Common Winter Pests in the Midwest
When thinking about pest control, the warm summer months naturally come to mind, with sounds of buzzing mosquitoes and thoughts of swarming ants. However, pests don’t simply disappear in the winter. Just like you, many pests are looking for a nice, warm spot to escape the frigid temperatures. But which pests are most common during the winter months in the Midwest? There are several common types of winter pests you might find in and around your home. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
One of the biggest nuances in the pest community, cockroaches somehow have continued to withstand the test of time. One of the peskiest critters to get rid of, the only way to “freeze out” a cockroach is with chilling 15 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Since this is not typically an average temperature met during Indiana’s and Illinois’ winter months, it’s time to learn about roach prevention.
There are four common kinds in the United States: The German Cockroach, the American Cockroach, the Oriental Cockroach, and the Brown Banded Cockroach. This melting pot of cockroach species all band together, taking residence in your pipes, appliances, baseboards, and even in your electronics! German cockroaches thrive in humid environments, even with the smallest supply of food, which is why they are one of the most common types found in your kitchens. The American Cockroach is an outdoor species that has a hard time withstanding the frigid winter temperatures, which is why you can typically find them in wood piles and decaying trees surrounding your yard and home.
You know a rat when you see one. But what you may not know is that there are two common species of rats in the United States: the Roof Rat and the Norway Rat. The Norway Rat is the larger of the two, while the roof rat has a longer, sleeker body.
Arguably one of the most frightening of all common Indiana and Illinois winter pests, the Roof and Norway Rat species are warm blooded mammals. As a warm blooded mammal, they seek to avoid the harsh winter, with its limited food sources, by moving into warmer places. Unfortunately for you, these warmer areas are often found around your home. Some of the prime real estate areas for rats in the winter are areas like sheds, or wood stacked beside your home, and whether we want them to or not, these pests find their way in, setting up shop in your home’s walls and attics.
Mice, the little brother to the rat, may be smaller, but is just as unwanted in your home. Weighing in at around half of an ounce to an ounce, the house mouse is the most commonly found mammal on earth. They live a lifespan of around 9-18 months, and a decent amount of that is spent trying to infiltrate your warm, cozy winter homes.
Mice are extremely adaptable, nesting in weeds, piles of sticks and garbage, and even in the cracks of your home’s foundation. Just like any one of us, mice want to go where it’s warm. Where there is a nearby source of food and warmth, you can almost always find a mouse. Mice are also extremely exploratory, meaning they will go to the extremes to find new territory to call their own. Memorizing pathways to shelter, food, and water is a mouse’s special talent. Making sure that your garbage is secure, and there are no piles of wood or possible shelter, is the best way to keep mice from coming near your home. Securing cracks in your home’s foundation is also a top priority for ensuring that mice don’t make their way into your home this frigid season.
Creepy and crawly, spiders are the stealthiest of the winter pests. Averaging around 400 spider species in Indiana and Illinois, you are bound to see one or two in the winter months. There are only two types capable of being harmful to humans, the infamous Brown Recluse and the Black Widow. But not to worry, neither the Brown Recluse or the Black Widow are aggressive in nature.
When it comes to the winter months, different types of spider species handle things differently. As you could guess, the most popular option is to head straight for your homes. Stealthy in their nature, spiders are typically found by surprise on your walls or floors, and sometimes even in your furniture! Other spiders prefer to prepare for Midwest’s winter months by weaving webs under porch and window overhangs, or loose wood, as a means for insulation for warmth. All spiders mean no harm, and most cannot really inflict harm past making you jump off the couch. But as stated previously, the Brown Recluse is one to watch for. The Brown Recluse is searching for areas of paper, crevices, and cracks, typically away from the chaos of your daily routine. Make sure to fill in cracks and your home free of wood and paper piles, and you should be good to go.
Not so much as "scary", as they are annoying, most ants aren't too hard to get rid of. However, some ants can be much more difficult to get out, and can even do extensive damage to your home. Ants are one of the Midwest’s most common household pests, and the Carpenter ant is no exception. Sticking around through the cold months, Carpenter ants tend to remain dormant until it is too cold for their comfort. This is when they start looking to your homes as prime winter real estate. Carpenter ants don’t just seek out shelter, they make their own.
Black and wingless, the Carpenter ants, like the name suggests, are notorious for burrowing nests and damaging the wood in your home. Carpenter ants are the largest ants in the United States, meaning that the holes they burrow in your wood can be large. Although they do not eat the wood they nest in, large colonies of carpenter ants can be found to be destructive to your home. These critters are fast moving, only stopping to feed. The best way to keep them out of your home is to remove the parent nests that can be found in your yard, surrounding your home. Keeping your doors shut and your foundation secure is another factor Carpenter ant control.