Inspect it All Before You Deck the Halls

- National Pest Management Association
Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas is my family's favorite time of the year. We generally start the season's festivities the day after Thanksgiving by cutting down our Christmas tree. We enjoy hot cocoa most every night (without guilt, of course, since 'tis the season), and we are one of Nestle's best customers when it comes to baking. Truffles, magic bars, and peanut butter blossoms are all particular favorites. While I welcome the cozy traditions that come at this time of year, I would be remiss in my Bug Lady duties if I didn't take the opportunity to remind you of a few seasonal pest-proofing tips to help you avoid some of the unwanted creepy crawlies that often emerge during the holidays.

Check your Christmas Greens for Insects. I learned this one the hard way. We were so excited to bring our tree indoors one year that we neglected to inspect it for evidence of insects or arachnids. Well, it didn't take long until we had spiders and cobwebs everywhere! The tree had nests deep in the interior of the branches and the warmth of our home obviously expedited the emergence of the nymphs.  Lesson learned and one worth sharing. 

Inspect Your Holiday Décor and Store Properly.  Here's another painful lesson I picked up prior to learning how to safeguard against pests. We must not have put a lid tightly on a box of holiday decorations before it was stored in the garage because when we unpacked it the next year, not only were the decorations in there but so was a dead mouse - and what appeared to be hundreds of rodent droppings. Imagine my surprise. Needless to say, the entire box and its contents were immediately hurled into the trash. Fortunately, there were no family heirlooms inside, though in my horror, I am quite sure I would have dispensed with those as well. Now, EVERYTHING we store in the garage, basement and attic goes in sturdy, hard plastic containers with secure lids that can't be gnawed through by mice.

Examine and Protect Your Baking Supplies. Fortunately, baking is one holiday tradition that hasn’t been marred by bugs for me personally, but I know many who have had afternoon baking sessions put on hold due to the discovery of pantry pests. No one wants to cook with bugs in the flour or ants in the sugar. Be sure to store ingredients in air-tight containers and consider adding a bay leaf to canisters and packages of dry goods as the smell will often help to keep bugs at bay. (Pun intended.) Also, check all your baking supplies before you purchase them to make sure they show no signs of damage.

In managing our homes, there are so many little things we "should do." Some of the recommendations we hear, we immediately heed while others we put off or take with a grain of salt. When it comes to pests and the diseases they can transmit - and the utter agony they cause most of us - I urge you to follow these precautionary steps. I have made mistakes but I have learned from them and now relish my platform to help others from following in my erroneous footsteps!

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