It’s the time of year again! Fall pests are starting to creep and crawl all about our homes and businesses! But rest assured, our pest control specialists have you covered. Follow these 9 simple tips to ensure you have a pest-free Halloween holiday season!
It’s almost that time of year when an unsettling chill clings to the air and ghosts, goblins, the undead, cinematic mad men and creepy crawlies of all kinds, including some with many, many legs, traverse the foreboding landscape, seeking chills, thrills, victims, and sometimes, just food and shelter.
The latter fact is still far from comforting, as the number of bugs and insects in the world far outnumber zombies, ghosts and humans 200 million to one.
Their development from egg to adult is uncomfortably rapid and our entomologists at Pestco estimate there are 400 million insects per acre of land! Could this translate into the plot of a new All Hallow’s Eve horror movie?
There are many symbols associated with this pagan holiday that date back to the ancient world, and specifically to the Gaelic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half” of the year.
Spiders and the intricate webs they weave are particularly linked to Halloween both because of their connection to witches, a belief that has carried over since the Middle Ages, and the ominous presence of their webs in dark, forlorn graveyards and neglected, abandoned homes.
Black cats and rats are also considered evil companions of witches and warlocks.
Pittsburgh Pests That Favor The Autumn Months
While a myriad of pests can find their way into our homes and disrupt our lives at any given time of the year, those that favor the autumn months are known as “overwinterers” or “overwintering pests.”
Our pest-control and pest-management specialists identify six different pest species of this kind that nest near Pittsburgh that residents should know about. They include spiders; box elder bugs; ladybugs; mice and rats; stink bugs and yellow jackets. More on each group follows below.
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; Wolf and the House Spider. Below is information one each type.
The Cellar Spider (Daddy Long Legs)
This family of spiders contains over 1800 species that are divided in 94 groups. About 20 of these species are found in the United States and Canada.
Pittsburgh homeowners can easily identify them by their unnatural and somewhat disturbing appearance, which is caused by their unusually long, thin and elongated legs.
They cause no harm to humans but their loose, irregular webs, which are often found in the corners of eaves, windows, crawlspaces and ceilings, can become heavy and unsightly to behold.
The Brown Recluse Spider
Although not native to Pennsylvania, these arachnids are sometimes transported in boxes across state lines. Brown recluse bites can be very serious and are often overlooked because the initial bite is painless.
These small spiders range in size from a quarter of an inch to an inch in width. They are easily recognizable by their chocolate brown color and the distinctive violin-shaped pattern on their backs.
The Grass (Funnel) Spider
Very common in Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania, their name derives from the webs they spin, which are long and tubular with a funnel on one side that permits food sources to enter.
The Wolf Spider
Wolf spiders can be identified by the thick coat of fine hair around their body, which is perhaps how it got its name. They range in color from brown to grey and lack the presence of any distinguishable pattern on their back.
While they are venomous, their bites are not nearly as severe as that of the brown recluse. Pennsylvania is home to two of its bigger Hogna species; namely H. carolinensis and H. aspersa. They range in length from 18 mm (just short of 3/4 inch to to 35 millimeters (1 3/8 inch), and are usually found in the soil and between boards, rocks and firewood outside.
They will bite humans, but their venom does not cause a serious reaction and normally results in short-lived pain and redness.
The House Spider
The most common species in North America, these spiders are small, reaching no more than a quarter of an inch in length. They are light grey in color. Their venom is not dangerous, but their bites can be very painful for up to 16 hours.
If you are unsure as to which species of spider may have bitten you, consult your physician and if you see many others, contact Pestco immediately and schedule a home inspection.
These black and red swarming pests are most often found along the warmer sides of your home during the fall months. They can be big trouble for home interiors because they are known to stain curtains, fabrics and walls with their excrement.
Fall Yellow Jackets
The season of Halloween brings a number of these very unpleasant, aggressive stinging insects too close for comfort in the Pittsburgh area. By the time the temperatures are cooling down from summer, these wasps have had all summer to increase their numbers, and they will be very visible as they seek ideal overwintering spots to nest.
If it is your house they select, it is likely you will be contacting our pest-control and pest-maintenance experts the following spring.
Mice And Rats
Rodents linger all year round and usually nest outdoors, but cold weather motivates them to seek shelter somewhere warm. They like living with humans even though the feeling is far from mutual. A warm home provides access to everything they need to survive.
The brown marmorated stink bug has a most unimaginative but unmistakable moniker and the odor it emits is lingering and highly unpleasant. This insect will seek shelter when temperatures begin to drop, and precautions should be taken to ensure they do not become part of your decorations for Halloween windows and doors or worse… part of your home decor.
How To Have A Pest-Free Halloween
Our team recommends the following tips to enjoy a pest-free Halloween.
Replace Torn Screens And Caulk All Gaps
This will serve as a barrier to insects that seek entry through cracks, tiny holes and openings left unattended.
Cut Back Tree Branches And Shrubs That Touch Your Home
These can and often do serve as “bridges” for unwanted guests with many legs. Trim them back and prevent unwanted ingress.
Wait Until Close To Halloween To Carve Pumpkins
Although difficult because so much care and effort is involved in carving a Halloween pumpkin, it is advisable to wait a few days before the holiday to do so. The reason for this is because pests are attracted to them once they are open and exposed.
Install Yellow Or Sodium Vapor Lighting In Exterior Fixtures
Insects are deterred by the color yellow.
Rake Leaves And Remove Them From Your Yard
Leaf piles provide perfect hiding and nesting places for many insects, and while jumping into a pile of leaves can be great Halloween fun for kids, insect pests should not be part of the game.
Keep Woodpiles A Safe Distance From Home
Woodpiles are also great hiding places for insects and placing the pile too close to your home is an invitation for pests to come inside.
Ensure Decorations Are Not Providing Shelter For Pests
Due to the fact that all seasonal decorations are usually stored in out-of-the-way spaces like basements and attics, at the times when they reappear they may be harboring some unwanted guests; namely, insects that love to breed within their warm dark folds.
Also, don’t store decorations in cardboard boxes, as pests love it. Opt for plastic containers instead.
Inspect Halloween Costumes Before Putting Them On
Everyone knowns that the real fun in Halloween is of course, dress up time. The pest-control and pest-maintenance experts at Pestco warn that insects may like to join in the fun, whether it is a new costume or one that has been in storage.
The costume may contain unwanted pests, and particularly bedbugs, love to hitch rides on clothing. A good wash before wearing is always a helpful consideration.
Do Not Leave Candy Outside For Trick Or Treaters
Even wrapped candy emits an attractive scent to hungry insects. Our team warn that leaving candy outside the home in bins or boxes may mean that the doorbell doesn’t have to ring and that you don’t have to interrupt whatever you were doing to answer it, but in the end, it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Call Pestco To Ensure A Pest-Free Halloween!
Follow these above tips, and above all have safe and happy Halloween. Avoid ghost and goblins but don’t hesitate to call our teams at Pestco Professional Services if unwanted critters have invaded your domicile!
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