As spring approaches, people have to start thinking about pests returning to their home. But where do they go all winter?
For many outside pests, their winter whereabouts may come as a surprise – especially since there are many survival strategies pests can employ that some may consider too close for comfort, according to a news release from Troy, Mich.-based Rose Pest Solutions.
Per the release, the following are some examples of how pests can continue their lives in and around our structures during the colder months:
- Some overwinter in a state known as diapause or hibernation. Insects like stink bugs, boxelder bugs, cluster flies and multicolored lady beetles – and even mammals like bats – enter structures in autumn specifically to find a protected place to sleep for a few months. If overwintering pests get too warm this strategy can backfire, resulting in an unpleasant time for all involved. For example, if bugs appear near windows, lights, TVs or computer monitors it can be due to them waking from their winter slumber too early and trying find a way outdoors due to their perceived approach of spring.
- Some pests carry on as if nothing has changed with the weather outside. Many vertebrate pests have a little less control over their metabolism and need to keep active year-round to find food. Many rodents, as well as pest birds like starlings and house sparrows continue to forage outside for food – occasionally taking breaks during periods of harsh weather. The sound of scratching from inside the walls may indicate the presence of a pest like this.
- Other pests that may freeze solid outside spend the colder periods within our heated spaces since they have evolved alongside humans. Examples include German cockroaches, bed bugs and flour beetles – all of which can continue to cause issues because they have everything they need right there in our homes: food, shelter, water and mates. These pests tend to be the most irritating, as their habits directly interfere with our own.
- Some pests, like ants, take a mixed approach. They will overwinter if they get cold enough but can continue to carry on if they are artificially warmed in our structures. It’s common to see ant activity this time of year after a sunny day, which indicates a nest inside a structural void or under a slab.
Regardless of where these pests spend their winter vacation, it’s important to remember to stay vigilant.
“It’s fairly common for homeowners to encounter pests during the winter months given that so many species are associated with our structures and many of them actively seek shelter from the outside climate,” said Mark VanderWerp, BCE, manager of education and training for Rose Pest Solutions. “While we may not be able to see what’s going inside our walls or crawl spaces, it’s important to always remember that there is never a season that all pest problems completely disappear.”