If you live in sunny Florida on the west coast near the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in and around Sarasota, you know that winter is usually short and mild, especially when compared to the rest of the country, most particularly the northeast, midwest, and northwest. Although it’s called the Sunshine State, it doesn’t mean summer lasts all year long and freezing conditions do occur, often during January and February.
It’s those two months, and the months of November and December, the temperatures do fall. With falling temperatures, people don their sweaters, jackets, and outerwear, as well as enjoy the comforts of heated spaces, something that isn’t available to the pests lurking about the exterior of your home nesting in the yard and elsewhere on your property. These pests too, are drawn to warmer spaces and your home is one inviting place when the temperature falls.
From the yard softscape features, to the hardscaping, and in between practically every nook and cranny, pests find shelter; but when that shelter isn’t sufficient to protect from the cold, they’ll seek out a warm place to escape. The ironic thing about this slow invasion is that you’re often the one leading those pests into your home, and, in more ways than one.
Insect and Rodent Activity During the Winter Months
A popular misconception is that many pests are inactive during the winter months, but that’s not actually always the case. Though it is a time when pests aren’t as active or high in population, they are nevertheless just as destructive. In fact, the cold is an excellent motivator for pests to do more damage to survive through the cold months. While it is true that some pests hibernate during the winter, like certain rodents, those same pests tend to do so in a congregation of large numbers.
Greasy fur coats aside, pests like rats and squirrels love to break into our toasty warm homes as temperatures drop, according to the National Pest Management Association. And Americans spend more than $4 billion per year just to get rid of them. Rodents carry all sorts of nasty diseases, like Salmonella and Hantavirus and can chew straight through wallboards and electrical wiring. —Business Insider
Insects remain active during the winter just as they do during the other seasons of the year and that can spell trouble for your landscape, particularly plants and trees, which are still an excellent food source for pests trying to survive in the cold. When the food sources come from inside your home, that means insects will continue to multiply and that spells trouble.
Ways to Keep Your Home Winter Pest Free
The best way to protect your home from the destructive forces of pests is to secure it and your belongings in ways that repel said pests. Here are some ways to keep your home free of winter pests, including some suggestions from the National Pest Management Association:
- Seal it, then store it. So many of us are guilty of storing away personal possessions in an expedient, convenient way. While cardboard boxes are a very common solution, they pose no barrier to pests. Cardboard is easy to penetrate but sealed, heavy plastic storage bins are not accessible to most pests. These will protect your possessions and keep pests at-bay.
- Keep a tight lid on your food. Speaking of plastic containers, those are the same things to use for food storage. Be it snacks or pet food, if its tightly sealed, it preserves food items and doesn’t become a feast for pests.
- Don’t let garbage pile up. When the garbage in the kitchen fills-up to the brim, don’t wait until tomorrow morning to cinch the bag up and throw it into the garbage bin. Do it then and nocturnal pests won’t find a midnight snack while you’re snoozing away.
- Cover any openings to your home. Any cracks or holes on the exterior walls should be sealed up, and entryways such as chimney vents should be screened. Make sure to inspect the exterior of your home thoroughly for any possible openings.
- Make repairs outside your house. Replace loose mortar and install new weatherstripping anywhere it’s needed to keep heating costs down and pests out.
- Direct water away from your home. Keep gutters and downspouts free of debris and make sure that water flows away from your home.
- Store firewood away from your home’s immediate exterior. Firewood should never be store against your home’s exterior. Put it twenty or more feet away and use as much of it as possible so it doesn’t become a home for pests when winter is over.
Another thing to do is to stay alert and up-to-date with what’s going on in areas of your home that aren’t usually inspected. Your attic is a great example, it’s a perfect places for pests to nest during the winter, so poke around periodically and look for telltale signs, such as gnawed wires and droppings. If you find either, deal with it right away to avoid being hit with a big cost.