5 Ways to Banish Household Critters in the Winter
When the weather gets colder, many people break out their heavy sweaters, winter boots, and woolen socks to stay cozy. Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones looking for a way to stay warm when the mercury drops.
All manner of creepy crawlies also start looking for ways to keep toasty during long and dark nights, which is why you might start seeing an influx of certain pests — like spiders, mice, and even some beetles — as soon as the days get shorter and the temperatures inch closer toward the freezing mark. Never fear, though. If you follow these five tips, you won’t have these new friends for long.
First, know why bugs and rodents come inside.
Before you can beat them, you need to understand exactly why they’ve invaded your space in the first place. Just like people reach for their coat and gloves before they head outside, most critters are hardwired to protect themselves from the elements once it starts to get cold. “Attics and crawl spaces provide wildlife with warmth, nesting materials, and safety they need to survive during cold temperatures,” explains Meg Pearson, training manager at Critter Control.
“The most common pests we see moving indoors during the colder months are squirrels, rats and mice, raccoons, and opossums,” she continues, adding that it’s important not to let any of these animals hibernate indoors.
Seal cracks, holes, and gaps.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is true with getting rid of unwanted winter guests as well. “This includes sealing up any current or potential entry points for animals on the structure,” Pearson says. “If an animal makes their way into the structure before any preventative work is done, it is best to call a professional to diagnose the problem and discuss a solution.”
Treat your home.
Most pests go through an overwintering process where they’ll come inside to keep warm over the colder months before reemerging as soon as temperatures pick back up. If you’ve noticed an uptick in these types of bugs — which include stink bugs, lady bugs, and boxelder beetles — consider having a preventative treatment applied to your home in early fall before the bugs start looking for a new place to stay. You can also periodically use natural repellent sprays, or plant herbs like mint and lavender near doors and windows in a warmer climate.
Eliminate food sources.
Shannon Harlow-Ellis, an associate-certified entomologist at Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company, says that most pests found indoors during the winter are looking for the three necessities of life: food, water, and shelter. “And as the natural food chain works, if there is more of one pest, whomever their predator is, it is also going to be more prevalent,” she explains. The best way to eliminate your home as a potential place to crash would be to get rid of food sources — like checking for crumbs and not leaving food out — and double-checking that you don’t have any water leaks.
Keep up on outdoor maintenance.
As much as you may want to hide away in the warmth of your home until spring arrives, Harlow-Ellis says tidying up outside will help keep the critters out, and she suggests keeping your mulch and leaves at least six-inches away from the exterior of your foundation. “This decaying organic matter provides food and shelter for many species of pests and moving it away from the home will give insects such as ants and cockroaches less access to the home,” she says.
Fortunately, if none of these solutions seem to help there is another alternative: calling in the pros. Most professional pest control companies can help you come up with a plan to get rid of your most persistent pests, allowing you to enjoy the comforts of your home without any unwanted four (or eight) legged guests.