Winterize Your Home and Keep Pests OutDiminishing daylight, tumbling temperatures and autumn rains signal the start of summer’s slow fade into fall. Insects register these clues of seasonal change and start the search for winter quarters. And, of course, your home promises to keep those insect pests just as snug and dry as it keeps you and your family.

You may already take steps to prepare your home and landscape for cold weather. As you winterize, consider adding a few tasks to help pest-proof your home and avoid inadvertently inviting insects indoors.

Eliminate Habitat

Inspect your home’s exterior to locate and remove potential pest and insect habitats. Typically, insects seek areas that offer moisture, food and shelter – places to rest, reproduce or hide from predators.

So think like an insect. Look for bug-size bridges, things that could give nonflying pests a leg up onto your home’s structure. Also scout for places of refuge, spots where pests can hide out. Take the following home pest control measures to minimize pest and insect invasions:

  • Clean out gutters and downspouts. Accumulated debris can provide habitat for insects.
  • Check downspouts to ensure they direct all water away from your home.
  • Eliminate debris resting against or near the house, including rock or compost piles, old boards, or bricks.
  • Store firewood outdoors and away from the house.
  • Pull mulch back so it’s not resting against the house.
  • Store trash cans away from your home. Trash offers a food source that’s appealing to insects and other vermin. Keep cans tightly closed at all times.
  • Shift plantings so they’re not directly touching the foundation. Prune tree limbs that overhang gutters or roof lines, and trim shrubs that rub against a wall, porch or deck.
  • Remove autumn leaves that collect against the house, porch and other outside structures.
  • Replace exterior lights. Trade traditional bulbs, which lure insects, with yellow or sodium vapor lights.

For more information on why insects invade, read Understanding Insect Invaders.

Seal Openings

Inspect your home’s exterior carefully and take steps to seal any openings you find. This not only can help keep insect pests out, but also can help keep the heat in and cold air out.

  • Replace screens with storm windows. If you leave screens in year-round, make sure they fit tightly and don’t have holes, tears or other openings.
  • Check seals around entry doors and crawl space openings. Replace worn weather stripping and caulk or repair as needed.
  • Inspect basement windows. If concrete is chipping or broken, replace it.
  • Examine the foundation. Seal cracks and crevices with caulk or concrete. Stuff steel wool into holes.
  • Look at eaves and facia boards carefully, and examine flashing. Damp wood is an invitation to insect pests. Replace any rotting wood.
  • Double-check attic vents to ensure seals are tight.

Home Pest Control

Finally, consider creating chemical barriers in or around your home. To learn more about preventing outdoor pests from becoming indoor pests, read Home Pest Control Basics.

Using preventive tactics to keep insects out is an easy, low-cost pest solution that offers solid pest protection. Make inspecting your home’s exterior each autumn part of your annual maintenance chores. Not only will it reduce time spent on indoor pest control, it will also help ensure structural upkeep.