Tips for a Pest-Free Holiday

How to decorate for the season without worrying about pests

The holiday season is upon us once again and families across the country are getting in the spirit by stringing festive lights, wrapping presents and decorating their homes. While such holiday preparations may seem innocuous, they can provide opportunities for pests like spiders, ticks, ants and mice to be inadvertently brought indoors.

One of the most common ways that pests are introduced into homes during the holidays is via Christmas trees, wreaths and firewood. Ants, spiders, ticks and other pests can hide deep in the branches of trees and in crevices of wood. In some cases, insects may even lay eggs in trees or garland. When brought indoors, the eggs will hatch creating a major pest infestation in the home.

To prevent bringing pests into you home on live trees and other greenery, take a few minutes to carefully inspect such items before bringing indoors. Look for insects, nests or eggs, and shake off greenery outdoors to rouse any hidden tenants.

Another way that pests can access our homes this time of year is through boxes of decorations, which are often stored in basements, attics, garages and crawlspaces - all favorite hiding spots for pests. Mice and other pests find their way into the boxes of during the off-season. When homeowners unpack their decorations, they may find live or dead pests and droppings inside. Unfortunately, in some cases, they may also find that holiday decorations have been chewed or destroyed by pests.

When it's time to decorate, unpack holiday items outside and inspect all items carefully for signs of pests, droppings, gnaw marks or other damage before bringing them indoors. Pay special attention to strings of lights to ensure that wiring has not been frayed by pests.

Perhaps the most important step you can take to prevent pests during the holidays comes at the end of each season, when it's time to take down the tree and pack up the decorations. Store holiday décor in hard, plastic bins with tightly sealed lids instead of cardboard boxes or bags that can easily be chewed through. Do not pile discarded live trees or cut firewood near your home, as this can attract mice, termites and other pests.

During this busy time of the year, it's easy to overlook signs of pests in the rush to check another item off of the holiday "to-do" list, but by taking some simple steps you can greatly reduce your chances of battling pests in your home this season. Remember, if you see signs of pests or suspect an infestation this holiday season, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect your home and treat the problem promptly so that you can get back to enjoying the festivities in a pest-free home.

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