bills each year.
Most garages aren’t insulated which makes them very chilly spaces in the winter. Install weather sealing strips on the bottom of your garage door. These strips not only keep out cold air but also keep out rain and pests as well.
Outlets And Switches
Outlets and switches on the exterior walls of your home can be a big source of cold air. One solution is to install foam outlet and switch sealers. These can be installed by simply turning off the power, removing the outlet or switch cover, applying the foam sealers, and reinstalling the covers.
Hardwood and tile floors can be especially cold in the winter. Curtains and rugs can make a big difference when it comes to heating your home. if you have drafty windows, hang some heavy curtains to keep the cold air out. Use area rugs on hardwood floors and in bathrooms with tile floors to help keep them warm.
Air conditioning units in walls and windows give a direct path for cold air into your home. One solution is to install a heavy duty polyethylene and vinyl cover that fits around the outside of the unit. You can also wrap the inside grill with plastic sheeting and double sided tape. Consider installing a programmable thermostat which will automate your interior temperature. This can save you up to $200 per year in heating and cooling costs.
Hot Water Heater
Insulate your hot water heater with a water heater insulating blanket. This saves energy by reducing heat that is lost through the sides of the hot water heater by 25-40%. This reduction in heat loss can also lead to savings on your energy bills.