Whether you see them or not, there are often many pests that take up residence in your home during the winter. Just like you, they want to escape the cold and avoid the harsh conditions of winter. While it’s a widespread problem, being proactive can help you protect your home from unwanted visitors.
What Does Overwintering Mean?
Overwintering is the term used to describe how pests survive the winter. As the temperatures start to drop, many pests are drawn to any warmth and light they can find in an attempt to survive the cold weather. Some pests use mulch, leaves, or even soil to stay warm, but others enter your home for the duration of the winter.
Pests that are overwintering in your home do not usually make themselves known right away. During the winter, most homeowners don’t realize they have a problem unless an uninvited visitor decides to venture out into the home’s living space. However, even pests that remain hidden during winter will eventually emerge when the warmer temperatures of spring arrive. This is the reason that homeowners suddenly see an increase in the number of pests in and around their homes during the spring. These critters have been in your house all along, but you didn’t know because they were less active while it was cold.
What Are the Most Common Overwintering Spots in Your Home?
Once pests enter your home in search of warmth, they often set up camp in secluded areas where they are less likely to be discovered. Common overwintering spots can include any spot in your home that is secluded or offers a place to hide, including:
- In the basement
- Inside the attic
- In crawl spaces
- Inside closets and storage areas
- Behind large appliances or furniture
- Inside the walls
What Are the Most Common Overwintering Insects?
While there are many pests that overwinter inside homes, some visitors are encountered more than others. Four common overwintering insects are boxelder bugs, brown marmorated stink bugs, Asian lady beetles, and cluster flies.
Boxelder bugs feed on the seeds of boxelder and maple trees during warm weather and migrate inside when temperatures drop. These 1/2 inch black and red pests don’t carry disease, but they can bite if confronted. They can also stain fabric when they defecate.
Brown marmorated stink bugs are aptly named because they emit a strong, noxious odor when crushed. These pests weren’t always a problem in the United States. They are an invasive species from Asia that arrived here in the late 1990s and quickly spread throughout the country. These 1/2 inch insects are brown and shaped like a shield, and when they find a warm shelter, they give off a chemical that attracts other stink bugs.
An Asian lady beetle looks very similar to the common native ladybug. These beetles can aggravate asthma and trigger allergic reactions. They don’t cause structural damage to homes, but they can be a nuisance since they emit a foul-smelling fluid that can leave behind yellow stains. They also release pheromones to attract more lady beetles to their warm shelter.
Cluster files are quite harmless, but they can be a nuisance. On warm sunny winter days, you might encounter a swarm of these pests around your windows, trying to get back outside.
Should I Be Worried About Rodents?
Technically speaking, rodents don’t overwinter because they remain active all year. Nevertheless, they want to escape the cold during winter, and thus, often enter your home as temperatures drop. Once they’ve found a way in, they make their nests and enjoy a readily available supply of food.
Having rodents take up residence in your home can cause a host of problems. These pests are dirty and can contaminate food and cooking surfaces. The urine, saliva, and feces of rodents can carry many serious diseases, aggravate asthma, and cause allergic reactions.
The rodents can also damage your home. Because they can gnaw through almost anything, they have been known to cause electrical fires and significant structural damage.
How Can You Prevent Pests From Entering Your Home?
Your best defense against pest invasion is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Consider taking steps that make your home less accessible:
- Search and repair cracks and crevices around your home’s foundation.
- Find and seal any cracks and holes around your door and window frames.
- Repair any damaged door or window screens, replace old weatherstripping, and install door sweeps on all entrances.
- Keep your gutters clean and debris-free.
- Sweep any leaves, mulch, and other debris at least 6 inches away from your home’s foundation.
- Store your firewood outside your home and carefully inspect it before bringing it in.
You should also make your home less enticing by keeping surfaces and pantries clean. Consistently vacuum, sweep, and mop your floors. Also, make sure countertops, sinks, and appliances are clean and crumb-free. Your food pantry should also be protected by storing food inside secure containers.
What To Do When Your Efforts Fail?
If you find that proactive maintenance steps aren’t enough to protect your home, contact a company such as Blue Chip Pest Control for help. Pest control companies can offer many levels of protection. First, overwintering pest control can help you avoid serious problems by protecting your home before infestations can occur. This is especially helpful since many homeowners have hidden pest problems that they aren’t aware of.
Additionally, if you are already dealing with an obvious invasion, a pest control company can quickly and safely eradicate the pests. These professionals can also check your home’s perimeter and foundation for entry points to ensure that all vulnerable spots are closed or sealed to protect your home from future problems.
Winter is the time of year when pests try to survive the winter by taking up residence in your home. Be proactive and protect your home with simple maintenance and thorough cleaning. Also, use a pest control company to provide you with the extra level of protection most homes need. By staying ahead of the problem, you can enjoy your winter at home without unwanted visitors.