Colder temperatures drive certain pests to seek warmer interiors, like your home or business! Here are 9 December pests Pittsburghers should be prepared to guard against the Holiday Season and winter!
The month of December is a time for many things, not the least of which are the holidays that so poignantly reflect our national and personal character and ethos Joy abounds in many ways, but with the advent of cold weather also comes some unwanted intruders that can ruin your holiday and your joyous mood.
Clement Moore’s iconic poem about a Christmas Eve that’ was so quiet that “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” unfortunately doesn’t translate into a situation where other mice aren’t hiding in the shadows of the holiday tree or under the table where Chanukah cookies and treats are displayed.
For alas, they are with us. Read on to know why and how you can prevent these unwanted critters from ruining your holiday fun.
December And Colder Weather Pests
When the cold breath of winter arrives in Pittsburgh, some pests enter hibernation while others see warmth from frigid temperatures and food sources inside homes.
These include but are not limited to: squirrels; rats; mice; skunks; pantry pests; cockroaches; raccoons; spiders and bedbugs.
More on each pest follows below.
While many good things may come in small packages, especially around the holidays, in the case of bedbugs, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
These tiny, insect pests thrive on the blood of animals or humans and enter homes undetected via luggage, clothing, used beds and furniture. Experts note that they can fit into spaces as narrow as the width of an average credit card.
They cannot survive below freezing temperatures and when they drop, these bugs enter a hibernation-like state and can survive for months without a blood meal.
There is no way a Pittsburgh homeowner can eradicate these pests with do- it-yourself solutions. Their presence is a clarion call for help from your local pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists.
These insect pests are found everywhere across the United States in startling numbers.
They are known to infest the interior walls of private Pittsburgh homes and apartment buildings once outside temperatures drop below 50 degrees.
While they do not reproduce during the winter months, within the safety of rafters and sheet rock, they make up for lost time in the spring and summer.
These insects contaminate food sources and are vectors for at least thirty- three kinds of bacteria, 6 varieties of parasitic worms and 7 other types of pathogens and dangerous allergens that are triggers for asthma, particularly in vulnerable children.
Once these invaders gain a foothold in a home, they are difficult to get rid of (if not impossible) without the professional skills of a pest-control and pest- management specialist.
German cockroaches are most often found in kitchens and bathrooms and they often hitchhike into unsuspecting homes via grocery bags and used appliances. (Try to keep this in mind before you buy a used appliance of any kind.)
The most commonly encountered rodent in the United States is hands down, the house mouse.
They prefer dark, spaces, like attics and basement where they can nest undisturbed.
Vectors of fleas, ticks, lice, and disease, these small mice can do a great deal of damage to appliances and furniture, and their incessant gnawing through utility lines and electrical wires are the cause for many fires that are deemed of “unknown origin.”
An average female mouse can give birth to a litter of up to 6 pups every 3 weeks! The sight of a single one scampering across a floor translates into the need for immediate action.
Also known as the Sewer Rat and the Brown Rat, basements and large piles of debris are favored nesting places for these unpleasant rodents that are known to eat and contaminate food and chew anything anything they come in contact with ,which includes plastic or lead pipes.
Their sharp teeth, which never stop growing, create serious fire hazards as they gnaw voraciously through wiring, dry wall and insulation.
They can fit through a crack barely the size of a quarter and are known to reproduce rapidly.
They reach sexual maturity at 3 months of age, and one single female; can have up to 6 litters of as many as twelve pups annually. There are vectors of jaundice, rat bite fever and cowpox virus.
Pre packaged foods and grains for storage are prime entry points for pantry pests at this time of year. Sources for potential infestation also include: pet and livestock foods such as: grains and seeds for chickens and song birds.
The most common varieties of pantry pests are: small beetles; Indian Meal Moths, weevils and ants. They are particularly problematic around Thanksgiving and Christmas due to their love for rich, carbohydrate-laden holiday treats and foods.
Pantry pests are very problematic to eliminate both because they breed almost continuously and they tend to live inside the food products they thrive on.
Our pest-control and pest-management specialists at Pestco focus first on finding the source of the infestation, which can be very difficult because they blend perfectly into wherever they have gained a foothold.
These small, but very destructive animals have their proper place in Mother Nature’s balance of all living things.
They are highly intelligent and beneficial to eco-systems, but they damage chimneys and attics they seek out for shelter during December and the following winter months. They are not known to hibernate, but they can sleep in their dens for up to a month without venturing out into the cold.
Their feces are vectors of roundworm larvae, which are toxic to humans. Do-it-yourself removal methods are not effective when dealing with raccoons and other wildlife species.
We are always focused on humane removal from property rather than extermination.
Skunks pose more of a threat to the outdoor perimeters of a Pittsburgh home than to the interior. They are known to destroy lawns by digging up grass in search of insets to feed to their young.
Their favorite nesting sites include: under homes; beneath decks and porches; within or beneath sheds; inside wood piles and crawl spaces underneath the home.
They also tear through metal screens and vents with their razor-sharp claws. Feces and odor contamination are other associated problems with skunks. Skunks are a gentle wild life species by nature, but they do sometimes carry rabies.
Although home remedies are sometimes successful, it is more practical and cost effective to contact humane pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists, who will employ exclusionary tactics to eliminate skinks from a property.
The most common species of arachnids known to the Pittsburgh area and its environs are: the Cellar Spider (AKA Daddy Long Legs); the Brown Recluse Spider; The Wolf Spider and the House Spider.
A spider infestation differs from all others because too many spiders indicate the presence of greater problems; namely, something else in the home that is providing a consistent food source for them.
While over the counter sprays will kill them, the most effective way to remove spiders permanently from a residence is to establish a year-round service plan with a trusted company.
Spider control is no easy task and it requires many steps. These include the inspection of affected structure, identification of the specific species; prevention, sanitation and mechanical strategies.
When squirrels gain ingress to a Pittsburgh residence, they seek out attics, ductwork and insulation. They shred everything they find into bits and pieces with their razor sharp teeth.
Destruction is their name with a capital “D.” They usually get inside by gnawing through loose roofing or by slipping quietly through chimneys, and once established, they build their nests and reproduce.
In the same manner as Norway rats, they create fire hazards by endlessly gnawing through electrical wiring. In addition, squirrels are serious carriers of rabies, encephalitis and Powassan virus.
9 Prevention Tips To Protect Against December Pests
The following suggestions can help prevent ingress of December pests to your residence.
- To avoid bed bug ingress, select an area in your home to inspect all delivered packages. Avoid buying used clothes, bedding or furniture.
- To deter German cockroaches from making your home their escape from December temperatures, keep counters and floors free of crumbs, vacuum frequently, dispose of garbage regularly and do not neglect to check under kitchen appliances and bathroom sinks.
- Keep all areas clear and store boxes off the floor because mice like to hide in clutter.
- To prevent Norway rats from ingress, home owners must eliminate sources of moisture in crawl spaces and basements. They must remember too that other areas of the home can be subjected to infestation and should also be inspected for signs on a regular basis, which often incudes watching out for greasy marks left by the rat’s oily fur.
- Keeping pantry pests out of the home begins in the grocery store where goods are purchased. Never purchase a ripped or torn food package or one that contains good that is expired. Cycle pantry foods so that you eat the older items first . Store all, pantry products in hard plastic containers, and keep the pantry clean and dry at all times.
- Prevent spiders from entering your Pittsburgh home by keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from the residence and cutting back overhanging limbs and branches
- Do not leave clothes and shoes that are stored in basements or garages lying out on the floor and shake them out before wearing. Spiders like to hide inside plastic containers especially those storing clothing, gloves and shoes.
- To repel skunks, keep all pet food indoors and close off all entry points to spaces underneath structures.
- To prevent a pantry pest infestation, inspect grain-based foods immediately after purchase and then periodically during storage. While not practical, it is still a good idea to buy the amount of grain products needed only for a two-month period. If longer storage time is required, it is best to store whole rather than ground or processed grains. Only grind the amount needed for a week or so.
If you’re in or around the Greater Pittsburgh area, give our teams at Pestco Professional Services a call if you suspect December pests of any kind this Holiday season.
We are always here to help!
Photo Credits: Pixabay