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Common Winter Pests – and How to Prevent Them

MouseWinter is not generally known as the most active month for pests. However, any winter home pest inspection will likely reveal at least a few unsavory house guests. Just as humans huddle indoors to escape winter’s chill, insects and rodents are attracted to our heated homes, where they can usually find food (i.e., human food scraps) in addition to a respite from the cold weather.

Once these pests find a safe, warm place, it’s not unusual for them to stay active throughout the darkest, coldest time of the year. Those who provide Portland and Seattle pest control would recognize the following critters as common winter pests. We’ve also provided a few tips to help you reduce the chances that bugs and rodents will invade your home this winter.

Mice and Rats

From St. Louis to Seattle, rodent control doesn’t stop during the winter months. Mice and rats are masters at squeezing through tight spaces in building exteriors. And once they’re indoors, any food that isn’t securely stored is likely to be added to their menu.

To prevent rodent infestations, schedule a home pest inspection during the autumn months. A Bellevue or Seattle pest control professional will be able to identify cracks and crannies that mice and rats will be able to squirm through. (Generally, mice can fit through holes as small as a dime, while rats only need openings with the diameter of a quarter!) With this information in hand, you’ll be equipped to repair damaged screens, loose doors, insulation around pipes and any openings that could provide rodents entry.

Even if your home is sealed up tight, it’s possible that a rat or mouse will still be able to gain access – remember, these intrepid little creatures are willing to gnaw through even wire mesh to find a cozy winter home. To starve any rodents that do make their way into your home, keep a tight ship; eliminate clutter, immediately clean up crumbs and spills, and store extra food in sealed containers.

Cockroaches

Roaches survive all four seasons; in fact, cockroaches are so tough that many people believe they will “inherit the earth” if humanity destroys itself in nuclear holocaust. (Cockroaches can indeed withstand up to fifteen times the amount of radiation required to kill a person.)

Like rodents, cockroaches will be attracted to food in your pantry, so your best defense is to keep a clean kitchen. Seal food up tight. vacuum regularly and ensure your garbage can has a tightly fitting lid. Because cockroaches are attracted to sources of water, you should also repair any leaky faucets immediately. Finally, diatomaceous earth can eliminate cockroach populations, as long as it stays dry.

Pantry Pests

Meal moths and other pantry pests will also be attracted to your winter food stash. These pests prefer dry foods such as cereal, flour and birdseed. Take the same precautions as listed above to prevent meal moth infestations. If you do happen to spot larvae or webbing near your foodstuffs, take immediate action: Deep clean the entire area and throw out any infested food.

If meal moths and other pantry pests are infesting your home despite the fact that you’re cleaning religiously, arrange for a home pest inspection. Seattle pest control professionals will be able to pinpoint problematic areas of your home as they complete the inspection.

Ants

Ants may be the most common of winter pests. Odorous house ants are tiny black insects; they emit a nasty smell when squished. This species prefers sweet foods and proteins. Keep your kitchen floors and counters immaculate to prevent infestation, and check the area where you store pet food, which is like a tasty treat to house ants.

Carpenter ants are also active during the winter months; these are larger than odorous house ants. Another way to identify their presence is to look for small piles of sawdust, which carpenter ants discard as they build their tunnel homes. Because carpenter ants are difficult to eliminate, it is best to call a professional Seattle pest control company to eradicate them.

Insects and rodents are extremely hardy critters. Indeed, certain insect species have been known to survive temperatures as low as 90 degrees below zero! Fortunately, you can prevent winter pest infestations by following the tips listed above. In general, the best methods for preventing winter pest problems are keeping a clean home and winterizing your home’s exterior by sealing up any openings.

[ photo courtesy of: Chika, on Flickr ]

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