When winter comes around, nothing sounds better than curling up inside your warm house, enjoying a nice meal, and spending the season safe and dry. Unfortunately, many pests feel the same way. Winter pests, including animals and insects, infiltrate our homes for several reasons, and if you’re not prepared, they can leave behind lasting damage or sickness.
Why Are Pests a Problem in the Winter?
Though different pests have various reasons for seeking shelter, it’s most often due to outdoor temperatures and weather conditions. Bugs and rodents seek warm, dry shelters away from freezing temperatures and snow. Even when there is cold weather outside, the temperature inside your house and between your walls stays constant. Winter is also a popular time for people to cook or bake foods rich with fat and sugar, an attractive food source for many bugs.
Some household pests take up permanent, year-round residence in your basement or attic. Others wait until the weather begins to change to make their way inside through entry points. Once inside, they build nests, bring others from their colony and start seeking a food source — usually your furniture, walls, fabrics, garbage or kitchen crumbs.
Before and throughout winter, it’s crucial to implement pest control measures to keep your home and property safe.
The Hiding Places of Winter Bugs
Winter pests will hide in places away from easy detection but close enough to food or water sources. They create nests and establish colonies in damp areas, like your basement or near indoor plumbing and leaks. Outdoors, they might house themselves in sheds or stacks of firewood, hitching rides indoors whenever they can. Some animals, such as raccoons or mice, may create a home near their point of entry, like in an attic with easy access to outdoor tree branches.
Search these critical areas frequently and inspect for signs of insects or unwanted critters, like:
- Droppings: Pest droppings vary in size, color and shape, depending on the rodent or insect who left them behind. Rat and mice droppings tend to be longer, with slightly pointed ends, while squirrel droppings have a less defined shape. Cockroaches and other insects create small, sometimes minuscule-sized droppings.
- Sightings: Never ignore a lone bug or rodent — if one could enter your home, many may follow. Even a single pest may indicate a larger infestation or colony elsewhere in the house. Sightings also include dead insects, molted skins or living pests scurrying across your path or near a food source.
- Nests: If you suspect an infestation, search your home for nests or dens, which might look like piles of twigs and debris, muddy buildup along walls or foundations or a collection of dark smears and insect casings.
- Markings: Bite marks and other markings on wooden furniture, wall and wall trims are usually signs of insects or rodents. Other possible markings include small holes or tears in fabric, like your rugs, carpet, clothes, curtains or blankets.
- Sounds: Listen for unexplained skittering or thumping sounds coming from the walls or attic, especially at night, as this is when many pests search for food.
Common Types of Winter Bugs
The common types of winter bugs you’ll see in your Pittsburgh home are cockroaches, spiders, termites, and silverfish. It’s important to know the signs of each of the bugs so that you can properly handle the infestation.
Common Types of Winter Rodents
What Are Overwintering Pests?
Overwintering pests enter your home to escape wintery conditions and leave again in the spring. Failure to identify or eradicate overwintering insects can lead to unexpected, costly damage over time. The following bugs are considered overwintering pests:
- Boxelder bugs
- Stink bugs
- Cluster flies
Tips for Keeping Your Home Pest Free During Winter
The best way to solve a pest problem is to take early preventive measures around your home and property. When you work with a professional pest removal service like Spectrum Pest Control, we can help you create a line of defense against the different rodents and bugs each season brings. By planning defensively, you save yourself damaged property associated with infestations and the time and money it costs to remove them.
In addition to your customized pest prevention plan, use these tips to avoid winter bugs in the house:
- Start preparing early: Start preparing your property for winter throughout late summer and early autumn. Groom shrubs and greenery and rake and discard decaying leaves. Have dead plants and trees removed by a professional, so the decaying wood doesn’t attract insects. Trim tree branches that could offer rodents easy access to your roof or windows. Indoors, make prompt repairs of any damaged sinks, plumbing lines, walls, doors and windows.
- Keep things clean: Though insects do not discriminate between clean or messy homes, clutter and debris may make your home more inviting if it offers food or hidden shelter. Keep your home free of dirt or crumbs, including your pantry and cabinets. Store food in airtight containers and keep garbage in a trash can with a lid.
- Fill cracks and holes: Inspect your walls, foundation and areas around your doors and windows for any gaps, cracks or holes that could allow winter insects inside. Fill them with caulking or weather strips.
- Remove standing moisture: Basements and crawl spaces are notorious for their damp environments, which attract insects and may damage your property. If necessary, work with a professional to make repairs around your home to prevent or minimize excess moisture. Mop and dry leaks or use a fan to air dry them in the meantime.
- Clean the gutters: As leaves and debris build up inside your gutters, water can overflow, redirect or cause damage to the home, attracting pests and possibly creating more entry points. Clean your gutters regularly and have them serviced if they need repairing.
- Inspect furniture and packages: Many bugs hide inside mattresses, dressers, boxes and packaging materials, entering your home unnoticed. Before bringing packages, secondhand items or antiques into your house, inspect them for signs of bugs or insect-related damage.