FAIRFAX, Va.– For homeowners, winter brings enough worry about damaging snow and winds and rising heating costs, meaning pest control is likely not top of mind this time of year. While we can appreciate the absence of most flying insects, such as mosquitoes, hornets and wasps, there are pests that remain active even as temperatures drop. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is sharing information about which ones to worry about this winter and tips on how to keep them out of the home.
“While peak bug season is typically throughout spring and summer, some pests will still be out and about during the winter months,” said Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist for the NPMA. “This is called ‘overwintering,’ meaning bugs, spiders and rodents will ride out the winter and do things that help them survive cold temperatures such as entering homes for food and shelter. Keeping pests out of the house creates a healthier environment for you and your family, as certain pests can pose health threats.”
Spiders are common to see around the house this time of year. Certain spiders will enter a unique state called “diapause” in response to unfavorable conditions. If there is a period of warm weather or if a food supply is readily available, then the spiders will become active again. To avoid spiders, NPMA recommends storing firewood at least 20 feet from the home on a raised structure and inspect firewood before bringing it into the house to reduce the likelihood that you have a spider hitchhiker. Reduce clutter, especially in dark areas of the house, and take caution when handling items that have been stored for long periods of time.
Two other common home invaders, cockroaches and rodents, are likely to be found indoors as they search for food, water and shelter. Both transmit disease and bacteria and contaminate food, while rodents are also known to cause costly damage to drywall, pipes and electrical wiring. They can also be a major headache if they find their way under the car hood. Be sure to clear clutter, eliminate sources of moisture and keep kitchens clean of food debris to avoid attracting these pests.
Other pests to look for include Asian lady beetles, cluster flies, boxelder bugs and, in the Mid Atlantic, stink bugs. While these insects don’t pose any health threats and will often go unnoticed, they will reemerge in great numbers once the weather warms and become a larger problem for homeowners. Keep them out this winter by sealing cracks and crevices around the exterior of the home and repairing damaged screen doors or windows.