Don’t Host Pests as Holiday Guests By: Nathan Woolf Date: December 11, 2013Ah, the holiday season in Arizona! Maybe it’s the lack of snow we usually see around this time of year, or our mild winters, but we sure do like to decorate and get extra festive around here.Since Christmas comes but once a year, our holiday decorations are stored for long periods of time in attics, basements, garages or sheds – places where pests can quickly become a problem. Undisturbed and cluttered storage areas are where many infestations get their start, so you will want to be extra careful when moving and unpacking decorations to avoid transferring any pests into your home.As you’re trimming the tree and hanging lights on your home, here are a few tips to keep in mind so your holidays stay pest-free:If you’re buying or cutting a real tree to bring indoors, give it a good shake outdoors before setting it up in the living room. Visually inspect trees, wreaths and other fresh greenery for spiders, insect nests and eggs before purchasing them and bringing them indoors. The warmth of your home can make it easier for hitchhiking pests to breed, lay eggs and multiply.If you use an artificial tree that is stored most of the year, inspect if for pests that may have made their home in the branches over the past few months.When you unpack your stored ornaments and decorations, bring the boxes outside. Common household pests like silverfish can make their homes in and around cardboard boxes, and you’ll want to make sure they are let loose outdoors instead of in your cozy living room! While you’re unpacking, keep an eye out for rodent droppings and other signs of insect damage.As you unpack your decorations, inspect them for mold and water damage. Wet or moldy items can attract pests and give them a source of water, or a damp place to lay their eggs. Discard any damaged items, and inspect your storage area for leaks that may have damaged your decorations.If you made perishable ornaments last year, or your kids constructed a gingerbread house, dispose of these items instead of giving them another go-round this year. Candy canes, cookies and other edible decorations should not be reused or stored, as they are an easy food source for pests when they are stored. Some pantry pests may also lay eggs in stored perishable decorations.When you store your decorations after the holidays are over, use airtight, sealed plastic containers instead of cardboard boxes. Many common pests can chew through cardboard, and rats and mice can squeeze into small openings to make their homes. There’s nothing worse than opening a box of decorations only to find that a family of mice has destroyed them to make a nest!Store cloth items like stockings, tree skirts and decorative blankets in sealed plastic bags to keep pests from using them as a food source. Thoroughly wash and dry all sloth items before you store them.Some pests, like mice, rats, and even termites, can chew on and damage electrical wires. Inspect strings of lights for damaged areas, and discard any that look unsafe.If you enjoy the festive warmth of a fire in your wood burning fireplace, be sure to store firewood outdoors, well away from your home.Now you can deck the halls and know you won’t be having any unwanted holiday guests! As you put away your decorations after the season is over, be sure to take steps to avoid unpleasant surprises next Christmas.If you find signs of spiders, termite damage, or other pest infestations while you’re unpacking your holiday decorations, give us a call. We’ll help make sure your home is pest-free so you can enjoy your holiday celebrations!