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Don't let winter pests cozy up in your home

Published On: Dec 10 2012 09:37:08 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2013 11:42:45 AM CST
welcome doormat at front door of house

iStock / akurtz

(NewsUSA) - Humans aren't the only creatures seeking warmth and shelter during winter's harsh temperatures and snow. Many pests make their way indoors and invade our sacred space in search of food and hiding and nesting spots, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Mice, one of the most common winter pests, can enter homes through openings as small as the size of a dime. Once inside, mice are capable of chewing through walls, electrical wires and baseboards and breed at alarming rates -- producing as many as a dozen babies every three weeks. Signs of an infestation include scampering sounds at night in walls and ceilings, droppings found in undisturbed places and damaged or partially eaten food.

While mice and rodents in general are the more rampant pests in winter, other pests such as spiders, ants, cockroaches and sometimes even nuisance wildlife find their way inside homes, posing a variety of risks to humans. Whether it's health risks such as Salmonella and allergies from cockroaches, painful and itchy bites from spiders or other diseases and property damage from rodents and wildlife, NPMA's experts encourage homeowners to take precautionary steps to keep these pests out of their homes this winter.

"A few simple maintenance measures can go a long way in keeping unwanted winter visitors out of homes this winter," advised Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "If your home has experienced any sort of damage from storms or just regular wear and tear, now is the time to take stock and make the necessary repairs."

* Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the structure, using caulk and/or steel wool.

* Screen vents and openings to chimneys.

* Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.

* Replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around the basement foundation and windows.

* Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains.

* Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house; keep shrubbery well trimmed.

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