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Old Man Winter Blows Pests Indoors
A warm home may fight off the chill of a cold winter day, but it also provides the perfect cozy hideaway for pests, too. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates that 21 million pests invade homes every winter. Cockroaches, termites, ants, spiders and especially mice make a hasty retreat indoors during the colder months.
Mice seek shelter, warmth and food, taking advantage of openings as small as the size of a dime, to make their way indoors. Once inside, mice are capable of chewing through walls, electrical wires and baseboards and breed at alarming rates, as much 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.
In addition to property damage and rampant infestations, mice also carry and transmit diseases such as Hantavirus and Salmonella. "Diseases are transferred from mice to humans through their urine and droppings," says Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "With mice having the capability of dropping more than 70 times a day, its important to seal cracks around the home to prevent mice from getting in. It's also a good idea to have a maintenance plan in place, working with a local pest professional to target vulnerable entryways and help prevent infestations in the first place."
NPMA offers a few important measures to prevent pests during the winter:
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home 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.
- If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.