Where do Pests Go in the Winter?

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Ah, winter in Upstate New York- the snow-covered landscape, the cozy fireplaces, the… pests? That’s right, even though it may seem like all pests hunker down and go into hibernation during the colder months, there are still plenty of creepy crawlies and critters about in Upstate New York. So, if you're curious about what pests are up to this winter, read on!


Many Pests “Overwinter”

Overwintering is the ultimate survival strategy for pests! When the temperatures start to drop and the days get shorter, many pests know that it's time to hunker down and wait out the cold. They'll search for warm, dry places to ride out the winter, whether it's in the cozy walls of your home or tucked away in a natural habitat.

But how do pests survive the winter? It's all about finding the right balance between keeping warm and conserving energy. Some pests, like insects, will huddle together in large groups to share body heat. Others, like rodents, will build nests or burrows to insulate themselves from the cold. And some pests, like birds and mammals, will migrate to warmer regions to escape the worst of the winter weather.

No matter how they do it, overwintering is all about survival. Pests have to be clever and resourceful to make it through the cold months, and they'll do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival. 


Pests That Commonly Overwinter

Ants heading toward a home

  • Mice- These small rodents are attracted to warm, dry places where they can nest and breed. They often find their way into homes through small cracks and openings in the walls and foundation.
  • Rats- Like mice, rats are also common overwintering pests in homes. They will seek out warm, dry places to nest and will often cause damage to wiring, insulation, and other structural elements in homes.
  • Insects- Many insects, such as ladybugs and ants, will seek out a warm place to spend the winter, such as the inside of your home. Other insects, like bees, will create underground colonies where they can huddle together to stay warm.
  • Birds- Some birds, such as sparrows and finches, will seek shelter in attics, barns, and other structures during the winter. They can cause damage to roofs and walls, and they may also leave droppings and debris behind.
  • Squirrels- These pests can sometimes cause problems for homeowners in the winter, especially if they find their way into attics and start nesting there. Squirrels can be noisy and cause damage to your home if they are not kept out.


Overwintering Can Cause Big Problems

As the weather starts to warm up in the spring, many pests that have been lying dormant all winter will start to stir, and if you're not careful, these pests can cause all sorts of problems for you and your home!

For example, if you have ladybugs overwintering in your home, they'll start to emerge from their hiding spots as the weather warms up. While ladybugs are generally harmless and even considered good luck, they can be a nuisance if they start crawling all over your walls and windows.

Similarly, if you have ants or beetles that have taken up residence in your home over the winter, they'll start to come out of hiding as the weather warms up. These pests can cause damage to wood structures and may be difficult to eradicate once they have infested a building.

Then, of course, there are termites- these pesky critters can cause serious damage to your home if they're allowed to establish a nest. They'll often seek out warm, sheltered areas of a home to set up shop, so be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of termite activity – both during the winter months and when the weather starts getting warm.


Some Insects Can Survive Cold Temperatures 

Wasps crawling on their wasps nest

There are many different types of insects that are able to survive winter temperatures. Insects are able to survive the winter by going into a state of torpor, which is a state of decreased metabolic activity that allows them to conserve energy and withstand cold temperatures. Common insects that are able to survive cold temperatures include:

  • Bees- Bees are known for their ability to survive the winter by creating underground colonies where they can huddle together to stay warm. 
  • Wasps- Some species of wasps, such as hornets and yellow jackets, will overwinter in homes and other buildings.
  • Mosquitoes- Mosquitoes are not typically found in cold climates during the winter months due to the cold temperatures. However, some species may overwinter as eggs or larvae in water sources and emerge when the weather warms up.
  • Butterflies and moths- Some species of butterflies and moths are able to survive the winter by going into a state of torpor. They will seek out protected areas, such as under rocks or in leaf litter, where they can wait out the cold weather.
  • Beetles- Many species of beetles are also able to survive the winter by going into a state of torpor. They will often seek out a warm, dry place to ride out the cold months, such as the inside of your home.

Protecting Your Home From Winter Pests 

A mop cleaning hardwood floor

It’s clear that even in the winter, no home is completely safe from pests. But don’t let winter critters and insects get the best of you – with just a few simple steps you can greatly reduce the chances of a pest infestation: 

  • Keep it clean- Pests are attracted to food, so be sure to clean up any spills or crumbs that might tempt them into your home. Store food in sealed containers and take out the trash regularly to keep pests from finding a tasty meal.
  • Plug up any holes- Pests can sneak into your home through the tiniest of openings, so be sure to seal up any cracks or holes in your walls, foundation, and roof. This will keep them from sneaking in and setting up shop in your home.
  • Keep your home well-ventilated- Pests are attracted to warm, humid environments, so be sure to keep your home well-ventilated to reduce the risk of pests nesting in your walls.
  • Stay on top of any pest issues- If you do find pests in your home, be sure to act quickly to eliminate them. Pests can reproduce quickly and infest an entire home in a short period of time, so it's important to stay on top of any issues to keep them from getting out of control.

Managing pest problems on your own can be more than a chore – sometimes it can seem practically impossible. As the pest control experts in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Thomas Pest Services can help. Whether you have a specific problem you need taken care of or are looking for year-round preventive pest control, we have a solution – just contact us here or call us at(518) 205-9494 and we’ll get started on solving your pest problems!

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