Don’t invite pests into your warm, cozy home

Colder weather can inspire you to spend more time inside your cozy home, but some annoying pests may have the same idea.

When temperatures begin to fall, an estimated 21 million rodents head inside to escape winter’s chill and to find new sources of food, according to the National Pest Management Association, or NPMA. Other pests have the same idea, including spiders, ants and cockroaches.

More than a nuisance, these household pests can trigger allergies and asthma attacks, spread diseases, transmit bacteria and contaminate food.

They also can 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 homes by hitching rides on the items brought in, such as firewood, packages and even on Fido. They also gain entry through small cracks and crevices in the structure’s exterior. Luckily, there are many ways homeowners can prevent these unwanted guests through effective pest proofing measures.

The NPMA offers the following tips on pest proofing the 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, steel wool or a combination of both.

• 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 and windows.

• Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains, that provide the perfect breeding site for pests.

• Inspect such items 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.

• If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.