Temperatures have dropped this week, and we’re not the only ones preparing for winter. This is a highly active time for pests who are seeking food, water, and some protection from the cold weather. Our partners at PestWorld have developed this fall checklist in coordination with the National Pest Management Association to keep pests outside during the fall and winter:for home and business owners to avoid an infestation of rats, mice, spiders, or insects… the most active fall pests that make the migration.
This week, we even found a black widow spider that had taken up shop in a customer’s garage. The female black widow is highly venomous and dangerous to humans and pets. You can’t miss these spiders, they have a bright red hourglass marking on their abdomen. They often build a web in between storage boxes or in the gaps of firewood where you can’t see them. A misfortunate reach in to grab a box, and you’re going to be heading to the hospital.
So, before the ice and freezing weather sets in, take a few hours and do your own little home inspection to find any spots where pests are going to hold up for the winter!
Pro Tip: Buy some heavy work gloves, a heavy hoodie, and put on some safety glasses while you do your home inspection. That way, as you move or inspect items around the house, you don’t accidentally get bit, touch pest droppings, or have anything drop into your eyes.
Whether you’re a business or a home-owner, here’s a great checklist. Mice only need a hole the size of a dime or a 1/4″ crack to squeeze into your home (rats can fit through a hole the size of a quarter), so be sure to pay close attention as you inspect!
Fall Pest Prevention Checklist
- Openings – Screen attic vents and openings to chimneys, crawl spaces, and any other areas where homes may be open to the outdoors, including mail slots and animal doors.
- Moisture – Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry. Pests are attracted to areas of moisture, something they need to survive. Using dehumidifiers in basements and garages will help keep these areas dry.
- Cracks – Seal cracks and crevices on the outside of the home using caulk and steel wool. Pay close attention to where utility pipes enter the structure. Some rodents can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Be sure to use a quality, outdoor, 25-year caulk.
- Food – Keep kitchen counters clean, store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly in sealed receptacles. Crumbs and a buildup of garbage are attractive to pests scrounging for food. It is recommended to clean up after each meal and to properly close garbage cans when they are stored in the home or garage.
- Foundation – Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the foundation and windows. These are easy ways to keep not only pests, but also cold air out of the house.
- Firewood – Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery well trimmed. Removing areas where pests can hide near your home can reduce the chance of them finding a way inside.
- Screens – Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens. Torn window screens and cracks under doors are an ideal entry point for household pests. When you open the window, you could be letting in more than just fresh air.
- Storage – Inspect items such as boxes of decorations, package deliveries, and grocery bags before bringing them indoors. Pests can find creative ways to get inside a home. Shake out or inspect anything that has been left or stored outside.
- Pet Food – Avoid leaving pets’ food dishes out for long periods of time. Pests don’t discriminate between people food and cat food. Pet dishes that have been left sitting out are enticing for all kinds of insects and rodents.
- Drainage – Have a proper outdoor drainage system. Installing gutters or repairing an existing system will help draw water and moisture away from your home, preventing any leaks or build up that might attract pests. Since it’s fall, you may want to get those gutters cleaned out!
You might notice that many of these items are good strategies for keeping your home energy efficient, too! Our friends over at Amos Exteriors have a great article on how to winterize your Indiana home – be sure to check that out for some great tips. They can also assist with ensuring your home is well-insulated as well as installing energy-efficient replacement windows and doors.
Note: If you find pet droppings or some webs, you may already have an unwanted guest. Give us a call and we’ll take care of it for you.
Freedom Pest Control are Members of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members from around the world, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. This commitment is reflected both in the continuing education of pest management professionals and the dissemination of timely information to homeowners and businesses.
As you prepare for holiday parties and visitors, issues with spiders and other pests are probably the last thing on your mind. However, winter is the perfect time for the development of infestations of spiders and other insects. When the outdoor temperatures drop, spiders seek warmth and protection by making their way into your home. It’s important for homeowners to be aware of where to look for spiders and how to protect themselves from spider bites. The brown recluse spider is common in many parts of the United States and poses a particular threat to families during the winter months. Find out how to recognize and protect yourself from this common spider below.
What is a Brown Recluse Spider?
The brown recluse is one of the most common types of spiders throughout many parts of the United States. It is also among the most feared spiders because of its poisonous bite that can be painful and damaging to the tissue of the body.
Image Credit: PestWorld
Brown recluse spiders have a unique appearance that makes them easy to differentiate from other types of spiders. As their name suggests, they are brown in color and feature a prominent violin-shaped mark on their back. Their name also gives away a key clue about their nature. Brown recluse spiders are generally very shy and will choose to remain hidden as much as possible. However, they lash out with a painful and destructive bite when they feel trapped or threatened in some manner, making them a huge safety concern for homeowners everywhere.
Are Brown Recluses Dangerous?
Brown recluse spiders inject a venom when they bite either humans or animals. This venom can cause many potentially serious health concerns. Each person reacts differently to a brown recluse bite. The severity of symptoms can vary depending on the age and health of the victim, the size of the spider, and the amount of venom that was injected with the bite. Physical symptoms of a brown recluse bite can include fever, chills, skin blisters, necrotizing of the skin around the bite, and other serious reactions. It’s easy to see why everyone wants to avoid being bitten by a brown recluse, and this includes the need to protect any household pets from being harmed by these spiders.
Favorite Places for Brown Recluses to Hide
As mentioned earlier, brown recluse spiders are shy by nature. They will usually choose dark and quiet areas within your home to take up residence and reproduce. It’s important that homeowners are aware of the most common locations for the development of spider infestations. Regularly investigate the following areas of your home for the presence of spiders.
- Attics – Attics are a prime real estate for brown recluse spiders. The perfect combination of warmth, darkness, and a crowded environment to hide in provides these spiders with a comfortable home.
- Basements – Depending on the type of basement you have, this may be another area of your home to keep an eye on. Many people tend to store unused clothing, toys, and random containers in their basement. Be aware that brown recluse spiders can quickly take up residence in these items.
- Closets – Clothing, shoes, and unused winter weather gear are the perfect hiding places for spiders. It’s a good idea to not leave items on the floor of your closet and to check the insides of shoes, hats, and gloves before wearing them. This is especially true if the item has not been worn for a long time.
- Garages – The garage is another area of the home where people tend to store boxes of items such as sporting goods and out-of-season clothing. This creates a cramped location for spiders to hide away undetected.
How to Keep Brown Recluse Spiders Out of Your Home
Now that you’re aware of some of the more common places for brown recluse spiders to hide in your home, you may be wondering how to keep them from coming inside in the first place. There are several steps you can take to lessen the chances of developing problems with brown recluse spiders. Consider the following tips.
- Declutter favorite hiding areas – Creating unfavorable living conditions is the best way to prevent infestations of brown recluse spiders. Decluttering any storage bins, boxes, clothing piles, seasonal decor, and even paperwork can prevent these spiders from having good places to hide and deter them from sticking around.
- Seal any cracks or holes in the perimeter of your home – While this step may not be able to prevent the entry of all spiders and insects, sealing off all small openings around the perimeter of your home will reduce the number of spiders that get inside.
- Eliminate outdoor hiding places – When you’re working to cut down on hiding places for brown recluses, don’t forget about common outdoor habitats. These shy spiders love to hide under wood piles, loose stones, or areas where a lot of yard debris accumulates.
- Use sticky traps in common hiding areas – Setting up a few non-toxic sticky traps in areas that spiders tend to favor can easily catch the few who do make it into your home, keeping them from being able to reproduce and create a problem.
Common Ways People Get Bitten by Brown Recluse Spiders
Most people get bitten by a brown recluse spider when they inadvertently disrupt its hiding place. Slipping on a pair of boots you haven’t worn since last winter without knowing a spider is inside can surprise both of you. The same applies to clothing such as gloves, hats, and jeans. If you’re moving boxes or stored items that may have spiders in them, wear thick gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself.
How to Identify and Treat a Spider Bite
Brown recluse bites do not always have the same appearance for all people. However, pay attention to any painful or itchy bites that don’t go away within a day or two. If the skin surrounding a bite becomes red, hot, inflamed, or begins to break down, seek medical help right away.
Where and When to Seek Medical Help for a Spider Bite
While brown recluse bites will not kill you, they can be painful and lead to significant scarring in some individuals. If you have a spider bite that is worsening, causing you discomfort, or resulting in an open wound that resists healing, you need to seek medical care. A family physician or an emergency room facility can analyze the bite and may be able to offer helpful suggestions to encourage healing and reduce scarring.
The holiday season is a time of joy and gathering together with loved ones. It’s not a time to be worried about being harmed by brown recluse spiders. With the help of the information above, you’ll be better equipped to locate and handle any issues with spiders that you may have this holiday season.
We wanted to put an alert out to our central Indiana homeowners and business-owners that we’re seeing some pest issues earlier this year than we normally are. Specifically, we’re already seeing issues with:
- Wood Bees – also known as Carpenter Bees, these are large black and yellow bees that resemble bumblebees. Carpenter bees aren’t fuzzy, though, and have a black, shiny abdomen. The male ones are annoying but don’t have stingers and the female ones will only sting if you irritate them. Don’t… just call us before they start munching away at any untreated or exposed wood on your home.
- Wasps – you just don’t want to mess with wasps! When you actually succeed in killing a wasp, they release a pheromone that attracts more… and with hundreds of wasps typically hanging out, you’re going to wind up running into the house for safety. Give us a call before they begin building their nest.
- Ants – we’ve got a warning below that ants are on the way thanks to the early, warmer, spring.
- Ticks – along with ants, ticks look like they’re going to hit early as well. Keep an eye on your children and animals and inspect them before they come in the house. Tick-borne diseases in the United States include Lyme disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, and tularemia.
According to PestWorld.org:
Winter Recap: Uncommonly warmer temperatures across the region, with sporadic extreme weather including damaging winds, hail, and heavy snowfall. An abnormally warm spring could give tick populations an early boost. Expect the drier spring and summer weather to increase ant activity around homes earlier into the season than previous years.
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