With all the pests you have to worry about year-round, why care about the ones that are hibernating in winter? It seems kind of considerate of them, honestly. The problem is, all those sleeping pests wake up eventually. And they’re hungry when they wake up.
These are four of the hibernating pests you absolutely don’t want snoozing around your home. Whether they’re actually hibernating, going “dormant”, or just waiting around, these pesky punks will ruin your spring if you let them. Here’s how to make sure they don’t.
Boxelder bugs are quite temperature-sensitive. As soon as the weather cools, they start looking for places to stay warm. You’ve probably noticed them congregating in large numbers around your porch, deck, or windows starting in early fall. They’re especially fond of sunny areas with southern exposure. Eventually, boxelders squeeze through cracks near the areas where they gather and make their way inside warm structures.
Boxelders never truly hibernate. Instead, they simply find the warmest, darkest, and most hidden areas of buildings and wait for spring. During particularly warm and bright winter days, they might even come out to eat or soak up a little warmth. Come springtime, boxelders try to get outside, and may get stuck in your home. Look for boxelders under boxes, between walls, inside insulation, and around other dark, cramped areas. Vacuum them up as you find them and dispose of the bag when you’re finished.
Carpenter ants have the option of hibernating during the winter, but they’ll only exercise it if they have to. If the wood-boring ants can find a warm place to nest, they can remain active all year. That could be bad news for wooden structures around your home. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood, but they do burrow through it to expand their colony’s nest. Damage inflicted by carpenter ants builds slowly, but given enough time it can be significant.
Carpenter ants require water to stay active. They only bore through wood that’s moist or wood that’s conveniently close to a source of moisture. If you notice a carpenter ant around your home this winter, it’s because they’re building a nest nearby. If they’re building a nest nearby, it’s because they have access to moisture. Look for plumbing leaks, condensation, or other sources of water the ants could use, and fix them ASAP.
Stink bugs don’t exactly hibernate, but they don’t remain active, either. Instead, the invasive pests enter a state of drastically reduced activity called “diapause”. While in diapause, a stink bug can survive on nothing but previously stored nutrients for months on end. Even though they don’t require food or water during this state, they still need to keep warm. Like boxelder bugs, stink bugs need to find overwintering sites to survive cold weather. They usually start looking in late September or early October.
Stink bugs make their way indoors by fitting through gaps near baseboards, window and door trim, or utility lines. They don’t reproduce or eat while indoors, but they might produce gross smells or stain fabrics. Stink bugs don’t like soapy water, so washing the surfaces you find them on might drive them away. Vacuuming up stink bugs is effective, but be sure to throw out the vacuum bag as soon as you’re finished.
Unlike the other pests on this list, you probably don’t have to worry about skunks actually getting in your home. That doesn’t mean they can’t make trouble for you this winter, however. Skunks survive the cold of winter by hunkering down in their burrows and resting for long periods of time. They can make their own burrows, but they’d really prefer to use existing structures. Structures like your house.
Skunks often decide the area beneath a home’s deck seems like a good place to spend the winter. Though skunks spend most of the winter sleeping, they have to wake up every now and then. When skunks get up from their naps, they may act defensively if they’re surprised. You know what that means. Use wire mesh or another blocking mechanism to keep skunks from getting under your deck. Make sure the mesh gets deep enough underground that a burrowing skunk couldn’t dig underneath it.
Yes, somehow even sleeping pests can make trouble for you if they hang around your place. Fortunately, keeping hibernating pests away isn’t all that different from driving off their less sleepy brethren. A little (admittedly cold) anti-pest discipline now can save you a lot of frustration this spring.
Of course, if you do end up with an unwanted bunkmate, you could always call Plunkett’s Pest Control. We’ll be right here with you all winter, freezing our buns off and keeping pests out. Stay warm!BACK TO BLOG