Creepy, crawly, icky, stinky: No matter what words you use to describe them, most insects are unwanted pests that make their way inside your house. Just as ants and bees are drawn to summer picnics, insects looking for food and a comfortable place to hang out during the winter are drawn toward your home. This means that unseasonably warm winter weather conditions can mean a proliferation of insects that are more active than usual -- and they may want to take up residence inside until spring and summer arrive.
Termites can cause a lot of damage to your home if they come inside; the best defense is to have your home inspected by a pest control expert who can recommend any structural changes or repairs that need to be made, as well as chemical treatments that can create a protective barrier around your home. Baits can actually lure termites away from your house; they'll help eliminate the pest population when worker insects take the poison back to their colony.
Another insect that likes to winter indoors is the Asian lady beetle, a colorful and harmless insect introduced to the U.S. to help control some other insect pests. Usually, they will stay inside the walls, but warm winter weather can coax them out of their hiding places in search of light. Prevent them from entering your home by sealing or caulking any outdoor cracks and crevices; once inside, you can get rid of them by sweeping or vacuuming, or by setting a trap. Insecticide is not recommended unless the infestation is heavy.
Finally, warm winter weather can also cause fleas and ticks to be more active. These hitchhiking insects often catch a ride on your pets and come inside your home. Keep these problems away by treating your pets regularly with a systemic repellant application, collar, or regular shampoos.
Here are a few tips to help protect your home from insects during a warm winter:
- Make sure your house is sealed up tight, and repair or caulk all openings. Inspect the exterior to find cracks where bugs might be able to come inside. Windows and doors frames, attic ventilation screens, and the edges of vinyl or other siding are possible doorways to tiny creatures.
- Keep windows and doors closed, even the garage door. After all, as your mother used to say, you weren't raised in a barn, were you? As it turns out, bees and other flying insects consider an open door an invitation to come inside.
- Keep lawn debris away from the house. Locate raked leaves, cut grass, or compost piles as far away from your house as possible. Even stacks of firewood or lumber should be stored away from the house. This wood is a haven for insects, and you don't want insects gathering so close to your house that it is easy for them to come inside.
- Protect your home with an insecticide barrier. Effective products can be found at many home center or hardware stores, or consult a professional exterminating service [source: Shockey].
For more information on insect infestations, explore the links on the next page.
- DeBugged, The Pest Control Blog. "How Mild Winters Affect Pests." Jan. 27, 2012. (Aug. 13, 2012.) http://www.rentokil.com/blog/how-mild-winters-affect-pests/.
- Lowes. "Warm Weather Gives Insects an Early Wake-up Call." April 12, 2012. (Aug. 13, 2012.) http://media.lowes.com/article_print.cfm?article_id=3143.
- Nagai, Patti. "The Root of It All: Protect Your Home from Insect Invaders." The Journal Times.com. Sept. 19, 2010. (Aug. 13, 2012.) http://www.journaltimes.com/lifestyles/home-and-garden/article_0f531a46-c1ef-11df-9cc1-001cc4c03286.html.
- Shockey, William. "Outdoor Pests Seek Winter Homes." West Virginia University Extension Service. (Aug. 13, 2012.) http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/pests/protecting_your_home.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Fact Sheet: The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle." Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Aug. 13, 2012.) http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/lbeetle/#mixed.