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Winter pests are a challenge as centipedes, insects, rodents and other vermin seek a safe haven from the cold weather at this time of year.

 Your warm and cozy home offers just such a pleasant environment for pests. Mice and other rodents are the primary winter offenders, but other creatures can also become problematic when the temperatures drop. Before these unwanted houseguests find a way to invade your space, read these timely tips for protecting your home or business from invasion.

Preventing Entry of Unwanted Winter Pests

The best defense is a strong offense, so we are often told. Take a proactive stance to lock down the perimeter of your home by carefully searching for potential access points. Seal any holes, even the tiniest cracks, with caulk or other sealants. Choosing the right type can be tricky, however. Determine the proper sealant for each access point based on the material to be sealed (concrete, wood, plastic, masonry or glass), the temperature extremes the material will be subjected to and the length of time you wish the sealant to last. Some products are better suited to indoor use versus outdoor, and some can adhere equally well to different materials. Experts advise against using the old standbys like steel wool, copper mesh or expandable foam. These products can degrade quickly or be easily pulled away by pests. Pay special attention to window corners, door sweeps and thresholds. If a standard pencil will fit though a crack or opening, a mouse can gain entry at that location.

Winter Pests

Monitor Locations that Attract Pests

All types of winter pests, but especially rodents, will seek out the warmest spots in and around your home. Mice are prone to nesting under household appliances including ranges, refrigerators and clothes dryers. They also seek out dark spots and places where food is plentiful. Check frequently under appliances as well as your pantry and around your HVAC unit or furnace, especially if it is in the basement or another indoor location. Signs of infestation include droppings (small, darkish pellets) and shredded paper or cardboard. Cold-weather pests also tend to find their way into boxes or other storage containers that hold textiles or paper, which provide a warm nesting spot. Sanitation is also key for keeping vermin away. Store food in mouse-proof containers or in the refrigerator or freezer whenever possible.

Using Bait or Traps for Winter Pest Infestation 

If they’ve found their way inside, the next line of defense against winter pests is trapping or baiting. Take care when using centipede, insect or rodent bait, as these can harm children and pets who come in contact with the substances. Tamper-proof bait boxes offer the safest method for using this approach. If you elect to use traps, choose from the many types of humane traps available today and bait them with a variety of attractive snacking choices. Peanut butter, grains or bacon are popular with rodents, as are nest-building materials like string. Experts recommend at least four to six traps per mouse for the most effective control. To protect your family and pets, traps must also be placed in tamper-proof boxes or containers. Locate traps in areas of activity, specifically where pests feed, travel or nest. Check often in trap locations and, if using bait, anywhere the pests may go to die. Left undisposed, dead rodents and other vermin will harbor disease and develop an unpleasant odor within a few days, depending on the ambient temperature of your home.

Even with aggressive prevention and control efforts, winter pests may evade your strategies. It is often preferable to contact a professional pest-control service in your area to evaluate your situation and recommend an effective treatment. If you discover evidence of infestation, take pictures of the evidence before cleaning it up. This will be invaluable in the event that you must call in a professional to help you protect your home against winter pests. . .