Is Pest Control Necessary in the Winter?

Why are you treating my home in the winter?

It’s common thinking that when temperatures drop and snow is on the ground in Maine that pests either die or pack up and leave until next year.  This is untrue.  There is no mass extinction every December followed by the creation of new life every April.  In colder months, many common household bugs go into a form of hibernation called overwintering.  This can be done under the safety of nearby rocks, in the soil, or in the wall cavity of a home.  Pests are not dead, but dormant and lying in wait until spring or a warm winter day when they become active again.  

Because most products only last a few months, waiting an entire 4-6 months without treating, gives pests an opportunity to reproduce and come back in the spring just as strong as they did the year before. Treating once or twice a year is like putting a band aid on a wound needing surgery.  Pest control is most effective when the life cycle of the pest is broken and there is consistency in treatment.  Over time in the industry, we have found that every 90 days (or one winter treatment) is the perfect timing for effectively treating pests.

 

What pests are common in winter?

Rodents: Because of recent mild winters, rodent populations in Maine have reached an all-time high.  Mice and rats will come in for shelter (starting in October) and will stick around until early April when the snow is off the ground.  Mice only require ¼” opening (dime-sized) to enter a home, getting their head through the then contorting their bodies the rest of the way.  Since rodents are curious but shy around humans, they love to find a seasonal home in your warm basement or attic, and will crawl through utilities and pipes to get behind your walls.  From here they can gnaw on wires, wood beams, and insulation.

Fall invaders: Asian lady beetles, stink bugs, western conifer sed bugs are particularly visible in the fall/winter, hovering around sun-facing windows and squeezing through cracks and crevices in windows and doors.  If your home is two stories, usually these guys are upstairs.

Spiders: Often hardwired to return to the same places, spiders will find their way into basements and attics in the winter.  Knocking down nests and applying an exterior dust can be very effective at controlling them 

Wood destroying insects: If carpenter ants have been an issue in the warmer months, often they are in search of warmer climates where they can do damage in the winter.  For more on ants see our blog here

How can you do your part to prevent winter pests?

Firewood: Although it’s not a perfect solution, if you have firewood, store it at least 20 feet away from the home.  Although carpenter ants can travel much further that than, it does reduce the likelihood of an infestation.

Moisture Sites: If there are any leaky pipes in the kitchen or basement, fix immediately.  Clogged drains can also attract unwelcome guests.    

Cracks and Crevices: Installing door sweeps and repairing broken screens is recommended for bugs.  For rodents, it can be more difficult, but performing exclusion work with steel wool around your bulkhead (if you have one) and/or garage is a great place to start.

Other Projects:  Keep basements, crawl spaces, and attics dry and install chimney vents if necessary.

 

What does Green Shield do in the winter for your winter treatment?

As stated above, pests are much easier to control in their dormant state when they are fewer in number.  There is also less, light, heat, and moisture to break down our products, making them effective for longer periods of time.

Bugs: Because spiders tend to be a problem in colder months, webs are removed and infested areas are treated.  Prevention is done in typical areas where they can re-infest.  Windows are typically dusted for fall invaders (see above).  Often, we recommend homeowners being home if there are any signs on the interior so that we can inspect and treat.  The attic will sometimes attract cluster flies and the basement’s warm damp climate is a safe haven for bugs in the winter.

Rodents:  Winter allows us to perform a full inspection, with a special focus on potential entry points.  For rodents, we look for the most common problem areas: bulkheads, garage doors, and gaps and holes around electrical and plumbing.  We use a product that is tougher and sharper than steel wool to make sure these entrances are sealed properly.  We also use indoor and outdoor baiting to kick out existing rodents and reduce the number of potential intruders on the outside. For a more detailed look at our process, please see last month’s blog here.

Conclusion

Although Maine is colder than most states, we also have more forests and uninhabited land, which makes Maine buggier than many of our warmer neighbors to the south.  Our technicians are some of the best-trained and well-equipped to apply environmentally friendly products to protect you and your family.  For more information please call (207) 815-1003 or contact us here