It's no wonder that haunted houses are decorated with fake rats, rubber bats, plastic spiders and stringy spider webs. After all, having these pests in your home can be a true nightmare – and unlike the spooky decorations, real pests can hang around long after Halloween is over. In order to keep your home from turning into a haunted house, the National Pest Management Association recommends that homeowners take steps to pest-proof this Halloween. "In the fall, we often hear from homeowners who are dealing with pests like spiders, bats and rodents, so it's no coincidence they are associated with Halloween," explains Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Halloween is a fun celebration of all things creepy, crawly, but the holiday also serves as a reminder that the real-life versions of these pests can cause serious issues inside our homes." Spiders, while beneficial in controlling other bug populations in the home, can sometimes bite humans. Brown recluse spiders, for example, inject poisonous venom with their bites. These spiders are commonly found in woodpiles, basements and closets. Bats tend to enter our homes through chimneys or vents, and may hide out in attics or other dark, secluded areas of a home. Infected bats can spread rabies, and their droppings can spread organisms that cause the lung disease, histoplasmosis. Rodents like mice and rats can spread hantavirus and contaminate food. They can also gnaw on electrical wires, which can spark fires. The NPMA offers these tips for preventing a pest infestation this Halloween season:
- Seal cracks around the home's exterior, especially where pipes and wiring enter homes.
- Do not leave food lying around, as it attracts pests.
- Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.
- If you see signs of an infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional.