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Winter Pests of New York

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New Yorkers really can’t catch a break when it comes to winter. It’s cold, it’s inconvenient, and it seems to last forever. As depressing as winter can be, though, at least you don’t have to worry about pests! ...Right? Well, you read the name of this blog, so you probably know where this is going.

Yes, pests are still a major problem in NYC, even during the coldest months of winter. In fact, a lot of pests are a bigger problem for local businesses than ever this time of year. Pests want to keep warm just like everything else. If they have the opportunity to shack up in your building this winter, they’re all too happy to. Here are four of the pests to watch out for this winter, and what you can do about them.


Boxelder Bugs

boxelder bugs often enter buildings in winterBoxelder bugs can’t survive the winter unless they find a warm place to hide out. They find these places by congregating in swarms around southern-facing, sunny window wells and door frames in late summer and early fall. Boxelders actually get into buildings by eventually finding cracks near the outdoor areas they use to keep warm. Once inside, they’ll seek out hidden, warm, and dry places where they can wait out the winter.

Boxelders aren’t dangerous, and they won’t eat or reproduce during the winter, either. Large concentrations of boxelders may do minor damage to insulation or paper-based stored products, however. Thankfully, dealing with winter boxelder infestations is pretty easy. Simply find them where they’ve gathered for the winter and vacuum them up. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately after you’re finished. To prevent future infestations, look for areas where the bugs got in and seal any gaps you find there.



cockroaches often infiltrate buildings to stay warm during the winterGood news: the German and American varieties of cockroach most familiar to New Yorkers can’t naturally survive freezing temperatures. Bad news: that gives them ample motivation to infest your warm building this winter. Like boxelders, cockroaches start looking for winter hideaways early. Unlike boxelders, cockroaches do not become inactive once they’ve found a safe place to stay. If they infest your building, expect them to reproduce, feed on stored products, and generally make your life difficult all year long.

Cockroaches are attracted to buildings where they can find the three things they need to survive: food, water, and shelter. Depriving cockroaches of these needs is the best way to keep them away this winter. Clean eating areas regularly and make sure you store non-refrigerated foods in airtight, hard plastic containers. Have plumbing leaks and humidity problems addressed as soon as you find them. Clean up clutter as much as possible, especially in storage areas and basements.


Rats and Mice

rats need to get into buildings to stay warm during the winterIt wouldn’t be New York without rats, right? Like all the pests on this list, rats and mice can’t survive winter unless they find a place to keep warm. They’ll start getting serious about sneaking into warm places in fall and keep trying until they either succeed or freeze. Rodents are some of the worst pests to have over the winter. They’ll eat products, reproduce, make a mess, and even cause structural damage.

Rodents have keen senses, which they use to find food and warmth. They can smell food from surprisingly far away, and even follow drafts through gaps and into a building. Rodents commonly enter buildings by following the smell of gas utility lines. Re-seal the areas around where utility lines with caulk or steel wool. Look for and seal cracks in the walls, especially around the foundation and corners. If a gap is big enough to notice, it’s big enough for a mouse.


Carpenter Ants

carpenter ants may make nests in wood over the winterCarpenter ants hibernate during the winter unless they find a place where they can stay warm. If you see a carpenter ant inside your building during the winter, it’s because they’ve established a nest there. Carpenter ants carve tunnels through wood, so having them in your business is bad news. When carpenter ants find a place to keep warm, they’ll continue expanding their colonies and inflicting structural damage all year.

Unlike many other wood-infesting pests, carpenter ants don’t actually eat wood. Instead, they break it down and transfer it out of their tunnels in a sawdust-like form. Finding this leftover sawdust is a good way to identify where ants are nesting. Carpenter ants need water to survive and only infest moist wood. If you have a carpenter ant problem, it’s because the infested wood is wet for some reason. Finding the source of that moisture and fixing it is the best way to prevent future infestations.  


We realize what a bummer this blog probably was. Now, on top of everything else winter throws at you, you have to worry about winter pests? Life isn’t fair.

Before you despair, however, keep in mind that you don’t have to tackle all these problems alone. Because pests never take a break, neither does Assured Environments. Next time you have a pest problem, even in the dead of winter, give us a call today. Your pests will have to find somewhere else to keep warm this year.

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