Topics:Garden Pests Pest Identification Pest Control Products Pest Salesmen Pest Companies Pest Prevention DIY Pest Control Pest Elimination pest control
May 17th, 2021
May 13th, 2021
July 4th, 2020
Guest Post by Kristiana Kripena Spring and summer may be the main seasons for pests, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a nuisance during the winter months as well. As outdoor temperatures drop, several species that live primarily outdoors start to flock inside in search of food and shelter. What are the most common winter pests that homeowners have to face? How can you get rid of them? This article will answer your questions. Rats and mice Rats and mice are common year-round pests that can be found in virtually every country on the planet. They can be especially problematic during the winter when the chilly outdoor temperatures and lack of food sources drive them inside. They often invade dark, enclosed spaces like crawl spaces, attics, and basements, and they frequent kitchens where they can feast on scraps of food. If you have rats and mice in your home during the winter, you can try the following to get rid of them: Set up traps. Mouse and rat traps come in all shapes and sizes. Some use a snap mechanism or an electric shock to kill rodents. Others are non-lethal and simply trap the creatures they catch. Lethal traps can be a highly effective way to kill large numbers of rats and mice in your home. Non-lethal contraptions are a great way to monitor your rodent situation. Use poison bait. There are a vast array of poison baits that are formulated to kill rats and mice, and these are often the go-to pest control option for those with large infestations. Declutter your yard. Discarded boxes, piles of firewood, and overgrown shrubs and grasses can all provide hiding and nesting places for rats and mice and may encourage them to move in. If your yard is looking cluttered, throw away what you don’t need and store firewood, trash cans, and boxes at least six feet from the foundations of your house. Block all gaps. Rats and mice can squeeze themselves through very small gaps. Perform a thorough inspection of your property to identify possible entry points (such as windows, doors, and drains) and get to work blocking them off and sealing holes. Manage your trash carefully. Rodents usually come indoors looking for food. To best avoid them, make sure they don’t have access to it. Store all of your food in airtight containers or the refrigerator and keep food waste in sealed trash cans. Empty your household trash regularly, and keep outdoor garbage cans at least six feet from your house. Cockroaches Cockroaches are one of the world’s most common household pests and they can be especially problematic in winter. Roaches can’t survive the freezing conditions of winter in temperate regions, and will often come indoors to escape the hostile outdoors. These filthy creatures carry all sorts of harmful pathogens and can contaminate food. Getting rid of them should be your top priority. If you find evidence of cockroaches in your home, you can try the following to exterminate them: Set up traps and baits. Sticky traps not only kill roaches, but can also help to identify nesting sites. Poison baits are also effective for killing large numbers of cockroaches. Clean your house thoroughly. If you discover roaches at home, the first thing you should do is to clean the area thoroughly. Cockroaches are often found in the kitchen where there is an abundance of food and water, so pay extra attention to the spaces beneath and behind appliances. Attack them with bug spray. Once you’ve found where your cockroaches are nesting, you can kill a large number of them using an insecticide bug spray. These usually kill the insects on contact. Dry out moisture sites. Cockroaches need a continuous water supply to survive, so drying out damp spots around your house is a great way to deter them. Check for leaking AC units, dribbling faucets, and blocked drains to identify possible moisture sites in your home. Store food properly. Food waste can draw hoards of cockroaches into your home, so keeping your kitchen clean can help to keep them at bay. Clear up food spills and wash dishes promptly and store food waste in sealed containers. Empty your kitchen trash regularly and keep outdoor garbage cans closed at all times. Hire a pest control service to ensure that cockroaches don’t come back. For help finding a pest control company near you, see here. Bed bugs Bed bugs numbers have risen in the United States as more and more cases are reported every year. Infestations usually start when live bed bugs are carried home in luggage. Those travelling to visit family or escape the cold weather during the winter months could be at risk. If you discover bed bugs lurking in your sheets, try the following methods to get rid of them/prevent an infestation: Launder your sheets. Bed bugs and their eggs are killed at high temperatures, so wash all your sheets (as well as anything else that may have come into contact with infested items) to exterminate them. Spray them. Bed bugs can be killed using an insecticide spray. These can either be bought over the counter, or you can make your own at home using dish soap. Remember to spray quickly — bed bugs can move very fast and will run for cover when disturbed! Check your luggage carefully after a trip. Stowing away in luggage is the number one way that bed bugs move from place to place. Check your belongings carefully after an overnight trip and don’t take them to your room until you’re sure there are no bugs hiding inside. If you’re unsure, wash everything on a high heat first to kill any insects or eggs. Be wary of laundry and secondhand clothes. Laundry and bags of secondhand clothes can also harbor bed bugs, so inspect these items for signs of infestation before putting them among your other belongings. The bottom line Wintertime often means freezing temperatures that make it difficult for pests to survive outside. Rats, mice, bed bugs, and cockroaches often invade houses looking for food, water, and warmth. Keeping your home pest-free is often best achieved by taking preventative measures. These may include keeping your kitchen clean, storing food waste properly, and sealing off possible entry points. If you do find yourself facing an infestation this winter, you may want to invest in traps, poison baits, and insecticide sprays to exterminate the pests. Kristiana Kripena is the Digital and Content Marketing Director for InsectCop.net, an authoritative pest control advice blog that covers everything from getting rid of different insects to the best ways to protect yourself and your property from rodents and other critters.
Guest Post by Larry Taylor If you have trees around your house it is likely that you will have more insects that could potentially get inside or cause other damage. While many insects live on and around trees without causing them much damage, there are some varieties of bugs that can be very destructive. Most tree insects fall into the following three categories: Boring insects Chewing insects Sucking insects To help you understand more about the dangers that these types of tree insects can cause, we’ve put together the following guide. Below, you’ll find a general description of each type of insect along with some example bugs and treatment methods for controlling them. We hope to help you spot and resolve a tree insect problem before it’s too late therefore keeping the trees in your yard as healthy as possible. Boring insects The most harmful type of bugs in trees are those that bore. If left untreated the tree that has been infested will most likely die. This is due to the damage caused to roots, branches, and stems as the bugs dig tunnels through them, hollowing them out. The most noticeable signs of boring insects are entry/exit holes in the bark, sawdust mounds near the base of the tree, and sections that are dying or falling apart. Examples of boring insects Asian Longhorned Beetle Bronze Birch Borer Carpenter Ants Carpenter Bees Deathwatch Beetle Dogwood Borer Elm Bark Beetle Emerald Ash Borer Giant Palm Weevil Wood Wasps How to control boring insects Most boring insects only attack trees that are unhealthy. These include those that have been affected by improper irrigation, disease, or poor general care. Some invasive species of boring insects attack healthy trees as well. Unfortunately, once a tree is infested with boring insects, there’s a low probability of saving it. The only thing you can do to improve the tree’s strength is to prune out the infested branches and/or try to treat it with an insecticide. Quick pruning may require the use of a chainsaw or other common trimming tools. Chainsaws come in a variety of sizes. The best ones for pruning limbs and branches are those with a 12 or 14 inch blade. Larger chainsaw sizes (16 to 24 inches) are meant for cutting down trees or splitting firewood, so you can get away with a smaller and cheaper model. Methods for controlling boring insects include the following: Irrigate trees properly based on their species. Avoid pruning trees when boring insects are flying around (i.e. late winter through late summer). Use a pruning sealer to protect the open wounds of a tree after pruning branches. Monitor tree trunks and branches regularly to detect infestations before they become serious. Use a tree injection kit to apply insecticide directly into the trunk of the tree. This helps to slow the damage down by boring insects and prevent them from entering into the tree. Apply a soil drench around the base of the tree in the early spring or fall so that the tree can be protected before the growing season. Chewing insects Chewing insects either attack the foliage or fruit of their target trees. While minor defoliation is often not a problem with healthy trees, repeated offenses can have more dramatic effects. Usually, chewing insects are the culprits of degrading the appearance of a tree while no major structural harm is done. However, if a severe infestation or repeated attacks do occur, then it can weaken the tree or kill it. Examples of chewing insects Apple Maggots Bagworms Cankerworms Caterpillars Cherry Fruit Worms Cutworms Gypsy Moths Japanese Beetles Leafminers Controlling chewing insects The best way to control chewing insects is to put up a barrier around the tree trunk or between leaf stems and limbs. That way these insects can’t access the leaves or fruit. Examples for controlling chewing insects include the following: A tree band wraps around the tree trunk and acts as a barrier to stop chewing insects from climbing the tree. Annual tree care kits not only help boost the health of a tree but also helps trees resist the attack of chewing insects. These kits come in a combination of granular fertilizers and sprays. Injectable insecticides are deposited through holes that are drilled into the root flares of the tree trunk (i.e. where the trunk starts to flare out near the ground.) Soil drench insecticides are applied by mixing the pest control with water and then pouring the solution around the base of the tree. The tree’s roots take up the insecticide and distribute it throughout the tree trunk, branches, and leaves. Traps can be used to remove chewing insects without using insecticides. These are beneficial for fruit-bearing trees. Sucking insects Insects that suck on trees cause damage by removing the juices from leaves and branches. Repeated sucking causes the tree to dry out which, in turn, can cause leaves to fall and branches to weaken. Instead of killing a tree directly, sucking insects reduce its growth rate which weakens the overall strength of a tree. Trees injured by sucking insects can be vulnerable to secondary insects or fungal diseases. Eventually, if not stopped or treated, these trees will die. Sucking insects are relatively immobile creatures and just live on the outside of the tree on the branches. Signs of sucking insect infestations include scaly formations on branches, dieback of leaves, and honeydew production. Examples of sucking insects Aphids Lace Bugs Leafhoppers Mealybugs Scale Insects Spider Mites Thrips Whiteflies How to control sucking insects Sucking insects are relatively easy to control. You can either use preventative methods to keep them away from your trees or kill existing infestations on contact. Examples for controlling sucking insects include the following: Topical repellents to prevent sucking insects from latching onto the tree. Annual tree care kits to help maintain the health of the tree so it does a better job or resisting sucking insects. These kits come in a combination of granular fertilizers and sprays. Insecticidal soap is sprayed onto the tree and is a low-toxicity bug control solution favored by natural and organic gardeners. Any generic pest controls found at your local hardware or grocery stores. The importance of prevention As you learned in this guide, there are three types of insects that can be potentially lethal to the trees in your yard. Fortunately, just because these insects exist and may be prevalent where you live, this doesn’t mean that all of your trees are doomed. If you need help getting rid of these pests, you can look into hiring a pest control company to come and help you. A number of pest control service providers offer specific services to help keep your yard pest-free. For help finding the best pest control company for you, see companies and customer reviews here. Keep an eye on the health of your trees and provide some annual preventative maintenance. Doing this will help you spot and stop the majority of these insects before they become a problem. Larry Taylor is the man behind brand Chainsaw Larry and is passionate about helping people find the best chainsaws for their needs and teaching others how to keep their trees and yards in good shape.
While you're thinking of vacationing on Florida's beaches or moving to the quiet and dreamy town of Charleston, you should know that you're not the only one who enjoys the sunshine-filled days and warm summer nights. The long stretches of warm weather and steady warmer winter temperatures in the Southeastern United States creates the perfect home for several pests. According to Marin Asher of Larue Pest Management, Inc., “The southeast is generally warm and humid for much of the year, creating an ideal environment for almost any pest. For roaches and termites, the ground stays at a comfortable temperature, especially the further South you go, allowing them to survive winter nights. Termites and mosquitoes benefit from humidity and high rainfall in much of the southeast. Termites thrive in damp wood, and mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, which can be easily found in our region." Southern House Mosquito As their name suggests, the Southern House Mosquito prefers to live in a sub-tropical region, although, they are often found in regions with a temperate climate — where they breed in the summers and hibernate in the winters. If you live in the southeast, you've probably come across the Southern House Mosquito. The females are active night feeders and will feed on humans, birds, and other animals, while males only consume sugar meals from plants. Female Southern House Mosquitoes lay their eggs in nutrient-rich stagnant water. Homeowners will often find mosquitoes in their birdbaths, unused plant pots, gutters, and other containers where water pools. A female will lay around 100 eggs, which will hatch about 24-30 hours after they are laid. Whether you enjoy a night out on the town or an evening barbeque, these pesky insects are the ultimate party crashers. If you want to keep the mosquitoes to a minimum, start mosquito-proofing your property while the weather is still cool. Eliminate areas that will collect water Empty and refill birdbaths weekly Drill a hole in the bottom of a tire swing Clean out pet water bowls Clean out the gutters Repair window screens Repair cracks in your home's foundation Add fish or agitators to ponds or water features to prevent stagnant water Subterranean Termites The Eastern Subterranean Termite is the most common termite found in North America and in 2016 was responsible for about 80 percent of the $2.2 billion spent annually on termite control (in the United States). Subterranean Termites live in colonies that can contain 100,000 to 1 million termites and they will forage up to 150 feet in search of food. Most homeowners aren’t even aware that they have a termite infestation due to the insect’s enigmatic nature. Subterranean termites form an underground tunnel system, referred to as “mud tubes,” that reside just beneath or above the soil and enter homes through cracks in the foundation. These mud tubes are covered highways termites use to travel in the open; they can't go through obstacles, so they build a way over or around them.Termites eat cellulose — the main structural component of a plant cell — meaning any wood material is a potential food source. Termites rarely reveal themselves and infestations often go unnoticed until it's too late. Homeowners can check to see if their home is infested by looking for peeling or blistered wood. Homeowners can also check for termites by taking a screwdriver and a flashlight and checking for holes and weak spots in the wood. Termites infestations are subtle but over time can end up costing homeowners thousands. Here are a few ways you can help prevent termites from entering your home. Seal any cracks in the foundation Monitor wooded areas of the home (door frames, windows, skirting boards, etc.) Reduce moisture in and around the home Store firewood away from the home Asian Cockroach Originating from Japan, the Asian Cockroach was believed to have been brought to the United States in the late 1980s. Making its first appearance in Florida, the cockroach has spread throughout the Southeastern United States. The Asian Cockroach prefers areas that are moist and covered by shade. However, they will travel in search of food. As with other roaches, the Asian Cockroach is capable of eating just about anything, including crops, pet food, and waste matter. These pests are active in the evenings and are attracted to bright lights and colors. Unfortunately for homeowners, having the lights on is extremely inviting and they will fly into homes through open windows and doors. Many homeowners mistake the cockroaches attraction to light for aggression and for a long time it was believed that this species attacked people. However, the Asian Cockroach is not aggressive and is merely attracted to lighted areas. Although the Asian Cockroach prefers to live outside, your home often provides the three things these unwanted insects need to survive: shelter (with plenty of nooks and crannies to hide in), food (leftover crumbs from sugary meals are their favorite, although just about anything will do), and water (a constant water supply allows cockroaches to survive for months with no food). Homeowners can help prevent cockroach infestations by implementing these strategies. Deep clean the home, focusing on areas that are likely to have leftover crumbs or spilled foods (behind the stove or fridge) Fill in any cracks around the home, especially near water sources Install screens on your doors and windows Remove mulch and plant debris on your property Lone Star Tick While you might expect the Lone Star Tick to be a resident of Texas, this arachnid only affects two-thirds of the state. The Lone Star Tick gets its name from the single white spot located on the females back. The male ticks have spots or streaks around their body, but those are difficult to see with the naked eye. While the geography of the Lone Star Tick isn’t secluded to the southeast — many times they can be found as far north as Northeastern Nebraska and as far east as Eastern Maine — it is most common in the South. Homeowners can expect to see an increase in Lone Star Ticks from April to the end of July. According to PestWorld, the larvae need a relative humidity of greater than 65 percent to survive, at least until they can find a suitable host. Only a few millimeters across, it can be difficult to spot a Lone Star Tick. The CDC revealed that a Lone Star Tick when fully engorged is around the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny. The Lone Star Tick is more aggressive than other species and is known to travel a great distance to find a host. This type of tick usually makes contact with people and pets by crawling onto vegetation and waiting for its host to brush the plant.Lone Star Ticks are known to transmit several diseases. Most recently it was discovered that a bite from a Lone Star Tick caused people to develop a red meat allergy, and in some cases an allergic reaction to dairy products. To prevent a Lone Star Tick bite, hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts should follow expert advice: Take a shower immediately after being outdoors Put clothes in the dryer on high heat Avoid tall grassy areas Remove the tick as soon as you find it (don’t wait for the tick to detach) Consult a doctor if any of the following symptoms present themselves Headache Fever Aches Chills Vomiting Nausea Fatigue Joint pain Loss of appetite Rash Cough Confusion Acrobat Ants The Acrobat Ants are often recognized by their unique response to being disturbed. Instead of quick, unpredictable movements like the Crazy Ant, the Acrobat Ant lifts its abdomen above its head (much like a scorpion). Acrobat Ants are light brown or black and are fairly small. Their bodies are segmented and their abdomen is heart shaped. The Acrobat Ant has a stinger, is known to be aggressive, and will attack when provoked. Homeowners will find Acrobat Ants under rocks, in rotting logs, and under firewood piles. If they do infest a home, they can be found in damp areas such as in the foam sheathing behind the siding. While Acrobat Ants aren’t usually found indoors, they will travel up to 100 feet away from their nest in search for food. When they do enter a home, they prefer to eat sweet foods and meat, so it’s essential to seal sugary foods.To prevent an Acrobat Ant infestation, homeowners will need to do the following: Keep sugary foods and meats in tightly sealed containers Seal cracks around pipes, windows, and doors. Eliminate stagnant water and divert water away (as these pests rely heavily on moisture to survive) Trim trees and shrubbery so they are not touching the home Remove dead tree stumps Check attic vents Summertime is great for spending time with family, friends, and pets. Don’t let a few pesky insects and arachnids ruin the warmer weather for you. Do some research and find a pest control company that will take care of all your bug problems.*The United States Geological Survey deems the following nine states as a part of the Southeast region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, although a few other organizations will include Arkansas, Delaware, and Maryland.
If grubs are munching on the roots of the grass in your yard despite proper maintenance, you might feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. However, there is hope for grub control and for your dying grass. Understanding grubs’ life cycle is key to halting lawn damage and preventing the next generation from killing your grass next summer. Lawn-eating grubs are the larvae of a number of scarab beetle species within the Phyllophaga genus. Most scarab beetles have a one-year life cycle and produce white grubs annually, including Japanese beetles, Green June beetles, and Masked Chafer beetles. Black turfgrass Ataenius beetles can produce two generations in a year. June bugs, also known as June beetles or May beetles, have approximately a three-year life cycle. Knowing what happens in each year of the June bug’s life cycle can help you effectively curb the lawn destruction that comes with the larval stage. Year One Picture a warm June evening: tiny, smooth, pearly-white eggs buried one to eight inches deep in your soil hatch into tiny, white, c-shaped creatures with brown heads. The larvae emerge and spend the summer feeding on the roots of your grass and other vegetation growing from the moist soil in your full-sun lawn areas. However, the bugs are only ¼ inch long by the end of the summer — too small to cause any noticeable damage to your grass. As the ground cools in the fall, the larvae move deeper into the soil to survive the cold winter months. Year Two In sync with the warmer weather of spring, the small grubs emerge from dormancy and resume feasting on the roots of your grass. But this time, their bodies and appetites are bigger and the damage is apparent by midsummer. Signs of the wreckage include spongy-feeling, irregular patches of brown grass, dry turf that can roll up like carpet. Grubs might be attracting critters, such as raccoons, skunks, moles, and other rodents that tear up your grass to get to the grubs. As the soil cools, they go down below soil level once again. Year Three The larvae return to the surface of your soil as it warms the following spring, feeding until they are fully grown. Once they are fully grown, they retreat back underground to form earthen cells and pupate. After that process is complete, they remain in the soil in their new adult form until the weather is warm again, when they emerge as recognizable, flying, light-loving beetles to mate, burrow eggs in the soil, and eventually die. The cycle begins again as the new larvae hatch about three weeks after eggs are laid. Treating Lawn Grubs Healthy grass can withstand the presence of some grubs in the larval stage. But if a 1x1-square-foot grass and soil cross-section contains more than ten grubs, the lawn should be treated against continued infestation. If it contains six to nine grubs, you probably want to treat your lawn, especially if grass is beginning to show signs of damage. The key to treating grass for grubs is the timing of the insecticide, which is most effective when grub larvae are small and closer to the surface. The precise months of the larval and pupal stages can vary based on the particular beetle species and region, but for most places, July and August is the best time. Preventative applications can also be applied in late May or June. A pest control company that provides lawn grub treatments is your best ally in determining the best course of action for your particular lawn and region. And it wouldn’t hurt to learn more about the life cycles of grubs and other interesting facts about a grub’s life.
The winter months represent something different to everyone, but for most of us, the season is both a time of reprieve and a time of giving. As wintertime relates to pest control, these sentiments could not be more true — the gift winter brings us is a reprieve from most common household pests. A recent look at Google's trending pest control searches reveals something interesting. Searches for how to get rid of common household pests spiked every year during the summer, and were almost non-existent during the winter months. But these trends may not necessarily come as a surprise to you. Think about it: If you live in a part of the world that actually dips below freezing during the winter, how many ants do you see? The fact is, people aren't searching for "how to get rid of" any of these pests during the winter months, because for the most part, they're largely nowhere to be found. But why? It's not like they all get killed off when the weather gets too cold. If that were true, we wouldn't see such huge spikes during the summer, right? These trends reveal a problem with how we approach pest control: we don't really care about prevention so much as addressing the symptoms of a pest infestation. Really the best way to get rid of common household pests is to stop them from even gaining entry into your house. And wintertime is the perfect season to do so.So where do they go? And more importantly, how do you keep bugs out of your house in the winter? Spiders Ranking among the most fear-inducing household pests is the spider. What many people fail to realize, however, is that spiders might also be the answer to how to get rid of other household pests. Spiders tend to set up shop on the ground, in corners, or behind furniture not to seek refuge, but because they are ideal hunting and trapping spots. The main thing attracting spiders to your house is all the other pests and insects that sneak their way inside. So, if you want to see fewer bugs, let the spiders stay. But if you want to see fewer spiders, we can help you there as well. Where do spiders go in the winter time? Of the roughly 35,000 spider species throughout the world, only a small percentage of them are adapted to indoor climates, meaning they are dependent upon a constant temperature and shelter from the elements for their survival. While some spiders simply die during the winter months, most other spiders will burrow into the ground and enter a hibernation-like state until the weather warms up again. Kristiana Kripena from InsectCop.net shares information about spiders that are seen within the home during the cold winter months: "Since spiders are cold-blooded creatures the spiders you're seeing inside your house in the winter most likely have been there all year. As for where do indoor spiders like the house spider go in the winter when spiders sense the cold season approaching female spiders seek more secluded areas of your home with less foot traffic such as crawl spaces and storage areas to lay their eggs there." How to keep them from coming back The best way to prevent a spider infestation from happening is to make sure your home isn't a target for the critters that spiders like to eat. Remember, spiders are nomadic predators; they go to where the food is. So, keep out the bugs and you'll keep out the spiders. Alexander Crawley, an Entomology consultant at Fantastic Pest Control, shares another effective method to prevent spiders in your home: "Many love the smell of peppermint, eucalyptus and tea-tree oils, but spiders do not. You can spray around windows and doors. You can also plant peppermint and spearmint and place the containers in strategic locations. Lemons, oranges and grapefruit smell is also terrible to spiders. You can use peeps and spread them around the house. Keep in mind, you need to replace them every few days, as they dry out and lose efficiency." Cockroaches Where do roaches go in the winter? While less common than spiders, the American cockroach nevertheless represents a major problem in most southern states, California, and of course, New York. To many, roaches are synonymous with both filth and the phrase "hard to kill." Unlike spiders, cockroaches largely rely upon tropical or humid conditions for their survival. Simply put, even though you might not seek roaches in the wintertime, they are likely in hiding, awaiting warmer climates. Do roaches hibernate in the winter? A humid, tropical climate is crucial to a cockroach's survival. So if you live in a place with colder winters, chances are this household pest will hang out in shower drains, interior walls, or in basements. Like spiders, some cockroach species are able to hibernate should temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Really, the best way to prevent a cockroach infestation in your home is to identify these high-traffic areas and work to keep the roaches out of them. The only way cockroaches can survive the winter is by living inside your home. How to keep them from coming back Something important to understand is the incredibly robust nature of the cockroach. Most insect sprays will not work on them, which is largely how they've developed a reputation as unkillable. Cockroaches come to your home seeking food, shelter, and a place to lay eggs. By eliminating these necessities, you'll be able to enjoy a cockroach-free summer: Food — We can't emphasize enough the importance of cleaning up after yourself; nothing spurs a roach infestation faster than a messy house. A cockroach invasion doesn't happen overnight, but can worsen if food is perpetually left out. Cockroaches will eat anything a human will eat - and more. Any traces of food (in the microwave, in the sink, on the floor, etc.) you can be assured the cockroaches will find. If you can successfully cut off the food source (or replace with cockroach baits), you can at least shorten the cockroach's lifespan. Shelter — As mentioned above, cockroaches like warm, humid climates, like the bathroom or a crawl space. Clean your drains regularly, especially during the cold winter months. And if you have a boiler room or furnace, spot-check those locations as well. You might not be able to access your interior walls, but you can at least keep these other areas clean, or use approved traps, etc. to catch cockroaches that way. Eggs — Cockroaches usually mate during the winter, most often in the places mentioned above. These are the locations you'll want to inspect for eggs or evidence of roach activity. Bed bugs "Good night, sleep tight . . ." You know the rest. Bed bugs are difficult to see, and even harder to get rid of. Despite the measures you may take to eliminate bed bugs from your home, there is always a chance that the bed bug populations will not be removed completely. Expert exterminator services are usually required to fully eradicate bed bug populations from a home. Where they go Perhaps the most disturbing thing about bed bugs is that they don't really appear to go anywhere for the winter — they're simply less active in colder climates. Tim Sherrer, owner of Expest Exterminating, states that although bed bugs are less active during the winter months, “they can still remain a threat when other insects are not.” Like cockroaches, bed bugs like warm, humid climates; however, when exposed to cold temperatures, bed bugs can still survive for several days in dormancy. Chances are, if you had bed bugs during the previous summer, and your home didn't undergo a proper pest elimination inspection, you will almost definitely have bed bugs again the following summer. How to keep them from coming back Thankfully, there are some preventative measures you can take to prevent infestations, or at least catch one early. First, cleanliness is next to non-bed-bugliness. Wash your bedding regularly and invest in a bed frame to keep your mattress and boxspring off the floor. Some experts even suggest using double-sided tape to your bed legs and room perimeter, to keep bugs from crawling onto your bed. And contrary to the name, bed bugs will also infest your kitchen if an open food source is available. The best means of prevention here is the Ziplock bag, as well as your fridge/freezer. Ants Sooner or later, we all deal with ants in some measure, whether it's the occasional black ant we see crawling across the kitchen floor, the carpenter ant scurrying under the threshold, or the all-out ant-infestation in our pantry. Ants are perhaps the most common household pests, mainly because they are very small and can access nearly every nook and cranny of your home, and they are incredibly organized. Seeing only a few ants at first does not mean things will stay that way; these ants are scouts leaving a scent trail for the rest of their colony to follow. During the summertime, a small ant problem can quickly become a big one. Ants in the wintertime The parable of the industrious ant and the carefree grasshopper holds true. Several ant species, including black ants, both prepare for and hibernate during the winter. Prior to the winter months, ants will increase their fat stores to ensure their survival during the cold weather. Ants will take refuge under the bark of trees or with their nests underground. The entrance to these hideouts is usually closed during the winter, so you don't usually see ants during the winter because they're not able to leave their own nests. However, if you spot an ant infestation in the cold winter months, this may suggest that an ant colony is living within the wallboards of your home. How to keep them from coming back Since ants have little need for the shelter your home might provide other household pests, their only objective in coming to your house is food. Once the winter is over, ants have a voracious appetite and will find a food source wherever it may be. Cracks in the home are a good place to start to prevent future bug infestations. Alex Berezowski, GM at The Foundation Experts Inc, shares common ways that pests can enter a home: "A common reason why pests find a way in your home can be due to cracks in your foundation. Cracks in your home's foundation are not always the most obvious but can be extremely problematic. If you have any cracks that extend from the floor to the ceiling in your basement or have any walls separating from the ceiling, these might be exactly where these pests are coming from. They can also enter from any cracked tiles, misaligned or sticking windows and doors, baseboard separation, as well as cracked chimneys. However, as said earlier, these cracks aren't always apparent, as they can be minuscule. On that note, other signs of foundation and structural damage can include mould or strange smells." The cold months of winter provide homeowners plenty of time to seal any cracks and crevices in their home and prepare against a larger pest problem during spring and summer months. Mice Of course, when it comes to mice, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is disease. Mice can carry all sorts of diseases (including the bubonic plague) as well as parasites. Where they go Mice are mammals, like us. And like us, they need to stay warm during the winter or they will die. The fact of the matter is, statistically speaking, your home either has been or currently is the residence for mice. Mice are incredibly resourceful, and unlike the other household pests mentioned in this post, mice are strong enough to chew their way through drywall and don't often have to rely on pre-existing holes or cracks to gain entry into your home. How to keep them from coming back One of the best ways to keep mice from getting into your house is to make sure your baseboards are both strong and have no gaps. Baseboards are more than just a fashion piece; they have real practical value in keeping mice out. Look for potential weak spots along the bottom of your walls, including behind appliances and furniture. And while you may not be able to prevent all mice from entering your home, you can certainly make their stay less enjoyable by cleaning up food, and leaving D-Conn or other mouse poisons in strategic places. Brad Leahy, owner of B.O.G Pest Control, advises homeowners to prep their garden as a means to prevent mice problems in the winter: "When it comes to your garden, make sure your mulch isn't touching the foundation of your home. Mice look for warmth and coverage and gravitate toward your leaf-covered mulch. Spread out your mulch and remove any debris. Rule of thumb — no deeper than two inches." Winter is coming, and understanding that preventing unwanted pests from accessing your home is a year-round effort — and not just a summertime activity — is one of the best way to not only keep the pests away, but also prevent them from coming back. If you find that your pest problem is more than you can handle, consider investigating one of our top pest control companies to help you devise a solution.