At the turn of November, many people begin decorating their homes for the holiday season. You bring boxes down from attics or up from the basement, and merry chaos ensues as you go through the hundreds of decorations to put up in your home.
In the 10 or so months when your storage boxes and bags sit unused, pests can invade your garlands and trinkets, forcing you to use chemicals and traps to get rid of them before family and friends visit. Luckily, there are ways to avoid pests during the holiday season.
Inspect Your Natural Decor
One of the best things about the holiday season is bringing in a fresh, real Christmas tree, a pine wreath and firewood to stack up for a cozy night by the fireplace. However, anything that comes inside from the great outdoors is likely to have a few pests buried where you can’t see.
Little bugs like ants or ticks can hide in the branches, and other pests may lay their eggs on the firewood. Before you bring your items inside, inspect them outside.
Christmas tree farmers are careful to check their trees while they’re growing for any potential harmful pests, and they take measures to get rid of them. However, you should still shake off the tree or wreath when you get home to remove any critters that may have invaded it.
Knock fireplace logs together to disrupt bugs that may lodge in the cracks of the wood. Store the firewood you aren’t using outside and away from your home. Get rid of pests before they come inside to avoid them during the holiday season.
Clean Your Home
The holidays can be hectic, and with people coming and going more often than usual, a clean house can quickly become a perfect environment for pests. Missing more than a few crumbs while you’re vacuuming can invite unwanted pests into your home. They’re looking for food and warmth, and your house has both in abundance.
Regularly vacuum or mop your floors, especially in the kitchen and dining areas. A clean home is less attractive to bugs. Also, ensure you’ve tightly sealed any open food containers — like chip bags or boxes of pasta — to prevent insects. A bug’s primary goal is to find a food source if they enter your home, and if they can’t find one, they’ll likely leave.
Unpack Decorations Outdoors
You probably store your holiday decorations in the attic, basement or maybe your garage. They linger unused for nearly a year before you get them out again, which is ample time for pests to make their homes in your boxes of decorations.
If you store your ornaments and garland in cardboard boxes, pick up the box and immediately take it outside. Bugs possibly made their way into the boxes, so if you unpack the decorations in your home, you might wind up with insects crawling out of the boxes and into the rest of your home.
Unpacking them outside will allow the decorations to air out and give the pests a chance to leave the box and head back where they belong.
Repack Items In Sealed Containers
After the holidays are over, consider repacking your items in sealed containers. Sealed plastic tubs can last for years, and they are airtight, so they will keep out any bugs or other pests. Insects quickly chew through cardboard boxes and plastic bags, which ruins your storage containers and lets in unwanted bugs.
If you put up a real tree or wreaths made from fresh branches, discard them away from your home. The tree branches and pine needles make a perfect home for mice and other small animals, so if you scrap your tree right near your house, the animals could find their way inside.
Seal Off Entry Points
Insects and rodents want to find a warm, cozy place to nest for the winter. They will tirelessly search until they find somewhere to stay in the colder temperatures. Those pests will find a way in if you have even the smallest cracks or crevices in your home.
To prevent pests from entering your home, you can install window screens, add door sweeps and inspect your home for any holes or gaps. Besides keeping out any nuisances, sealing your home will also keep the warm air from escaping. You get two benefits in one by sealing entry points!
Don’t Let Your Home Be Their Home For The Holidays
Pests are the last thing you want in your home during the holidays. They can turn your holiday cheer into annoyance if you end up with an infestation on your hands.
Use these recommendations to keep your home free of unwelcome guests this festive season.
Emily is a freelance writer, covering conservation and sustainability.