People think pests are just a spring and summer thing, they don’t have to do any winter pest prevention. They think that, once Portland gets a little colder, they’re free from worrying about critters. But where do you think pests go in those winter months, Bermuda?!

mouse in a small bucket

No – winter is the time when bugs and rodents set up shop and get all snug and cuddly in the confines of your home. Bugs and rodents, like humans, typically don’t love being in the cold. So they find a warm place (with an abundant food source) to bunk up for the winter.

We’ll give you tips on how to keep your home pest-free during those winter months because the preparation starts as early as late summer or autumn. Why so early? For one, it’s nicer to inspect the outside of the house when the weather hasn’t turned cold and rainy.

You’ll also get a better idea where trees, shrubs, and bushes may be helping pests such as mice and rats gain access to your home. If you have trees that come into contact with your home or extend over the roof, the four-legged pests could be using those branches as ladders on to your home.

From there, it won’t take long for an enterprising bug or rodent to find a way into the home. Loose flashing around a chimney, openings in the eaves of the roof, and other small openings are all they need to gain entry. Home invading insects need even less of an opening to get inside.


To know how to defend your home during cold weather, you first must know what you’re up against. Here’s what you’ll see crawling around the fall and winter months in the Pacific Northwest:

  • Mice and Rats: ’Twas The Night Before Christmas’ (officially “A Visit From St. Nicholas”) did not mention the mouse in vain: the mouse and rat are amongst the most common winter pests. Once they find their way into a pantry cupboard, they can cause an awful mess. Chewing their way into a food source, shredding paper products for bedding, and of course going to the bathroom everywhere, it may make you feel like removing the cabinets completely and just starting over.
  • Cockroaches: Although cockroaches are quite the warriors of the wild—they can easily live in all seasons—they are still amongst a common invader during the colder months. Found mostly in kitchens and bathrooms, a cockroach infestation can be a health hazard as they carry bacteria. They can also cause a freak-out factor if they appear in a box of cereal.
  • Meal moths: Otherwise known as “the pantry moth”, these critters are known to raid kitchens. You can tell they’re around by seeing small worms/larvae or webbing in cardboard food boxes (they lay their eggs in cracks and crevices). Once the larvae hatch, they start looking for food and eventually, the cycle begins again. While they aren’t picky eaters, they do look for grains which means cereal, pet food, corn mean and other similar foods are fair game.
  • Sugar ants: Everyone in the Pacific Northwest has had a sugar ant problem at one point, and it is possible to win this war. However, you can expect them not just in the summer but in the winter months too. They are attracted to sugar (imagine that!) as a safety measure: they secret the sugar after consuming it to fight fungus from growing. While not terribly dangerous, they do track in bacteria. It’s also gross to open a bag of sugar and be met with a bunch of ants!
  • Carpenter ants: Larger than sugar ants, the carpenter ant makes its presence known by leaving a pile of sawdust (this means they’ve begun chewing on your home). Carpenter ants prefer to burrow into moist or damaged wood because it’s easier. They aren’t necessarily eating the wood, but they are trying to make a home. On one hand, a bunch of carpenter ants means your home has some rotting lumber (usually in the crawl space or around sinks) that should be addressed. But they also pack a big bite, enough to break the skin in many cases.


Is there a way to 100% protect your home from all the baddie bugs and rude rodents? Unfortunately not. However, you can greatly reduce the chance of infestations and keep most pests from bothering you during the winter. When they come seeking shelter, there are plenty of “no trespassing” signs you can put up.

  • Seal cracks and holes to your home. This requires a thorough inspection – a mouse can slip through a hole the size of a dime; other pests can get through much smaller spaces. You can watch this video for instructions on how to do this properly. These efforts also help seal up your home, which may reduce your energy bills, too. Especially when it comes around to window and door framing.
  • Keep your firewood far from your home. We’d recommend storing firewood at least 20 feet from the home. You can also store it at an elevated height (18 inches, ideally) to keep them from nesting inside. We also recommend cutting brush back away from the home to reveal any entryways you may not be able to see otherwise.
  • Remove clutter and storage items. This is a common hiding place for rodents. Keep storage areas—like sheds and garages—clean and well-organized. Consider plastic store boxes, too. They are much harder to chew through than cardboard boxes.
  • Get your plumbing fixed. You might not think it, but plumbing issues—such as leaking pipes and clogged drains—are actually potential sources for a cockroach and ant infestation; they are attracted to the moisture. Fall is the best time to get these squared away. Leaking pipes can also cause dry rot, which will cause a lot of problems to the home as well, especially on a second-story bathroom.
  • Keep pet food, human food, and any other kind of food out of reach. If your home is prone to pests, replacing dry food boxes and bags with plastic tubs will go a long way to making things a little less hospitable for unwanted guests.
  • Replace your weatherstripping. Beyond keeping out pests, this is also a great way to better insulate your home and save on your energy bills. Here are some tips for doing this.
    Line your home with door sweeps. Door sweeps are a simple and effective way to seal an often overlooked gap in your home.

Lastly, if you want to ensure complete protection for your home, you can call one of our technicians for pest control service. We can inspect your home and find all potential entryways, as well as treatment options if pests have already made their way in.

After all, the last thing you want to see is a mouse scurry along while you’re handing out Halloween candy, preparing a Thanksgiving meal or sitting down for Christmas Dinner. Call the Bug Man at (503) 284-6269 for pest control treatment in Portland and Vancouver.

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