With winter at our doorstep, pests have already begun searching for shelter from the harsh elements. Unfortunately for humans, they often end up as unwelcome guests in your home and other buildings. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) suggests homeowners take proactive steps to prevent overwintering pests from invading their houses. A few pest-proofing techniques can help prevent the aggravation of infestations and help prevent structural damage and protect family health.
When pests enter homes to overwinter, they can often go unnoticed. However, as the weather warms, they reemerge and become active, often revealing more significant problems.
There are all kinds of different people in the world. Some will stop everything they’re doing to chase a single stink bug around the house. Others can have hundreds crawling in their curtains, walking across their television, buzzing through the living room and kitchen—and dismiss them as nothing Most fall somewhere in the middle. No matter where you land, we’re thinking you would probably like to know how to keep those pests out of your house.
Knowing how to prevent overwintering pests from moving into your home begins with understanding the reasons they enter a house in the first place. Overwintering pests are unique in that they don’t prefer to live indoors; in fact, many of them cannot survive inside. Their food sources are outdoors.
So, why come in? The secret is in their name. Overwintering pests are transient and need a place to stay for the winter months. Once the cold weather dissipates, they’re happy to go. The problem is, they can be quite a problem while they’re waiting to do so, namely in the spring, as they try to leave and have trouble figuring out how they got in.
In many cases, these pests will make themselves comfortable in seasonal homes where they become dormant. However, if a homeowner is to visit and raise the temperature in the home, these pests will awaken and emerge. This can be quite disturbing for anyone looking to celebrate a holiday or spend a peaceful weekend at the cabin.
The two ways to avoid welcoming overwinterers are directly linked to the behavior of these pests. In the fall, rather than warming themselves on the sunny side of a rock, they are most likely warming themselves on the sunny side of your home. This can be easily averted by hiring a pest control company to treat any exterior walls. If the pests are unable to congregate, they won’t be exploring your defenses to find a way into the home.
The second way to avoid these pests is essential, but can be ineffective if not completed properly. Since overwintering bugs are searching for a way in, it makes sense that sealing your cracks and crevices in walls will keep them out. The problem is that your walls have a lot more vulnerabilities than one may realize. Many pests, including mice, can squeeze into tiny holes in areas under your porch or deck, slide under siding, wiggle in through torn screens, and make their way right down your chimney. While it is essential to address as many entry points as you can, the only real solution is to create barriers to seal them out.
Common Overwintering Pests
Stink Bugs – The brown marmorated stink bug, an invasive species from Asia, has quickly spread throughout much of the United States over the years. Though the majority of their lifecycle is spent outdoors, they become a smelly nuisance when they invade homes in high numbers searching for overwintering sites.
Asian Beetles – Most species of this beetle family pose little threat to humans, but the multi-colored Asian beetle can aggravate asthma and cause allergic reactions. They also tend to exude a staining, yellow, foul-smelling fluid. These are not to be confused with Lady Bugs, a harmless species of beetle.
Boxelder Bugs – Boxelder bugs congregate on warm spots of buildings before migrating indoors to overwinter in insulating cracks and crevices. Their fecal material can discolor fabric, and they occasionally bite when handled, which causes slight irritation.
Mice – Though they don’t “overwinter” per se, mice are active year-round and scurry indoors when the weather cools to nest and be close to food sources. Their constant gnawing causes damage and even spark electrical fires. They are also a sanitation issue, contaminating food and defecating on surfaces like counters.
To prevent pests this fall, repair torn screens, seal cracks with high-quality silicone or silicone-latex caulk, fill holes around utilities with steel wool and install door sweeps on exterior entrances. If you suspect an infestation, a qualified pest professional can evaluate the problem and recommend an action plan.