If you live in sunny Florida on the west coast near the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in and around Sarasota, you know that winter is usually short and mild, especially when compared to the rest of the country, most particularly the northeast, midwest, and northwest. Although it’s called the Sunshine State, it doesn’t mean summer lasts all year long and freezing conditions do occur, often during January and February.
It’s those two months, and the months of November and December, the temperatures do fall. With falling temperatures, people don their sweaters, jackets, and outerwear, as well as enjoy the comforts of heated spaces, something that isn’t available to the pests lurking about the exterior of your home nesting in the yard and elsewhere on your property. These pests too, are drawn to warmer spaces and your home is one inviting place when the temperature falls.
From the yard softscape features, to the hardscaping, and in between practically every nook and cranny, pests find shelter; but when that shelter isn’t sufficient to protect from the cold, they’ll seek out a warm place to escape. The ironic thing about this slow invasion is that you’re often the one leading those pests into your home, and, in more ways than one.
Insect and Rodent Activity During the Winter Months
A popular misconception is that many pests are inactive during the winter months, but that’s not actually always the case. Though it is a time when pests aren’t as active or high in population, they are nevertheless just as destructive. In fact, the cold is an excellent motivator for pests to do more damage to survive through the cold months. While it is true that some pests hibernate during the winter, like certain rodents, those same pests tend to do so in a congregation of large numbers.
Greasy fur coats aside, pests like rats and squirrels love to break into our toasty warm homes as temperatures drop, according to the National Pest Management Association. And Americans spend more than $4 billion per year just to get rid of them. Rodents carry all sorts of nasty diseases, like Salmonella and Hantavirus and can chew straight through wallboards and electrical wiring. —Business Insider
Insects remain active during the winter just as they do during the other seasons of the year and that can spell trouble for your landscape, particularly plants and trees, which are still an excellent food source for pests trying to survive in the cold. When the food sources come from inside your home, that means insects will continue to multiply and that spells trouble.
Ways to Keep Your Home Winter Pest Free
The best way to protect your home from the destructive forces of pests is to secure it and your belongings in ways that repel said pests. Here are some ways to keep your home free of winter pests, including some suggestions from the National Pest Management Association:
- Seal it, then store it. So many of us are guilty of storing away personal possessions in an expedient, convenient way. While cardboard boxes are a very common solution, they pose no barrier to pests. Cardboard is easy to penetrate but sealed, heavy plastic storage bins are not accessible to most pests. These will protect your possessions and keep pests at-bay.
- Keep a tight lid on your food. Speaking of plastic containers, those are the same things to use for food storage. Be it snacks or pet food, if its tightly sealed, it preserves food items and doesn’t become a feast for pests.
- Don’t let garbage pile up. When the garbage in the kitchen fills-up to the brim, don’t wait until tomorrow morning to cinch the bag up and throw it into the garbage bin. Do it then and nocturnal pests won’t find a midnight snack while you’re snoozing away.
- Cover any openings to your home. Any cracks or holes on the exterior walls should be sealed up, and entryways such as chimney vents should be screened. Make sure to inspect the exterior of your home thoroughly for any possible openings.
- Make repairs outside your house. Replace loose mortar and install new weatherstripping anywhere it’s needed to keep heating costs down and pests out.
- Direct water away from your home. Keep gutters and downspouts free of debris and make sure that water flows away from your home.
- Store firewood away from your home’s immediate exterior. Firewood should never be store against your home’s exterior. Put it twenty or more feet away and use as much of it as possible so it doesn’t become a home for pests when winter is over.
Another thing to do is to stay alert and up-to-date with what’s going on in areas of your home that aren’t usually inspected. Your attic is a great example, it’s a perfect places for pests to nest during the winter, so poke around periodically and look for telltale signs, such as gnawed wires and droppings. If you find either, deal with it right away to avoid being hit with a big cost.
The great outdoors, right outside your back door, with all those beautiful flowers, plants, features, and creature comforts. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into transforming your outdoor space into an oasis that’s the envy of everyone who visits, but now, you’re discovering ticks. Those little nuisances are more than a bother, they are dangerous.
As practically everyone knows, ticks can carry such scourges as Lyme disease, something which causes at the very least, a rash. It can also cause joints to swell and arthritis, even muscle pain, headache, and heart problems. Those are problems which you want no part of and you’re going to do something about those pests.
You want to take action and deal with the tiny menaces, but you worry about the method and what impact it will have on other insects, like ladybugs, which are generally a good thing to have around. You also don’t want to turn your yard into a toxic hazard, exposing little ones and four-legged family members to chemicals.
Choosing between Treating the Yard or Yourself, Children, and Pets
Dealing with ticks begs the question about how to go about it. The answer depends on what you are really trying to accomplish. In other words, are you out to destroy every single invader or are you just trying to keep family and pets safe? Another reality is that no matter what method you choose, there are pros and cons to each.
If you have trees, tall grass, or open space in your yard, you could have a bunch of hungry ticks lurking there. They lie in wait for a passing deer, pet, or person. Then they drop from their perches and land on their victims. These little blood-sucking critters can feed on their hosts for 15 days. They can pass diseases, such as lyme disease, to their hosts, which can be very debilitating. —Scotts
If you elect to treat your outdoor space, you are probably going to spend a lot of time, and money, trying to repel pests. However, there are ways to mitigate the cost and still achieve your desired results. The best option is to combine treating your yard and yourself, your children and pets.
Ways to Kill Yard Ticks DIY Style
There are a number of ways to get rid of ticks in your yard, which of course, include hiring a pest control service or having your current pest controller apply a special application. Here are a few things you can do on your own:
- Keep grass and plants maintained. Where ticks find refuge and love to hunker-down is in tall grass and overgrown areas. Weeds are an ideal refuge, as are flower beds, nooks and crannies, under objects like hardscape features, and pretty much anywhere there will be access to a warm-blooded meal. In addition, keep leaves raked-up and pick-up any debris which falls during storms.
- Keep wild and domesticated animals away from your yard. Most animals come out at night, strategically using the camouflage of darkness to hunt for prey and to prey on your garden, dig-up your yard, and wreak havoc. Your neighbors’ cats and perhaps dogs might also pay a visit sometimes. All those animals presents a prime opportunity to feast and travel from one place to another. Depending on which animals sneak into your yard, this will be a bit of a challenge, but you’ve got to keep the things that attract them off your property as much as possible.
- Keep your pets’ treatments up-to-date. Most homeowners apply flea and tick repellent to their cats and dogs, but can occasionally forget. Create a reminder system to keep on track because if your pets bring ticks inside, that’s not going to be a good situation.
- Keep children and adult play-things out-of-reach. If your yard has a play-set and/or a swing, and other things which are for people to enjoy, move those objects away from wooded areas if they’re nearby. Basically, the further away things are from prime tick-hiding areas, the better.
- Keep pest repellent handy. If you’re going to be in your yard for more than a few minutes, then just grab a can of pest repellent and apply it. This is advisable when you have cookouts, drinks around the fire pit, a bit of backyard play, or any other time of enjoying your yard longer than a few minutes.
Another thing you ought to do is treat your yard to repel rodents, especially large ones who are prime targets for ticks. You can also put-in a barrier, like gravel around the perimeter of your yard and that will help to keep the bitters out. If you use a combination of these tick trouncing tips, you’ll like be able to keep them out and be able to enjoy your yard without worry.