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Protect and seal your home from insects and pests for the winter

Protect and seal your home from insects and pests for the winter

The shortening of summer sunlight and cooler temperatures clue humans to start preparing for the winter months. Insects interpret the weather changes in the same way, which means seeking a structure to wait out the winter. Unfortunately, your home may be their perfect habitat. Insects by the hundreds or more will look for crevices in warm, sunny locations which may eventually lead them into your living spaces. Here is some simple advice you can take to prevent these pesky insects from entering your home, and what to do if they have already made your home their own.


Do

Do seal up cracks and crevices with sealant

Sealing up entry points is the first step in keeping insects from entering your home. Insects look for warmth when the weather starts to cool, which means the sun-warmed walls facing south and west. Look for outdoor cracks on these walls first when you start your preparations. Then move on to sealing cracks and crevices around doors and windows. Use a good quality silicone sealant.

Do screen entry points such as vents that open to exteriors

Any entry point that opens to exteriors needs screening to prevent insects from crawling indoors. These would include attic vents, and window and door screens. Make sure your window and door screens are sealed tight and don’t have tears. And if your do find a tear, you can purchase a patch kit to repair the hole or replace the entire screen.

Do remove window air conditioning units

Now that the cooler weather is here, you no longer need a window air conditioning unit. These typically have gaps between the unit and the window sill, and the insulation between the two is rarely durable enough to prevent insects finding a path inside. By removing the unit, you remove not only the gaps around the unit, but the chance that insects will find their way into the unit and then into your home.

Do assess exterior lighting situation

Look at the exterior lighting around your home. Pests are attracted to light, especially the white light that most people use in porch lights. By replacing those bulbs with yellow light bulbs or high pressure sodium bulbs, pests are less tempted to be flying in and around the doorway, landing on your home and possibly finding a way inside.

Do apply insecticide outdoors around perimeter of building by mid-October

Call a pest control professional, especially if you live in a house overwhelmed with overwintering pests, so they can come out to target insecticide application and repel the insects from outside the building.Ideally,a first insecticide application should be no earlier than the beginning of September. A second application should be applied no later than the third week of October.


Don't

Do not wait to sweep or vacuum up insects

Prepare for battle with a broom and dustpan or vacuum! Sweep or vacuum up insects as you find them and dispose of them in outdoor garbage cans. One of the protective measures many insects use is scent and they will emit an odor in your vacuum that will linger after death.You don’t want that stench to permeate your vacuum cleaner.

Do not fog your entire home or building

If you have a large scale invasion and have hundreds of insects invading your home, don’t fog your entire house with insecticide or apply insecticide indoors. This type of application can exacerbate the insect problem. The pests will die in the wall spaces which will then attract secondary pest invaders to eat the dead bugs, compounding your insect problem.

Do not fear that insects will reproduce indoors

Forget about every horror movie you’ve seen with insects invading a home and breeding only to take over the house and destroy the local village. Overwintering insects don’t reproduce indoors. They are programmed to lay eggs at certain times of the year and in certain areas such as the underside of an ash leaf or beneath several inches of soil.Insects that come indoors are there to wait out the winter, not reproduce.

Do not worry about bringing outdoor potted plants indoors

That beautiful hydrangea you had sitting on your porch all spring and summer is safe to bring inside for the winter without fear of an entire ant colony emerging from its potted soil. A stray insect or two may tag along for the ride with the plant as it gets moved indoors, but there will not be an invading insect army.

Do not forget to seal around external pipes leading into the home

Any mechanical element that is a pathway from outdoors to indoors, including pipes, cable lines or telephone lines, needs to have sealant around the entry point in the wall. Though these may be small crevices, size doesn’t matter to an insect seeking survival. If there is an opening to a better climate, insects will find a way inside.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Overwintering pest species may vary from state to state and region to region, but they have one behavior in common: they are seeking shelter from the winter when they invade your home. Prepare your home by sealing cracks and crevices, repairing or replacing screens, and having a professional treat the exterior walls of your building.


More expert advice about Home Emergency, Preparedness, and Recovery

Photo Credits: Invasion by Flickr: Kecko; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Nancy Troyano, PhD, BCETraining manager / Entomologist

After graduating from Lehigh Carbon Community College with an A.A.S. degree in Veterinary Technology, Nancy became a certified veterinary technician. Nancy worked as a zookeeper while pursuing a B.S. degree in Environmental Science at East Strou...

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