It doesn’t take a huge temperature drop for winter pests to become a nuisance in your home. Much like humans, insects seek comfort and nutrients, which can more easily be found inside your home than in the wintery outside. You may first notice any winter visitors on the western-facing side of your home, as these bugs enjoy sunbathing in the warm, afternoon sun.

Here are our top six pests to watch out for this winter.

1. Termites

Most people associate termites with warm weather because that is generally when you will see their swarm. However, they take advantage of these cooler months to reproduce – which they will continue to do right through February. Eastern Subterranean termites are of greatest concern, as their colonies can grow to several million in size. They are also very aggressive insects that cause more than $5 billion in property damage nationwide each year.

Here is our eight-step termite protection plan, which you should implement around this time every year:

  1. Repair roof or plumbing leaks. The moisture from water runoff allows termites to survive above ground.
  2. Ensure gutters drain properly and direct moisture away from your foundation.
  3. Eliminate all wood-to-soil contact around your foundation, keeping firewood and other wood debris from being stacked against the side of your home.
  4. Keep mulch or soil away from your home’s siding. It’s best to have a barrier of a few inches.
  5. Remove items such as scrap lumber, boxes, and even old books or newspapers from crawl spaces.
  6. Maintain adequate ventilation in crawl spaces.
  7. Use a mesh screen on all windows, doors, and ventilation openings.
  8. Have your home inspected by termite pest control and treatment company at least once a year. Prompt treatment and regular inspections can save you thousands of dollars in damage repair.

2. Mice and Rats

Right now, rodents are seeking warm shelter and an easy meal, and they are targeting your home. Mice and rates are ingenious little pests, and they’ll find the tiniest of entrances to escape the cold weather – they’re able to slip through holes, cracks, or gaps as small as a pencil width. Once inside, they’ll camp out behind walls, appliances, and crawlspaces – and you may never even know they’re there.

Here are two things you can do right now to help prevent a rodent infestation.

  1. Seal up any holes around the outside of and underneath your home.
  2. Seal up any food sources to make your home less attractive to them.

Mice are nocturnal creatures that can sometimes be heard rooting around at night. If you see or hear mice during the day, it is a sign that you are on the verge of a severe infestation, as mice don’t come out during daylight hours unless things are getting a bit too crowded. If you see or hear rodents during the day, call a rat, mice, and rodent exterminator right away.

3. Cockroaches

Cockroaches can survive anything, even the harshest of winters. In fact, scientists believe that cockroaches walked the earth more than 280 million years ago, making them one of the oldest insects in the world. There are about 4,000 species of cockroaches, but – thankfully – only about 10 of those species live close to humans.

As long as there is plenty of food and humidity, cockroaches can survive. And where can they easily find that food and humidity during a Richmond December? Answer: In your home. If you have a roach problem, call us. We are an experienced cockroach exterminator pest control company, and we know from client experience that roaches can quickly grow resistant to DIY methods.

To reduce the likelihood of a cockroach infestation this winter, do these three things:

  1. Maintain a tidy home.
  2. Remove sources of water.
  3. Seal up any holes and cracks that could allow them to get in.

4. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are avid travelers, even in cold weather. So, if you’re planning a holiday trip to Aunt Margaret’s or to Nana’s and Papa’s place, be careful – especially if you plan on staying in a hotel. These winter pests are known to hitch rides in luggage and on clothing. They’ve been found on planes and hotel rooms, so be on the lookout for the signs and follow our four-point bed bug travel checklist:

  1. Check headboards, mattresses, and box springs for small, clustered, dark blood stains.
  2. Hang clothing; do not lay them on the ground, bed, or furniture.
  3. Place luggage on luggage racks, not on floors, and as far away from the bed as possible.
  4. Vacuum suitcases and immediately wash all clothing in hot water upon returning home.

If you do come down with a case of bed bugs, you’ll likely begin experiencing bites on the skin in places that are exposed during sleep. You may also see signs of bed bugs nesting in your home, including dark or rusty excrement, shed skin, blood stains, or an offensive odor on your sheets, the edges of your mattress, walls, or around other soft furniture.

Bedbug infestations almost always require a professional bed bug treatment and extermination company, which should be called immediately upon discovery.

5. Tawny Crazy Ants

Also known as raspberry crazy ants, tawny crazy ants infest in large numbers. People have reported seeing so many crazy ants moving erratically that it appeared that the pavement was moving – but it was really a hoard of crazy ants. These ants sneak into homes from infestations close by or when they ride along on winter flowers picked up at nurseries and markets. Keeping a well-manicured lawn during winter months can help reduce your chance of going crazy over crazy ants.

Because they dwell both indoors and outdoors, crazy ants can be one of the more difficult species of pests to control. Cutting off food, water sources, and entrance points is a good place to start. While there is a variety of DIY products for treating ant infestations, many of them are designed to target a specific species. Targeting crazy ants with a product not designed specifically for crazy ants can have a negative impact and may even make your problem worse. Because ant elimination can be so specialized, it is always recommended to call a professional ant control company when taking on crazy ants.

6. Stinkbugs

Over the last several years, stinkbugs have been slowly working their way farther and farther into Virginia. They come here to feed on crops, and they then enter homes during the winter to survive. You’ll know if you have stinkbugs, because, well, their defense mechanism is to release a very stinky odor. Stinkbugs are known for the fondness of pumpkin juice, so if you lined your front porch with pumpkins last month, it was the equivalent of hanging a “vacancy” sign on your front door.

Stinkbugs are likely to turn up near windows on the western-facing side of your home, as they like to warm themselves in the afternoon sun. You can take steps to keep them out by making sure cracks and crevices are sealed – and those Thanksgiving pumpkins are tossed in the trash. If you discover an infestation of stinkbugs, a pest control professional can help you eliminate or prevent them through exterior treatments or interior traps.