When the temperature starts to fall–along with the snow, sleet, and freezing rain—you seek the shelter of your house, or some other warm building, as soon as possible.
That’s what all of those pests that live outdoors are doing, too.
They’re moving indoors, trying to survive the harsh weather and possibly find food and water at the same time. And your house or garage can be very inviting.
The list of potential intruders is long.
Insects such as stinkbugs, crickets, cockroaches, spiders, and ladybugs could appear as cold weather arrives. Mice and rats, which reportedly can slip through a dime-sized hole, will make themselves at home and help themselves to your food once they’ve found a way inside. Even larger pests like squirrels and raccoons can end up in your attic or garage.
And these are not all harmless little critters that are simply a nuisance.
Cockroaches are some of the most repugnant pests, carrying all sorts of bacterial infections and stirring up allergens in the home. Mice will chew through your electrical wiring and can carry disease as well. Except for the poisonous brown recluse, spiders are mostly harmless. But who enjoys seeing them crawling around on your walls and floors?
Winter is the time of year when it’s more important than ever to pest-proof your house.
It’s far better to keep these annoying creatures out of your home than to try and evict them after they have settled in. Here are some suggestions for removing the welcome mat for all of them:
Check thoroughly around your house.
All those tiny cracks and holes that you hardly notice can be entryways for rodents. Double check the areas where gas, water, and utility lines enter your house or where vents exit it. The heat that gas and power lines give off attracts them to the openings. Seal any of them with caulk, concrete, or mortar.
Pay attention to doors and windows by replacing any worn weather stripping. If they aren’t sealing properly, adjust them until they do.
Cracks and gaps in the ceiling are another entry point for mice. They are good climbers and are often found in attics. Once they’re in the attic, a crack in the ceiling can allow them into your living area where you keep all the food.
Mice find their way into your house through gaps in the insulation of unfinished areas. You can find these gaps by turning off the lights and looking for sources of light. Or you might try lighting a candle and looking for drafts.
Also, cover your chimney and stovepipes with heavy-duty screens that can’t be bitten through.
There are a few things you can do around your house and yard to make it less attractive to bugs and rodents:
After you’re confident that everything has been cleared away within ten feet of the perimeter of your house, take one more look around for anything that could shelter a pest. Without a place to hide, they will be less prone to come near enough to attempt a break-in.
Pests like roaches and mice aren’t satisfied with only staying warm in your house. They want to eat there, too. Food is their biggest attraction, so don’t make it easy for them to get a free meal:
Like every other living thing, pests need water to survive. Rats, roaches, and moths are just some of the invaders that are drawn to wet or humid areas of your house. Your basement, attic, and garage—those unfinished areas that accumulate moist air—are where many of these pests congregate.
Check your plumbing to ensure that none of the pipes are leaking, paying particular attention to the fittings that join one pipe to another. Look for gaps in the windows, cracks in the ceilings and walls, and exposed insulation. These are all entry points for moisture from ice, snow, and rain—and pests. Any puddles or stains on the floor should alert you to where water could be getting in.
Consider using a dehumidifier in any humid rooms. Those areas will be dry and less appealing to unwanted pests.
It is far better to use these simple and relatively inexpensive steps to ensure that your home stays pest free than to try to rid your home of them after they’ve started camping out. Winter is not the time to ignore pest control. If anything, it may be the most important.