Winter can be a time of good cheer and spending time with the people you love, but even though the weather may be colder, it does not mean that your home is immune to uninvited pests. With pests looking to escape the cold weather, your home can be the prime environment to nest and forage until the weather gets warmer again.
Using over 65+ years of pest control experience, we have put together a list of expert tips to help prevent pests from invading your home during the winter.
Tips To Prevent Pests During Winter
Inspect Firewood Before Bringing Into Your Home
For homes that use traditional wood fireplaces or stoves, firewood is a necessity to keep these units operational. The risk when bringing firewood into your home is that you could be bringing pests inside as well.
These pests can be insects that took refuge in the wood piles or in wood cracks e.g. ground beetles, spiders, centipedes, sow/pill bugs, millipedes, and earwigs, or could be wood boring insects such powderpost beetles, longhorn beetles, carpenter ants, termites etc. that can be nesting and feeding within the wood itself. Once indoors, these pests can emerge from the wood. Some such as termites and powderpost beetles can also infest wood structures indoors
What You Need To Do
To ensure that you avoid bringing insects into your home, it important that you implement the following preventative measures:
- Shake or knock pieces of wood together to dislodge any insects that may have bored into the wood or are on the surface of the wood.
- If possible, store the firewood outside or in an outdoor shelter and bring in only what is needed for the day. This way no firewood is left stocked inside your home.
- If you are cutting or chopping your own wood, it is best not store the wood directly on the ground. Store the firewood on an elevated surface or shelf, this way it is protected from opportunistic crawling pests looking to infest or shelter inside the wood.
- If you are planning on storing firewood indoors, it is important to regularly monitor the storage area for any potential insect activity. Possible signs of insect activity that you may want to look out for may include fine or coarse sawdust beneath the woodpile or exit holes appearing on wood surfaces.
- For subterranean termites, you may notice mud-tubes on the surface of the wood.
Reduce Moisture Areas When Dealing With Indoor Potted Plants
Moisture from watered indoor plants can create ideal conditions for pests such as fungus gnats or black scavenger flies to breed and thrive. These pests can create a nuisance for both you and your plants because the larvae of fungus gnats feed on fungi and organic matter in the soil, but also chew on roots. This can result in your plant’s growth being stunted and potentially withering away.
What You Need To Do:
In order to keep soil invading pests out of your plants, it is important to implement the following steps:
- Avoid overwatering plants
- Allow the soil to dry in between watering. Drying helps kill the larvae and will cut off the lifecycle of the insects with no adults emerging in the soil.
Rodent Proof High Activity Areas
As the weather gets colder, rodents escape the outdoors. This can create increased chances that they may nest indoors with close proximity to food sources. Homeowners should be on the look for the following signs of rodent activity:
- Droppings; small, black rice grain shape (3-6mm long for mice and 10 to 20 mm for rats). New rodent droppings are wet and soft, while old droppings are hard. You may see a high volume of droppings in high traffic areas.
- You may notice food, food packages, and objects like wood or even wires that have been gnawed or nibbled on.
- Noticing nesting materials such as clean shredded paper, tissues and paper strips in a pile.
- Hearing squeaking noises in the wall, ceiling etc.
- Seeing rodents moving around your home, often-quick sudden movements.
What You Need To Do:
In order to get rid of any rodents in your home and prevent them from coming back, it is important to do the following:
- Inspect the exterior of your home to figure out how the mouse/rat came inside. It is important to seal any openings smaller than a dime to ensure that the entrance way is not accessible to other pests. Mice can enter holes as small as the size of a dime, while rats can enter holes the size of a quarter. Repair worn-out door seals and torn or unscreened vents.
- Use snap traps, multiple-catch live traps or over the counter bait stations from your local hardware or department store to catch any rodents in your home. It is important to read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for safe and effective use of the trap.
- If all other options have been tried without success, it is important to call a professional rodent control company such as Orkin Canada.
Gather & Dispose Of Any Overwintering Insects
During warm sunny winter days or when the house is too warm overwintering insects in your home such as boxelder bugs, cluster flies or brown marmorated stink bugs wake up and may become active in common areas. These pests normally congregate on or near windows/window sills as they attempt to get back outside.
What You Need To Do:
In order to effectively deal with overwintering insects, it is important that you implement the following preventative measures to get rid of these pests.
- Vacuuming and disposing of most overwintering insects can effectively rid them from your home. The one exception is stink bugs because vacuuming these pests can cause a lingering unpleasant smell within your vacuum and house. In such a case, the best way to deal with stink bugs is to use a dust pan and sweep the pest/pests gently without crushing them, then bag the pest and dispose of the bag into an outdoor garbage/waste receptacle.
We hope these tips will help you keep your home protected against pests during the winter time. If you are having any pest issues beyond what you can handle, your local Orkin Canada technician is happy to help you resolve your pest problem. Contact your local Orkin Canada branch today for professional assistance you can trust!
Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on January 15 2022.
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