Winter is coming: How to keep critters out of your home this cold season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As temperatures begin to drop, everyone is looking for a little bit of warmth… including pests and critters.

“When it starts to getting cold, they're looking for nice warm places for the winter, and people's homes are fantastic places for them to go into,” Mitch Shipman, owner of Blue Beetle Pest Control, said.  

Right now, the biggest concern is mice. It doesn’t take much for them to squeeze into your house.

Shipman said all they need is a dime size hole.  

“Basically, anything they can get their skull through, their body will collapse and follow. All it takes is a very small hole.”  

Spiders are also a worry this time of year. Shipman said by now, they are usually pretty big since they spent all summer eating.  

“Most spiders aren't going to hurt you,” Shipman said. “They are all poisonous, but most of them aren't able to penetrate your skin or they don't bite unless they are cornered.”  

Shipman said spiders don’t pose as big of a threat as mice do during the cold months.  

“Mice droppings will contaminate your food and can make you sick,” Shipman said. “And they will have babies rapidly that spread throughout your house.”  

To keep mice and other critters out, Shipman recommends a method called “exclusion.”  

“Exclusion is basically filling all the holes around the outside of your house,” Shipman explained. “Steel wool is great to use. They have a tough time chewing through this in the holes.”  

Other materials good for filling holes around your house include wooden boards, caulk and sealant foam.

It’s also a good idea to inspect your garage, since, according to Shipman, that’s where mice are able to get in 80 percent of the time.

“So if you have the old garage doors, or it’s very porous, or you have the weather stripping around the garage door that’s torn up and old, it’s very easy for them to get in,” Shipman said. “The number one thing that attracts them is that big bag of dog food or cat food in the garage and they go straight to it. So, you have to be very careful with that.”  

If the mouse is already inside your home, you will have to take other approaches.  

Blue Beetle Pest Control recommends setting traps and investing in mouse and rat poison.

You can set the traps on the sides of your refrigerator, underneath the sink and along the baseboards in your home.

If you’re using poison, Shipman said you should be more careful about where you place it.  

“We typically put the poisonous bait behind this stove or refrigerator so it's nice and protected.” Shipman said.  

While mouse traps are typically only good for one use, poison can keep pests at bay for up to a year.  

Blue Beetle Pest Control encourages homeowners to do their own inspections and try to handle the problem themselves, but warns them not to let it get out of hand because that could lead to an infestation.  

“If it’s just not working – that’s when you have to bring in a professional. We have higher-end products that you can use and we have knowledge to help out,” Shipman said.

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