Unwanted Winter Tenants
When it starts to cool down in Bryan and College Station, a lot of pests decide to take the winter off. Of course, this year it was warm enough to get mosquito bites while hanging your holiday lights, but for the most part, a couple of good cold snaps in the Brazos Valley will take care of most household pests for a few months.
Unfortunately, the main exceptions (here and in most of Texas) are some of the most unhealthy and destructive pests around — I’m talking about mice and rats. Rodents don’t hibernate; they just look for shelter somewhere warm, which could be your house.
We see three common types of rats and mice in the Bryan and College Station area:
Common House Mouse
House mice are the most common rodent in most parts of the world; they prefer to live in dark and secluded parts of structures such as building walls and attics; they can reproduce every three weeks.
The dreaded roof rat is pervasive throughout Texas. They live in colonies and prefer to forage for food in groups of up to 10 or more. They also prefer to nest high up in trees or higher parts of buildings, like the attic. They can climb just about any structure, and live in a variety of environments.
These rodents usually live in underground burrows 300 feet below the surface of your lot. Norway rats tend to enter houses during fall and winter when outdoor food sources become scarce; once they’ve identified a food source they will continue to come back.
Do you have a rat infestation or a lone ranger?
One of the most frequent questions we get at ABC regarding rodents is whether someone has an infestation or a single visitor. Rats and mice are secretive little nocturnal critters, so most of the time you don’t see them. You will, however, see what they’ve left behind — droppings, scratch and gnaw marks, greasy smears from rubbing their oily fur against walls. They’ll chew through drywall, electrical wires, and destroy attic insulation. Most importantly of all, rodents spread health issues.
It is almost impossible to know the full extent of your rodent problem without some kind of professional inspection by an animal control expert or exterminator. With rodents, an ounce of prevention is usually worth a pound of cure. We’ve been called into situations where a ceiling is literally collapsing under the weight of rodents and their droppings.
Although there is rarely just one rodent, sometimes a pest just passes through. The only real way to know is to go into the attic and look for signs of rodents. Droppings, gnaw marks, burrows through insulation, etc. are all a sign of unwanted inhabitants. You may even see deceased rodents — which you should NEVER remove on your own.
Other pests that are active through the cold months:
If you have firewood stocked and ready, the chances are that winter firewood pests are going to take refuge in that wood pile. Termites, in particular, are an issue with firewood. Contrary to popular belief, termites aren’t just summer pests. Some termite types swarm in the summer, but termites are no more or less active in winter than summer.
It is common to see ants around your property and even in your home during the summer months. But finding winged carpenter ants in your home during winter is a huge red flag. This could mean ants have built nests within the structure of your home, where they hide out in the winter.
Ladybugs and Other Overwintering Insects
You might see beetles and ladybugs in your home during the winter months. This is normal behavior and doesn’t necessarily signify an infestation. Ladybugs will seek warmth to hibernate until spring. However, if you see dozens of dead ladybugs you likely have an issue where the ladybugs are reproducing and living out their lives right there in your home.