The oven has barely cooled from cooking the Thanksgiving turkey and your family is already hauling out the Christmas decorations! Excitement is in the air! But how can you avoid unpacking more than ornaments and tinsel this year?
There are numerous routes for pesky insects, spiders and even rodents to invade homes during the holiday season, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Nobody wants to unleash hundreds of spiders who hatched inside a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, or mice that have infested holiday family keepsakes. Knowing how to avoid bringing these pests indoors will help save you unneeded holiday drama.
NPMA recommends these simple holiday pest-proofing tips:
Inspect Live Greenery Thoroughly
Spiders, mites, moths, lanternflies and other pests love live greens such as trees, wreathes and garland. These types of decorations provide the perfect refuge for pests — and their eggs. Before bringing a tree indoors, give it a good shake to remove any dried-out needles and any insects that may have crawled onto the tree during the ride home. You may also want to leave the tree in the garage for a couple of days before bringing it indoors, and then shake it outdoors and inspect it thoroughly.
Boxes of decorations stored for long periods of time – especially those in attics, basements and garages – can easily become infested. When bringing items out of storage, be sure to unpack boxes outside first, as insects and rodents can find their way into boxes kept in undisturbed areas throughout the year. Check items for signs of a potential problem like gnaw marks and rodent droppings, and be sure to discard anything questionable.
To save time, money, and energy next holiday season, give yourself a head start on proper decoration storage to mitigate the chances of a future infestation. Use sturdy, hard plastic containers with secure lids. An airtight seal will preserve decorations and protect against insects and rodents.
Store Wood Smartly
Before you light the fire to create a festive atmosphere, remember that firewood should be thoroughly inspected before being brought in the home. Pests like spiders, termites and ants can easily hitch a ride inside your home on a log! When storing firewood for future use, be sure to keep piles at least 20 feet from the home on a raised structure such as concrete blocks to prevent pests from easily crawling into woodpiles. And don’t store any inside, for the same reasons. The walk to the outdoor wood pile will do you good!
Sweep, Don’t Spray
Use a vacuum to get rid of any pests you may see in or around the tree or garland. Make sure to dispose of the vacuum bag or clean out the canister when you’re finished. And never spray a Christmas tree, garland or firewood with an over-the-counter pesticide. It can be dangerous to your health and can also be flammable.
Call a Professional
If you tried everything and still are experiencing pest issues, contact a pest control specialist to inspect your home for possible infestations. Keep your holidays happy and pest-free!