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The Most Common Winter Pests and How To Get Rid of Them

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Home > Pest > The Most Common Winter Pests and How To Get Rid of Them

As the last fall leaves hit the ground, the colder weather isn’t far behind. The winter season brings fewer pest problems in many circumstances. But just because fewer insects are crawling around doesn’t mean homeowners can let their guard down and stop practicing pest control. Winter actually encourages some specific, troublesome pests to try to get into your home in hopes of escaping the frigid outdoor temperatures. This article explains more about cold-weather pests, along with some handy tips on how to keep them from entering your home this winter. 

Rodents

 mouse rummaging
Image Source: Canva

Rodents are some of the worst pests to encounter in the wintertime. These small mammals seek warm, secluded areas to wait out the cold months, and your home is prime real estate. 

Specifically, rodents like to nest inside walls, attics, crawl spaces, basements, or any other room that’s dark, warm, and out of the way. Once inside, they scavenge for nesting materials and food, damaging your home and contaminating pantries. If you’re in a mice-prone area, look out for common signs of mice infestations like droppings, streaks across baseboards, and foul smells.

Getting rid of house mice can be as simple as setting a bucket or live capture trap. However, sometimes, more complicated infestations require a trained exterminator — it all depends on the severity of the infestation. 

Either way, rodents can multiply quickly, so it’s best to handle the situation immediately. We recommend calling a pest management company for proper rodent control if things get out of hand and the number of mice becomes too much to handle. 

Spiders 

brown recluse spider in a corner
Image Source: Canva

While most spiders are typically not a threat to humans, some, like the black widow and brown recluse, can have medically significant bites. Even non-dangerous spiders can be an unsettling eyesore. These eight-legged creepy crawlies seek warm places to hunt prey and escape the cold during fall and winter. 

Unfortunately, they often wind up inside your home after sneaking in through exterior entry points. You’ll then find them in dark, secluded locations where they set up their webs, such as basements, attics, closets, cracks, crevices, behind furniture, and in the corners of ceilings.

Getting rid of spiders doesn’t usually require anything more than manual removal. But when dealing with dangerous species or full infestations, we recommend a spider spray or opting for pest control services. 

Bed Bugs

 bed bug on sheet
Image Source: Canva

Bed bugs spread more in winter, not because they’re more active this time of year, but because we are. Most families travel during the holiday season, from making trips to see relatives at Thanksgiving to out-of-town Christmas parties. Since bed bugs primarily hitch rides onto unsuspecting travelers in hotel rooms or airports, bed bugs often thrive during the winter season. Once inside, bed bugs will be able to survive as long as your house is nice and warm. 

These pests can be difficult to spot, but if you suspect a bed bug infestation, keep an eye out for red splotches on your bed sheets and red streaks along your pillowcases and bedclothes. Noticing bites on your skin is another sign you may be dealing with bed bugs.

Getting rid of bed bugs can be time-consuming, complex, and stressful, as these are persistent pests that are known to return after removal. There are several methods for removing bed bugs, but the most reliable is to isolate infested locations, then heat-treat all clothing and bed sheets that have been infested. 

Begin by separating all infested clothing and bedsheets by storing them in plastic bags and tying the tops. Then, use your clothes dryer at very high temperatures to kill them. For those still on your bed frames, use a steam cleaner to kill them, then a vacuum cleaner to suck up the remains. If bed bugs return or the infestation is severe, it’s time to call the exterminator.

Fruit Flies

 swarming fruit flies
Image Source: Canva

Fruit flies are far more common in spring and summer, but you can still experience them during fall and winter. For warmer regions with mild winters, fruit fly populations can still be active well into the middle of the holiday season; they’re a year-round problem. Cold weather, even in frigid locations, won’t kill off fruit fly populations, only slow their growth until spring arrives. 

Manual removal of fruit flies is a highly frustrating and difficult challenge. Instead, we recommend using DIY bug sprays and traps that can simultaneously kill large amounts of them.

Raccoons

raccoon in a dirty trash can
Image Source: Canva

Raccoons are some of the most damaging winter pests. Unlike many pest mammals, raccoons don’t hibernate; instead, they store fat and enter a low-activity state called torpor. Like hibernation, torpor is a way for animals to survive the cold temperatures of winter, but it only lasts for a few weeks with alternating active and dormancy periods. If you have raccoons in your area, they’ll be scrounging for food and warmer shelter throughout the winter, where they can go into torpor, and they may decide your attic is the best place to do so. 

Getting rid of raccoons is not only difficult but dangerous. Raccoons carry numerous diseases, from Baylisascaris (a roundworm parasite) to rabies. While live capture traps can work as a DIY solution, we recommend calling local wildlife control or a professional pest control company if you have a raccoon problem. 

Cluster Flies 

cluster flies outside in a swarm
Image Source: Canva

Cluster flies are common during the warmer months, but these buzzing nuisances can be just as problematic in winter. As the seasons cool, cluster flies try to sneak indoors and reproduce quickly. Since these flies are known to reproduce in clusters, getting rid of them for good is challenging. As with fruit flies, manual removal is usually ineffective. Commercial and DIY traps are a better option. 

German Cockroaches

cockroach on the ground
Image Source: Canva

Most cockroaches hibernate during the winter, but the German cockroach is persistent. Known for finding its way indoors while looking for food sources, the German cockroach will do everything possible to make itself at home inside your house. 

Cockroaches are some of the nastiest pests out there as they carry a laundry list of diseases and are resistant to many DIY removal methods. You’ll most likely spot these disgusting critters darting to and from locations containing accessible food, like the pantry or trash cans. If you spot a cockroach, remove it and check for more ASAP. Removing cockroaches before they multiply is essential. 

Getting rid of cockroaches can be an endeavor, but several commercially available DIY methods exist. We recommend using roach bait stations, as these can be safely and strategically placed similarly to ant traps. Dematiaceous earth is the most effective pet-friendly material for a DIY approach.  

Ticks 

deer tick on skin
Image Source: Canva

Many homeowners assume ticks are a summer problem, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Ticks are a year-round pest, with some species, like the black-legged tick, able to survive throughout the winter months (as long as temperatures don’t get too cold.) Ticks are major vectors for Lyme diseases and a host of other pathogens. Some tick species, like the brown dog tick, can even reproduce indoors, resulting in full-blown home infestations. 

The best way to get rid of ticks is to prevent them before they become a problem in the first place. Wear long-sleeved, protective clothing when out walking, especially in wooded areas with tall grass. When you get home, always check yourself (and your pets) thoroughly for ticks.

If you have a tick bite, don’t apply heat, rubbing alcohol, or petroleum jelly, as these can kill the tick and cause it to regurgitate internal fluids, increasing the risk of infection and tick-borne diseases. Instead, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to apply consistent pressure directly upwards to remove the tick from the wound. 

Winter Pest Control is Key

While the winter weather may keep some pests at bay, those on this list are persistent enough to survive year-round. The ones mentioned here are the most common and problematic ones you can face during winter. Some other, less damaging overwintering insects to look out for include stink bugs, lady beetles, and silverfish. 

Taking autumn pest-proofing steps can help keep the inside of your home pest-safe this winter. If you find a pest indoors, the best solution is to take care of it immediately before it can multiply. If any winter pests grow to be more than you can manage, you can always call a pest control professional.

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