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It’s time for your winter tenants to start moving in. My tenants?

That’s right. When temperatures begin to fall, an estimated 21 million pests head inside every year because their food sources are less accessible and they cannot adapt to the cooler weather.

More than a nuisance, these household pests, such as Indian meal moths, ants, mice, spiders and termites,  can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, spread diseases, transmit bacteria and contaminate food. They can also compromise the value of a home by gnawing through electrical wires that can create fire hazards, as well as chewing through support beams and drywall, risking structural stability.

Pests find ways into your home by hitching rides on the items brought in, such as firewood, packages, and even on Felix or Fido. They also gain entry through small cracks and crevices in the structure’s exterior. Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent these unwanted guests through effective pest-proofing measures.

The NPMA offers the following tips on pest-proofing your home:

  • Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys
  • Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk and/or steel wool
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly
  • Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry
  • Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation
  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains, that provide the perfect breeding site for pests
  • Inspect items such as boxes, grocery bags and other packages brought into the home
  • Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house