(NewsUSA) - The winter weather trifecta of ice, snow and wind can leave a house full of new cracks and openings, rendering it defenseless when spring brings rain and unexpected pests. Unfortunately, the total damage left by winter's wrath may not be known until after pests have already invaded your home.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), more than half of homeowners are concerned about pest damage to their homes and property -- and rightfully so.
"Increased moisture from melting ice and snow can create cracks and holes in roofs and foundations, allowing pests easy access," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. "Ice dams, which form on roofs and prevent snow from melting, are especially problematic as they can damage walls, ceilings, insulation and drywall, with resulting moisture attracting pests such as termites and carpenter ants."
If pests have already found their way indoors, immediate action is recommended. "Homeowners should deal with a pest problem right away since household pests breed relatively quickly. A small pest problem can result in a full-blown infestation in a matter of weeks, posing serious health risks to homeowners and their families," advised Henriksen.
The first step toward keeping spring pests outdoors is to repair any obvious damage. The NPMA recommends the following advice:
* Look for missing roof shingles, ripped window screens and clogged gutters, all of which are as inviting as a "Pests welcome" vacancy sign.
* Seal cracks and holes, including entry points for utilities and pipes.
* Replace weather-stripping, and repair loose mortar around basement foundations and windows.
* Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
* Vacuum around doors and windows, as these are key entry points for eager pests. Frequent vacuuming can catch invaders like spiders, silverfish, earwigs and beetles.
* Inspect garages and outbuildings for rodent tenants. Organize cluttered debris, boxes and random items along the walls where mice may hide or nest. Does spring cleaning call for a new shelving unit?
* Partner with a local pest professional to treat existing infestations, and consider a quarterly maintenance plan to keep pests out for good.
For more information about pest maintenance, tips on identifying an infestation and locating a qualified and licensed pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org.