Pest Control in the Winter, Yes it is Needed

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Brutal Winter Chill Will NOT kill off Pest Insect Populations ~ Pest Control Expert Offers Tips to Stay Pest-Free

“The brutal winter chill may cause people to think that it will kill off the pest insect species that arrive with the Spring, but that is not so,” says Leonard Douglen, the Executive Director of the New York Pest Management Association. “Rodents, too, can survive and they have a strong motivation to move in with you in cold weather.”

Richard Levine of the Entomological Society of America says that “Even with 50% mortality, the populations will recover in a few years or so and the infestation will continue…while it is true that insects will die if exposed to very cold temperatures for prolonged periods of time, many are able to survive, depending on the insect and the circumstances.”

Winter is a time when mice and rats often move into a home or other structure. They can gain access through the smallest hole. A mouse can squeeze through one as small as a dime and a rat can do the same through a hole as small as a quarter. Homeowners have to ensure that they keep their food supplies in containers that rodents cannot gnaw through and pet owners had to take care not to leave out uneaten food overnight.

“Termites,” says Douglen, “love homes and other structures, not just for the wood they dine upon, but because enjoy the same warmth that the human occupants do when they set up a colony in a home. Often undetected for years, in the springtime they emerge in the thousands to fly off and create new colonies. “This is why an inspection by a trained and certified pest management profession is a good investment compared with the costs of replacing the damage they do,” said Douglen.

Outdoor termite colonies simply head below the frost line where their large numbers and stored food keep them comfortable until spring arrives. “In many cases, people whose homes have fireplaces actually bring them in,” said Douglen. Other insect pests often take up residence in a pile of firewood. “It is important to store firewood off the ground and away from the house,” says Douglen. “If you store firewood outside all year long, cover it with a sheet of thick plastic that will trap the heat inside and kill the bugs by overheating them. Always inspect the wood before bringing it inside.”

“The same warmth that keeps our homes and apartments comfortable during the winter, does the same for bed bugs,” says Douglen, “A bed bug, after taking a single blood meal, can live for up to a year without another one.”

Winter is not a deterrent to spider species that are equally at home with humans and pest management professionals recommend that, if you see one, just spraying an insecticide might not solve the problem. “Spiders have long legs and can crawl over areas that have been sprayed, but spraying will kill the species such as ants that they eat, so eliminating them can reduce the spider population. If you see more than one, call a pest control firm.”

“Ants also burrow deep below the frost line in the same way. If a home or other structure has a colony of Carpenter ants, the same conditions exist as for the termites and, of course, they have a constant source of food. Cockroaches, like ants, are provided with plenty of warmth and food by their human hosts.”

As always, says Douglen, “prevention is the best way to keep out unwanted insect and rodent populations.” Here again, an inspection by a pest management professional can identify the many spots throughout a home that provide access. These can include openings around pipes that enter a home or other structure.

Douglen explained that insects that are susceptible to freezing avoid it by generating their own antifreeze components. “The same ingredient in automobile antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is the most common chemical found in insects that use this mechanism to survive.”

“This survival mechanism is called diapause,” says Douglen. Since insects are essentially little bags of water; the smaller the amount of water they contain, the greater their ability to cool without freezing. Those that generate their own antifreeze will be around in the spring.”

The smaller the bug, like ants or tiny spider mites, can survive easier than larger ones. Larger bugs like grasshoppers can fall victim to colder weather. Yellow jacket queens and other wasp species will over-winter in the eaves under roofs of homes so they can emerge in the spring to create an entire new colony. Insect eggs can over-winter and wait for the first warm weather to emerge.

“Different insect species have different survival strategies,” says Douglen. “The praying mantis survives as eggs while Wooley Bear caterpillars will curl up in leaf litter for the winter. When spring arrives, the caterpillars spin their cocoons.”

“Whether as eggs or via hibernation, insect species have been surviving harsh winter conditions for millions of years.”

Another winter pest problem are raccoons, opossum, and squirrels. These are frequently found taking up resident in attics. Do-in-yourself solutions are not recommended. “Pest management professionals have the traps and the training to deal with them.”

With the cooler weather, pests are still a problem and pest control in the winter and all year round is important. Cancelling services can actually increase infestations down the road because pest infestations are not regularly monitored by a pest professional. Just like we escape the harsh Albany NY winter weather by staying indoors, pests move indoors too! No matter the time of the year, weather or temperature pest control is important in protecting health, homes and property from pests. Thomas Pest Services has been taking care of pest control in the winter for those that live, work and play in the Capital Region and surrounding towns like Chatham, Schenectady, Latham, Saratoga Springs and Queensbury with third generation experience. Contact us via phone at 1-877-518-2847, via web inquiry, Facebook or Twitter!

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