How to keep winter pests out

The cold winter months provide the perfect reason to stay inside and enjoy the warmth of your home. Unfortunately, pests agree — and many are eager to make your cozy space their home for the winter months. Indoors, these critters can be problematic and frustrating to have in your home. Terminix offers several tips to identify which pests might be entering your home in the winter, and what measures to take to prevent them from causing damage and discomfort:

1) Cockroaches

Sometimes outdoor cockroaches will seek shelter inside during the winter months. American Cockroaches, for example, are generally found outdoors, but when they do go inside they can hide in your crawl spaces and damp areas, like laundry rooms and basements. Tips to make your home less appealing for cockroaches include: eliminating points of entry and debris around your property, practicing good sanitation and exercising proper garbage disposal methods.

2) Opossums

Opossums (commonly referred to as “possums”) typically adapt to cold temperatures. However, if given the opportunity, it is possible for opossums to venture indoors. Leaving uncontained food, such as garbage, pet food or bird seed, outside your home may attract them. As part of an intimidation display opossums will show their teeth and hiss. They will also play dead as part of their defensive strategy. If you do encounter one in your home, close all doors to adjacent rooms and call a pest-management professional to assist.

3) Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles

Multicolored Asian lady beetles were first imported into North America as early as 1916 and can be beneficial to help control pests. However, unlike the native ladybug, multicolored Asian lady beetles seek refuge inside during colder months. Generally measuring 7 mm long and 5.5 mm wide as adults, they don’t inflict serious damage but do emit an unpleasant foul-smelling odor when disturbed. These beetles also bite, which can be painful and cause reactions for some. Seal up small cracks in your home to prevent infestations.

4) Mice and Rats

During the harsh winter months, mice and rats enjoy a warm home. Homeowner watch-outs include: easily accessible food (including open trash can lids), cracks and holes on the exterior of the home. A strong deterrent to mice and rats is to reduce food scraps. Inspect the exterior of your home and repair any holes larger than a dime, clean regularly, make sure trash lids are tight and ensure all food is put away and sealed.

5) Spiders

The notion that spiders crawl into your home in the winter is actually a common myth. The reality is, most common household spiders found in your home during the winter months have actually lived there all year long. Outdoor spiders develop their own overwintering strategies that may include antifreeze proteins (AFPs) and finding shelter in rock or wood piles where they go through a slowdown state called diapause. The exception is the Brown Recluse Spider. These spiders seek clutter and dark, underused spaces in your home. The best method to help avoid spiders is to consistently vacuum and keep all spaces clutter-free.

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