Do you know what an ecosystem is? It is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. Whether we like it or not, our homes are part of the nearby ecosystem. Wild animals and bugs see it as another place to search for food or harbor from the elements. When temperatures drop, these creatures can be found hiding under siding, living under decks, burrowing holes into wood and nesting in attic spaces. To them it is just another tree, log, stump, or hole to wait in until winter passes. And, when winter has passed, they will all become active again--as sure as the sun will rise. But, before they do, there are some things you can do to protect your home from the inevitable increase in activity.
Stop them before they come out. This is the perfect time of year to do an attic inspection. Grab a flashlight, put on some old clothes, and take a quick visit into your attic crawl spaces. If you have insects, rodents or wildlife in your attic, now is the time to get them removed. Search for webbing, nests, hives, and harboring pests. Go slowly and scan carefully. Watch for droppings or splatters of feces. Look for an abundance of spider webs. If you have a lot of spiders, then there is a good chance you have a lot of the insects those spiders like to eat. If you discover overwintering pests, have a pest control company safely eradicate your infestation before those pest begin to crawl out of the woodwork.
Make your home unwelcoming. If you have pests in your wall voids, it will be hard to uncover them with a visual inspection. But you can make your home less welcoming when they begin to emerge. If they wake from their slumber and are unable to find food sources around your home, they will move on to another more appealing location.
Keep trash in fully sealed trash cans.
Leave dishes to soak in soapy water, rather than stacked next to the sink. The water doesn't have to be warm.
Keep crumbs cleaned up around the toaster, food matter wiped up, and stove tops clean.
A few sprinkles of sugar can be a meal for an insect. Make sure your floors are clean and your carpets are vacuumed.
Fruit is a popular snack for bugs, especially fruit flies. Store fruit in the refrigerator, or inside a plastic bag, until you're ready to consume it.
Keep shelves clean. This can be hard to do, so some homeowners replace wooden pantry shelves with wired shelves, which allows food particles to dust down onto the floor, where they are easier to clean up.
If all that cleaning sounds like a lot of work, you could always call a pest management company and have them seal your walls. It is a lot easier to control pests when entry points are filled in, exterior walls are sprayed, and your screens, door sweeps, and weather stripping are in good working order. The less your home feels like nature, the less pests you'll have living in it.