Expert Advice: How to Keep Pests Out of Your Home This Winter

Carlee Linden

Last Updated: July 4th, 2020

As the winter season arrives, people start turning on heaters and bundling up for the next few months. While we’re getting ready for the holidays, those pesky unwanted pests are doing some winter prepping of their own.

A common misconception is that when winter comes pests either die off or disappear. However, quite the opposite is true. While you are hard at work making your home as cozy as possible, all sorts of bugs and pests are planning their next move.

Your home makes the perfect spot for pests to thrive in, with plenty of food, water, and shelter from the harsh weather conditions. The best part for them is they don’t have to do any of the work. So, how can you stop these troublesome pests from ruining your winter haven?

We asked six pest control experts what pests to be on the lookout for, suggestions on what to do and what not to do, and how homeowners can keep pests out of their home this winter.

What pests should homeowners be watching for?

“The primary pests to look out for during the season change include spiders, centipedes, rats, and mice. For example, spiders and centipedes become more present indoors because their food source (i.e., other insects) retreat inside where they can avoid the cold and continue to live and develop. As a result, homeowners need to be aware of the other insects which can also thrive indoors during winter. These include flies, moths, cockroaches, ants (those that specifically nest indoors), earwigs, and millipedes.”

Trent Frazer, Aptive Environmental

“Rodents are, at one time or another, a problem for nearly a third of American homeowners. Rodents don’t need much space to get inside homes. Rats can fit through an opening the size of a quarter, and mice through a hole the size of a dime, so it is easy for them to find access into homes.”

Jerry Lazarus, Braman Termite & Pest Elmination

“Both gray and flying squirrels are known to seek shelter in attics, exterior walls, and even between floors using insulation as nesting material. In addition to the damage their chewing and nesting can cause, squirrels can be carriers of fleas and other unwanted organisms that can infest the entire home once brought inside.

Raccoons: these masked bandits live in a constant search for food and shelter. They use their very adept hands to open garbage cans, remove siding and even tear off shingles. Categorized as an extremely dangerous and destructive pest, raccoons can cause structural damage to a home and infest living spaces with fleas and parasites. They are also known to carry rabies.

Cockroaches are definitely one of the most common and dangerous pests on our list. They have the potential to spread 33 different kinds of bacteria, six parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. The saliva, droppings, and decomposing bodies of cockroaches also contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Roof rats were not even found in many southern states 20 years ago, but they are now one of the most frequent home invaders. Typically, tree dwellers, roof rats look for high places to nest inside structures including soffits and attics to survive the winter. Like all rodents, they reproduce very quickly, making them nearly impossible to control without the help of a professional.”

Charlie Jones, Arrow Exterminators

What can homeowners do to keep pests out of their home?

Seal cracks and crevices
“To keep pests out of your home this winter, inspect the perimeter of your home. Look for any cracks or crevices that need to be sealed. Seal gaps near plumbing services or electrical wires entering your home, and fix any screens that may be broken.”

Jameson Bevans, TruForce Pest Control

Eliminate stagnant water
“Ensure there are no moisture leaks throughout the home. Leakage creates stagnant water and/or dampness causing a humid micro-environment where pests can thrive. Check under sinks, around air conditioning units, under dishwashers and laundry machines, as well as in bathrooms for any potential leaking. This includes cracks in caulking around bathtubs and toilets.”

Trent Frazer, Aptive Environmental

Move firewood away from the house
“A common issue, especially in colder regions, is storing firewood against your home, as it is more convenient for the homeowner. However, pests, who initially seek shelter in the firewood, will eventually make their way into your home. Our best advice is to not store firewood, or any other debris against your home, and to elevate the firewood as best possible, 12-18 inches off the ground.”

Jameson Bevans, TruForce Pest Control

Clear debris
“Ticks thrive in damp, shaded environments and tend to die in sunny, dry areas. Clear out parts of the home where debris gather and relocate compost piles away from high traffic areas. Also, keep the lawn short and eliminate leaf litter.”

Deer-proof the yard
“There are many species of ticks, but only the black-legged, or deer ticks carry Lyme disease. Select plants and shrubs that are not attractive to deer and/or install physical barriers to keep deer out of your yard. Check with your local nursery to determine the best choices for your area.”

Consistently groom family pets
“Pets are prime targets for ticks. They latch onto animals' skin and hide underneath their fur, going incognito and making it easy for pets to bring them into homes.”

Amy Lawhorne, Mosquito Squad

Check storage containers
“Before bringing boxes of holiday décor out of your attic or basement, inspect them for signs of an infestation such as gnaw marks and rodent droppings. Once the holidays are over, and it's time to pack away the decorations, make sure they are stored in a plastic box with a sealed lid. This will prevent rodents from making your out-of-season décor their new home.”

Jerry Lazarus, Braman Termite & Pest Elimination

Double check the bathroom
“Inspect your bathroom carefully, including the pipes. Check the bathroom fan; sometimes if there isn't a net on the fan, cockroaches can pass through it and come inside.”

Matteo Grader, Panther Pest Control

Don’t feed the pests
“Ensure no food is available to pests. This includes crumbs, open food containers (including containers that aren't fully sealed), oil residue around the stove, food residue in the oven, forgotten food in the back of the pantry, and pet food that may have accidentally spilled onto the floor or shelf where it is kept.”

Trent Frazer, Aptive Environmental

What Should Homeowners Not Do?

“Don't rely on DIY methods too much. Cockroaches and bedbugs are extremely hard to get rid of without professional help.”

Matteo Grader, Panther Pest Control

“If you find your home infested, do not place traps, bait, or other chemicals where pets and children may be present. This seems like an obvious tip, but we often see this when we're called in after DIY treatments have failed.”

Jameson Bevans, TruForce Pest Control

“We recommend you contact a pest control professional for the removal of wildlife such as mice, rats, raccoons, opossums, and squirrels. These wildlife intruders can spread bacteria and transmit diseases, so you should never handle them on your own. Your home should receive treatment for pests such as termites, ants, and cockroaches on a regular basis by a pest professional.”

Charlie Jones, Arrow Exterminators

“A few pest control don'ts include not placing snap traps for rats and mice without proper training — as children and pets may be at risk. Also, remember to take great caution handling and storing pesticides yourself.  Sadly far more poisonings occur with children getting into their parent's stored chemicals than from professional pest control applications. It will always be the most effective and safest to hire a licensed pest control service professional.”

Trent Frazer, Aptive Environmental

Keeping your house free of winter pests may require extra time and preparation, but being able to enjoy the holiday season pest-free is well worth it.

If you’ve tried all of these tips and are still having trouble with pests, take a look out our top-rated pest control companies and hire a pest control professional to get rid of those pesky winter critters.

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