Florida draws many visitors each winter due to its gentle climate and seemingly endless sunshine. While winters seem warm to those visiting from colder Northern climates, Florida’s most common pests find the dip in temperature, no matter how mild, to be an invitation to enter homes and businesses in large numbers.
It’s not uncommon for pest control companies to see an uptick in calls for infestations of everything from cockroaches to mice and rats in the winter months, which can have devastating health consequences, according to St. Petersburg-based Regional Termite and Pest Control.
“Even a slight drop in temperature in the warmer parts of the state can drive pests inside to find warmth and food,” said James Brooks, owner of Regional Termite and Pest Control. “When temperatures dip below 60, even if just for a few days, we get increased calls for pest infestations such as cockroaches, ticks, and silverfish.”
While some species of pests dig into the ground to weather the Florida winter, like beetles, others seek the path of least resistance and the greatest reward, which is often in a heated space with access to food and water. Florida kitchens and baths are a common lure for cockroaches and silverfish, while attics and interior walls provide the perfect shelter for rats and mice.
Brooks said that while most people don’t think of ticks as a common winter pest, they can find their way into a home or business, and often come in on house plants. They can also hitch a ride inside on your pets, as can fleas. Year-round flea and tick protection for pets is a must in Florida. Ticks, especially, are prolific disease spreaders and can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme diseases. Fleas can transmit a wide range of diseases and parasites to pets and humans, and are implicated in transmitting the Bubonic plague in the 14th century– a disease which killed up to 50 percent of the European population. But often, just treating your pets isn’t enough to keep these pests at bay, according to Brooks.
“The best way to prevent pest infestations is to stay on top of them with preventative pest control treatments each quarter and monthly flea and tick treatments for your dogs and cats” said Brooks. “A licensed professional can spot problems before you can and can advise you on how to stop infestations in their tracks.”
Brooks also points out that some winter household pests are easier to spot than others:
- Ghost ants, despite their name and their miniscule size, nest indoors under cabinets, in wall voids, behind cabinetry, in between books, in potted plants and other inconspicuous places. Ghost ants foraging from food sources in kitchens to their nests can be an obvious sign that there might be a ghost ant infestation in the home, although indoor foragers may come from a nest outside.
- Carpenter ants can be detected by the sawdust they produce from burrowing through wood in a home, or in the altered appearance of affected wood.
- Smaller, German, Asian and brown-banded cockroaches hide in dark, sheltered places in attics, storerooms, kitchens and bathrooms during the day and come out at night to feed. They can be found under sinks or drain boards, in cabinets and cupboards, behind drawers, around pipes, and around windows and doorframes.
- Larger cockroaches, including the Florida wood cockroach and American, Australian, brown and smoky-brown cockroaches, often known as palmetto bugs, are generally outdoor types and may cause hysterics when they come indoors, due to their size and erratic movements.
- Silverfish, have a voracious appetite and are drawn to starchy foods and can be found in closets, pantries, bookshelves, attics and anywhere cereals, flour, paper and fabric are stored in your home. Tell-tale signs include affected books, fabrics or starchy food stores.
Winter is here and although the seasonal change is subtle in the Tampa Bay area and as far north as Ocala, when temperatures do drop at times, insects and rodents might try to make a beeline inside looking for warmth and food. These pests can wreak havoc on your winter if left to multiply and prosper in a climate-controlled space. An experienced, professional pest control company can create a pest barrier around properties for a healthier, pest-free Florida winter.