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Uninvited pests looking to make your property their winter chalet

Business owners saw a busy summer as more folks returned to pre-pandemic dining patterns, creating more food waste for rats and mice to feast on and leading to the potential growth of robust populations

You might have a number of houseguests over the winter months, but many will be the form of bugs.

These tiny creatures, ranging from ladybugs and spiders to beetles and ants, seek refuge from the harsh winter conditions by infiltrating our homes driven by their innate survival instincts and the allure of warmth and protection.

Insects are cold-blooded creatures, meaning their body temperature is regulated by the environment. As temperatures drop, these small creatures struggle to maintain the optimal body temperature necessary for their survival. Seeking warmth becomes paramount, and our homes provide an enticing haven. Cracks, crevices, and gaps in windows and doors become potential entry points for bugs.

By infiltrating our homes, bugs gain an extended lifespan and enhanced reproductive opportunities. In a controlled indoor environment, they can survive longer and continue their life cycles uninterrupted. This is particularly true for insects that hibernate or enter a dormant phase during the winter. By finding shelter in our homes, they can preserve energy and emerge in spring with renewed vigour, ready to mate and continue their species' survival.

Bugs that enter our homes are also attracted by the availability of food and water. Kitchens, pantries, and other areas where crumbs and spills accumulate become veritable feasting grounds for them. Insects exploit these resources, ensuring their sustenance and survival throughout the winter months. Additionally, leaking pipes or condensation can provide insects with a source of water.

Beyond the warmth and resources our homes offer, external environmental factors play a role in bugs seeking shelter indoors. Winter storms, heavy rains, or extended periods of extreme cold can disrupt their natural habitats, forcing them to search for alternative options. Our homes, with their regulated temperatures and relative stability, become an attractive alternative, shielding them from the harshest elements.

Human activities can inadvertently contribute to bugs entering homes over the winter. Poorly sealed windows and doors, gaps in foundations, or damaged screens provide easy access points for insects. Firewood, stored in close proximity to the house, may harbour insects that then make their way indoors.

The phenomenon of bugs entering homes over the winter is a testament to the resourcefulness and adaptability of nature's smallest creatures. Driven by their need for warmth, shelter, and access to food and water, these resilient insects invade our homes, seeking sanctuary from the harsh winter conditions.

Based on this year’s seasonal data, national pest control company Orkin Canada is sharing its predictions for the top pests Canadians can expect to see this winter.

  • Earwigs - After a population explosion over the summer, earwigs may stick around as they look to escape the cold by hitchhiking indoors when you bring in your outdoor furniture for the season.
  • Rodents - Business owners saw a busy summer as more folks returned to pre-pandemic dining patterns, creating more food waste for rats and mice to feast on and leading to the potential growth of robust populations.
  • Boxelder bugs are an overwintering insect and may wake up on sunny winter days to invade your property in large numbers, leaving an unpleasant odour behind when crushed.
  • Stink bugs reproduce at a rapid rate over the summer and look to overwinter indoors. These pests can also release a noxious odour when threatened or crushed.
  • Cluster flies feed on decomposing organic materials and can emerge in large numbers when spring arrives, forming clusters around windows.
  • Cockroaches - While these pests usually thrive outside in wooded and grassy areas, extreme cold or flooding may send cockroaches fleeing indoors to escape the harsh winter weather.
  • European firebugs - These pests have become more prevalent in Canada and have seen a higher than usual population growth this year, which could lead to overwintering in greater numbers.
  • Wildlife - Raccoons, squirrels and skunks have been feasting on abundant food resources, which may result in increased wildlife populations seeking shelter during a potentially harsh winter.