You may think that the prevalence of pests is linked only to the long hot days of summer. Whilst it’s true that pests are more active in the summer months, particularly in the case of insects, there are plenty of winter pests that you should be on the lookout for.
Many rodents and insects hibernate when the temperature drops and your home or business can be a warm and cosy option for them. If there are any easy access points, pests will take advantage and build their nests in your attic or garage space, wall cavities and even in unused cupboards.
Common Winter Pests in the UK
These are the UK’s most common cold-weather pests that you need to be aware of.
1. Mice and Rats
These rodents tend to enter homes and businesses in the winter due to the scarcity of natural food sources. If you have a tendency to store things like cereal and packets of biscuits on your worktops, be sure to look for holes nibbled in the sides before you get your snack! These opportunistic feeders will make short work of any food they have easy access to.
They can also prove to be very destructive. Both mice and rats have been known to gnaw through wires and other materials in your home that can reduce the structural integrity of your walls and plumbing system. Rat teeth are even stronger than human teeth and are capable of chewing through brick, concrete and even ½-inch thick sheet metal.
They may look cute and fluffy in the park, but squirrels can cause havoc in attic spaces because of their voracious gnawing. They can also be aggressive when you try to remove them.
Due to their high numbers in the UK, if a grey squirrel is caught, it is an offence to release them back into the wild. They must be humanely destroyed. As a protected species, the opposite is true for red squirrels. It is also illegal to destroy or damage shelter being used by a red squirrel. We would highly recommend consulting a professional before attempting to deal with a squirrel infestation because of the laws surrounding their treatment.
3. Flies and Cockroaches
Though less common outside in the winter, these particularly unpleasant creepy-crawlies can be found indoors in high numbers. They’re attracted to the warmth and once comfortable, will rapidly multiply.
These insects can be especially ruinous to service-industry businesses like restaurants and hospitals. They are both notorious for spreading infectious diseases and dirt.
4. Wasps and Hornets
Technically these are not winter pests, but you should be aware of their behaviour if you’d rather not wake up to a full-blown nest on your property come spring!
Wasp and hornet queens will not die in the autumn like the drones. They will instead find somewhere warm, dry and protected to hibernate over the winter months. An attic or shed makes an ideal location for the new nest, so a queen will often choose to wait out the cold in there. When the weather begins to warm up, she will start chewing up wood to build the first few combs of the nest. She’ll then lay eggs to grow the new colony.
Many people will be shocked to find a nest on their property that seemingly “appeared overnight.” In actuality, the process will have begun a long time ago!
Keeping Winter Pests Out
The method for preventing access to winter pests is the same for most pests. It’s essential that you check around the outside of your property for any small access points and seal them up. You would be shocked to see how small a hole has to be to allow rodents into the building.
You can also make your home or business a less obvious target by ensuring that bins, particularly those containing food waste, are always securely closed and ideally a fair distance from the property. You should also avoid leaving any foodstuffs on worktops or on the ground. Even dried dog food can be appealing for rodents.
Inside, be sure to check any unused spaces at regular intervals so that you can identify an infestation as early as possible.
If you’re at all concerned about pests this winter, or have discovered an infestation, be sure to contact the experienced professionals at Safeguard Pest Control on 0800 328 4931 or send a message through our contact page. We’ll be happy to help you.