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As the cold season rolls in, pests often roll in with it to seek shelter from the elements. Unfortunately, our homes can provide the perfect refuge for critters of all kinds. Once inside, pests are not only difficult to eradicate, but they can also pose serious health risks by carrying diseases like rabies and biting if they feel threatened. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do while setting up for the holidays to prevent them from making an appearance.

What You Can Do

As always, the best defense against pests is a good offense: prevention. This winter, make sure you do the following if you want to stay as pest-free as possible:

Clean Up the Yard
Do not let brush, leaf piles, or other debris accumulate in the yard, as these materials make the ideal haven for small animals and unwanted bugs. Squirrels and other small wildlife are known to use tree branches to gain access to rooflines, where they can then find a number of ways to move indoors. They’ll find openings such as uncapped chimneys and broken vents, so make sure your home is adequately sealed. Cut back tree limbs or branches away from the roofline.

Pay Attention to What You Bring Inside
Pests love to hitchhike indoors on items that you bring in from outside. An uninspected Christmas tree can bring in any number of pests, from ants to spiders and even praying mantises — and these pests may have laid eggs in the tree, too. This also goes for natural holly decorations and mistletoe. It’s generally smart to give these kinds of decorations a good shaking outside to dislodge any pests before bringing them in. If you burn firewood, keep it stored at least 20 feet away from the house. Give it a good look for unwanted stowaways before bringing it in.

Keep Things Clean
Pests love untidy homes, especially in the winter! Your house might be the perfect place to find food, water, warmth, and shelter. You can minimize the attraction by keeping things clean, especially when it comes to food and mold. With any luck, keeping your home clean will go a long way toward making sure pests don’t bother you during the holiday season.

Eliminate leftover crumbs and food smells that might attract ants, rodents, and cockroaches. Prime targets in the kitchen are the pantry and under/behind appliances like the stove. Keep sinks, toilets, and showers clean to avoid attracting bugs. Clean and seal gaps in walls, doors, and baseboards to prevent pests from entering or exiting your walls. Regularly wash sheets and linens to avoid dust mites and fend off bed bugs.

Keep Food Securely Stored
Most foods should be properly stored in plastic or glass containers so pests won’t be attracted to them. Once again, the pantry is great real estate for vacationing pests that might decide to make it their permanent residence. Pests that are after your stored foodstuffs like worms, moths, cockroaches, and rodents can often get through paper or cardboard containers to access food, so remember to keep such ingredients and leftovers high off the ground. It’s also important to routinely check expiration dates and throw away food that isn’t good anymore, as spoiled food is far more likely to attract pests.

Unbox and Store Decorations Properly
Pests like beetles, cockroaches, and rodents frequently make their homes in storage containers, as they are often dark, warm, and infrequently disturbed. This can be a problem when opening those containers, though, as a pest may escape into other parts of the home when given the chance. Unbox your decorations and holiday supplies carefully to avoid this, and when you’re done, carefully pack the decorations up again and try to make sure the boxes are sealed reasonably well.

We’re Here to Help

You don’t want to have to worry about a pest infestation during the holiday season, so if you have questions or think you might have a developed pest problem, contact us for a free inspection! We’d be happy to give you peace of mind as you prepare to enjoy time with family.