Falling temperatures can sometimes lull homeowners into thinking that pest control can wait until the spring and summer, but in fact, some common pests are at their most intrusive in the winter. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself, “Where do insects go in the winter?” you probably won’t like the answer. Many household pests seek the comfortable warmth of your home. Rodents, raccoons, spiders, and other bugs are all more likely to find ways into your home in the cooler weather, but there are steps you can take to prevent their entry.

Seal Off Potential Entryways

Although you may feel certain that there are no obvious holes in your house, mice and other rodents can fit through surprisingly small openings. They do not have collapsible skeletons as some have rumored, but mice can fit through a dime-sized hole, while rats can fit through spaces with the diameter of a quarter. Check any parts of your home that could provide entry to these wily critters, or hire a professional to inspect your home. Windows and doors with loose or missing screens; old, wooden siding; and exterior pipes that enter the home can all provide easy access to a warm hideaway. Replace missing screens or tighten existing ones, and seal any holes in your home’s siding with hardware cloth and caulk. Inspect seals around exterior pipes, and caulk around them if the seal has been compromised. If your home has a chimney, consider contacting a chimney specialist to install either a screen or a chimney cap to prevent unwanted visitors.

Keep Your House Clean

Winter pests are not only seeking warmth and shelter—they’re also looking for an easy, reliable food source. Keep kitchen counters, floors, and sinks free of crumbs and food debris, and don’t leave boxes or other food containers open in the pantry or cabinets. Mice and other critters can, of course, chew through cardboard, but there’s no reason to make things easier for them. If you have had problems with spiders in particular, start a regular vacuuming schedule once you have blocked off any potential entryways. Spiders do lay eggs, so it’s important to continue your pest removal campaign even after the visible spiders are gone. Regular, thorough vacuuming can help stop a potential infestation in its tracks.

Don’t Bring the Outside In

Cooler weather often means cozy fires in fireplaces, but resist the urge to bring firewood into the house. Although it may look picturesque stacked on the hearth, firewood can be home to termites, stink bugs, and other annoying—and sometimes destructive—insects. Keep firewood outside as much as possible, and if you do bring it inside, make sure to carefully inspect it for signs of insects. Don’t store firewood on the ground or lean it up against the side of your house; instead, use a raised, plastic platform as a base for your firewood stash. The platform alone will thwart many bugs, and covering the entire stack with a plastic tarp will further reduce the likelihood of unwelcome tenants.

Consult the Professionals

Curtailing winter pests is an ongoing task, and although homeowners can do a lot of the preventative maintenance themselves, there are certain situations that call for professional intervention. Twice-yearly treatments performed by a pest control company can help keep seasonal insects and bugs at bay. If you find mice in the house or rodents, raccoons, or other critters in the walls or attic, contact a pest removal company as quickly as possible. Don’t try to evict those animals on your own, and definitely do not block off their exit routes until you are sure that they’re gone. Pest removal specialists have the training and equipment to get rid of rodents and other animals in a safe, humane way.

It’s not fun to think about bugs and rodents roaming around your house, but with a little advance maintenance, your home can be made a lot less inviting to these winter pests.

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Sources: Business Insider; Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management; LifeHacker.

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