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Ever wonder where bugs go in the winter? It’s a common misconception that they die in the winter. Some pests do die in the winter as part of their life cycle, but others overwinter (hibernate) outside or in homes or businesses where they remain inactive until the spring. There are also some insects, bugs, and rodents that are active year-round, who just need a new home for the winter or are more common in the winter months.

We’ve been in the pest control industry for over 3 decades which means we have some solid advice you can count on and trust, which is why we’ve put together this winter pest guide for you. It covers:

  1. What the most common winter pests are.
  2. How to deal with them.
  3. How to prevent them.
  4. Lots of links to extra resources and expert tips.

The 101 on Winter Pests

In the chilly winter months, homes and businesses commonly become safe havens for miceratscockroaches, ants, and pantry pests. The holiday season is also a key time where bed bug issues increase due to travel and in-home entertaining.

Important point - All of these pests have the potential to be an issue at any point during the year, however they tend to increase or become known in the winter months. When it comes to winter pests, they often go unnoticed until a serious infestation has occurred. Also, Winter pests like cockroaches, mice and rats are active in the winter, and pose a serious health risk to people’s health, their property and even both.

Here’s more information about the common winter pests:

Mice: We also get a lot of calls during the winter months for mouse control. Mice are a year-round pest, and more noticeable in the fall season when they are driven away from fields during harvesting and start searching for new habitable conditions that offers ample food and water, and secure shelter. Mouse infestations are commonly discovered in the winter because they are still actively building their nests, their nest have been disturbed because of home or business renovations, or because infestation levels have gotten so large that they need to expand their nest (they breed quickly). Mice are never a welcome guest in homes or businesses. They can cause property damage by their foraging, burrowing, chewing, and biting tendencies. Mouse droppings and urine pose serious health threats to humans by contaminating food and the surfaces in living areas.

Rats: Rats are one of the most adaptable nocturnal critters in the world, with the ability to climb, jump or swim, breed quickly, and eat almost anything to survive. These rodents are very challenging to get rid of, and often by the time you find yourself face-to-face with a rat in your home or business, an infestation has already taken place. Rats also have a bad reputation, one that they have earned by spreading serious diseases and causing devastating plagues around the world. They are destructive and pose a serious threat to your property with their constant chewing. Learn more about the common species of rats in Ontario, the roof rat & Norway rat.

Cockroaches: They are the most resilient, adaptable pest on the planet with over 4,000 known cockroach species. They have even been traced back to prehistoric times. Here in Ontario, the most common type we assist with over the winter months are german cockroaches. Overall Cockroaches are a concern when present in homes or businesses. They are scavengers and can live in sewer systems. They are also known to spread over 30 kinds of bacteria and have been linked to breathing issues in humans. Roaches look for habitats that are damp, warm and offer ample food like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, apartments, schools, and commercial businesses. They often gain access to homes and businesses through cracks in flooring around the outside of drains and live inside dirty floor drains from the floor grate to the top of the water trap (about 4" in normal situations).

Bed Bugs: If you want to make someone instantly shudder, just say ‘bed bugs’. Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood, and under the right conditions, they can live up to a year. When brought into a home or business, bed bugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide humans and pets expel, which is why they favour sleeping areas. Beds (mattresses and box springs) are hot spots for them to live and hide in, however they will harbor in dressers, side tables, curtains, pet bedding and even behind baseboards. And in cases where infestations are out of control, bed bugs will infest other active areas of the home like kitchens and living rooms. Getting rid of bed bugs can be extremely difficult and professional help is always needed. The most common areas of the body they feed on are those that are exposed - arms, legs, face and neck. Their bites leave raised or flat lesions which are red and itchy. Most people have little to no reaction to the bed bug saliva however some will develop a temporary allergic reaction like large blood or fluid-filled welts. While the bites are irritating and uncomfortable, they are harmless as bed bugs do not spread diseases.

Ants: You may only think ants march one-by-one in the summer, but the same in true in the winter. The most common type of winter ant issues we help our customer resolve are carpenter ants (who can cause serious structural damage) and pharaoh ants. For overall effective ant pest control, identifying the specifies is key. Why? Because there is no blanket solution for ants. Different types of ants require different pest control solutions. If you have ant issues, it’s always helpful to take photos of the ants and share them with the pest control expert. In addition to keeping a steady hand, and zooming in, including a dime, nickel or quarter near the ants is extra helpful. Better understanding the size of the ants infesting your home or business, can be helpful in ant identification and determining the optimal treatment.

Pantry Pests: The most common pantry pests we deal with are moths, weevils, and small beetles. Pantry pests can be an issue for anyone, no matter how sanitized or spotless your kitchen (home or commercial) is. Pantry pests are a nuisance and relatively harmless, but they can take some time to fully eliminate. They do not bite, sting or cause any damage to a structure, but they do spoil the packaged goods that they infest. Because you need to throw out all infested packaged goods, replacing these items can add up, especially for businesses with high volumes of stored product in their inventory.


What is the Best Way to Deal with Winter Pests?

The best way to deal with pest issues in the winter is to:

1. Prevent them by pest proofing your home or business. Pest proofing is your best defense, and first defense for keeping insects, bugs, and rodents in their natural outdoor environment. Pest proofing is not a single one-time action, rather it’s an ongoing seasonal effort which includes things to do both inside and outside your home or business. The more effective and successful you are at pest prevention, the less likely you’ll experience a pest control issue or a serious pest control issue. Check out our Top 10 Winter Pest Proofing Tips and Winter Pest Proofing Tips blog posts.

2. Get help from your local licensed pest control professional. They are true experts in preventing, resolving and minimizing bugs, insects and rodents. This means that they have the knowledge, experience, training, and professional products needed to properly and effectively address a pest issue. There are times where prevention efforts are not enough, so while they still need to be done, extra help is needed.

We also want to take a moment to stress how important it is to deal with pest issues as soon as you discover them or have concerns that you may have an issue. Why is this important? 

Need Help Preventing or Eliminating Winter Pests?

Environmental Pest Control has been in business for over 3 decades. We have lots of great resources and expert pest control advice in our Pest Library, which we’ve compiled for you below:

How to get rid of mice

How to get rid of rats

How to get rid of cockroaches

How to get rid of bed bugs

How to get rid of ants

How to get rid of pantry pests

We also encourage you to visit our blog and like or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for lots of helpful information, tips and advice on different pest challenges, pest prevention, and pest proofing through every season.

If you need winter pest control help, we hope you’ll contact us, your local pest control experts 1988.

Wishing you all a pest-free winter season!


Call 1 (800) 263-5055

Our Professional Team is Happy to Help!