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Holiday Pest Control: How to Avoid an Unwanted Infestation

2009 River Walk Ball OrnamentThe holidays are a time to be surrounded by family and friends. There’s nothing as heartwarming as watching the joy on our loved ones’ faces as we feast, open presents and celebrate the season.

Here’s another universal holiday sentiment: from Syracuse to Seattle, pest control is not something we look forward to during this “most wonderful time of the year.” One way to avoid holiday pest infestations is to arrange for a home pest inspection during the fall. During a home pest inspection, a residential pest control professional examines both the exterior and the interior of your home for any situations that could foster insect and rodent breeding.

Additionally, you can follow the tips below to discourage pests from invading your home this holiday season.

Christmas Tree Pest Prevention

A Christmas tree is a cheerful reminder that life survives even in the bitter, snowy months of winter – a welcome message, especially in drizzly climates like Portland and Seattle. Pest control precautions should be taken, however, even with this beloved symbol of the holiday season. Inspect store-bought or self-cut trees for spider webs, and remove any webs immediately. Also look for and remove any insects you find on your tree, as these critters can multiply quickly in your home. These same home pest inspection techniques should also be applied when bringing fresh garland or wreaths into your home.

Unpacking Decorations

Storage containers may have become home to pests since the last holiday season. If possible, unpack holiday decorations outdoors. As you unwrap ornaments, figurines and stockings, be on the lookout for pests. Nesting mice, moths, carpet beetles and silverfish love to settle in storage boxes, where they can usually find delicious organic materials, such as fabric and paper, to devour. When it comes to residential pest control, the best storage solution is plastic tubs with tight, locking lids, as pests are unable to gnaw through these containers.

Keep the Yuletide Logs Pest-Free

Your firewood pile looks like a sprawling apartment complex to pests. After all, a firewood pile is usually dry, safe and, for many pests, located near a consistent source of food. To prevent firewood pests such as termites and carpenter ants, store your firewood off of the ground. Concrete blocks or poles can be used to create an elevated area for firewood storage. (Even this simple residential pest control technique prevents many bugs from entering your woodpile.)

Avoid storing firewood nearer than twenty feet from your home, and never stack it against an exterior wall of your house or garage. Proximity breeds pest infestations, since bugs will naturally explore the area around their homes, and firewood makes an excellent bug and rodent home. Pest inspection professionals tend to look carefully at firewood storage habits, since poor practices in this area often create the need for residential pest control.

Eat, Drink, and Be Tidy

As any Portland or Seattle pest control professional can tell you, pantry pests are a common residential pest control challenge throughout the year, including the holiday season. Ants, weevils, beetles and even moths love to chow down on holiday food stores, which are especially rich. Really, any carbohydrate-heavy food, such as cereal, rice and flour, are ideal meals for these insects. Rodents are also happy to eat up your surplus food supplies.

Cleanliness is the best defense against pantry pests. Organize food in clean, air-lock glass or plastic containers. Sweep up any crumbs, and put food in storage containers as soon as everyone is done eating. Clean up any liquid spills immediately. Finally, make sure your pantry is kept dry; moisture only encourages pest infestations.

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Hitchhike

Bed bugs are party poopers any time of year. Especially around the holidays, a bed bug infestation takes the fun out of cherished family festivities. To avoid scratching yourself through New Year’s Eve, take steps to ensure guests don’t leave bed bugs behind. Even the Waldorf-Astoria has been sued for bed bug infestations, so don’t feel bad defending your home against Aunt Frederica’s luggage. After all, bed bugs have spread across the country by hitching a ride on travelers. Luggage is a primary vehicle for bed bugs to infest new bedrooms.

Here are a few ways to protect your home against hitchhiking bedbugs: Dress guest beds with white or light-colored linens; this will allow you to quickly spot any rust-colored bedbug feces, exoskeletons or specimens. Have guests unpack, and then store their luggage in the garage, far away from bedrooms. After guests have departed, clean linens at the highest washer and dryer settings possible. Finally, a mattress and box spring encasement is a wonderful form of anti-bed bug residential pest control.

[ photo by: JD Hancock, via CC Attribution 2.0 ]

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