For many homeowners, pest proofing is a chore relegated to the warmer months of the year. But many pests gain entry into homes in the winter as they seek shelter from the cold weather. In fact, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), rodents alone invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter.
With 24% of homeowners reporting mice infestations specifically in the winter, they are among the top pest issues of the season. Mice and rats spread diseases like Salmonella and Hantavirus when they contaminate food, and bring fleas, ticks and lice indoors. Rodents can also cause serious structural damage by chewing through wood and electrical wiring.
Other winter invaders pose health threats, as well. Cockroaches and ants contaminate food sources, and cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks in children. Spiders bite when they feel threatened, causing serious reactions in some people.
“Pests including cockroaches, ants, spiders and especially rodents are common home invaders in the winter,” says Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “An infestation by these pests can cause serious health and property issues if not properly dealt with in a timely manner. However, homeowners can help prevent infestation troubles by taking a proactive approach in eliminating entryways into the home.”
To prevent pests from infesting your home this winter, NPMA recommends following these tips:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home.
- Inspect wires, insulation and walls for gnaw marks, which may indicate a rodent infestation.
- Store boxes off of the floor to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
- Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.
- If you suspect an infestation, contact a pest professional.