Bees and wasps, bedbugs and mosquitoes, cockroaches and ants: Summer pests can sure prove a pain, can’t they? Fortunately, winter serves as a welcome reprieve for homeowners and business owners, the cold sends creepy crawlies and irritating rodents into dormancy — right? Well, not quite. Yes, it’s true that many types of pest problems improve during the winter. For instance, most pest control companies notice a dip in bed-bug activity during the winter, which may owe as much to fewer people traveling as it does a change in the insects themselves. But winter pests are real, and few can afford to ignore them entirely when the mercury begins to fall. In this post, we will explain why cold weather doesn’t drive away every kind of pest, why the cold months can put your home at greater risk, and why winter pest control should become part of your sanitation protocol.
Cold Weather Won’t Affect Pests Living in Your Walls
When it comes to cooler times of the year, many homeowners and business managers adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude regarding pests. Some simply assume that finding pest control near me isn’t a necessity and think that most types of pests tend to hibernate as it gets chilly. That’s true for some species, but have you ever stopped to think about where bugs and rodents and wildlife of various sorts tend to go in winter? They look for shelter — and often your home, office, warehouse, or some such similar structure can become their new home.
A common place for warm-blooded pests to end up is in that picturesque woodpile situated right next to your home. The proximity of those split logs may make for easy retrieval and look appropriately rustic. But they can also house rats, ants, beetles, and wood borers. Wondering how to keep mice out of wood piles? Think that bug spray for firewood might help eliminate chiggers in wood piles? There’s a simpler solution than spraying chemicals and hoping you won’t end up burning wood with pesticides: Move the woodpile so it isn’t right next to any structures and only bring it inside when you immediately plan to burn it.
Unfortunately, bugs in firewood aren’t the only things with which you need to concern yourself. Did you know that fall is spider mating season, ants tend to swarm toward warm areas in groups, and that stinging insects become more aggressive as temperatures drop? Those facts translate into the reality that pests will look for shelter as winter sets in, one close shelter may very well be your house or office, and some of them could get aggressive.
Rodents Can Get into Your Home Through Small Holes
Speaking of pests getting into your home, rodents are prime candidates for pests that you could likely encounter during the winter months. A video produced by PestWorld dramatically shows how easy it is for a mouse or a rat to gain access to your property. Believe it or not, a mouse can slip through a hole or a crack that’s about the size of a dime (a 0.705-inch diameter), and a rat can do the same with an opening roughly the size of a quarter (a 0.955-inch diameter).
When you consider your property, imagine all of tiny crevasses that could likely serve as potential entrances, such as openings around utility pipes, crumbling mortar, torn weather stripping, unvented chimneys, dryer vents, crumbling door sweeps, and damaged screens. Now think about the fact that winter weather can cause further damage to your structures. Ice dams can loosen shingles, opening gaps. Untrimmed trees that fall may give rodents an opportunity to crawl into attics in addition to damaging a home or commercial structure. Dried-out caulk can prompt wood rot, which opens up additional means of ingress for mice.
It’s tempting to think, “Why look for an exterminator near me if it’s just rodents? I can set a few traps and be done with it.” However, don’t forget that mice and rats often fail to make their presence known. They love to hide away in remote spaces such as attics, gnawing on insulation and electrical lines. (There are documented cases of rodents causing house fires due to such snacking.) And should they appear in peopled places, they may spoil food stores and spread disease.
Attics Can Act as Shelter for Spiders
Rodents aren’t the only irritants that like to hide in your attic. So do spiders in general and brown recluse spiders in particular. These venomous insects truly live up to their name, preferring to secret themselves away in hard-to-find spots. A cardboard box. An unused baseball glove. A rarely frequented corner. They like to be left alone — and if they aren’t, they can do real damage.
In a horrifying summary, PestWorld notes that the “bite of a brown recluse spider is usually not felt, but it may produce an immediate stinging sensation followed by intense pain or this reaction may be delayed for 6-8 hours. A small blister usually appears and the surrounding bite area becomes swollen. Symptoms include restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping. The dead tissue gradually sloughs away during the next 10-14 days, leaving an open ulcer and possibly exposing the underlying muscles and/or bone.” This isn’t a pest that you want to mess with.
Fortunately, the steps that you might take to manage other kinds of pests also help discourage the presence of spiders in general. Those steps should include:
- Stopping up small holes and cracks
- Plugging spaces around utility pipes
- Move stacks of firewood away from structures
- Store rarely used items in sealable bags or containers
- Shake out or carefully observe items in which a spider could be living prior to placing a hand within them
An Inspection in Winter Can Uncover Pest Related Issues
Spiders and rodents are only a few of the winter pests you might encounter. For example, raccoons often try to make nests in chimneys or attics, and they are a major spreader of rabies. Cockroaches can easily migrate into your home through packages or grocery bags. And various kinds of flies can irritate residents. Fortunately, you don’t have to grin and bear it when it comes to winter pests. Sometimes pest problems are too big to tackle on your own, and when that happens, ask yourself, “Is there local pest control near me that can help?”
Smithereen Pest Management Services wants to be your trusted partner in pest prevention. Whether you’re dealing with an existing pest issue or simply want to make sure that one doesn’t crop up, contact us! We’re a trusted name in pest control and prevention throughout the Midwest, and a timely inspection will quickly reveal exactly what you may be facing.
Here at Smithereen, we employ an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. That means that we not only deal with any current pest populations, but we also determine what led to the problem and the factors that are causing the pests to thrive. In other words, we focus on prevention just as much as extermination. It’s an earth and people-friendly approach that helps ensure everyone’s safety.