Just like humans do, rodents and pests seek warmth and shelter as the chilly winter days take hold. Common winter pests include rats, mice, spiders, cockroaches, cluster flies and bed bugs. As well as causing unease, damage, and inconvenience, these pests can pose a danger by spreading disease and contaminating food. They may also introduce other problems such as lice, fleas and ticks.
So how should you deal with these pests? Take a look at our advice below!
Rats tend to settle in basements, near rubbish and sewers or indeed anywhere where they are unlikely to be disturbed. They possess very strong jaws that can gnaw through a variety of materials, including plastic and piping. In addition, they can spread diseases such as cowpox, rat-bite fever and jaundice.
- Keep gardens and property tidy. Don’t provide rats with convenient places to hide.
- Don’t leave food lying around. Store it in tight glass or metal containers.
- Don’t forget about the risks posed by pet food and bird seed. Clear away all food and store it safely.
- Rats are attracted to rubbish, so make sure they don’t have easy access to discarded food. Store rubbish in robust metal bins.
- If you’re using compost heaps, avoid putting food in the compost. Otherwise, rats will swarm to it.
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Most people encounter mice in their homes at some stage. These small pests like to gather in basements and attics. Indeed, they’ve been known to cause electrical fires by chewing on wires in ceilings and attics. And they can spread diseases such as tapeworms and salmonella.
- First, check for signs of mouse activity. These include nibbled food, gnawed wires, torn paper and mouse droppings.
- Because they are so flexible, mice can squeeze in through tiny holes and cracks. Seal any cracks or holes in your property using steel wool or caulk.
- Don’t give mice hiding spaces. De-clutter your basement and attic, and store boxes on shelves.
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Finding cockroaches in your home or business can be very distressing. As known carriers of diseases such as Salmonella, Dysentery & Gastro-enteritis, exposure to this pest also poses significant health risks. Increases in eczema and asthma have even been linked to cockroach droppings.
The most common cockroach found in homes is the German cockroach. These pests usually enter the home hidden in bags, boxes and second-hand purchases. They congregate where they can find food and moisture. As well as spreading diseases, cockroaches can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Cockroaches are very tough insects and their ability to breed rapidly makes professional treatment essential to control any infestation. Only expert products and solutions are powerful enough to eliminate all stages of their lifecycle.
- Keep your property clean. Clear away any crumbs or spillages. Don’t leave discarded food lying around. And clean up all pet trays every night.
- Keep your property tidy. Cockroaches seek refuge in clutter, such as stacks of newspapers and discarded boxes.
- Carefully store away food. Cockroaches will hunt out food, so don’t make it easy for them!
- If you are unable to eradicate the cockroaches yourself, consult a professional pest control company.
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Bed bugs can strike in the winter as well as the summer. Bed bugs have become a significant problem in Ireland and around the world. Most people have never seen a bedbug, and until recently, most people have never had a problem with bed bugs. They thrive in holes and crevices, and of course bed clothes. They are easy to spread and difficult to treat, resulting in a rapid growth in the number of bed bug outbreaks. Many people still associate bed bugs with public places such as hotels or cinemas, not realising they can be easily transported into your own home.
There has been a recent resurgence of bed bugs in homes biting people at night. It is widely thought that this is related to a global increase in international travel (bed bugs are known to travel in luggage or clothing).
- Keep the bedroom tidy. This will make it much easier to spot a bed bug infestation.
- Wash and dry all clothes regularly, using hot water.
- If you see bed bugs, you can try to vacuum them. However, this is unlikely to complete erase the problem.
- When visiting other homes, don’t bring clothes or furniture if you can avoid it. This will help prevent the spread of bed bugs to other properties.
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Although flies can be a nuisance at most times of year, cluster flies tend to become most problematic as autumn turns into winter. Seeking shelter from the frost and wind, they come indoors and settle down for the winter.
Like many insects, they move inside for the winter months. They usually enter through gaps in roofs and eaves, and settle in warm, sun-facing spaces. Although the leave around early spring, they have been known to return to previously occupied spaces, leading to annual infestations.
Although cluster flies don’t pose a direct health risk to humans, they can be an annoyance. They tend to travel in huge swarms of thousands of flies. While they hibernate over the winter, their accumulated excrement can give off a noticeable stench. They can also stain fabrics and walls.
Cluster flies pose a particular problem for the food industry because they could contaminate the food or spread diseases. You need to ensure that all food storage and preparation areas are free from the pests. Otherwise, you could face reputational damage if customers see flies swarming around your premises. In addition, you could be fined or even shut down on health grounds.
- Clean up any spills or discarded food or liquids
- Store rubbish in clean, lidded containers
- Remove and discard of any dead flies
- Clean any animal excrement, as this attracts flies
- Pour away any standing or stagnant water
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Many spiders are harmless, but they can cause distress to some people, especially sufferers of arachnophobia. However, some spiders are venomous and can pose a real danger. Spiders thrive in undisturbed spaces, building their nests in garages, attics, basements and closets.
If you think you have been bitten by a spider, seek immediate medical advice.
- Spiders may gain entry to property via tree branches. Be sure to trim your garden, and keep walls and roofs clear from overhanging limbs.
- In order to get rid of spider eggs, you’ll need to carefully vacuum your property. Don’t forget to vacuum the dark, neglected corners of your property.
- Use plastic containers for clothes and shoes. If any items aren’t used frequently, they may become a nest for spiders!
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Professional Pest Control
While DIY prevention and action will help you control many infestations, there will be times when you simply have to call in pest control experts. They have the equipment, knowledge and skills required to deal with your problem.
If you have a pest problem, contact Rentokil for a FREE survey.