Don't let pests ruin your holiday cheer

(NewsUSA) - The holiday season is one of merriment, decorating, baking seasonal treats and family gatherings. As homeowners begin spreading holiday cheer, the National Pest Management Association encourages them to also be cautious to ensure they aren't also spreading seasonal pests. Whether they are hiding in old boxes of ornaments and decorations, contaminating baking ingredients stored in pantries, or sneaking indoors on freshly cut Christmas trees, these pests are not the holiday visitors anyone wants.

"During this busy time of the year, it is easy to overlook signs of pests in the rush to check another item off of the holiday 'to-do' list, but taking just a few simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of battling pests in your home this season," advises Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.

According to the NPMA, here are the most common ways pests can ruin the holidays, and tips you can use to prevent them from happening:

Problem: Errant spiders or other insects are hiding in your Christmas tree, wreaths or seasonal plants. Solution: Perform a thorough check to ensure there aren't any insects, nests or eggs on the limbs; shake out the plants before bringing them inside.

Problem: Mice have taken up residence in your garage and have built their nests in boxes of holiday decorations stored since last season. Solution: Unpack holiday items outside and inspect them carefully for signs of pests before bringing them indoors. Droppings in or next to boxes, gnaw marks and other damage are signs of a problem. Pack holiday décor in hard, plastic bins with tightly sealed lids instead of cardboard boxes or bags that can be easily chewed through.

Problem: Stored product pests or pantry pests, like Indianmeal moths and merchant grain beetles, have infested your flour, dried fruit or other baking products, ruining your plans to bake those special Christmas cookies. Solution: Invest in sturdy, plastic or ceramic containers with secure lids to protect food from pantry pests and even small rodents that may be looking for an extra meal.

Above all, pest-proof the rest of your home by sealing cracks on the outside, paying particular attention to gaps around utility or water pipes, and eliminate all moisture sites in basements, attics or near the home, such as clogged gutters. If you suspect a pest infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to help you assess and treat the problem.