Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cold weather pests

image: freedigitalphotos

Winter house invaders

You might be more aware of pests in summer, when open windows lead to buzzing flies in the kitchen, but winter has its own problems. Cold weather will make your home an inviting prospect for many creatures which spend the summer out of doors. It's good to know how to identify and deal with the invaders.

Mice

Confusingly, the mouse most often found in houses in many suburban and rural areas is actually the long-tailed field mouse, also known as the wood mouse. In cities, the house mouse (which has smaller ears and a shorter tail) is more common. In some parts of the country you will also find yellow-necked mice , whose appearance is as their name suggests. In any event, colder weather will trigger attempts by many mouse families to find winter quarters indoors.

Rats

You are more likely to see rats in your garden in the winter, but in general they will make their winter homes in sheds and garages rather than the house itself. However, they will be looking for food sources such as bird feeders. The foxes that also venture into winter gardens will catch rats if they can.

Bed bugs

Increased international travel has led to increased numbers of bed bugs, which were nearly eliminated from this country in the middle of the last century. They are small insects, brownish red in colour, which can lie dormant for months and are difficult to spot; you are more likely to feel their effects in the form of itchy bites, or to see the smears their droppings leave on bedding.

Carpet beetles

Another pest gaining in numbers, the carpet beetle prefers a warm home and likes fitted carpets. In a normal life cycle, the larvae will feed on woollen fibres before hibernating during the winter.

Moths

Summer cotton clothes laid up for the season are a perfect hiding place for the larvae of the clothes moth. By the time the flying insects emerge the harm is done, as it's the larvae that eat the fibres. In a warm wardrobe, the moths will continue breeding throughout the year.

Silverfish

If your books, papers, and even wallpaper show signs of damage, you may have silverfish. They get their name from their silvery conical bodies, which are covered in tiny scales.

Woodworm

Tiny holes drilled in your solid wood furniture are a sure sign that woodworm have been around, but the damage may have happened long ago. You can check if they are still busy by covering the holes during the winter, when, if present, they are in residence; and then checking to see if the holes reappear in the spring, when they need to emerge to breed.

Spiders

They catch lots of flying pests, so some people regard spiders as a helpful presence in the house. However, their webs can be a nuisance, and if you hate the sight of them, you will need to prevent their winter stopover.