Answers to Your Winter Pest-Proofing Questions

The National Pest Management Association’s best practices for keeping pests out

FAIRFAX, Va. (January 28, 2014) – Winter is all about survival for many common household pests and nuisance wildlife. They search for food and shelter from the cold temperatures, and without the proper prevention tactics, that food and shelter could be found in homes. Once inside, these pests can infest properties in short order, can contaminate food and even spread disease.

Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association and author of The Bug Lady blog on the consumer education site,, addresses some of the most common questions homeowners have about how pests find their way indoors.

What makes homes attractive to pests?

Pests are attracted to food, water and shelter. Exclusion techniques and removing sources of food and water will help deter pests. Be sure to keep food in sealed containers and clean up after each meal to avoid leaving crumbs. Eliminate moisture from leaky pipes and drains to ensure that if pests do get in, they won’t have ideal conditions in which they can thrive.

How do pests get into homes?

Pests enter structures through cracks and crevices around windows, doors, along foundations, ripped screens, uncapped chimneys, and also through holes where utilities enter homes. Firewood, groceries, and other deliveries can carry pests in, too. Mice fit through holes the size of a dime, so seal any openings with silicone caulk or steel wool. To avoid hitchhiking pests, examine packages thoroughly before bringing them inside.

Where are pests most likely to settle in?

Pests have direct access to basements and attics through roofs and foundations, so they should be kept well ventilated, dry, and clutter-free. Also, because of the concentration of food and water, kitchens and bathrooms are other common areas.

What should I do if I have an infestation?

Despite our best efforts, pests sometimes find their way inside. If you have a pest problem or want advice on how to better pest-proof your home, contact a qualified and licensed pest professional.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information visit