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A Guide to Spooky Pests
Real-life creepy critters that can give homeowners a scare this Halloween
While it's normal to see spiders, bats and other creepy crawlers invade your front doorstep on Halloween in the form of trick-or-treaters or spooky décor, homeowners should also to be on the lookout for real-life ghoulish pests this fall.
Here's a guide to some common household critters, and a few simple tips to prevent them from turning your home into a haunted house.
Rats are one of the most reviled pests, due in part to their strange, hairy appearance. They are primarily nocturnal and can be found nesting in a variety of places - from inside piles of garbage to undisturbed areas of basements.
Rats can fit through an opening the size of a quarter, so it is easy for them to find access to our homes. Once inside, they can spread diseases by contaminating food and put homes at risk for electrical fires by gnawing through wires.
- Tip: Before homeowners bring boxes of pumpkins and faux cobwebs inside to decorate for Halloween, they should inspect them for signs of an infestation such as gnaw marks and rodent droppings. Once Halloween is over and it's time to pack away the ghoulish decorations, make sure they are stored in a plastic box with a sealed lid. This will prevent rodents from making out-of-season décor their new home.
For centuries, bats have caused unfounded fear in people, as they are often associated with vampires and haunted houses. Bats are nocturnal mammals that roost in dark areas of buildings, such as attics, belfries and under fascia boards, and in other sheltered areas like caves. They are known to fly from their secluded nests at dusk to get food and return just before daylight. Bats are frequent carriers of rabies, which can be fatal if left untreated.
- Tip: Homeowners should screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, and install door sweeps this fall to keep bats out of the home. If an active bat infestation is suspected, it's important to contact a licensed pest professional because bats are protected by law in most states.
The sight of a spider crawling on the wall can frighten just about anyone, especially around Halloween. Although spiders often get a bad rap, only a few species found in the United States are actually dangerous. Homeowners should be particularly aware of the brown recluse spider, the black widow spider and the hobo spider, as these types of spiders are known to administer a painful bite when disturbed or threatened.
- Homeowners can avoid coming in contact with spiders by keeping garages, attics and basements clean and clutter-free. Make sure to wear heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time, like Halloween decorations.
Bed bugs are similar to vampires in that they feed off of human blood, typically at night. Although bed bugs are often found in beds, they can also conceal themselves behind baseboards, underneath electrical switch plates and in furniture crevices. Bed bugs will hide in luggage, purses, laptop cases and other personal belongings in an effort to find a human food supply. Luckily, these elusive pests do not transmit disease, but they can leave red, itchy welts on the skin.
- Tip: If you plan on purchasing a Halloween costume from a rental or second-hand store, make sure to inspect it for bed bugs before dressing up to go trick-or-treating. Pay particular attention to the inside seams, looking for any signs of sticky white eggs, shed skins and the bugs themselves.
If you find these pests or any other real-life creepy crawlers hiding within the confines of your home, make sure to contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the problem.