The arrival of cold weather means you may be making plans to spend more time indoors. But you aren't the only one eyeing your home for winter warmth. As outdoor conditions shift, insects start to search for places to hibernate, too. Your home may provide a habitat that's insect-friendly.
Inspect and check these places to make sure that insects can't exploit even the tiniest opening to gain entry to your home:
1. Doors: Make sure that doors seal tightly against thresholds, including your garage door. Install new door sweeps as needed. Look carefully around your doors for any light peeping through. If light shows, that's a spot where insects can enter.
2. Windows: Check window screens for holes; repair as needed. Also inspect weather stripping for worn sections that could give a pest wriggle room.
3. Wall passages: Inspect every single cable, heating, plumbing and ventilation item that passes through your home's walls. Use a double seal to prevent insect entry: Caulk outside and also apply caulk or spray foam inside.
4. Dryer vents and exhaust fans: Double-check all vents and exhaust fans from your dryer, bathroom or kitchen. Inspect vent dampers to be sure that they're moving freely and not stuck open or broken.
5. Siding: Seal visible gaps between trim and house siding. Also look carefully where side walls join the foundation. Gaps here are favorite insect haunts.
6. Exterior walls and foundation: Examine walls and foundation for obvious cracks and holes. Make sure that you can see at least a few inches (more is better) of your foundation above the soil line. If not, remove soil to create a barrier between the earth and your home's exterior walls. Also, observe plants and planting beds near your home. Keep mulch pulled away from your home's foundation, and prune plantings so that branches don't physically touch your house.
7. Crawl space: Check screens over crawl space openings. Any floor above a crawl space represents a possible insect entry point. If you can't wriggle into your crawl space to inspect things, hire someone who can.
8. Soffits, fascia and roof vents: A quick glance at these areas reveals obvious problems. Pay special attention to junctures between adjoining roof lines, which are favorite entry points for Wasps and Yellow Jackets. Double-check roof vent screens to make sure that all edges are securely fastened and no critter has been chewing or prying it.
9. Chimney caps: At least annually, inspect your chimney cap. If you don't have one, consider installing one. It can keep larger critters, such as birds, squirrels or raccoons, from setting up housekeeping in your home. Besides keeping critters out for obvious reasons, realize that they also often carry insects into your home.
10. Things you carry in: This list includes plants that spend summer outdoors as well as live holiday decorations and firewood. Learn how to limit insects on houseplants you bring indoors for winter. Discover tips for keeping firewood and natural décor pest-free.