In winter, most folks feel lucky to get a breather from the ubiquitous summer pests – flies, mosquitoes, ticks – and might want to pull back on their pest control management. Nothing could be further from the truth! Cold months are when pests come indoors to get food, shelter and water. And it’s also the best time to check your lawn for pests and weeds and treat your yard for a better spring and summer.
In the pest department, cockroaches, rodents, ladybugs and stink bugs are among the unsavory pests that might be likely to show up in your Washington home to take refuge:
- Cockroaches – With more than 70 species of cockroaches in the world, there are some who like to live outdoors and others that have their bags packed to move in with you during the winter months. Cockroaches can cause multiple health-related issues, from asthma attacks to allergic reactions. They spread nasty bacteria, including those that cause E. coli and Salmonella, and they can contaminate your food as they secrete waste and/or saliva.
- Rodents – Nearly half of all rodent issues take place during the fall and winter, according to the National Pest Management Association, as rats and mice move indoors. Because rodents are known to spread at least 35 diseases, some of them serious, it’s important to be proactive to help prevent a winter infestation. Overwintering rodents can also cause extensive damage to your home. Gnawed electrical wires can pose a dangerous fire hazard, while chewed water lines can cause leaks or even flooding. Rats and mice also cause considerable damage to insulation through tunneling, by tearing it apart for nesting materials or due to contamination from feces.
- Stink bugs – Brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSBs) respond to changes in temperature by seeking places suitable for overwintering, like attics, storage areas, basements, window molding and behind baseboards. Those that do not seek shelter indoors can often be found outdoors under piles of leaves, mulch and firewood. Upon finding a preferred site, stink bugs release pheromones that attract other stink bugs to the site. Stink bugs in winter often use ventilation openings such as roof and gable vents to gain access. Be sure to also seal cracks, gaps and holes in siding, fascia boards, window moldings, door moldings, screens and other crevices/openings stink bugs may use to enter your home.
- Ladybugs – With red shells and black polka dots, ladybugs are generally considered to be harmless and cute. However, there are two types of ladybug species, and one species can be a nuisance when they fly to buildings in search of overwintering sites and end up indoors. The Asian Lady Beetle looks very similar to a regular ladybug, except its shell is more orange than red. These bugs often emit a noxious odor and yellowish staining fluid before dying. To prevent an infestation, make sure to seal cracks and check that your windows fit properly.
So don’t bug out of protecting your home from pests in the winter. Take this time to prepare for the warm months ahead. Call a qualified pest control professional for advice and treatment if necessary.