Keep Pests Out in the Cold

FAIRFAX, Va. (December 22, 2010)The winter season is a time for people to enjoy the comforts of being indoors. Unfortunately, many pests enjoy spending winter inside a warm house as well. Rodents alone invade an estimated 21 million homes in the U.S. each winter.

More than just a nuisance, there are real threats posed by many of the pests that like to share our homes. Mice and rats can spread diseases like salmonella and hantavirus and can contaminate food. Rodents can also bring other pests like fleas, ticks and lice indoors and can cause serious structural damage to a home by chewing through wood and electrical wiring.

Beyond rodents, other winter pests include ants, spiders and cockroaches, which can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, spread disease, transmit bacteria, contaminate food and in some cases, bite.

"The risks posed by these pests are not something to be taken lightly," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "An infestation by one or more of them can lead to serious health and property concerns if left uncontrolled or if they go undetected."

Fortunately, there are steps homeowners can take to prevent pests from coming indoors on firewood, foliage and family pets, or from gaining entry through small cracks and crevices in a home's exterior.

  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home.
  • Store items that are kept in garages, basements and attics in plastic, sealed containers rather than cardboard boxes to prevent rodents from nesting inside.
  • Keep branches and shrubbery trimmed away from the home.
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and five feet off the ground.
  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose garbage regularly.
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact your local pest professional.
  • For more information or to find a pest professional visit:

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.