Ask the Bugman: Keeping pests out for winter


Now that winter is coming, we have to decide on how to control pests as some will try to get in the house as it gets cold and others will try to get in when spring breaks next year. The worst option is to have a pest control company spray pesticides around your house all winter, and some do that. I have seen exterminators spraying pesticides when roads were frozen over and even in the snow. The best solution is to pest proof your house so pests can’t get in this winter or next spring.

Proper pest-proofing your home will help keep cockroaches, ants, scorpions, centipedes, spiders, rodents and other pests out. It will also allow you to not have to hire a pest control company to spray pesticides all around your home or in it ever again. Along with pest proofing your house, you need to remember to keep all of your sink, tub and floor drains closed at night. This will prevent cockroaches from coming up the drains from the sewer system or septic tank. If you don’t have a drain cover, you can fill a Ziploc bag with water and place it over the drain. That will keep the roaches out.

The first step is installing door sweeps on all outside doors that need them. If you can slide a piece of paper under a door, it needs a door sweep. Don’t leave any debris lying around the house. This is a good hiding place for cockroaches, scorpions and centipedes. If you have firewood, stack it away from the house as it will attract black widows and other pests.

When you have branches touching the house or roof, it will allow acrobat ants and carpenter ants access. You should trim them back and keep them from touching the roof so they can’t get access for the winter. Also, you should sweep down any spider webs anywhere around the outside of the house.

It is a good idea to seal the edges of any vents around your house so ants can’t enter. It is important to seal openings around pipes to keep roaches, scorpions and centipedes out. Even mice will come in an opening like this. Before you seal the hole, inject some food grade diatomaceous earth into the void. This will kill any insects or spiders hiding in there and prevent anything from getting around the seal and entering your home.

When you have pipes going into a crawl space, it would be best to seal them from under the house if possible. There is usually a space between the floor and the bottom of the cabinet and if you seal it from the top, cockroaches may get in under the bottom of the cabinet. It would be a good idea to blow some diatomaceous earth into the void to kill anything in there.

Attic vents should be completely screened. If there are any openings, rodents, bats, wasps and other unwelcome pests could come in and infest the attic.

When you get to the garage, you will probably find that the door doesn’t close tightly and never will. There are almost always small areas at either side of the door when any insect or rodent can get in. Put Niban Bait in any areas behind storage or shelves where roaches can hide. Niban will last three or four months, so you only need to apply it a couple of times a year. Niban is made from boric acid and is perfectly safe. It is available online from You can also put cotton balls soaked in peppermint essential oil around both ends of the garage door. This will definitely keep mice out of the garage. You can also spray peppermint essential oils mixed with water (2 cups water and 2 teaspoons of peppermint essential oil) in areas where you see spiders and don’t want them. It will repel centipedes and ants as well. Peppermint essential oil is much more effective as a pest deterrent than any pesticide the industry may use and it is certainly much safer.

Pest proofing will keep most crawling insects and other arthropods out of your house. Keep anything that pests can hide in or under away from your house and don’t leave outside lights on any longer than necessary as they attract insects. Check your home again in early spring to make sure all of the work you did is still in place and effective. You can join the Bugman’s Bug Club for more information on safe and effective pest management.

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