As winter arrives and temperatures dip, you’re probably ready to settle in for the season. Unfortunately, many household pests are planning to do the same, and they may choose your home as their winter hideout!
Rodents and spiders are among these overwintering pests, and they can cause big problems as they seek shelter in residences during the colder months. So it’s worth knowing what they’re looking for in a temporary home, and how to make your house less attractive to them in the months ahead.
Spiders are common household pests, and typically live where there’s a food source nearby. That means if you have a spider problem, you also have a pest problem with the types of insects they eat. Spiders can be beneficial in ridding your home of cockroaches, mosquitoes, bees and wasps, but they become dangerous when humans interact with them. That’s why it’s important to keep them and their food sources out of your home.
More than 35,000 species of spiders have been identified worldwide, and in the U.S. there are approximately 3,500 species. Only 10 to 20 of these are normally encountered inside the home, including the generally harmless house spider. However, other species like the brown recluse and black widow are indeed dangerous and have been known to bite unsuspecting individuals.
Most spiders are not aggressive, and only become so when threatened. They typically wait for their prey in hiding, which is how they get into areas or items that bring them closer to your living space. Because of this, you should use caution when handling firewood, mulch or moving boxes, as these are three typical means by which spiders are transported into the home.
Managing spider infestations is dependent upon correct spider and food source identification, which require the help of a pest control professional. To prevent a problem in the first place, make areas in and around your home uncomfortable for spiders by removing clutter, sweeping and vacuuming regularly. Inhibit their ability to build webs by cleaning and dusting, and seal off potential entries like cracks and crevices, spaces under doors, and holes in window and door screens.
Rodents: Rats and mice
Rats and mice carry dozens of diseases, which can be spread through their urine and feces as well as through bites. Diseases are also transferred from rodents to humans via ticks, mites and fleas after they feed on infected rats and mice. These dangers include hantaviruses leading to HPS, which can cause flu-like symptoms, and LCMV, a viral infectious disease that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and/or inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. LCMV is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn children. Rodents also carry fleas and mites known to spread rickettsialpox, plague and murine typhus.
In addition to disease, rodents can cause other home dangers, such as fires resulting from their gnawing on electrical wires. The most common U.S. intruders are the Norway rat, roof rat, deer mouse and house mouse, which, in the right conditions, can produce 42 to 60 offspring in a year.
Mice can squeeze through a space smaller than a dime, so prevent them and their rodent relatives from entering your home by sealing all cracks larger than a quarter of an inch wide. Also install weatherstripping or sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors. Outside, trim branches, plants and bushes that hang over your home, and stow garbage in properly sealed containers. Inside, avoid leaving dishes in the sink or pet food out overnight, store all foods in sealed containers, and keep a clean house. You should also make a regular inspection inside and outside your home for droppings, rub marks and burrows. If you see signs that rodents have moved in, contact a licensed pest management professional for help in identifying and eliminating the problem.
Keep pests out of your home this winter
If you’d like to learn more about how to prevent spiders and rodents from nesting with you this winter, visit Orkin.com. You’ll find a range of useful information to help identify and eliminate issues, including a pest library where you can look up any species you’ve spotted in or near your home. You can also locate a local Orkin pest control pro to help eliminate spiders and rodents, and arrange for a free pest control estimate.