Top Worst Pests That Nest in Your House During Winter

When people think of pest problems, they most likely picture springtime, filled with buzzing flies and skittering centipedes. But, ask any seasoned homeowner, and they’ll say that pests are a year-round problem. Even in the coldest season, pests can invade homes, causing damage and wrecking havoc. From the ever-gnawing Norway rat to the subtle silverfish, we’ll shed light on pests that like to hide away in households during winter.

Ticks

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While ticks are more active during the spring and fall, some species are still biting through winter. While American dog and lone star ticks may cease activity after fall, the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick) can stay active in all but extremely low temperatures. These ticks can be found all over the Eastern portion of the United States but are more prevalent in the Northeastern and Southeastern regions. Worst of all, this blood-sucking parasite prefers larger mammals, like deer, dogs, or humans, and carries dangerous pathogens like Lyme disease.

Averting ticks during winter is largely the same as during summer:

  • Be careful when walking through tall grass, weeds, bushes, or other foliage.
  • Check your pets after they come in from being outside.
  • Wear long sleeve clothing.
  • Check yourself, especially your limbs, after coming in from outside.

Cockroaches

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Anyone who’s been to Florida can tell you just how pervasive, persistent, and problematic cockroaches can be. Fast, sneaky, and carriers of disease, cockroaches are one of the worst pests you can encounter in your home, especially during winter. Many species of roach inhabit the U.S., but the German cockroach is the most common and likely to come inside during winter. This species thrives in warm, damp environments and will be drawn to your home as the seasons change. If they find a way inside, they’ll hunker down and begin to reproduce, leading to an infestation.

Cockroaches will likely get inside by hitching a ride from a grocery bag, cardboard box, or crate. To prevent accidentally inviting in a roach, check shopping bags and containers from the store, especially during fall and early winter. Once indoors, roaches will be seeking out food sources like trash cans or your pantry. As they infest your home, they’ll spread diseases, increasing the risk of food poisoning. These pests can be a nightmare to remove once they’re inside, so prevention is the best means of roach management.

Termites

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Most homeowners have heard of the dangers of termites, but few know that they’re a year-round pest. Subterranean termites are cold-blooded insects requiring warmth and moisture to survive. So, they dig deeper into the ground in winter to avoid the topmost, frosty soil layers. The temperature change may slow them down, but it won’t stop them. If your home has wooden sections that directly connect with the ground, like a crawl space, these termites can damage your home all season long. Other species, like drywood termites, are even less impacted by the cold. Since drywood termites live inside your home’s wooden structures, the cold weather won’t deter them in the least. These destructive pests will continue to thrive as the temperature drops, causing structural damage regardless of the time of year.

Detecting termites is famously difficult. They hide deep within the ground and wood of your home, rarely coming out. Spotting them comes down to knowing what to look out for, so here are some of the most common signs of a termite infestation:

  • Hollow sounding wood
  • Small holes in walls, ceilings, or baseboards
  • Warped or buckling floorboards
  • Overly squeaking floors, doors, or windows
  • Swollen door and window frames
  • Discolored or drooping drywall or ceilings
  • Crumbling or easily broken wood

Bed Bugs

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In the wild, bed bugs don’t hibernate, instead slowing down and becoming less active. But this inactivity doesn’t apply to bed bugs inside homes. As long as these parasites have a food source and warmth, they can be active continuously. As a result, the winter won’t bring relief to homes already suffering from a bed bug problem. Once inside, these pests reproduce quickly, making infestations common and difficult to stop.

Bed bugs can cause a whole host of problems, like skin infections, insomnia, and allergic reactions. You should contact a pest control specialist if you’re experiencing any of the following signs of a bedbug infestation:

  • Small, itchy bug bites
  • Rust-colored stains on pillows, mattresses, or bedsheets
  • Small black spots, about the size of a bead, on sheets or bedding materials

Carpet Beetles

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Carpet beetles are small, oval-shaped beetles with red, brown, orange, yellow, or black splotchy coloring. They’re a common household pest across the United States and love to find their way indoors once the temperatures drop. Once inside, these insects will begin to reproduce and lay eggs near food sources, like your clothes or carpet. Once the larvae hatch, they’ll begin eating any material made from animal products, including feathers, wool, silk, leather, and fur. As their name implies, these bugs are commonly found infesting carpets, reproducing in large numbers and leading to massive damage.

Unlike many of the other pests on this list, carpet beetles aren’t subtle and are relatively easy to spot. You likely have an infestation if you notice large amounts of colorful beetles on your walls, floors, windowsills, or closets. Other signs of carpet beetle problems include fraying clothing, thin or damaged carpet, shed larvae skins, or damage to leather garments.

Spiders

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Unfortunately, the common myth about spiders coming inside during fall is true. As the seasons change, many spider species seek warmer temperatures with food sources. Our homes fulfill these requirements, and eight-legged creepy crawlies are more than happy to move in. Spiders commonly hang out in low-traffic areas, like ceiling corners, basements, or behind furniture. Most spiders are harmless, but some species, like the black widow or brown recluse, can cause serious injury with their venomous bites.

Thankfully, spotting the early signs of a spider infestation is relatively easy. You may have an infestation on your hands if you notice more spiders than normal scurrying around, along with more webs, egg sacks, and unexplained bites. Clearing out an infestation usually amounts to a good house cleaning. You can stop the infestation by taking down webs, killing spiders where you find them, and getting rid of the trash and other insects. If you’re dealing with a dangerous species, like black widows, we recommend calling pest control services.

Norway Rats

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Norway rats, also known as sewer, street, brown, or house rats, are among the most common species in the U.S. These critters thrive all over the world, infesting rural and urban homes. They can find their way inside a house through small cracks or gaps only half an inch in length. They like to construct nests out of shreddable material, like paper, insulation, or various other kinds of debris. These persistent rats can chew through wood, stone, and even lead pipes to access food or water. Worse yet, like all rodents, rats reproduce quickly and en masse, resulting in rapid infestations.

Signs of a rat infestation can be difficult to spot early on, only becoming visible once things have already gotten out of hand. These pests need to be taken care of immediately, as they carry dangerous diseases like typhus, trichinosis, salmonella, and Weil’s disease. You’ll want to call an exterminator if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Gnaw marks
  • Small, dark, capsule-shaped feces
  • Dark, foul-smelling grease marks or “streaks” across baseboards
  • Small tracks on dusty surfaces
  • Nesting material like torn paper, cloth, or insulation

Nuisance Insects

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A nuisance insect is any species of bug that poses no structural, aesthetic, or medical risk to humans or our homes. In other words, these bugs are annoying but pose little actual harm. Many common pests fall under this category and include some of the following:

  • Boxelder bugs
  • Crickets
  • Stink bugs
  • Silverfish
  • Lady beetles
  • Springtails
  • Millipedes
  • House centipedes
  • Weevils
  • Fruit flies and gnats
  • Beetles
  • Pantry moths

Home infestation signs include eggs, discarded shells, and dead insects along windowsills. While these bugs pose no threat, they can be frustrating and unsightly to deal with, so removing them is recommended. You can place traps or use a homemade insecticide spray when dealing with these common bugs.

Closing Thoughts

Pest management is a year-round job. As a homeowner, you must keep your house clean and free of attractants to ensure that insects stay outside. By taking further steps like a yearly basement, attic, and foundation inspection, you can seal up any crevices that pests use to sneak indoors. We also recommend cleaning and monitoring common hiding places for pests outside your home, like your shed or gutters.

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