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Winter Months Send Pests Indoors
Colder temperatures send wintry pests, such as rodents, spiders and cockroaches searching for food, water and shelter indoors. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) provides tips for homeowners on how to keep unwanted pests outdoors this winter season.
"Throughout the winter rodents such as house mice seek shelter indoors, often causing serious and costly property damage," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "In addition to property damage, winter pests contaminate food and water sources throughout the home."
Mice are a common winter nuisance and only need a space the size of a dime to enter a home. Once inside, mice and other rodents can cause considerable damage and pose serious health risks to people and pets. Mice are notorious for chewing through wires and wallboard. Homeowners need to inspect for rodent droppings in undisturbed areas, especially since droppings can trigger allergies and spread disease such as Hantavirus.
During the winter months, spiders and cockroaches take advantage of damaged or missing screens on doors and chimneys to access the home. Once inside, cockroaches can easily contaminate unattended food and water sources.
Mice are capable of dropping up to 25,000 fecal pellets each year, an estimated 70 times each day. Rodent droppings can trigger allergies and spread disease including Hantavirus - causing headaches, fever, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Rodents can chew through wallboards, cardboard, wood and even electrical wiring, increasing the risk of a house fire. Henriksen points out that rats only need an entry point the size of a quarter to access your home.
NPMA offers a few important measures to prevent pests this winter season:
- Seal any cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
- Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
- Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Repair fascia, sofits and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
- 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.