Where do pests go in the winter?

Dec 18, 2020, 11:44 AM by Fred Speer
When winter’s colder nighttime temperatures start registering on the thermometer, some animals go into hibernation or migrate south. Humans layer up, or turn the thermostat up a notch or two. But what happens to commonly encountered household pests?

Many people assume insects simply die off. However, the truth is that insects and other pests, like rodents, often devise clever strategies to make it through winter. Pests, after all, are first and foremost survivalists.

Clark, your friendly pest, rodent, termite and grounds care expert, thought it might be helpful to explain what happens to pests over the winter months, and what you can do make sure your home or apartment is protected.

Rodents: The house mouse is the most encountered rodent, not only in California, but across the United States. House mice usually nest in dark, secluded areas like attics, crawlspaces, or the back of closets. Mice can cause serious property damage by chewing through drywall and wires, which in turn can spark an electrical fire. House mice are also known to contaminate food and spread bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella and E. coli.


Because a mouse can fit through an opening as small as a dime, it’s important to seal cracks and holes on the outside of your home with caulk and exclusion material, and to keep areas clear and store boxes off the floor. Mice like to hide in clutter. Also, be sure to clean up the kitchen and store food, including pet food, in sealed containers. Mice love a free and easily accessible meal.


Ants: These social insects are very adept at overwintering outdoors. During the fall months, they consume vast amounts of food in order to store enough fat to survive for weeks on end without eating. When colder winter temperatures arrive, their body temperature – and productivity – decreases, so they seal up their colony and hunker down in the soil or under rocks until spring has sprung.


Bed bugs: These insects can withstand temperatures from nearly freezing to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes controlling them extremely difficult. California rarely sees freezing temperatures, so bed bugs don’t get the frozen treatment. Indoor settings continue to provide an ideal habitat for bed bugs year around.


Cockroaches: Among the most adaptable creatures in the world are cockroaches, but are they built for cold weather? Most types of cockroaches can survive year round if they have easy access to a warm, moist environment. The German cockroach, for example, prefers an indoor humid habitat close to food and moisture sources. As such, this species often makes itself quite comfortable in kitchens and bathrooms, especially during the winter months.

Pantry pests

A few weeks ago, we shared tips on how to keep your holiday baking efforts free of pantry pests, including beetles, weevils, and Indianmeal moths. Check out the blog on how to protect your kitchen as your holiday baking kicks into full swing.

Some other tips to make your home or apartment less attractive to pests this winter include:

  • Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains. Extra attention should be paid to kitchens and bathrooms, as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.

  • Install door sweeps and repair damaged screens in windows.

  • Screen vents to chimneys. Keep attics, basements and crawlspaces well ventilated and dry.

  • Inspect packages, grocery items, storage boxes, luggage, and backpacks for evidence of pests before bringing them in the house. This is one of the most common routes pests use to gain access.

Clark Pest Control remains committed to safeguarding your home from pests during these challenging times. Our service technicians use such personal protective equipment as gloves, masks, and respirators, they practice social distancing, they call ahead to notify you before a service, and they adhere strictly to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines when servicing inside or outside your home.

If you’re experiencing an issue with unwanted pests in and around your home this winter, call Clark at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or send an email to

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.

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