When the temperature drops, we expect that all the creepy crawly critters that live around our houses will just die or hibernate. The critters have other ideas, of course. Some of them want to come into our houses to stay cozy. Others thrive in winter conditions. So how do we get rid of the peskiest of pests in the wintertime?
What Critters Are Out There?
Winter critters come in many varieties. In this article, we’ll focus on some of the most common. You might have different pests where you live, so you should always consult with local exterminators and other professionals about what you, particularly, should worry about.
Mice and Rats
When the temperature drops, the furry things in the wild like to seek a warm burrow. Mice and rats love nothing more than to find cracks in a house, clamber in there, and make themselves a cozy home. Mice and rats can sneak through the tiniest of cracks in a house – even a pencil-thin hole can be infiltrated.
The best way to eliminate a mouse or rat problem is to seal up all the cracks underneath and on the outside of your house. Speak to a professional if you need help or can’t do the work yourself.
The other thing you need to do is to seal up your food – especially in your pantry. Don’t leave open bags of chips or pretzels around. You’ll soon find them toppled over or gnawed through.
But how do you tell if you have a mouse or rat problem in the first place? Listen carefully at night – you might hear them rooting around in the walls. Sounds scary, right? It’s not as scary as seeing them during the day. If you see or hear them during the day, it means you’re about to have a major infestation. These critters don’t like coming out during daylight hours unless it’s just too crowded in your walls. That is definitely not something you want to see. Call an exterminator as soon as you can.
Stinkbugs. The very name conjures up disgust. And these little guys love nothing more than to cozy up into your house when the temperature drops. How do you know if you have a stinkbug infestation? Well, the stink, of course. When threatened, a stinkbug releases a chemical from its body that, well, stinks.
If you suspect you might have a stinkbug infestation, look for signs of the critters near the windows on the side of your home that faces west – that’s their favorite place to congregate. They love taking in the afternoon sun. Seal up any cracks in your walls or window wells. Also, get rid of that jack-o-lantern! Stink bugs love pumpkin juice. Don’t give them an invitation by leaving a rotten vegetable smile on your porch. As always, if you have a severe infestation, call in a professional!
You turn on the light in your kitchen and you see and hear a black, skittering something out of the corner of your eye. Who hasn’t had this nightmare? Cockroaches are some of the most insidious, disgusting little things – and there’s a reason that the myth says they’ll be the only thing left alive after a nuclear war. Cockroaches are hardy little things with tough shells and an unshakable will to live.
Luckily, you can defeat these critters. The most common species of cockroach is the German cockroach, and that’s the one you’ll most likely see in your kitchen. These critters love nothing more than to cozy up in a warm, moist place with lots of free food – which is what most kitchens are. Roaches like to sneak inside hidden in your grocery bags or those ubiquitous packages we all order from the Internet. Once inside, they’ll spread pathogens and other gross things, and you really just don’t need that.
Prevention matters are the same as with mice – seal up any cracks and holes in your house, clean up and seal your food, vacuum regularly, and take your trash out. Keep a clean house – that’s the easiest and most important way to prevent a roach infestation.
If you already have a cockroach problem, then you really do have a cockroach problem. Call a professional to get those suckers out of your house.
Even if you’re not an arachnophobe, spiders in the house are a pesky and potentially dangerous nuisance. Sure, the “good” spiders will eat other pests like mosquitoes and flies, but then there are the scary ones. The brown recluses, black widows, and the other kinds of spiders that can actually cause serious injury and even death with their bites. The bite of the brown recluse can cause necrosis at the bite site, which can require emergency medical attention. The bite of the black widow – although rare – has been known to kill people, especially babies and young children.
In winter, just like other critters, spiders like to come in from the cold. Brown recluses will spin themselves a web in your closets, basements, and crawl spaces. You might also find one in those boxes you’ve been meaning to unpack for years that are sitting in your attic.
Or in that nice pair of shoes you never wear but maybe just for this one night out you’d like to try them out. Yikes.
To keep spiders out, don’t make it easy for them to get in. Trim your bushes and trees away from the house. Store your clothing inside sealed plastic tubs. Get a professional to inspect your crawl spaces, attics, basements, and other hidden areas in your house. And if you get bitten, seek medical attention immediately.
Final Thoughts on Winter Pests
Pests are going to get in. The best thing you can do is to make it as hard as possible for them to do so, and keep your eyes open for signs you have an infestation. If something gets into your space, call a professional to deal with it. You’ll be glad you did.