Winter months bring frosty temperatures, gusty winds and slippery sleet and snow, sending people indoors to seek warmth and shelter. The chill in the air may also send a few uninvited pest guests into your home, too. Most homeowners don't think about winter pests until they see signs of an infestation, at which point treatment becomes more difficult. The best way to keep pests out of your home in the cooler months is to take preventative action before you have a problem.
Pests such as rodents and cockroaches seek food, water and shelter in the winter - all of which can be found in the comfort of your home. In fact, smoky brown cockroaches can sense a temperature decrease of only five degrees, and chilly temperatures are a signal to them that it is time to move indoors. Unfortunately, rodents and cockroaches can cause alarm and threaten the health of you and your family. These pests can spread disease, contaminate food and even trigger allergies. Follow these steps to pest-proof your home this winter:
- Tightly seal all entry points: Monitor for cracks, crevices or gaps in siding, door and window screens, and around pipes, as these areas can serve as entry points for pests. Both rodents and cockroaches can enter your home through tiny gaps - rats can squeeze through quarter-sized openings, and mice can fit through dime-sized holes.
- Trim branches, plants and bushes: Vegetation near a home can serve as a natural pathway indoors for pests.
- Inspect firewood: Some ant and cockroach species nest in firewood, so be sure to store it on a raised platform away from your home and inspect it before bringing it inside.
- Keep mulch away from your home: Pests such as cockroaches are attracted to moisture-rich habitats, including mulch. Harrison recommends storing mulch and firewood at least two feet away from your home.
- Practice good sanitation: Keep counters and dishes clean, and don't forget to tightly seal leftovers and rinse recyclable containers prior to storing. Empty garbage bins and vacuum frequently to avoid attracting pests.
If you do see signs of pests in or around your home, call a licensed pest management professional to determine the most effective treatment and control methods.