Winter Pest Prevention Notes

Feb 20, 2017

There are several steps every home-owner should take to prevent some common winter pests that invade our homes every winter. Flies and gnats, scorpions, fire ants and small outside invaders are common pest problems during the winter in San Antonio, Texas. Some of these pests are brought in with potted plants that we bring inside to escape frost or freeze damage. Before bringing them inside, lift the plant and root ball out of the container – look for moving ants, scorpions, insect eggs, etc. If any are detected, treat with an aerosol insecticide or drown them by placing the plant back into its container and plunging the whole pot into a bigger bucket of water. Half an hour should be long enough, no longer or you may kill the plant roots. Don’t forget to check the bottom of the container for hiding scorpions. Sometimes, even mice or rats will burrow into the plant soil, so be sure to check before rushing that precious plant into your cozy house.

a squirrel on a branch during the winter in san antonio texas

Fungus Gnats and Flies lay their eggs on the surface of house plant soil, and these eggs will hatch quickly once exposed to the warmer temperatures of your home. To prevent this from happening, remove the top inch or two of soil from the root ball and replace with fresh, sterilized potting soil (not compost or soil from the garden). Another trick is to drench your plants with a solution of BT (bacillus thuringensis). BT products are safe and only kill the larva of hatching insect eggs. Plant stores, nurseries and the big Box stores carry BT products. Sometimes we forget to check the foliage of our plants, so check carefully for mites, aphids, lizards and spiders. A good soft shower from your hose attachment should knock off most of these critters from the plant.

Scorpions, rodents and animals will seek warm shelter in our San Antonio homes. Sealing holes that are larger than 1/2 inch is necessary to prevent rodents and animals from getting into the attic or between the walls. Remove all foliage from bushes and trees that are close to the house. Stuff the outside wall weep-holes with copper or plastic mesh to prevent scorpions, spiders and wasps from nesting in between the walls, where they sometimes can follow the electrical wiring and plumbing pipes to gain access into your home. For this reason, try to seal all plumbing and electrical openings in the interior walls with putty or expandable foam.

Exterior, perimeter insecticide sprays are effective at setting up a barrier between the wild outdoors and your home, preventing scorpions, spiders and other insects from getting too close. Another benefit of exterior chemical treatments is that by controlling the populations of most insects near your house, the fewer insect predators, such as snakes, scorpions, rodents and animals are brought in seeking food from these insects. However, if these pesticides are not applied by an experienced and knowledgeable professional, you may be causing more harm than good to the environment and to your family. We definitely don’t want that!

R. Cherrington



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