While the cooler temperatures of fall and winter typically increase the number of rodent infestations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lack of primary food sources are also impacting the behavior of rodent populations. With the potential for greater than normal rodent activity during fall and winter months, Terminix Service, Inc. is joining the National Pest Management Association to help educate consumers on the dangers associated with a rodent infestation.
“Rodents not only wreak havoc on your home, chewing through cables and destroying insulation, but these pests are known to spread a variety of dangerous diseases,” said Kevin Hathorne, technical director, Terminix Service, Inc. “It’s important for homeowners to know how to spot a rodent infestation within their homes and to take the necessary steps to avoid these unwanted visitors.”
Common signs of a rodent infestation include:
- Droppings & Urine Staining: Fecal pellets are often left behind in places where their food is stored, such as attics, soffits, window dormers, as well as wall cavities and on top of wall beams. Dark colored stains may appear on walls and leak between tongue & groove ceilings.
- Gnaw Marks: Rodents will chew through air vents, exterior walls, roofs, and fascia boards along the gutterline. Once inside, they are known to bite through walls, wood and wires. The damage to wiring within walls can increase the risk for a house fire.
- Nests: Rodents prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas where there is little chance of disturbance. Be on the lookout for shredded insulation, leaves and woody debris inside attics and void spaces. Debris hanging out of an air vent is a dead giveaway you have a problem.
- Rub Marks: Rodents tend to leave dark grease or dirt marks — from their oily fur — around entry point holes and on posts or columns as they follow a trail in and out of the home between their nest and food.
- Strange Noises: Scurrying in the walls or in the attic could mean a rodent family is present. Gray squirrels are most active at dawn and dusk whereas flying squirrels are active only at night.
When rodents come inside during this time of year they tend to set up shop and stay,” continued Hathorne. “ They’ll create nests, breed, and forage for food. They will eventually be noticed by the homeowner, or at least signs will show up such as droppings, chewed food items, and the sounds of pitter patter as they run around at night.”
To help protect against these threats, the NPMA recommends the following tips:
- Insert door sweeps and repair damaged screens
- Screen vents and openings to chimneys
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping
- Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly
- Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well-ventilated and dry
- Repair leaking pipes and clogged drains
- Inspect all packaging for damage before bringing into the home
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home
If a rodent infestation is suspected, it’s best to contact an experienced pest control professional to assess the situation. Visit our rodent control page for more information on signs of rodents and prevention tips.