With the Farmer's Almanac projecting an extra-cold and extra-stormy winter for much of the U.S., the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is encouraging homeowners to take steps to protect their homes and families from winter rodent infestations.
"Rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the United States every winter," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "But with many places already experiencing cold weather conditions, it is important to be proactive and vigilant in preventing these pests from becoming unwelcome houseguests."
Rodents can cause damage to homes and household goods, spread bacteria, contaminate foods, and transmit disease.
To prevent infestations, NPMA recommends that homeowners:
- Store items in plastic sealed containers, rather than cardboard boxes.
- Keep food in airtight containers.
- Dispose of garbage regularly.
- Install screens over chimney vents and openings.
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around basement foundation and windows.
- Install gutters or diverts to channel water away from your home.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and 5 feet off the ground.
- Inspect wires, insulation and walls for any signs of gnaw marks.
Homeowners can control small numbers of entering rodents with traps and baits, but if a large infestation is suspected, it can be wise to contact a pest control professional.