The onset of winter doesn’t mean that you are done dealing with pests until the spring. While many bugs do become inactive, there are a number of pests that thrive in cold weather, and many more that are seeking refuge from dropping temperatures — quite possibly in your house. Here are some of the most common pests you may encounter looking for a cozy place to hide when the weather gets cold in the Carolinas.
Rodents are some of the most common winter pets, and can fit into cracks and gaps as small as a dime. They will also chew their own openings if a big enough one isn’t provided. In the Charlotte area, the house mouse, roof rats and Norway rats make up the entire rodent population. They are fast breeders, and just two rodents can multiply into more than 1,200 in just one year.
Cockroaches, sometimes referred to in the Southeast as Palmetto bugs, love to make their way inside over the winter, but may also choose to live inside year-round. They are attracted to moisture and warm, dark spaces, and can enter through window and door cracks, vents, drains and ducts. Due to their attraction to waste and garbage, they carry microorganisms that can cause diarrhea and trigger allergies.
Once the weather gets cold, brown marmorated stink bugs are on the hunt for a place to stay warm, and will often opt for the sunny side of your home, or inside it, if they are “invited” in. These malodorous pests are attracted to moisture and light, and feed on ornamental plants, fruits and vegetables. When it gets really cold, they’ll go anywhere to keep warm, including inside your home or car. Resist the urge to handle or squash them, as they will release their stink in self-defense.
Asian Lady Beetles
Asian lady beetles, much like stink bugs, will often be found en masse on the sunny side of your home in cold weather, and will also make their way inside even the smallest cracks or gaps in your house. Unlike the very similar-looking ladybug, they are an invasive species in the Carolinas and will bite humans, as well as leaving behind a yellow, foul-smelling liquid where they congregate or if they are crushed. The easiest way to differentiate them from ladybugs is a black M-shaped marking on their heads.
While most ticks are considered summer pests, deer ticks (also known as blacklegged ticks) are active winter bugs on the East Coast. They are one of the only biting insects you’ll find outdoors in the cold weather, and they carry Lyme disease and other pathogens. Female ticks need food in order to lay eggs in the spring, and those who haven’t found a meal won’t go fully dormant in the winter. Anytime the weather is above freezing, they can become active.
Some pests are simply active all year round and will find their way inside your home whenever they have the opportunity. Ants are always on the lookout for food, and if there’s a source, one ant can quickly turn into many. Spiders enjoy warm, dark places to hide, and you can often find them in basements, boxes, or in the corners of low-traffic rooms. Silverfish can be found year-round, but tend to be more active during the winter because they like damp, cold places. Bedbugs become particularly active in the winter and can be tracked into your home if you’ve been exposed to a source, such as at a hotel. Finally, termites can also survive through the winter months, reproducing through late February.
There is never a time of year that is free from pests, which is why it is important to maintain a year-round contract with your pest control professional. If you’re experiencing an infestation this winter, be sure to contact us as soon as possible to put a stop to it.