How to Avoid Uninvited Pests This Holiday Season

a bug on a Christmas tree
a bug on a Christmas tree

Holidays are full of all things good: gifts, food, visitors. But occasionally, we find ourselves with visitors that were not invited and definitely aren’t wanted. Let’s discuss holiday pest control.

As fall turns into winter and the air outside gets chilly, most of us spend more time indoors. 

We aren’t the only ones wanting to cozy up inside as temperatures drop. Spiders, insects, and rodents all gravitate toward heated spaces as it gets colder outside. 

If you find yourself with unwanted guests, don’t be a gracious host. Contact Environmental Pest Management for a free quote today. We’ll provide a custom solution to evict those pests and make your season bright.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year… 

A mouse in a Christmas present

Unless you have an infestation. Consider holiday pest control options to avoid a present you don’t want. 

There’s nothing like getting a live tree for your home during the Christmas season. They smell amazing and make an unmatchable centerpiece for the holidays.

Many families make a tradition of trekking to the tree farm, choosing, and even chopping down their tree. Others might get a freshly-cut tree from a corner lot, placing their focus on decorating while sipping a hot mug of cider.

Whether you chopped it down yourself or purchased a tree from a parking lot store, use precautions to avoid holiday pests riding in on those branches. 

The best time to inspect your tree is before it’s in your house. Take a close look between the branches. Shake it well before you bring it indoors. This will also release loose pine needles outside, leaving you with less cleanup.  

Once your tree is up, you’ll probably reach for your decorations.

Where have you been storing those pretty baubles? If those boxes were in the basement or the garage, they might have become homes to insects or even mice. 

Control unwanted holiday pests by opening the box and inspecting its contents before you move it out of the storage area. 

If you do find spiders, centipedes, or other unwelcome bugs, empty the container in a place with easy cleanup, such as the garage. Clean the inside of the container with equal parts vinegar and water. Dry thoroughly and check each item as you put it back in the container. 

Store your decorations in plastic totes instead of cardboard boxes to control holiday pests. It’s harder for spiders and other insects to get into them. They’re also easier to clean. 

A Little Extra Work Will Make That Holiday Hearth More Relaxing.

Mouse looking over a red Christmas ornament

Everyone loves a crackling fire and a cup of something hot on a winter night. It’s less appealing to trudge across the yard for more firewood.

It’s tempting to put your woodpile within arm’s reach, but it isn’t a good idea. Woodpiles can attract mice. If your firewood is right outside your door, you might find yourself with more than kindling when you reach out for a stick. 

Avoid furry holiday pests by keeping your firewood at least twenty feet away from your door. Remove piles of leaves around your house for the same reason. 

Don’t Give Pests A Free Ride Home.

A top view of a bed bug

Bed bugs have become more prevalent in recent years. 

These little tick-like insects are drawn to the smell of carbon dioxide. They avoid light. These two traits make your suitcase full of dirty laundry irresistible. 

Whether you’re traveling to get away from it all or traveling to be near loved ones, you’ll probably be spending some time in a hotel room. Follow these tips to make sure you don’t check out with more bodies than you started with. 

Take these steps to control holiday pests.  At the beginning of your stay, prevent bed bugs from riding home with you:

  • Check reviews of your hotel before staying. Any hotel can have bed bugs, but a good hotel will address them swiftly. 
  • Consider where you put your luggage. Don’t put it on the bed or the luggage rack until you have inspected the room. Leave your luggage in the car or put it in the bathtub (you won’t be setting it on any bed bugs that way) while you check the room. 
  • Bring a garbage bag or sealing vacuum bag for your used laundry. The smell of sweat that attracts the bugs will be contained.
  • Bring an oversized garbage bag for your suitcase. Put the whole suitcase in and seal or fasten it when you aren’t accessing it. 
  • Inspect your room:
    • Use the light on your phone to check over the bed. Look in the seam of the mattress for live bugs or dark spots that could indicate previous or current bugs. 
    • Check the seams of any upholstered chairs or couches in the room.
    • If there is a headboard attached to the wall, use your light to check around the edges and as far behind it as you can see. Do the same with any pictures on the walls.
    • Check the luggage rack if you intend to use it. 

If you do find bugs in your room, tell management. They should offer you a different room – one that doesn’t share a wall with the buggy room. 

Spray your luggage with rubbing alcohol before you head for home. 91% rubbing alcohol is easy to find at drug stores and will kill bugs and eggs on contact. Only do this in a well-ventilated area – you don’t want to breathe it in.  Don’t soak the luggage or you may have discolored spots. 

When you get home, toss your luggage in the bathtub. Take your laundry out and wash it right away. If you have clothes that aren’t dirty, you can skip the wash and run them through the dryer for 30 minutes on high. The heat will kill any hitchhiking bugs. 

Spray your luggage down again with rubbing alcohol and let it air dry. Then vacuum the inside and outside of the suitcase before putting it away.

Enjoy The Holidays With The Ones You Love, And No One Else.

family celebrating Christmas If you find yourself hosting unwanted pests, don’t accept them like a poorly chosen present. Contact Environmental Pest Management today for a free inspection. We’ll customize pest control services to evict those unwanted guests and make sure they stay out

Biological vs Chemical Pest Controls

pest controls
pest controls

Biological controls and chemical controls both have a place in dealing with pests. Your unique situation will play a big part in choosing the best solution. 

Contact Environmental Pest Management today for a free quote. We’ll walk you through all the options and find a solution that meets your needs and respects our environment. 

There’s something uniquely satisfying about growing your own food. Vegetables smell better. Food tastes fresher. There’s a sense of ownership in bringing those big tomatoes or beans to the table. 

The flip side of that is the unique sense of frustration when pests move in and eat your hard-earned crop. They didn’t plant the seeds, or pull the weeds, or remember to water them. How incredibly rude to just show up and start eating your food. 

So, of course, you want to remove these little freeloaders. 

Let’s consider some of your options.

Biological vs Chemical Pest Controls

Biological Pest Controls

Sometimes referred to as natural control, biological control is a method of reducing pests by introducing their natural predators into their space. 

While biological control isn’t quite the same things as DIY pest management, it’s up the same alley. Many people who choose DIY methods will lean towards biological controls.

Nature sometimes helps us get rid of unwanted pests. A sudden change in temperature or a wind event might knock down a pest population. 

But a naturally-occurring event is not the same as a biological control. To be a biological control, a human must set things in motion. 

Some people will introduce a beneficial predator to control pests in their gardens. Predator insects feed on other insects. 

Some examples of predator insects include:

  • Lacewings eat aphids, caterpillars, and beetle larvae.
  • Ladybugs eat spider mites, the larvae of beetles and other small insects, aphids, and numerous other smaller pests.
  • Wasps eat most smaller insects, spiders, flies, beetles, caterpillars, and sometimes other wasps. 
  • Dragonflies are great for controlling mosquitos. They also go after moths, midges, and sometimes bees. 
  • Spiders eat all kinds of insects. If they can catch it, they’ll eat it. That includes eating other spiders. 

Careful consideration must be given before any new species is introduced to an environment. Only self-limiting or environmentally-limited species should be used for this purpose. 

People trying to control pests have inadvertently opened the door to several invasive species. Farmers in Australia in the 1930s tried introducing the Hawaiin cane toad to protect their sugar cane from beetles.

The toad did reduce the beetle population, but since it had no natural predators in the new environment, it quickly became a nuisance. 

The cane toad secretes a toxin that is dangerous to would-be predators and is particularly toxic to dogs. 

We don’t want to replace our pest problem with more significant issues. Always consult with a pest professional and your local ordinances before attempting biological pest control.

Chemical Pest Controls

Sometimes, natural pest control options just aren’t enough. 

Pesticides are chemicals – usually human-made – that kill pests while leaving your plants uninjured. 

Chemical pest control tends to be the most powerful option, but it can have unwanted side effects. These chemicals are meant to kill, and they don’t cease to exist after your pest is eradicated. 

Pesticides get a bad rap because they have the potential to harm people, pets, and the environment. Excessive use will damage more than the pests you target.  

Picture yourself sitting on your deck, enjoying a late summer day. 

A fly comes along and is determined to get a bite out of you. You reach for a fly swatter. You swipe at it several times but have no luck. 

The fly tells his buddies how tasty you are, and they join him. You manage to swat a few, but these flies are tough. Some of them keep zipping around even after being swatted. 

Luckily for you, there’s a spray can of flying insect killer right next to you. You grab it, spray a cloud around your uninvited guests, and they drop. 

Chemicals are great for situations that are impractical or impossible to control with natural methods. 

We need to treat them with respect, though. You wouldn’t spray that fly while it’s on your arm. If you had a cold drink sitting in the area you just sprayed, you wouldn’t continue drinking from it. 

The EPA regulates these chemicals, and they are safe when used correctly:

  • Always start by reading all of the directions.
  • Protect your skin and face with gloves, a mask, and goggles.
  • Only apply the pesticide in an area with adequate ventilation. If you’re using these indoors, make sure you have windows open, run a fan, and limit your time in the space. Then leave the area for the amount of time the manufacturer recommends. 

Biological vs Chemical Pest Controls

Integrated Pest Management

The solution to your pest problem needs to work. Biological and other natural controls aren’t always effective.

You also don’t want to poison yourself, your pet, or your planet. Your choice needs to be responsible. Integrated pest controls draw from both natural and chemical resources to minimize environmental impact. 

An integrated control plan starts with knowledge of the pest you’re trying to remove. The pest’s life cycle is determined so that pest predators can be introduced at the most effective time. 

Biological pesticides (or biopesticides) target specific pests. They are made from living organisms (such as microbes) or the product of a living organism (such as hormones).

Where chemical controls are like taking a shotgun approach, integrated controls are more like using a scalpel. This method is a thoughtful approach that limits potential environmental damage while placing a high value on results. 

Talk To the Professionals

Whether your pests are indoors or outdoors, a professional service will yield the best, most environmentally responsible results. At Environmental Pest Management, we are passionate about providing safe and effective pest control. 

Contact us for a free quote today. We’ll help you develop a plan that controls all your pest problems without breaking the bank or our planet.