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Should You Worry About Bugs Getting Into Your Home in Winter?


Laptop and coffee cup on butcher block countertop with ants crawling towards cup


You might believe that you don't need to spray for bugs in the winter months, but according to pest control experts, winter is the best time to lay down protection.


Over time, the chemicals used by pest control companies break down after exposure to rain, sunlight, and high temperatures. These conditions are less of a factor in winter which makes the treatments more effective and longer lasting.




But I Don't See Any Bugs


Arthropods (like roaches, crickets, spiders, ants, stink bugs, and yes - termites) are ectothermic - meaning they cannot produce their own heat. In winter, they seek out dark and warm places where they can survive like basements, crawlspaces, closets, pantries, and kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. You probably won't see them, but they are there.



The Where, When, and How of Spraying in Winter


So how can you take care of these "invisible" invaders? All entries into your home, including cracks and gaps in the foundation as well as doors and windows, are the where of pest spraying. You can hire a pest control company, or use an exterior spray available at most hardware stores.


Here are some tips on how to spray if you are doing it yourself:

  • Make sure you spray in a continuous band around your foundation.

  • Spray where building materials meet, such as siding and a concrete foundation, at window and door frames, and where connections from power, heat pumps, generators, or gas lines enter your home.

  • Don't miss door thresholds.

  • Spray anywhere you spot insects, spiderwebs, and/or droppings.

  • Spray with the wind so you avoid getting it on you.

  • Inside, you should spray where any pipes or cable/internet wires enter or exit your living area, such as sink drains and waterlines.


Quarterly treatments are effective, with winter being an often overlooked season. Make sure you have a new application every 3–4 months so you can ward off insects that emerge during a warm spell.



Natural Deterrents


Spray bottle, lemon, and mint leaves on white background, overhead photo

If you prefer to skip the chemicals, there are several natural ways to repel insects. Most of these pests use the tiny hairs on their legs and the sensors on their antennae to detect smells and vibrations. Strong odors can overwhelm them and send them scurrying away. Here are some of the scents they dislike most and how you can use them.


Citrus

Spiders hate citrus: lemon, lime, orange, even grapefruit. You can make your own spray by mixing 20 drops of lemon or lime juice or essential oils with water in a spray bottle. Spray your countertops, tile floors, and outdoors around window and door frames. You’ll have to repeat this to keep the spiders from coming into your home.


Use a Lemon Peel Rub

Don’t throw away those lemon peels after you squeeze a lemon, rub them over windowsills, door sills, or anywhere else spiders may perch (like cabinets or behind toilet tanks). The scent will repel the spiders


Citronella

You can burn citronella candles or use air fresheners with citronella in them to keep spiders at bay, along with other bugs that aren’t fond of the scent.


Peppermint Oil

If citrus or citronella is not to your liking, spiders also dislike peppermint. Spiders use the tiny hairs on their legs to sense smell and vibration. Peppermint is too strong a smell for them and overwhelms their systems. Combine 5 drops of peppermint oil and 6–7 drops of dish soap in a 16-ounce water bottle, then spray where needed. You can use this to clean up fingerprints or dust from your window sills and doors too. Use once a week until it is all used up.


You can also use peppermint oil in a diffuser, which will work almost as well as a repellent.


Vinegar

If you don’t want to add any smell to your home, vinegar will work well and has little to no aroma. Its acid composition works well to repel spiders and can be used inside and outside your home. Mix half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle and spray it whenever you find a spider. Don’t spray on delicate fabrics or furniture with a finish that could be damaged.


Outside your home, spray around all openings and any corners or cracks where insects could enter your house.


Cedar

Cedar branches or wood chips can be placed in small fabric bags and hung near your openings or in your closets to repel spiders and other insects.


Turmeric

If you have an area in your home that is insect-prone, sprinkle turmeric around or place a turmeric stick there. This spice has a strong smell and taste they despise.


Before spraying anything indoors, make sure pets and small children are safe and away until the treatment has fully dried and the fumes have dissipated. Also, make sure your food is carefully stored and sealed, not just for spraying but all the time, so insects are not attracted.


It's easy to keep your home bug-free all year long with consistent prevention practices, even during the coldest months.


 


 


Sources: PMI, Family Handyman

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